Daddy B. Nice's #1 ranked Southern Soul Artist
"Sho' Wasn't Me"
Composed by R. Davis
Daddy B. Nice's Original Profile:
Listen to Ronnie Lovejoy singing "Sho' Wasn't Me" while you read.
"Well, she must need glasses,
'Cause that sho' wasn't me.
Your sister's got a bad case
Of mistaken identity."
His catalog isn't as big as Johnnie Taylor's or Tyrone Davis's, and compared to Peggy Scott-Adams the hits have been few and far between, but that only tells you the high esteem in which the deejays of the Deep South regard Ronnie Lovejoy's recording of "Sho' Wasn't Me," or as your Daddy B. Nice used to think of it when he first started hearing it on the radio, "A Case of Mistaken Identity."
First, its guitar riff is to die for. Executed with breathtaking precision and passion, it joins certain instrumental motifs (one thinks of Booker T.'s organ on various Stax occasions or the chords on Latimore's "Let's Straighten It Out") that we never tire of, that seem to be impervious to repetition, that--like the sun coming up and the birds singing each morning--always arrive fresh and pure.
And Ronnie Lovejoy's voice commands your total attention. One of those big, slow-moving men with deep, languorous voices in the mold of Barry White, Lovejoy is accustomed to sitting on a stool while delivering ballads of slow, steamy sensuality. And the steamiest track in Southern Soul is Lovejoy's beleaguered husband's labored alibi. From the very first words--
"Girl, you say your sister saw me
Coming out of the Holiday Inn. . . "
--to his next-to last words--
"You didn't find my drawers
Beside nobody's bed. . . "
--Lovejoy wraps the listener in his teddy-bear-like guilt and disingenuousness.
"Now, I've been accused,
Oh so many times.
All these women you're giving me,
They can't all be mine.
You say the husband's coming in the front door,
And I'm running out the back.
Well, it couldn't be me, babe,
You see, I wasn't raised like that."
. . .And the listener, cowering in the aural magnificence of Lovejoy's cathedral baritone, senses an underlying sexual drive so immense it's impossible to believe, in spite of all of his protesting, that the man could ever be innocent. Impossible to believe, in other words, that a man of such super-charged appetites could have ever succeeded in denying himself....Such is the stuff that legends are made of, and "Sho' Wasn't Me"--whose seven minutes go by in what seems like three--would catapult Ronnie Lovejoy into its lofty position on Daddy B. Nice's chart even if it were the only song Lovejoy had ever recorded. Sadly, Lovejoy's already spare catalog reached its finale with his passing in 2001.
--Daddy B. Nice
August 17, 2011: "Sho Wasn't Me," is now on YouTube!
Listen to Ronnie Lovejoy's "Sho' Wasn't Me" on YouTube.
To read the latest updates on Ronnie Lovejoy, scroll down to the "Tidbits" section. To automatically link to Ronnie Lovejoy's charted radio singles, awards, CD's and many other references and citations on the website, go to "Ronnie Lovejoy" in Daddy B. Nice's Comprehensive Index.
November 1, 2010:
Daddy B. Nice's Updated Profile
I just finished reading a review of the new Keith Richards autobiography, "Life," in which he recounts meeting Mick Jagger during a time in England that came to be called "the Awakening." (David Remnick, "The New Yorker," November 1, 2010.)
The "awakening" was the discovery of American rhythm and blues, the slimmest sliver of a connection for Richards being a single jukebox in a London ice cream store that played American black records.
When Richards met Mick Jagger in 1961, Jagger had all the latest Chess music by Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf and Willie Dixon. From there Richards went on to absorb T-Bone Walker and B. B. King, schooling himself to become guitar-hero riffmaster of the self-proclaimed "world's greatest rock and roll band."
And it made me wonder, as I have annually since the late nineties, when I was lucky enough to travel often in the most neglected region of this country--deep Dixie, the Delta--when the "awakening" to today's black music, the purest and best of which is flying under the world's radar as Southern Soul music, will occur yet again.
"One of the more touching moments," Remnick writes in his review, "is when the very young Rolling Stones arrive at the Chess recording studios in Chicago, a blues Mecca. A workman is painting the ceiling. The workman's name is McKinley Morganfield, better known as Muddy Waters.
