Calling Out of Context 8: the Sloopy edition

Posted on 07.10.2012

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What or who is Sloopy (Hang on Sloopy, The McCoys, 1965)?

Not shockingly, the 1965 hit “Hang On Sloopy” has nothing to do with a single-mast, fore-and-aft-rigged sailing vessel and everything to do with a lady.

While the subject of the song is up for discussion, most fans/listeners believe that Wes Farrell and Bert Russell wrote the song for Dorothy Sloop, whose stage name was, in fact, Sloopy.

Sloopy hailed from Ohio, and, in a possible move of sisterly solidarity, was a pianist for a lot of all-female jazz bands in the New Orleans area. She recorded one album in 1957 with Yvonne ‘Dixie’ Fasnacht (a jazz vocalist) called Dixie and Sloopy.

Not much is known about the relationship between Sloopy and the Russell/Farrell duo, but from the song’s lyrics below, it can be assumed that there may have been a ‘close’ relationship between somebody and Sloopy… But exactly who might have to remain a mystery:

Sloopy lives in a very bad part of town
and everybody else, tries to put my sloopy down
Sloopy I don’t care, what your daddy do
Cuz you know sloopy, girl, I’m in love with you

Sloopy wears a red dress, yeah
As old as the hills.
But when Sloopy wears that red dress, yeah
You know it gives me the chills.
Sloopy, when I see you walkin’, walkin’ down the street
I say, don’t worry Sloopy girl
You belong to me.

Sloopy let your hair down, ooo
Let it hang down on me
Sloopy let your hair down, girl
Let it hang down on me, yeah 

The song has a really interesting (and LONG) history that is readily available online, but all searches for information on Dorothy Sloop just lead to copied and pasted ‘facts’ from Wikipedia. Thanks, interwebs, for reducing Dorothy’s entire life to a Wiki post about a song. Lame.

I have a sneaking suspicion, though, that the song got a lot more action than Dorothy did herself, as it has been performed by numerous acts over the years and is also currently Ohio’s official rock song. Legally. There was a motion in 1985 to make this an actual law after Washington State scooped up Louie, Louie a few months earlier. I’ve included the best part of that motion below:

“WHEREAS, “Hang On Sloopy” is of particular relevance to members of the Baby Boom Generation, who were once dismissed as a bunch of long-haired, crazy kids, but who now are old enough and vote in sufficient numbers to be taken quite seriously”

Yeah. That REALLY happened. Way to go, Ohio, and way to go, long-haired freaky people of the boomer generation. If this isn’t justice at it’s finest, I don’t know what is.

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Posted in: music