Howdy, everybody, and welcome to another edition of Adventures Through The Mines Of Mellow Gold! Hope you didn’t put that cowboy hat away, pardner; we’re going back to the country side of Mellow Gold for today’s track!
Terri Gibbs – Sonmebody’s Knockin’ (download)
I’d love to tear this one apart, musically, but I really can’t. There’s simply not much to say about the song from a musical standpoint. “Somebody’s Knockin'” seems like a pretty straightforward country-twinged tune, except for when you throw in the harmonica, at which point it kinda sounds like Supertramp’s “Take The Long Way Home.” It’s pleasant enough; the song shuffles along at a nice pace, with a nice blend between acoustic guitars and piano. There’s not really a lot of synth – maybe just a few keyboard flourishes here and there – which, of course, is disappointing from the Mellow Gold perspective and doesn’t make much of an impact otherwise. Overall, this song is a musical snooze-fest. There’s just really nothing interesting going on. Even the lead vocal is just…there.
Well, except for one line: “Lord it’s the devil, would you look at him.” Excerpted below:
Did you hear the way he said “him?” Go back and listen again. That’s not “him.” That’s “heee-um,” and qualifies for the most wimpy delivery of the word “him” since Roger Daltrey whined it in “Substitute” back in 1966. Let’s compare, shall we?
Terri, I wasn’t so sure about how mellow this song was, but you suddenly qualified with just one word. Congratulations, you wuss.
So okay, maybe we don’t have much to go on from a musical perspective. But lyrically, we’ve got some good stuff here. “Somebody’s Knocking” is a song about the temptations of the devil. I’ll be honest, I’m surprised such a song could even make it onto the charts.
Should I let him in
Lord, it’s the Devil, would you look at him
I’ve heard about him, but I never dreamed
He’d have blue eyes and blue jeans
Now, maybe it’s just because I’m not a religious sort, but songs about the devil and temptation and whatnot really irritate me (Charlie Daniels not included). But I’m actually not irritated here. I was during the first three lines, but then we got to this “blue eyes and blue jeans” business, and now I’m more confused than anything else. Why is this guy talking about the devil having blue eyes and blue jeans? Is he…(gasp) GAY? Is that what’s going on here?
Well, somebody’s talkin’,
He’s whisperin’ to me
Your place or my place,
Well, which will it be
I’m gettin’ weaker and he’s comin’ on strong
But I don’t wanna go wrong
I refuse to believe that 1980s radio – 1980s country radio – would have allowed such a song to make it to the top of the charts. There was no mention of the dark side of homosexuality on the charts in those days. Hell, there’s no mention of it now, either (“I Kissed A Girl” doesn’t count and you know it, so I don’t want to hear it.).
So here’s my theory: Terri Gibbs is thinking about shooting some smack. He hasn’t done it yet, but he’s thinking about it. All the paraphernalia is right there in front of him. And suddenly, the devil shows up. Terri knows he has a choice to make: “your place” – heaven – or “my place” – hell. The devil and the drugs are powerful, Terri. You’re gettin’ weaker and he’s comin’ on strong. But you don’t wanna go wrong. Hold on, Terri! HOLD ON!
He must have tapped my telephone line
He must have known I was spendin’ my time alone
He says we’ll have one heavenly night
My fever’s burnin’, so he oughta be right at home
Yeah, it’s gotta be drugs. Because otherwise, I take that “one heavenly night” line and I’m right back at the lowest common denominator on this website (butt sex). So, yes. I’ve decided: this song is about Terri turning away from the evils of heroin. Of course, the only line that doesn’t compute with this is the “blue eyes and blue jeans” part. I’m lost on that one. Was there some kind of denim backlash in 1980? Were only BAD people wearing blue jeans? And what the hell’s wrong with blue eyes? This song makes no fucking sense. Who the hell recommended this?
Anyway, let’s give you some history on Terri Gibbs, shall we? According to AMG, Gibbs was born in Miami in 1954 and raised from age one in Augusta, GA; blind from birth, she turned to music at an early age, and…
Wait a minute.