"The Stones were headed for a life of millions, and the least they could do over time was pay tribute to their heroes. They named the band for one of Morganfield's songs and sang his praises and the praises of all their best forebears.
"Richards had escaped the Reaper, but not his most essential debt, and he was true to it. "Me?" Keith once said. "I just want to be Muddy Waters. Even though I'll never be that good or that black."
Where are today's Richards and Jaggers? Why haven't the youth of today discovered the heroes of contemporary Southern Soul? Where is that tiny sliver of inspiration--that ice cream store jukebox that Richards sat in front of like a shrine--in today's world?
With the advent of YouTube, one after another of the obscure dominoes--the out-of-print Southern Soul classics--has appeared, but the greatest of all Southern Soul songs, and the greatest song (period) of the nineties--Ronnie Lovejoy's "Sho' Wasn't Me," is still a rumor, a legend, and a no-show.
(And only a thirty-second sound sample on the last legitimate media link, All Music Guide, from total oblivion.)
Lovejoy's subsequent copycat song "Still Wasn't Me" doesn't cut it. Tyrone Davis's unspectacular cover of "Sho' Wasn't Me" doesn't come within a mile of it. Only the real thing, the Lovejoy recording of "Sho' Wasn't Me," the song which I once likened to the Southern Soul equivalent of the Sermon On The Mount, the song which featured Lovejoy's finest (almost miraculous) vocal, Southern Soul's most sublime guitar lick, and hands down the greatest female back-up in the history of R&B (Tina Diamond, Thomisene Anderson, Jewel Bass and Ondrea Nicole Meyers).
It's inconceivable to me that anyone with a shred of musical genius, upon hearing this song, wouldn't fall into a state of discovery, of bliss, of grace capable of fueling an entire career of music ala Keith Richards.
--Daddy B. Nice
About Ronnie Lovejoy
Ronnie Lovejoy was born in Wetumpka, Alabama, sixty miles north of Montgomery, in 1950. After a youth spent singing with church choirs, and working in various bands, Lovejoy worked with Benny Latimore, playing keyboards and singing vocals. He also wrote songs for Buddy Ace.
Song's Transcendent Moment
"You can put me anywhere,
1.Ronnie Lovejoy's song "Live In Man," from the extraordinarily influential album, Nobody's Fault But Mine, became the inspiration for Southern Soul diva Pat Brown's smash radio single, "Live In Woman" (from the CD For Your Information Only) in 2004.
2.Three of the most storied female back-up singers in Southern Soul contributed vocals on "Sho' Wasn't Me": Thomisene Anderson, Jewel Bass and Tina Diamond. Tina Diamond later recorded a popular cover of "Sho' Wasn't Me" called "Positive I.D." (from the CD In The Heart Of The City, Avanti).
3.February, 2006. Yet another new song--J.T. Watkins' "Where Did Our Love Go?"--borrows the chords from Ronnie Lovejoy's "Sho' Wasn't Me." The guitar riff is absent, and the song stands on its own fairly well.
4.April 16, 2006. Ronnie Lovejoy's "(Ain't Gonna Let) Nothin' Bother Me," from the Still Wasn't Me LP, has been sounding very good to your Daddy B. Nice lately. When the 2000 CD arrived years ago, it was--for all but diehard Lovejoy fans--somewhat of a disappointment, and "Nothin' Bother Me," with its direct rip-off of the "Sho' Wasn't Me" melody, fit that pattern.
But now, years later, as the classic song has receded further in the distance and "Sho' Wasn't Me" remakes like casino queen Tina Diamond's "Positive I.D." have become commonplace and even eagerly anticipated, Lovejoy's own copycat song, "Nothin' Bothers Me," sounds like yet another fascinating addition to those "Sho' Wasn't Me" echoes.
The beat in "Nothin' Bothers Me" is a trifle faster, and the backup singing (see above) is excellent. The vocal is more casual, even tired-sounding, but it's Ronnie Lovejoy's voice. What could be better? It's like hearing an out-take from the "Sho' Wasn't Me" vault--a posthumous gift.
