‘I’m not taking orders from no one.’ An appreciation for that force of nature called Sophie Tucker, ‘Last of the Red-Hot Mamas’.

January 14, 2012 | Author: | Posted in Dr. Jeffrey Lant’s Article Archive

"The Last of the Red-Hot Mamas" in her prime!

by Dr. Jeffrey Lant

Author’s program note. I was writing an article the other day about the catastrophic year the African elephant had had in 2011, with record numbers of its dwindling population shot to death for its ivory; thereby moving this majestic animal closer and closer to its likely extinction by 2020. I was angry when I wrote this article, enraged, and I wanted to touch the soul of the world with a story that’s certain not to have a happy ending unless we collectively do our bit to turn things around and fast.

I knew I needed a song to help make my point, because music can help drive home a point like nobody’s business… music not only sooths the savage beast, it capture’s people’s attention; makes ’em sit up, take note, and (if it’s the kind of music I use with my articles) jump up and dance…. looking like a fool, but feeling better than you have in weeks. This is what I needed; this kind of sound right now…. to drive home my crucial message about the elephants and to make people help them.

Then all of a sudden, what I needed was in my brain, then I was whistling it. It was “Some of these days,” a tune I must have heard a half century ago or more and which my particular Muse inserted in my head to give me what my article needed right then, a big, brassy, in your face tune, getting folks to stop what they’re doing and PAY ATTENTION.

And if anyone could do that, Sophie Tucker could… and so the “Last of the Red-Hot Mamas” went to work for the last of the oh-so-vulnerable pachyderms whose days on Spaceship Earth may have been significantly extended because of my admonitory words… and Sophie Tucker’s punch in the solar plexis of humankind… a punch and an unforgettable wake-up call.

So, let’s start this article by getting you to go to any search engine and listen to the tune she made her particular calling card: “Some of these days.” She made the first of her many recorded versions in 1911. Personally, I prefer the 1926 version, because by then she had learned a lot about music presentation and how to move the folks… and so she belted it out with determination, vehemence and total sincerity:

“Some of these days, You’re gonna miss me honey Some of these days, You’re gonna feel so lonely You’ll miss my huggin’. You’ll miss my kissin’; You’ll miss me honey, when you go away.”

This wasn’t just some flimsy tune to divert you for a minute or two; it was a declaration, a proclamation, a cocktail of anger, determination, insistence; a clarion call to women everywhere to get smarter about men than most women were; to watch out for just who they allowed in their lives and never let some two-bit no-good-nik into the house, despite the fact these guys had a winning way with words and bedside manner.

Women, even women with a “good man”, a man who treated them like a princess, knew that Sophie had reason to sing her song… that that good man, seeing something “better” could stray… and that women, all women, needed to be alert, vigilant, strong, tenacious, helped by Sophie Tucker, always on the side of The Woman, ready for a wake-up call about The Man.

Her early days.

To understand Sophie Tucker, you need to understand these facts:

* she was born in Russia in 1884 or 1886 (sources vary).

* she was Jewish and proud of it, never disclaiming her heritage; rather celebrating it… as most memorably in “My Yiddish Momme” (1925). * she was plain, she was fat.

* she liked “bad” men, liked them a lot and to distraction, more than such men liked her.

* And she knew she had talent… though (at the beginning at least) others didn’t necessarily share that view… that is until they heard her… and saw how she could work an audience, a talent that spelled box-office and, fast too, international renown.

She needed to make what she had work… and she had to do it in the early days of the 20th century… when there was adamant opposition to people like her… and where her success was anything but certain.

Still… this woman could sing… delivering a sound that roused the people, moved the people, and with their clever lyrics made the people laugh and want more… feeling better minute by minute, happier than they had been before she opened her mouth…

And when she opened that big mouth, Truth, searing Truth, poured out… as well as the humor and comedy which were absolutely essential in making that Truth, and so much of it, palatable, for without this she would have been run out of town, or worse. But she did have that humor and that hilarity at her command and she turned them into rocket fuel and a solid-gold meal ticket.

The authentic Tucker formula involved a good woman falling for a rotten man… or a strong woman trying like the dickens to put some stuffin’ in a man who’s a doormat. And always, always, no matter what she was singing about she glorified women, as she did in “Aren’t Women Wonderful” (1936)

“Aren’t women wonderful, aren’t women grand, Aren’t they the rulers of this happy land?”

Off stage.

When she wasn’t taking the unlikely elements of her international success and turning them into significant coin of the realm, she married… and married…. and married; her life a revolving door of unsuitable, short-lived men. It probably bothered her (how could it not?) but it never stopped her; besides she knew who really helped and lightened her load…. and it wasn’t men. When she died in 1966, she left the bulk of a considerable estate to her… maid; the maid who kept the “Last of the Red-Hot Mamas” up and working until the very end.

Thus, even as she faded, she worked; bringing joy to people all over this planet; people who sustained her, laughed with her, hummed the melodies and sang the lyrics of one tune after another, the Tucker touch had turned into classics.

She died as she lived, “the last of the red-hot mamas/they’ve all cooled down but me…” And that’s the way she wanted us to see her and the way she went out, a brassy, stentorian dame who liked the wrong men too much, but liked us even more; for she gave all of us enough toe-tappin’, laugh-makin’ tunes for a millennium… “The Last of the Red- Hot Mamas, gettin’ better all the time….”

No foolin’, ain’t this woman wonderful, ain’t this woman grand? We shall never see her overheated like again… and we’re very much the poorer for that.

**** We invite you to post your comments below.

About the Author

Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is CEO of Worldprofit, Inc., providing a wide range of online services for small and-home based businesses. Services include home business training, affiliate marketing training, earn-at-home programs, traffic tools, advertising, webcasting, hosting, design, WordPress Blogs and more. Find out why Worldprofit is considered the # 1 online Home Business Training program by getting a free Associate Membership today.

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