Got The Fever

Friday, September 15, 2006

Millie Jackson

I remember at first being enthralled at Millie Jackson’s sheer audacity. I was also drawn to her magnitude of charisma and sexual drawl while delivering such bawdy lines to her (what used to be called) ‘blue’ music. They would alternately make me raise my eyebrows and smile or just plain shock me. Kind of like when I first heard Chevy Chase say “Jane, you ignorant slut!” – they still make me laugh and want more and wonder ‘did she really just say that?

I also have respect for her musical output. While one could never say that her voice was on par with the likes of a silky Gladys Knight or a growlin’ Betty Davis - nor did she have the phrasing of Nina Simone or Diana Krall - she was, nonetheless, very fine to listen to. Though she would have the occasional stumble on virtually every album, she did have her elevated moments.

Such was the case with the troika of “Keep The Home Fires Burnin’” / “Logs And Thangs” / “Put Something Down On It” from the album “Get It Out’cha System”. She testifies that her man is burning his log somewhere else while he ought to be keeping the fires burning at home. Then she bears witness to what his limitations are exactly and the consequences of these here limitations. Wrapping it up, she gives him a way out – a second chance to make it up, while laying it down that she still loves him.

Evidence One: Keep The Home Fires Burnin’
In which Millie tells us that her man is not saving the best for her consumption and gives him clear instruction on how to keep her happy. After all – it’s her house that he’s in! This comes replete with soaring strings and backing horns. Nice funky guitar to be had here as a bonus – real air guitar for those so inclined.

Don’t let the flame get too low!
If you don’t start taking care of business,
You wont be sleeping here no more.

Evidence Two: Logs And Thangs
This is where she hits her towering stride, gets her red robe on and takes her turn preaching from the pulpit. And she is the high priestess pontificating on what his shortcomings are and what it is exactly that she requires. If her conditions are not met, she threatens to go out searching and find ‘an outside fire’. She ‘speaks of these fires in depth’.

Now we do have two kind of fires going on:
I HAVE a fire, and you HAD a fire.
Cause you see your fire has just about burned out.
It could be that you been flicking your Bick so much elsewhere,
Until you done run out of fuel, I don’t know this.

She goes on to say that if she’s not getting what she feels is hers, she’s declaring her own independence and her right to go find an ‘outside fire’ anyway. But she warns him: you could end up with a wild fire that will spread!

Cause you done messed around and let these outside fires beat your house.
And when an outside fire spread all the way to your house -
Ohh Lawd!
You wake up one morning – and YOUR house is on fire.
Building collapsing down around your ass!
And you in trouble.
I ain’t bullshitting boy – you in trouble
I’m taking bout the HEAT IS ON (the heat is on)

And then she works her way to the ultimate putdown:

And then you come home one day - lo and behold,
There’s a different kind of log in the fireplace!
A log BIGGER than yours!
A LONGER log than yours!

And it just burns for hours!
Even after the log burned down, the coals stay hot!
Then you know yo’ ass in trouble.
It’s time to gather your twig, and split!

These are powerful, fighting, demeaning and prophetic words from sister Millie. She’s obviously not a wallflower, or a dainty hang on to your elbow and do what I say woman. No sir. She’s a sexual, aggressive, coarse, fighting for what she wants force to be reckoned with. And no doubt about it – she will get what she’s after.

Evidence Three: Put Something Down On It
She takes it down again and does as silky as voice as Millie can get. But, her conviction and sincere vocalization (along with help from quality call-back background vocals) help give an honest quality to it. The horns, strings and rhythm section really help elevate sister Millie. The woman dishes it out from her point of view, and you know, she’s dead on with the delivery that she’s distinctively known for.

If you want this love I’m giving
Spend a little time on it, put something down on it
If you want this love I’m giving honey

There’s a things called love that has no boundary line
It gotta be in your heart not just in your mind
Hey baby – oh Lawd!
I believe that if you seek you will find.
All I’m asking you to do,
Is give just to give me just a little more time
If you’re gonna be mine and you wanna be mine
Put something down on it – speand a little time on it

Honestly, just as I said in the beginning, Millie is not a Gladys, Betty, Nina or Diana, but, turning the tables, very few artists pull off what Millie does.

That very uniqueness is all the more reason to have a spot for her in the collection here at Got The Fever.

If you have the ability, string the three tracks together and get the elongated feel of the three tracks playing one after another. I just don’t have the software to do it myself, and short of pulling the record player to the PC and recording it … well, that’s not in the cards right now. Anyone have free software for me that will allow me to do just that?

Millie Jackson: Keep The Home Fires Burnin’
Millie Jackson: Logs And Thangs
Millie Jackson: Put Something Down On It
From Get It Out’cha System [1979]


  • Millie's a favourite of mine. Just recently filled a big hole in the vinyl collection with Caught Up and Still Caught Up.

    For vinyl recroding software you could try Acoustica, not free but it's good software.

    btw you're linked.

    By Blogger Darcy, at 4:21 PM  

  • Thanks to those who take the time to tell me here, and in private email, about the SW that I want.

    I do appreciate it your effort.

    By Blogger wzjn, at 4:59 PM  

  • That's a piece of work. Nice metaphore in "Logs and thangs"

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:23 AM  

  • Thanks for the explanation.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:24 AM  

  • Thank you for taking the time to post this. You are all doing a good job as an extended family, rallying around him. My VT companion in this ward is caring for her husband who is in early stages of Parkinson's, like Jackson above.

    By Anonymous Viagra Online, at 8:09 AM  

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