5.Author's Update: October 30, 2007.
Ronnie Lovejoy's masterpiece of Southern Soul, "Sho' Wasn't Me," and the Avanti CD from which it came, Nobody's Fault But Mine, has gone out of print. So one of the top two or three songs in contemporary Southern Soul isn't available to the listening and buying public. Someone needs to remedy this--and soon.
If nothing else, look at it from the perspective of our young Southern Soul artists. They need to hear songs like this. They need to know how sleek and how deep classic R&B can sound. They shouldn't be listening to covers and imitations, even if they're by Ronnie himself ("Nothin' Bother Me").
They should be listening to the real thing, the original--arguably the greatest song in contemporary Southern Soul music.
And we wonder why the "freshest" Southern Soul sound is drifting towards hiphop and funk? It's because many of the classic Southern Soul songs of five to ten years ago are out of print. Many of the artists who have rejuvenated Southern Soul music since then have rarely if ever heard those recent classics--the songs, if you will, that started it all.
Deejays who do possess copies should blow the dust off Nobody's Fault But Mine and play "Sho' Wasn't Me."
Update, November 21, 2010, to article below:
RONNIE LOVEJOY'S "SHO' WASN'T ME" IS ON I-TUNES!
I finally discovered this, not through any feedback from readers, but by accessing a special computer set up by my computer tech by remote control and delving into the I-Tune catalog. The entire album, Nobody's Fault But Mine, is available (unlike my current CD Store affiliates), including Lovejoy's neglected classic.
I do not currently have I-Tunes as an affiliate, so I cannot provide the link. It will be easy enough for I-Tunes users to find the song. Remember that it is not the tune "Still Wasn't Me." It's the tune "Sho' Wasn't Me."
--Daddy B. Nice
September 9, 2012: From Daddy B. Nice's Mailbag
ANOTHER OF RONNIE LOVEJOY'S BACK-UP SINGERS COMES OUT OF THE WOODWORK
Good morning Daddy B. Nice,
My name is Ondrea Myers. I came across this awesome write up of Mr. Ronnie Lovejoy. The paragraph below caught my attention because it highlighted the awesome female backup to the song "Sho' Wasn't Me."
"Lovejoy's subsequent copycat song "Still Wasn't Me" doesn't cut it. Tyrone Davis's unspectacular cover of "Sho' Wasn't Me" doesn't come within a mile of it. Only the real thing, the Lovejoy recording of "Sho' Wasn't Me,"
I just had to make one correction. I TOO was a part of that background ensemble. My name, as listed on the credits on the album was Ondrea Lewis. I was actually priveledged to sing on about 5 of the songs on that "Nobody's Fault But Mine" album. That was my first time participating in a professional recording and it was truly a great experience. The engineer was Lavalle Benson. He had actually provided me with additional tracks to do some writing of my own. I too am a singer/songwriter.
Well, I won't take up much more of your time, but I did want to share my contribution to that highly regarded recording.
Ondrea Nicole Meyers
Daddy B. Nice replies:
What a wonderful, unexpected letter. I will put this into the record on Daddy B. Nice's site (give me some time).
It sure would be nice to hear from more people from those Lovejoy sessions. And although I'm extremely pleased that "Sho' Wasn't Me" is finally on YouTube to give evidence to what I've been trying to say for years--that it's the best--I'm also a little troubled by the poor sound quality of the version available on YouTube. It doesn't do justice to the fullness of the song's sound. It really needs to be reprinted.
Daddy B. Nice
Ondrea Meyers responds:
Dear Daddy B. Nice,
Thank you so much for your kind response. I honestly wasn't sure how my message would be received since I'm not well known in the genre. I have a few memories from the sessions but it was so long ago that they are a bit sketchy. I was 7 or 8 months pregnant with my second son and he is almost 14 now. I do remember that Mr. Lovejoy was very friendly and that he was serious about his work. I lost contact with him when I returned home to Dayton, OH in the fall of '99. I was still there when I heard the announcement on the radio of his death. When I moved back to Jackson, MS in '02, I found out that he'd been looking for me to do some performances. I often think about that missed opportunity. However, I still have the experience of recording "Sho Wasn't Me" and that's something that can never be taken from me.
