I don’t remember anyone ever calling it a shuffle, and I’m certain no one ever jumped on stage and yelled, “LET’S SHUFFLE!”
But by the spring of 1974, the shuffle had returned to rock ‘n’ roll with a certain up-tempo, twangy vengeance.
I know this because at the time I was 13, learning to play the drums and beginning to pay attention to such matters.
What I did not know but learned this week was that the shuffle as a rhythmic conveyance (i.e. beat) for rock ‘n’ roll songs had fallen out of favor as the British Invasion commenced a decade earlier.
LItR guest Ned Sublette, author and astute musical observer, shared this tidbit of information as part of a much wider-ranging but no-less-fascinating discussion of the Cha-cha-cha’s collision with rock via “Louie Louie” and “Satisfaction.”
Sublette has cracked a musical code or two in his life, his insights are beyond astute, and his comments regarding the shuffle reminded me of the times between ‘74 and ‘75 when I, as an aspiring teenage drummer, first attempted to play a shuffle on the drums.
And here’s the rub: It wasn’t called a shuffle in 1974, at least the shuffles that came to my attention in those years.
They were boogies. As in “are you ready to boogie?” As in “THE INCREDIBLE BLACK. OAK. ARKANSAS!”
As in, BOA’s boogie-on-steroids version of “Jim Dandy.”
Followed soon after, across the rock radio landscape, by “La Grange” (ZZ, I mean), “Can’t Get Enough” (Bad Company), “Some Kinda Wonderful” (Grand Funk—a heavy, lumbering boogie, their penultimate hit) and “Tush” (more ZZ, don’t you know).
And onward we went, “boogie” becoming the shorthand for this kind of song and the bands that played it, circa 1974-‘75.
The shuffle had returned, and it boogied.
Ed Legge (@freebirdyeller) is a life-long musician, long-time journalist and sometime corporate dweeb who’s writing a book about originating rock ‘n’ roll’s most absurd tradition.