the meat and the motion

Charles Doyle cdoyle at UGA.EDU
Thu Jan 28 13:33:53 UTC 2010

I thank Arnold for the iTunes text and Larry for the recollection. It now seems even more likely that it was Muldaur's performance (rather than The Swallows') that popularized the saying as a proverb.


---- Original message ----
>Date: Wed, 27 Jan 2010 17:07:17 -0800
>From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> (on behalf of Arnold Zwicky <zwicky at STANFORD.EDU>)
>Subject: Re: the meat and the motion>
>On Jan 27, 2010, at 4:27 PM, Larry Horn wrote:
>> At 3:37 PM -0500 1/27/10, Charles Doyle wrote:

>>> It's not the meat, it's the motion. 1951 The saying may have entered
>>> oral tradition from the title and recurring line of a
>>> rhythm-and-blues song written by Henry Glover and recorded by The
>>> Swallows: "It Ain't the Meat (It's the Motion)." Or, the song may
>>> have been built around an existing proverb, as yet undiscovered.
>>> Proverbial uses of the expression do not appear in print until the
>>> 1980s, after Maria Muldaur's popular rendition of the song in 1974
>>> had nudged it--and the saying--toward the (white) mainstream.
>>> Interestingly, in the song the term _meat_ refers sexually to a
>>> woman ("It ain't the meat, it's the motion / Makes your daddy want
>>> to rock");
>> I distinctly remember Maria (D'Amato) Muldaur singing "...that makes
>> your mama want to rock".  I don't have that one on my iTunes,
>> curiously, although I have 15 other songs of hers, but that's my
>> memory.
>i do [have it on my iTunes], and she has "mama".

The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list