I need to read that again.
she turned to music at an early age
Wait a second. TERRI’S A GIRL?
You have got to be kidding me. This can’t be true. Have you listened to “Somebody’s Knockin'” yet? That doesn’t sound like a girl to me! That sounds like a guy! Hang on while I go in search of pictures.
No, I’m still not buying it. That’s a DUDE.
Okay, getting closer. But still, that could be a really effeminate-looking guy. No. I need solid proof of this.
Huh. Well, you can’t make the message any clearer than that album title (located right below her name). I guess that’ll have to do it.
Okay, I’ll come clean: when writing all of the above, I obviously already knew this startling fact. But this shock is not an act. Last Friday, late afternoon, Mike called me:
Mike: So what’s on board for Mellow Gold next week?
Jason: I don’t know. I’m thinking about this song called “Somebody’s Knockin’,” it’s this creepy song about being tempted by the devil.
Mike: Never heard of it.
Jason: Listen to the way he says the word “him.”
(plays clip over the phone)
Mike: (laughing hysterically) That’s worse than…
Jason: ….Roger Daltrey! I know!
(Mike and Jason spend a minute singing “me for him” over and over again and laughing ’cause they’re clearly still in high school)
Mike: Who’s it by?
Jason: Terri Gibbs?
Mike: Never heard of him.
Jason: Me either. Let me see what he’s about.
Jason: Dude? That’s a girl.
Mike: IT IS NOT!
Jason: I swear.
Jason: Yes! Hang on, let me find a picture.
Jason: Holy shit.
Jason: She has an album called I’m A Lady.
(sends Mike the picture, more hysterical laughter on both ends)
Mike: The spelling of “Terri” should have tipped you off.
Jason: That does NOT sound like a girl! AND she’s blind! I guess that explains the hair.
So I want you to know, it’s not like I knew all along. I’d be curious to know if any of you knew Terri was a girl before getting to this part of the entry, especially if you listened to the song first.
See, NOW the song makes sense. The devil is a dude! With blue eyes and blue jeans! And he may or may not want sex of some sort. Maybe all he wants is to give Terri a haircut, I don’t know.
But anyway, about Terri Gibbs: yes, she was blind since birth, and learned to play the piano at the tender age of 3. Her hero was Chet Atkins, who heard her demo tape and suggested she head to Nashville. Unfortunately, success wasn’t forthcoming, and Gibbs wound up pursuing a number of different avenues – college, other bands – before returning to her hometown of Augusta, GA and shopping around another demo tape. The demo made its way to Ed Penney, a producer and songwriter who had penned songs for Jerry Lee Lewis, Anne Murray and Barbara Mandrell. Penney signed her to MCA, and teamed up with Jerry Gillespie to create “Somebody’s Knockin’.” Gillespie was a popular producer, having worked with greats such as B.B. King, Dusty Springfield, Kenny Rogers, The Judds, and….Dan Seals!
“Somebody’s Knockin'” was from Gibbs’ 1981 debut album, and performed admirably: not only did it reach #8 on the Country charts, but crossed over to the Pop charts at #13. It also reached the A/C top five. And apparently nobody else had a problem with knowing she was a woman. It was, apparently, just me. And Mike.
Gibbs never matched the success of “Somebody’s Knockin’,” but that’s not to say she was a one-hit wonder – far from it, actually. She had a number of Top 20 hits on the country charts, toured successfully with George Jones, and won the Academy of Country Music’s “Best New Female Vocalist” award, as well as the Country Music Association’s “Inaugural Horizon” award, which gives recognition to those with really big glasses.
And for all you hard-core gangstas who read Mellow Gold – you probably know “Somebody’s Knockin'” already! Don’t you remember DMX’s song “The Convo” from It’s Dark And Hell Is Hot?
You have no idea how long it took me to uncover that one.
Well, now that “Somebody’s Knockin'” has completely forced me to re-evaluate my own skills of critical judgment, I think it’s time to sign off. Thanks for reading and we’ll see you next week for Adventures Through The Mines Of Mellow Gold!