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We’ve known all along that certain artists who were welcomed with open arms into the rock community a few years back would… in time… start to be squeezed out, not because of anything they did to change stylistically, but rather because rock ‘n’ roll itself changed so much that their older style would eventually seem anachronistic.

When that time comes there are some who will have no compunction about showing these veteran artists to the door, telling them that the parade has passed them by and unless they’re willing to drastically change to keep up, rock has no use for them anymore.

But that’s not how it works. If what you did was rock in 1949 and you haven’t significantly altered your approach since, then that still qualifies as rock even as the audience has began to leave it behind. In other words musical genres expand, they don’t contract.

Still… if you’re an artist worried about your qualifications being revoked in spite of this tenet, there’s always one thing you can do to keep the narrow-minded gatekeepers at bay…

Just sing about sex.


That’s The Debt I Have To Pay
There are always those hypocrites who like to rail about off-color subjects infiltrating modern music as if it were something new.

They use this excuse to dismiss whatever currently popular styles that are threatening to obscure their own as reasons why it’s not worth any praise. When those Greatest Songs Of All-Time lists come out every few years, the old guard who call anything released this century “new music” take aim at the recent entries because of the swears and violence, along with references to drugs and sex, saying these songs have no merit because they glorify those subjects.

Of course they’ll then praise Jefferson Airplane’s White Rabbit which is the most pro-drug song of its day, or Gimme Shelter by The Rolling Stones which is apocalyptic in its violence. They’ll say how subversive The Kinks were with Lola which is about a transvestite or rave about Led Zeppelin’s Whole Lotta Love which is sex personified.

The point being that all of those topics have been around from the beginning because rock ‘n’ roll has always sought to push boundaries, knowing that its audience craves that sort of release from buttoned-down conformity… at least while they’re young enough to enjoy it themselves.

When those listeners get past their prime however, that’s when they get pissed off the younger generation is experiencing the same thrills they themselves can barely remember.

All of which brings us to a Floyd Dixon song that is blatantly about sex called Red Cherries. Of course in 1952 the exploitation of sexual desires was more taboo and so you had to couch your commentary in euphemisms to be able to give a plausible explanation to any prudish overseers of morality who might take offense to such topics.

Here Dixon can claim that he’s merely shopping for food and looking for an inexpensive treat to tide him over between meals. Of course if you can get these cherries in a grocery store – for twenty cents no less! – the line of eager men, and some daring women, would stretch out the door.


A Cherry I Eat Most Every Day
One of the first things you should notice about this record is that Floyd Dixon wrote the song in question… hardly a surprise since he was such a prolific songwriter.

But even if he hadn’t penned it himself he’d still be the perfect singer to deliver such a song because of his ultra laid-back vocal style. It’s something we’ve actually criticized at times when a more rousing effort was required, but here that drowsy persona adds a little extra lasciviousness to the proceedings somehow, almost as if he’s grinning at you for being misled by his underplaying the raciness.

For those of you who aren’t stupid, clueless or hapless virgins, the raciness is the entire raison d’etre of this record, its one and only focus and the source of its pleasure.

With the lightly prancing piano leading us down the primrose path, Dixon’s subdued vocal entrance comes is stealth-like by nature, trying to distract you from thinking something untoward is about to take place. Even if you’re someone who’s been around the block and back again a few times, it might take you a few seconds to realize his intentions here because he’s sounds so relaxed about it and usually songs about sex are eager and excited.

The gig is up though once he starts detailing his obsession with Red Cherries particularly that of his baby of whom he samples everyday. Now technically speaking the term cherry generally refers to a virgin, which means once is all you get with it before it becomes something else… but we won’t quibble with the particulars when he’s so intent on describing it in vivid detail with lines such as “Cherries, cherries are a lot of fun, get the good juice right on your tongue”.

From there we’ll leave it to your imagination, but suffice it to say maybe the reason he sounds as if he’s about to nod off is because he’s been worn out in bed eating this delectable treat for the past few hours.

Musically there’s nothing conjuring up the act itself. No raunchy saxophone, stabbing guitars, nor even a pounding drum. It’s nothing but Dixon’s sporadically lively piano and a faint rhythm section, meaning the intention is to lull you into acquiescence so you’ll have little choice but to focus on the subtext of lines like “Gimme a juicy ripe cherry any old time”.

If you need an interpreter for lines like that you’re not the kind to be listening to rock ‘n’ roll in the first place, which is good because that leaves more cherries to pick for the rest of us.


Ask Him For One More Jar
Not surprisingly music sees plenty of subjects recycled endlessly over the years because songs are written to relate the human experience which is pretty much unchanged over time.

Love songs lead to break-up songs and both are amply covered no matter the era, regardless of the genre. In between those are songs about sex and while nobody tends to be bothered when people get together in the earlier songs, nor do they tend to weep over fictious couples splitting apart in the second examples, they DO frequently get up in arms over what they do when they’re together.

Yet without doing it, nobody would be around to sing about it, let alone read about others singing about doing it in songs like Red Cherries.

But if you’re one of those who do get upset over such things, you’re free to tell yourself that this is merely a harmless ditty about fresh fruit and you can go right on believing that at one time the world was a more wholesome place.

Even though it wasn’t.

Rock ‘n’ roll didn’t invent sex by any means, nor were they even the first to sing about it in rather blunt terms. But at every stage, whatever rock acts are currently waxing poetic about carnal acts, you can be sure that someone out there is looking to decry it in equally loud terms just because they haven’t gotten laid in years.


(Visit the Artist page of Floyd Dixon for the complete archive of his records reviewed to date)