Today we get something really special! Carsie Blanton is a super talented musician and dancer; maybe you’ve even met her, especially if you’re from Philly or New Orleans. Some of her music is good for swing dancers, some of it is good for blues dancers, and some of it is just plain great to listen to!
Right now, she’s going to tell us about a song she wrote, My Baby Can Dance, which is one of the biggest Lindy Hop hits I’ve seen come out of a modern musician. My laptop may know how many times I’ve DJed it, but I’ve certainly lost count! If you already know the song, I hope you appreciate the insight into how it was made, and if you don’t, go listen to it already!
Carsie’s last project was an album of jazz covers, many of which are great dance songs. Here’s another good one. Right now she could use your help to fund her latest project “The Radical Magic of Pleasure and Pop” which is shaping up to be a really fun album … I’ve already gone to Kickstarter and backed it, so I’d certainly recommend that you do too!
What thoughts or feelings do you want to get across to your audience when they hear this song? What is there in the song that communicates that?
To me, this song is about the joy and physicality of dance (and, less directly, sex), and how that joy can short-circuit the rational part of one’s brain. I want the listener to be so full of joy that they are totally convinced that this is a good thing. I want the reaction to be “oh well, who needs rationality?!”
The lyric communicates these ideas fairly directly, but I’ve also used the age-old tools of rhythm and melody to get people moving and feeling (and not just thinking).
What music from the past did you draw from to create this song?
Well, the song itself is music from the past at this point (I wrote it ten years ago, and recorded it in 2008), so unfortunately I’m having a hard time remembering! But I know we used Slim & Slam’s “Tutti Frutti” as a reference track in the studio, because it was one of my favorite songs to dance to at the time. We tried to imitate that extremely tight rhythm guitar paired with a slightly looser snare drum shuffle (and then added even looser claps). So it swings with this tight little cute pocket – that makes me really want to dance.
We also referenced Ray Charles’ “What I’d Say Part II” for the vocal call-and-response part. That’s one of my top-5 favorite recordings of all time, in any genre, and it seemed like the time to try and rip it off (just a little).
What was the technical process like to make this song happen – writing, arranging, rehearsing, live vs. studio recorded etc? Any fun stories?
I wrote it on my friend Danielle’s bathroom floor, in about 2006, the morning after a dance in San Francisco. I had just got off the phone with my mom, and was lamenting this terrible dance crush I had, on this guy who I found totally unappealing – except for when I was dancing with him, at which point I found him incredibly appealing. (I was just learning how to dance, so it was one of my first experiences of the “dance crush” phenomenon.) My mom actually gave me the refrain; she said she’d always thought someone should write a song about a guy who’s a total geek and maybe even a fuckup, but then the song would go “my baby can dance!” and it was all OK.
And I thought, I know at least twelve guys like that.
We’re dancers. We love your music. If you were playing this song for a room full of people, how would you like to see them move to it?
Well, my favorite thing about Lindy has always been the levity and connection of it. I love to see people really making each other laugh, and doing sweet simple things in a connected way. I don’t particularly care about style or technique, except as it allows people to communicate better within the dance. I love to see people who are full of joy, and sharing that with their partner.