Tim Tunes

3-5 Dottie Lou - Fable and Fact

August 19, 2022 Tim Rose Season 3 Episode 5
Tim Tunes
3-5 Dottie Lou - Fable and Fact
Show Notes Transcript

 Dottie Lou has long been one of my most popular songs. Every band I play in wants to play it. Everyone who plays the song wants to meet Dottie. Today we’ll break down the song and try to discover what makes it so popular and, we’ll have a little chat with Dottie Lou Crisp, herself. Live and in person. And catch up with her and what she’s been doing with herself the last 30 years or so.

I’m Tim Rose and this is the Tim Tunes pod cast. In this episode we’ll dive into the song Dottie Lou and speak with the lady herself.

Dottie has asked that you donate to the Winchester Virginia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. You can do so here:
https://winchesterspca.org/donate/

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[Intro]
[Intro Theme – Motor]

Dottie Lou has long been one of my most popular songs. Every band I play in wants to play it. Everyone who plays the song wants to meet Dottie. Today we’ll break down the song and try to discover what makes it so popular and, we’ll have a little chat with Dottie Lou Crisp, herself. Live and in person. And catch up with her and what she’s been doing with herself the last 30 years or so.

[Pod Lick]

Hi. I’m Tim Rose and this is the Tim Tunes pod cast. Episode 3-5 Dottie Lou – Fable and Fact. In this episode we’ll dive into the song Dottie Lou and speak with the lady herself. So, relax, take your shoes off, and settle back for the next 20 minutes or so.

[Pod Lick – Big D]

[Dottie Lou – The Song]

I met Dottie Lou Crisp at Frostburg State College in Frostburg Maryland around 1974 or so. We were friends. We took a few classes together and hung around a bit, but we were never a thing. Consequently, I can still sing the song. A word to the wise, don’t put the name of your girl/boyfriends in a song. I promise you that later on your spouse, or significant other, won’t like it when you sing those songs. And God forbid that song becomes popular. Then you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place.

[Podlick – Boing "Comedic Boing, A.wav" by InspectorJ (www.jshaw.co.uk) of Freesound.org]

But I digress. I remember that Dottie Lou was going through a rough patch. She had developed a “reputation”. Now, back in the day, a “reputation” was not a good thing for a girl to develop. It meant that you were “easy” and that you had loose morals. With the song Dottie Lou, I decided to take that “reputation” and instead of seeing it as a weakness, infuse it with the power it really had. So now, instead of Dottie Lou (the character in the song) being a victim (which the real Dottie Lou never was by the way) she wields the power of her sex. In reality, a lot of this was me observing her and simply documenting what was going on.

But what is it that makes this song so popular? I think there are three things.

1) Possibility of Sex
2) Catchy tune and lyrics, easy to understand and remember
3) Start with the hook

Let’s look at these in reverse order.

[Podlick]

[Dottie Lou – The Song – Start With the Hook]

Starting with the hook is a time-honored way to get the listener into the song right away. So, by beginning the song with the Chorus, I go right into the hook. A lot of popular songs do this. In fact, this was one of Frank Sinatra’s techniques that subsequent music producers recognized and brought forward into rock and roll. For instance, the songs “Rock and Roll Music” and “Maybellene” by Chuck Berry go right to the hook.

So instead of “Verse, chorus, verse, chorus”, I play “Chorus, verse, chorus, verse”. This immediately gets the attention of the listener and has them wondering “Who is the Dottie Lou” and “Why are you waiting for her?”. Now they want to hear the verse and understand who Dottie Lou is. If I started with the verse then you run the risk of missing the first verse and then not getting the humor of the song. This is especially true when you are playing the song in a barroom environment which is what we were doing most of the time.


[Dottie Lou – The Song – Catchy Tune and Lyrics]

At the time I wrote this song, I was listening to a lot of stride influenced music, Redbone, Little Feat, Bonnie Raitt, Scott Joplin, and I love that jazzy chopping wood rhythm guitar strumming style. This is what I mean by that.

{example}

At the same time, I was listening to a lot of circle of 4ths or 5ths progressions – these are found in folk songs like Jonathan Edwards “Shanty” or millions of jazz songs and transitions from one verse to another. Here is an example of what I’m talking about.

