In an earlier blog post I advocated 1960's Stax Record classic: "Hold on, I'm Comin' " as the theme tune for the sun coming up.
The lyrics work. In the context of the sunrise it's a bit like: "Everyone calm the f**k down, I've got this. Hold on, I'm comin.'" In case you were worried tomorrow wasn't coming, the sweet sounds of soul duo Sam & Dave will serenade you daily with the promise that it is.
But forget the sunrise for a moment.
It's not what this song is about. Dig a little deeper and you find out it was inspired by songwriter/producer David Porter's trip to the toilet to relieve himself after drinking copious amounts of coffee and suffering through an unproductive day of future hit making with songwriting partner Isaac Hayes.
As the story goes, Hayes yelled at David to hurry up and finish peeing so they could get back to work and actually write something to which Porter replied: "Hold on man, I'm coming." As soon as the words were out of his mouth Porter knew they'd be a killer name for a song.
Of course this evolved from it's humble porcelain throne beginnings to a song about a man being safe harbour for his lover. Although all bets are off on the bridge lyrics which could be argued to mean something completely different. I'll let you muse on that.
"Lemme hear ya'll
You talk to me
For satisfaction, oh, hold on
Call my name, oh, call my name yeah for quick reaction
Yeah yeah yeah yeah"
But it wasn't even that bridge that the conservative radio stations at the time had a problem with. It was the song title itself, it was too suggestive. So it was re-titled on all the US original vinyls to 'Hold on, I'm A-Comin', which I don't think is any better really? Minds will make the leap anyway. Conservatives probably more frequently than their counterparts.
The origins of the song however aren't what I really wanted talk about though. It's the album artwork. The turtle. Sam and Dave on the turtle. The great, big, gaudy cartoon turtle. I've been looking at it. And I've been trying to figure it out.
And I must have been one of the only people that has wondered about that bloody turtle because there is damn near no information on it on the Internet.
What I do know is that the cover was designed by Ronnie "Angel" Stoots who was behind the iconic Stax Records logo and artwork for musical releases by Eddie Floyd* and Otis Redding:
Unfortunately Stoot's passed away about a month ago so we'll never be able to ask him about the significance of the turtle on Sam & Dave's hit record. So we are only left with speculation.
Here are my theories:
1. The turtle is a characteristically slow animal. So they're not in a hurry to get wherever they're going if they're choosing the turtle over a cheetah or a hare. Therefore it could be a bit of a swag statement "Hey baby, I'm here for you - but in my own sweet time yeah". Making the song a bit of a backhanded promise. And soul, it's so much about the swag.
2. Stoots drew something he dreamt.
3. Stoots is from Memphis Tennessee and the Stax record label was born out of that scene. Guess what the native reptile of Tennessee is? The Box Turtle.
3.1 So we have the Box Turtle. But let's take it one step further and get Freudian on this. If you've read any Freudian case histories like the infamous Dora and her subsequent dream interpretation in which she had to save her jewellery box from the burning fire, you'll know Freud believes the 'box' is an allegory for the female reproductive system. Soul is as much about swag as it is about seduction, so it's not entirely without foundation.
But who knows really?
Stoots' has taken this musical mystery to his grave and therefore we can only look upon this vinyl artwork with an eternal: Why?, Perhaps and ...
*Why does Eddie Floyd have an axe? If he's knocking on wood I feel like he should have a hammer.