Well again I want to thank you for your time. I've been reading over your site and you have a lot of info on there so I'll keep an eye out for your updates.
Ondrea Nicole Meyers
PS: Just in some case you may want to know more about me or see me in action you can check me out at Ondrea Meyers on YouTube.
OndreaNicole responds again:
Daddy B. Nice, good morning again!
You know, I was browsing your site and seeing your extensive list of Southern Soul Artists, I didn't realize that I'd sung with so many of them. It's been a long time, but over the years I've come across many of them on a professional level. Dave Mack, LaMorris Williams, Andre Lee, Pat Brown, Mister Zay, and Stevie J. are the ones that come to mind right away. It is quite awesome to see them all collected there together.
There's one Blues Man that I don't know if he'll qualify for your list, but his name is Dexter Allen. Check him out when you get a chance at Dexter Allen's official website..
I just wanted to share that with you. I hope you're having a great day.
Mrs. Ondrea Nicole Myers
Daddy B. Nice replies:
I've finally got the record changed. Your name is now included in that paragraph about Ronnie Lovejoy's background singers. Thanks for sending the YouTube video, which I enjoyed, and yes, I have heard of Dexter Allen--I run across his name occasionally when doing Jackson-area concert dates--but I've never been privileged to hear his music. I will also post your correspondence in the "Tidbits" section of the Ronnie Lovejoy Artist Guide.
Thanks again for writing in,
Daddy B. Nice
Daddy B. Nice notes:An obviously thoughtful and musically-passionate reader shared his thoughts about "Sho' Wasn't Me" and Southern Soul music in general recently.
RE: DADDY B. NICE'S TOP 100 SOUTHERN SOUL SONGS
Dear Daddy B. Nice,
I first discovered your web site about two years ago. What really got my attention was your "Top 100 (really 200) Southern Soul Songs".
What really caught my interest was that you had my all time favorite song, "Sho Wasn't Me" by Ronnie Lovejoy on top, at that time.
I had heard of most of the artists and had many of their songs but I was really interested in ones I hadn't heard. After reading your excellent bios (nice sketches), I decided to dig deeper.
At that time I had about half of the 200 songs in my collection (on 70 cd's ). Two years and the purchase of 38 cd's later, I'm still 50 songs (about 26 cd's) short.
I had never heard of, but really liked An-Jay, Big Ike, Fredrick Brinson, Tina Diamond, Maurice Wynn and especially Frank Mendenhall.
I don't plan on buying the cd's by R. Kelly, Luther Vandross, Angie Stone, Glenn Jones or Jaheim in the near future. Not my kind of Southern Soul.
Thanks for your great website.
P.S. This letter was written before your list changed. I think "Sho Wasn't Me" should still be #1. It is the epitome of Southern Soul.
Daddy B. Nice replies:
I'm sorry for the delay, which was caused by my wish to give your letter a thoughtful reply.
First, I'm especially grateful for your "testimony" to the entertainment and education you've derived from my "Top 100 Southern Soul Songs" list. Although I get bits and pieces of positive feedback on the website from time to time, your Daddy B. Nice seldom receives the kind of engaging and overall appreciation that you were kind enough to send.
Second, your patient purchasing and collecting over the years of the CD's that contain these Top 200 Southern Soul songs should give many a dejected and jaded Southern Soul producer proof that people do indeed still buy (not steal) the music.
Third, your listing of the artists that are not your "kind of Southern Soul" is right-on, and I couldn't agree with you more. (And you're not the first to say so.) Why then, you might ask, do these questionable or marginally Southern Soul artists still hold down spots on the "Top 100 Southern Soul" songs?
I can tell you that I myself do not like to turn to Southern Soul radio stations and hear a preponderance of music by artists such as Jaheim or Angie Stone. (See my most current column--"DJ Breezy Love"--on Daddy B. Nice's Corner.)
When I constructed the Top 100 chart in the early years of the century, no one had ever attempted a grouping of the artists on the chart, and no one had called it "Southern Soul." I was lucky enough to be in a special place at a special time, and I literally spent years of analysis devising a chart I thought might constitute a legitimate platform to showcase the artists and the songs of this genre or sub-genre no one else (at the time) really believed existed.
