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Friday, September 20, 2013

Everybody Fight About a Spoonful






Spoonful 


It could be a spoonful of coffee
It could be a spoonful of tea
But one little spoon of your precious love
Is good enough for me

Men lie about that spoonful
Some cry about that spoonful
Some die about that spoonful
Everybody fight about a spoonful
That spoon, that spoon, that spoonful

It could be a spoonful of water
To save you from the desert sand
But one spoon of lead from my forty-five
Will save you from another man

Men lie about that spoonful
Some cry about that spoonful
Some die about that spoonful
Everybody fight about a spoonful
That spoon, that spoon, that spoonful
That spoon, that spoon, that spoonful

It could be a spoonful of sugar
It could be a spoonful of tea
But one little spoon of your precious love
Is good enough for me

Men lie about that spoonful
Some cry about that spoonful
Some die about that spoonful
Everybody fight about a spoonful
That spoon, that spoon, that spoonful



Willie Dixon


Howlin' Wolf

 
"Spoonful" is a popular blues song written by Willie Dixon and first recorded in 1960 by Howlin' Wolf. Dixon's "Spoonful" is loosely based on "A Spoonful Blues", a song recorded in 1929 by Charley Patton, itself related to  "All I Want Is A Spoonful" by Papa Charlie Jackson (1925) and "Cocaine Blues" by Luke Jordan (1927).

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame listed Howlin' Wolf's "Spoonful" as one of the "500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll." It is also ranked #219 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the "500 Greatest Songs of All Time."

The lyrics relate men's sometimes violent search to satisfy their cravings with a small measure of satisfaction.  In the song, the spoonful is used mostly as a metaphor for pleasures, which have been interpreted as sex, love, or drugs. Yet, "Spoonful" also touches upon the need for life-saving quantities of water, lead, or love. Men often "lie, cry, and die" for small sums of all these necessities.

Upon first hearing"Spoonful," a listener clearly understands the lyric chastises those with ravenous appetites for sinful addictions. And, upon a simple level, I'm sure this interpretation is accurate and deliberate. Yet, upon closer examination, one finds the song questions self-indulgent behaviors of all kind, even meager actions for survival. How ironic it is that something simple and meager can take or save human life. Perhaps the song delineates between a spoonful of noxious want and a spoonful of vital need.

It is human nature to want, to seek, and to acquire pleasure. In our materialistic society, pleasure and happiness are often calculated according a person's net worth, or total assets of valuable possessions minus liabilities. The accepted ideal is that a surplus of these acquisitions bestows joy. Indeed, the best things in life, even safety and health, require legal tender. People are driven by both need and circumstance to make lots of money.

Yet, in truth, people with very little net worth still have tremendous, overwhelming desires for the bliss of "the good life." They often risk health and freedom to acquire more and more instant gratification, and, therefore, through dangerous self-indulgence, they feed on anything remotely intoxicating.

In doing so, many choose to live their lives as slaves to small proportions, or spoonfuls, of dangerous desires. Testosterone, adrenaline, cocaine, heroin, bullets, greed, and desire -- all ladled in minuscule  applications can determine life and death. In this fashion, there is no such thing as an insignificant "spoonful." The figure of litotes is evident in this song.




Be it a spoonful of gold, of a needed chemical fix, or of the elixir of love, the emotional effect on the human mind, body, and soul creates "fights" for the meager portion. And, despite the potential for grim consequences, men will continue to abuse, to kill and to war over their precious "spoonfuls." For many, compulsion turns to dependence, then to addiction.

Willie Dixon's "Spoonful" lays bare the id. The drive to ingest small measure after small measure of gratification drives individuals to attain and to maintain a contented existence; however, the line between consuming prudent drams of pleasure and allowing exorbitant doses of those little spoonfuls to consume the life it feeds is paper thin. Inexplicably, person after person since the beginning has contently opened and swallowed "that spoon, that spoon, that all-enslaving spoonful."



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