[Ads-l] "That shit be fire!"

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Mon Jun 19 01:50:35 EDT 2017

Ca. 1973, The Meters, the rhythm band of the Neville brothers - Aaron et
al. - were in Boston. The show was reviewed and the band interviewed by the
music critic of the Boston Phoenix, the gimme, weekly tabloid that
contributed Janet Maslin to the New York Times. Asked sum'nutha about their
music, a Neville brother responded, approximately, "When the band be
kicking, _that shit be fire_!" Like "on the bone," I found this so catchy
that I've never forgotten it. I saved a clipping of the article till 1993,
when, in the process of combining households with my future wife, who
refused to move to Somerville, preferring that I move to the Back Bay, I
trashed a lot of my stuff, her crib, though in a far more elegant
neighborhood than mine, by that fact was also much smaller than mine. The
stuff that I trashed included much that I now wish that I had kept, such as
the article with that quote and a slip of paper with the name of the
original artists with the name and lyrics of the Gospel song from which the
R&B hit, I Know, by the one-hit-wonder, Barbara George, was derived.

Anyway, unlike "on the bone," after lying dormant for the past 45 years or
so , the phrase, "That shit be fire!" seems to have risen from the grave,
getting about 4,370 G-results, with random, distorted forms also appearing
in the UD.

The lyrics to I Know are available on line and, as usual, I'm astounded
that BE is so hard for white people to understand.  "I gave love so hard /
Everything I did _wasn't no joy_" is transcribed as "I have loved so hard /
Everything I did _was no dard(!)_. "Ain't no use in me crying now / _Since
you have put me down_" is transcribed as "Ain't no use in me crying now /
_If not for you, I wouldn't be down_."

Of course, this merely continues the tradition established by The Rolling
Stones  when they san98= "_Hurt_ my nose open" instead of "_Had_ my nose
All say, "How hard it is that we have to die!"---a strange complaint to
come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
-Mark Twain

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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