Jaheim's "Put That Woman First" (based on A William Bell classic), R. Kelly's "When A Woman's Fed Up," Erykah Badu's "Tyrone" and Glenn Jones "Baby Come Home," to cite some examples, were legitimate, early contemporary Southern Soul hits played by the deejays who were in turn schooling me, and now those artists remain on the chart, even though it's a little like defects in a gold nugget.
Because I'm an ornery and cantankerous sort, with a respect for the history of the genre, I have been too stubborn to remove certain artists who were crucial to the formation of contemporary Southern Soul, EVEN THOUGH their career trajectories have proven them to be urban or hiphop artists in the years since.
One other reason factored in. Have you ever gone to a list of music or musicians on a brand new website and searched in vain for someone you know and found yourself scratching your head and not knowing any? You probably threw up your hands and gave up.
I wanted to avoid that sort of impasse at SouthernSoulRnB. By including a few mainstream artists, I was also trying to throw a "lifeline" or a "handle" to readers and listeners who had absolutely no inkling of who Johnnie Taylor or Marvin Sease or Willie Clayton were.
Finally, you state that Ronnie Lovejoy's "Sho' Wasn't Me" is your favorite Southern Soul song. You can count your Daddy B. Nice as a soul-mate. Ronnie Lovejoy's "Sho' Wasn't Me" is also MY favorite Southern Soul song, and I have written on many occasions (in bio's, sketches, and columns) that it is the best Southern Soul song.
"Sho' Wasn't Me" is currently ranked number three, after Johnnie Taylor's "Soul Heaven" and Tyrone Davis's "Leavin'". But whenever I think of a potentially new fan coming to the website and sampling "Soul Heaven" but not "Sho' Wasn't Me," and possibly passing up Southern Soul fandom because he or she didn't sample "Sho' Wasn't Me," I am deeply contrite.
And again I have to go back into the decade-long history of the website (although it hasn't been online that long) to explain why this is. The website started with just one chart: the Top 100 Southern Soul (90's-00's).
I knew I had to come up with a formula to simplify the incredible number of artists and songs eligible, and the formula I finally struck upon was to 1/ only list each artist once; and 2/ to compensate for only one listing by awarding artists with the greatest catalogs the highest spots on the chart.
Over the years, even in the most hostile and enraged criticisms from artists who thought they had been slighted via my rankings, no one has ever denied that Johnnie Taylor and Tyrone Davis were the two giants of the genre. (Actually, in the original ranking, Peggy Scott-Adams was number two.)
But the beautiful part was that it was also a Top 100 Songs Chart. To this day, the song (which has always been more important to me) is listed in a headline directly underneath the drawing on the Artist Guide. Thus, in the early days of the website, the page was called simply "Top 100 Southern Soul."
When I constructed the Top 100 Southern Soul Songs many years later, it was just a matter of designing a page and changing the headlines. It linked to the Top 100 Southern Soul Artists chart (the old original chart), so that whatever entry was at the top of the Top 100 Artists was also at the top of the Top 100 Songs.
When you first visited the site a couple of years ago, Peter, I had decided that "Sho' Wasn't Me" was so magnificent that Ronnie Lovejoy deserved the top spot not only on the Songs list but the Artists list. Since then I've flip-flopped back to Johnnie and Tyrone, because it doesn't seem right to rank Lovejoy's relatively short career above theirs on the Top 100 Artists Chart.
I was more or less content until your letter stirred it all up for me again. And you never know: Ronnie Lovejoy may again ascend to the number one spot.
You have put your finger on a flaw of the website that I've never been able to quite resolve.
Daddy B. Nice
Feedback, comments, information or questions for Daddy B. Nice?
If You Liked. . . You'll Love
It doesn't quite match the bombastic production of Phil Spector's soul-rock classic, but if you loved the Righteous Brothers' "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling," you'll be sure to enjoy Ronnie Lovejoy's "Sho' Wasn't Me."
Honorary "B" Side
"Live In Man"
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