At the risk of dating myself, I can remember when terrestrial radio (particularly the AM dial) was the place where people heard new music first. Black radio in those days was a part of the community that many people shared, as well as a central place to get information and hear the latest songs. It’s not that FM and satellite don’t do that today, but it just isn’t quite the same. Today’s Morning Groove is the Ohio Players’ song “Funky Worm”. The #1 R&B hit from 1973 holds a special place in my heart and my memories, not necessarily because of the song itself, but because of the special role it played in one of my earliest remembrances from childhood.
Then as now, people called radio stations to get songs played (although I guess you can send an email these days), to win contests and make dedications of their favorite songs. A friend of the family who we called Uncle Smokey was friends with a man named Gene Long, who was a DJ at WANN-AM in Annapolis. WANN was a very influential black music station on the AM dial in the early 70s, and much to me and my sister’s amusement, Smokey called the station and requested that today’s featured song be played. As some of you may know, back then many AM stations usually signed off at sundown and as the light grew dimmer we kept waiting for our song. Finally, toward the end of the show, the familiar opening notes came over the air, and right before the vocals kicked in, Mr. Long made sure to say that the song was “especially for Lisa and Tracy.” I remember my sister and I jumping up and down and screaming as if we had won the lottery. I also remember once the jumping and shouting stopped both of us dancing to the song. I may have even tried to do the robot (hey, I was only seven years old. You want professional robot dancing in 1973, go see Michael Jackson).
Thus the reason this goofy, funny song holds a dear place in my heart.
Since that time, this Ohio Players classic has been sampled nearly to death, but most famously in songs by Kris Kross (“Jump”), Ice Cube (“Wicked”), De La Soul (“Me Myself And I”), MC Breed & DFC (“Ain’t No Future In Yo’ Frontin'”) and N.W.A. (“Gangsta Gangsta”), to name a few. And of course, the band itself would gain some measure of fame for its sexy album covers (which is a whole ‘nother post in itself). Let’s just say that no nine year old should ever see the album cover for their Honey album, but I did. In some cases it couldn’t be helped, especially when in some homes, those covers would hang on the walls. But I digress.
At any rate, enjoy the “Funky Worm.” And as always, thanks for reading and listening.