Thursday, February 28, 2008

Providing Some Answers for Luther Ingram

Going back into mix-tape territory for a moment...

Heading out of the house this morning, I grabbed a cassette tape, one without a label, out of the grab-bag drawer of my music collection. It turned out to be a tape I made a few years ago of 1970s soul, after I bought Rhino Records' 6-disc set of that genre (which, by the way, was one of the greatest purchases of my life). About halfway through the first side, I got to "If Loving You Is Wrong (I Don't Wanna Be Right)" by Luther Ingram, his biggest (only?) hit from 1972. I remember when the song came out, my mom disliked it enough that she even changed the station once when it came on - which was unusual. It was on the radio a lot that summer, and you still hear it on the oldies stations. But it wasn't until today that I really listened closely enough to the lyrics to realize that the protagonist of this song is one screwed-up dude. And Mr. Ingram (who passed away last year) is not to blame for that - the song was written by Homer Banks, Carl Hampton and Raymond Jackson. Let's take a look...

If loving you is wrong I don't wanna be right
If being right means being without you
I'd rather live a wrong doing life
Your mama and daddy say it's a shame
It's a downright disgrace
Long as I got you by my side
I don't care what your people say

So far, so good - after all, who cares what mama and daddy say? Although the reference to "your people" is a bit unusual.

Your friends tell you there's no future
In loving a married man
If I can't see you when I want to
I'll see you when I can
If loving you is wrong
I don't wanna be right

Holy cow - you're married? Well, all right - make your case.

Am I wrong to fall so deeply in love with you
Knowing I got a wife and two little children
Depending on me too

Married...with children? And little children? And I'd be willing to bet that they're cute as a bug.

And am I wrong to hunger for the gentleness of your touch
knowing I got somebody else at home
who needs me just as much

Well, you're obviously not stupid, because at least you recognize they need you. So the answer is...YES! You're wrong!!

And are you wrong to fall in love
With a married man

Stupid, yes. Wrong, probably. Let's just skip to the end.

I don't wanna be right
If it means sleeping alone at night

OK, I get that you don't WANT to be right, but if you are, doesn't that mean you'd stay with your wife and kids? If so, you're probably not dumb enough to tell your wife about the affair, which means you'd be sleeping with her.

I don't wanna be right
If it means coming home at night

All right, you lost me. Frankly, it doesn't sound like you deserve either one of them.

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