{example}

This stuff can be found all over my songs – especially the songs of this period. In fact, this song starts off on a G chord then goes to an F# chord – I mean, what was I thinking? I think somehow the F# is a substitute for the 5th chord. Back to the root and then I’m off to the circle of 4ths mentioned before in the second half of the chorus. In fact, I use the same chord progression in the verse only down an octave lower and with a classic blues rock dotted quarter note beat. Here listen to the middle of the chorus with just the chords and melody –

{example}

Now listen to the verse with the same chords played twice as long but in the same order.

{example}

Even I didn’t realize this was the case until I did this analysis of the song.

[podlick] 

[Dottie Lou – The Song – The Possibility of Sex]

There is no falling in love in this song. There is however the possibility of sex, at least that is what is implied by the song or perhaps inferred by the user. It seems there is a line of suitors all wanting the attentions of Dottie Lou. We get the impression that Dottie Lou is free to choose, or not choose, as she so whims. I think there is a kernel of truth here in that in almost all relationships, sexual or otherwise, there is one person asking for something and another person giving something, … or not.

That being said I didn’t really think about any of this stuff in the 45 minutes it took me to write this song back in the ‘70s. Heck, it’s taken me a lot longer to analyze it than it took me to write it. And after all these are just my own opinions. I feel a little like a tree trying to describe itself.

[podlick]


[Dottie Lou – The Song – Virtually Live]

Ok. Enough of my pontificating. Let’s listen to a voice and guitar only version of Dottie Lou. I think this is best version where you can hear the chords and the lyrics clearly. Recorded in 2009 and included on my Virtually Live collection of songs here is “Dottie Lou”

[Play Dottie Lou]
G7 F#7 G7 E7 A7 D7 G7 C7 G7 D7                                                                    INTRO

G7           F#7                                    G7                    E7                                                CHORUS 1
Dottie Lou, what do you want me to do, Dottie Lou?
                     A7                                    D7
Should I just stand at the bar, Love, and talk until two?
             G7               D7              G7            D7
Tell me what do you want me to do, Dottie Lou?

               E                                                                                                                                 VERSE 1
She's got long brown hair and a slinky smile
        A
And when she starts to shake it, lord, she drives men wild
                     D
When you're steppin' out with Dottie Lou, you're steppin' out in style
       G7                                      D7
She make you feel like a man in just a little while.

G7           F#7                                    G7                    E7                                                CHORUS 2
Dottie Lou, what do you want me to do, Dottie Lou?
                     A7                                    D7
Should I just stand at the bar, Love, and talk until two?
             G7               D7              G7            D7
Tell me what do you want me to do, Dottie Lou?

        E                                                                                                                                        VERSE 2
You think she ain't lookin' when you lay down your cards
       A
But I can tell you brother that she's lookin' hard
                 D
Well, you might look good, but you can't see far
                 G                                                      D
And she's off before you know it in somebody else's car

G7           F#7                                    G7                    E7                                                CHORUS 3
Dottie Lou, what do you want me to do, Dottie Lou?
                     A7                                    D7
Should I just stand at the bar, Love, and talk until two?
             G7               D7              G7            D7
Tell me what do you want me to do, Dottie Lou?
 
        E                                                                                                                                     VERSE 3
Some say she's been misguided, and others say she's hard to tame
       A
But everybody gets excited when they mention her name
       D
The women all get indignant and the men all go insane
                 G                                                      D
But tell me is sweet little Dottie Lou really the one to blame?

G7           F#7                                    G7                    E7                                                CHORUS 4
Dottie Lou, what do you want me to do, Dottie Lou?
                     A7                                    D7
Should I just stand at the bar, Love, and talk until two?
             G7               D7              G7            D7
Tell me what do you want me to do, Dottie Lou?



[Podlick – Funky Wah] 

[Dorothy Lou Crisp - Interview]

I met up with Dottie in the summer of 2022 in Arlington,  Virginia. We hadn’t seen each other in at least 20 years as we sat down to have a nice chat.


{Interview}

[Outro]

Okay. That about wraps it up. I hope you enjoyed this episode. Special thanks to Dottie Lou Crisp and to InspectorJ of Freesound.org for the use of his “boing” sound effect.

By the way, if you want to listen to some of the songs from the last two seasons and you don’t want to have to listen to me prattling on, just go to tim-rose.com for links to stream all the music from the first two seasons. Plus, you can always drop me a line at Tim Tunes Podcast on Facebook. We’d love to hear from you.

Thanks for listening. 


[Outro Pod Lick]


[After Outro Pod Lick  version of Dottie Lou composed of all the recordings over the years]