Off the wall
hpst at EARTHLINK.NET
Mon May 24 17:05:21 UTC 2004
I am curious where this phrase originated.
I have used it almost all of my life but have no idea.
It was probably in common currency before I heard Dave Dudley's song The Pool Shark which goes as follows but it makes very much sense in this context that I hesitate to suggest that this is not its origin.
This old pool, billiards and snooker player who has both owned custom made cues and played off the wall would like to know.
You might also like to look at the other phrases in the song including "glue 'em up tight", the use of the word, "honey", etc. and go from there.
I appreciate the historical references which many of you find for usages of words and phrases but as an old anthropologist I am much more interested in usages in context at any point in time than I am investigating which may or may not have any relationship to the way they are/were later used.
This particular song and I could give you a thousand other examples is like a usage dictionary frozen in time, and it is my opinion that such songs contain words and phrases which made sense to the people who heard them but which no longer make any sense to most listeners.
My point if I even have one is that words and phrases cannot be understood in terms of their first use but only in terms of the way they are used at any point in time which for various socio-cultural, technological reasons freeze them.
Here is the phrase in the song:
Dave Dudley Album - The Pool Shark lyrics. Date: 01/01/1970
Pool Shark lyrics
He said pardon me for bein' so bold but you got a cigarette that's already
I gave him one he lit it in his own good time
The smoke in that poolroom hung like a fog
When he talked it sounded like a growling dog
He said would you care for a dollar on the five or nine
Now this man was ugly and his eyes were mean
His clothes were dirty but his hands were clean
He held that stick like a mother holds the hand of the child
Well I've been known to hustle a few when the waitress said was he playing
And I said yeah bring me brandy water by
Little Red Parker was way in the back taking quarters and hadling racks
And I told him Red come up here glue 'em up tight
That brandy had me feeling warm I tipped that waitress and I checked her
And I said honey you like a winner and she just smiled
I played like a man with a broken wrist I won two and he won six
And I had him set up so I said let's play for five
But this time the crowd had gathered round to see this fish and just watch
I told that waitress more brandy water by
Then he went out and got a custom cue he said it's no offence to you
But I don't play off the wall with nobody but friends
He had a gold initials in a leather grip pearly and silver inlaid tip
He smiled at me and he said hell-a-way we play for ten
Well I never seen a man that walk who made those balls and table talk
They're speaking English he sure didn't need my help
He broke the ball and kept that string for a hundred and eighty seven
bucks and a ring
Till I gave up and said friend you're gonna have to play by yourself
Well he racked it up and walked outside and I strolled out just to watch
And there was a blonde in their Caddy built like the rest of that car
The boys in the poolroom they had 'em a laugh and I hung it up and just
let it pass
And had nothin' but my elbows to put on the bar
And the waitress smiled said water by I took the chairity and thanked her
And sittin' there sippin' and suddenly I had me a thought
Unlucky gambler and lucky in love guess you know what I was thinking of
When I said waitress honey what time do you get off
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