Saturday, 25 May 2024

CyberSoulMan: Ruby Baby

T. Watts at the KPFZ microphone. Courtesy photo.




Well, I've got a girl and Ruby is her name (Ruby, Ruby, Ruby baby)

She don't love me but I love her just the same (Ruby, Ruby, Ruby baby)

From “Ruby Baby”

Words & Music Jerry Leiber/Mike Stoller, Circa 1956

Saturday night on 88.1 FM the DJ (that would be me, your CyberSoulMan) played the above referenced song. It was first recorded by legendary vocal group, The Drifters, in 1956. I missed that version until much later in life. I don’t think I started rockin’ until 1957. Therein lay my first memories of Bandstand.

I didn’t get hip to it until Dion recorded it in 1963. By then I’d somehow evolved into the mohair sweater, Jade East and Italian shoes mode of junior high school. It was in English class that this song became particularly meaningful in my young life.

The teacher's name was Mrs. Salmon. She was a seemingly moneyed dame who dressed sharply but wore too much makeup for my fresh eyes. She also had too many wrinkles for the amount she wore. Add to that her penchant for gruffness and no sense of humor and English class became a total bore, even for those of us who enjoyed wordplay. The way she diagrammed sentences and conjugated verbs made learning miserable. Did I mention that her first name was Ruby?

My fellows and I sang that song with much comic relief. It was if the song made up for the misery she inflicted on us. This is a 50-year-old memory so bear with me.

The times were way different. The elusive Civil Rights Movement was blowin’ in the wind. The Kennedys were the poster family of this new age. The Ed Sullivan Show on Sunday night. Ruby Salmon on Monday morning. Couldn’t trust that day.

She gave us what seemed like a sweet assignment. Place yourself in Sherwood Forest and write about it in the first person. I peeled it off and turned it in on time. Mrs. Salmon corrected the papers and read a couple in front of the class.

It shouldn’t have made a difference that I may have been the only African-American student in the class. But I think it did. When Mrs. Salmon read the worst example of the assignment, she chose mine as the template. I was, like uh, so hurt. I remember thinking as she read, she’s doing this on purpose! Indeed, the way she read my paper was full of expressive subtle nuances that made my writing sound like that of a dunce. She was the ventriloquist and I was the dummy. To this day I can’t prove it, but it sure felt like a set up.

In my girl Ruby’s defense, I suspect she did me a favor. Kind of let me in on the secret obstacles in life that I might face. Perhaps she was testing my mettle to see if I had what it took to succeed in the blackface of adversity. Then again, maybe she really thought my writing that day was terrible. The tenor of the times only alluded to the fact that there were more Richard Wrights and Langston Hugheses on the horizon. She didn’t have to believe in the dream.

And I guess, CyberSoulChildren, that is the gist of it, the belief in self with a little help from on high. And a little music to get us through the rough spots.

Keep prayin’, keep thinkin’ those kind thoughts


Upcoming cool events:

Twice As Good featuring Paul and Rich Steward, 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. June 22, Blue Wing Saloon & Café, 9520 Main St., Upper Lake. Telephone, 707-275-2233, or online, .


Open mike night, 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, June 25. Blue Wing Saloon & Café, 9520 Main St., Upper Lake. Telephone, 707-275-2233, or online, .

Bill Noteman & The Rockets play the Lakeport Summer Concerts at Library Park, 200 Park St., 6:30 p.m. Friday, June 26.

The Neville Brothers, Jeffrey Osborne, The Mighty Clouds of Joy, Eric Bibb, Elvin Bishop, Denise Lasalle and more at the Monterey Bay Blues Festival from Friday, June 26, through Sunday, June 28, at the Monterey County Fairgrounds, 2004 Fairgrounds Road, Montere. Telephone, 831-394-2652 or online .

Smokey Robinson in concert, 7:15 p.m. Saturday, July 31. Konocti Harbor Resort & Spa, 8727 Soda Bay Road, Kelseyville. Telephone, 800-660-LAKE, or online at .

The Four Tops in Concert, 9 p.m. Saturday, July 31. Cache Creek Casino Resort, 14455 Highway 16, Brooks. Telephone, 888-77-CACHE, or online at .

T. Watts is a writer, radio host and music critic. Visit his Web site at .

Upcoming Calendar

05.26.2024 10:00 am - 3:00 pm
Lower Lake Daze
Memorial Day
05.28.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
06.01.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
06.04.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
06.08.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
06.11.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
Flag Day
06.15.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile

Mini Calendar



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