Mr. X Mark Safford (R.I.P.: Gone But Not Forgotten)

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"Wiggle, Wiggle, Wiggle, Jiggle, Jiggle, Jiggle"

Mr. X Mark Safford (R.I.P.: Gone But Not Forgotten)

Composed by Mark Safford


February 22, 2020:

Mr. X (Mark Safford) R.I.P. (Gone But Not Forgotten) by Tony Gideon

Daddy B. Nice,

It is with great sadness in my heart that I am passing on this information. Happened around 2:00 AM October 22, 2019. (Heart Attack). We had just finished our phone conversation around midnight, Over the past 10+ years that we worked together, we had become quite close, he was like a Son to me. Would have informed you earlier but lost my computers and quite a bit of information and contacts 2 years ago in storm. Still recovering information. As you may or may not know, I am 82 years old and have been in the Music Industry 63+ years, starting here in Birmingham, AL (1956) moving with my Vocal Group, The Daylighters to Chicago,IL (1958). Started with Bea & Baby Records (1959). (Singer, Songwriter, Producer, Promotion - Marketing). As you may have heard, Mark had a stroke approximately 3 years ago and never fully recovered. But, he was one of the most positive individuals I have met during my lifetime. He was still writing, Playing keyboards (with one hand) and Producing. (He was not able to play the guitar anymore). He was as talented as any of the musicians that I worked with through the years. This includes friends of mine that I worked with over the years, (Willie Henderson who produced Tyrone Davis early hits, "Can I Change My Mind" and more .. Thomas 'Tom Tom' Washington (Arranger for Earth Wind & Fire and more) .. Gerald Sims (who joined The Daylighters in 1959 as guitarist along with Betty Everett), etc. Mark was special. He will surely be missed. I will keep in touch now that I have you in my system again.
Sincerely,
T.F. 'Tony' Gideon - LIP International/Sound Mindz Records

See Daddy B. Nice's Artist Guide to Mr. X.


Daddy B. Nice on Tony Gideon:

I don't think any one e-mail music-submitter has frustrated me as much over the years as Tony Gideon. First, the e-mail submissions came in almost daily, clogging the box. Second, in almost every instance the mp3's were old music, music I was familiar with and had heard long before. Finally, the songs were often labeled "new" when they were really "old," and more than once I contemplated "outing" Tony Gideon for this practice. Now, reading his account of himself (82 years old and still passionate about the music), my annoyance has blossomed into understanding and admiration. I'm currently reading Denise LaSalle's autobiography (like eating candy) in her vernacular about all the music people in her life. It's made me doubly mellow about all the people in this business trying to "do what they do" the best they can. Even the story of Mark Safford's passing is somehow Tony Gideon-like, i.e. after-the-fact. When I first read the letter, I went through a thought process. "Did I know this? That Mr. X had died?"--and just forgotten? Obscure as he was, Mr. X's songs (first sold to Senator Jones and The Love Doctor) have really held up. And if I had known of Safford's death, I would have memorialized it in the Artist Guide to Mr. X.. No. Mark Safford's passing is "breaking news" in the Tony Gideon fashion, and we are the richer and more well-informed for it. DBN.

SouthernSoulRnB.com - Chitlin' Circuit Southern Soul Music Guide

SouthernSoulRnB.com - Chitlin' Circuit Southern Soul Music Guide

Daddy B. Nice's Original Profile:

Everyone starts somewhere; everyone begins as an "unknown." Mark Safford, aka Mr. X, got his start in Southern Soul by submitting his songs to Lewis Clark, aka The Love Doctor, a fellow gospel singer who helped jump-start the whole Southern Soul movement in the early OO's with the compositions of another young man who went on to become a star: Sir Charles Jones. Jones wrote "Slow Roll It," the Love Doctor's signature tune.

However, by the mid-point of the new decade, The Love Doctor--a singer, not a writer--was already bereft of good new material. He had prolonged his career with the Jimmy Lewis-written vehicle, "Lies (You Said It, No I Didn't)," with the legendary back-up singer, Thomisene Anderson, in 2004.

That same year he'd put out a gospel album, There's No One Like Mama, a collection of church hymns surrounding a title tune which may or may not have been scavenged from the Sir Charles Jones gospel-tinged song of the same time: "Take Care Of Mama." And a couple of years later, The Love Doctor would release a forgettable album of very poor material entitled Stupid (Hep'Me, 2007).

But in between There's No One Like Mama and Stupid The Love Doctor discovered the songwriting of Mark Safford, an Alabama gospel singer who also had visions of making it in secular music. The results of this collaboration were Let's Have Some Fun (Hep'Me, 2005) and At His Best (Hep'Me), two Love Doctor albums that not only exclusively featured the songs of Mark Safford but in so doing extended The Love Doctor's career.

The next year, 2008, marked Safford's "coming-out" party. On August 30th of that year your Daddy B. Nice posted the following:

ALERT:

Senator Jones has just issued a CD by an artist named "Mr. X." Many of the songs are taken track for track from the Love Doctor's At His Best and Let's Have Some Fun CD's. The arrangements are almost identical. Only the vocals are different. The singer is definitely not The Love Doctor. What's going on in Love Doctor/Senator Jones-land? Stay tuned. . . DBN


A few months later, I posted the following:

Update: January 10, 2008 (Re: Mr. X mystery artist re-recording The Love Doctor's songs)

The artist Mark Safford has taken on the pseudonym Mr. X. He has already published two CD's, the first one Sit Down On It--described below--and the second one, Wiggle Wiggle Wiggle Jiggle Jiggle Jiggle, making two new CD's in one year. Here is what I wrote about Mr. X in Top 25 Singles of 2008:

"Talk about amazing debuts. Mr. X took a set of songs the Love Doctor had left as flat and wooden as Pinocchio and breathed fresh life into them. It was almost as if the Love Doctor and Senator Jones had handed the relay baton to Mr. X (Mark Safford) and said, "Go for it." "Make It Do What It Do," "Sweetie Pie" . . . All underwent incredible transformations, but that wasn't enough for the technically-breathtaking Mr. X. He released a second CD a few months later, with the wonderful, chitlin' circuit-friendly dance cut, "Wiggle Wiggle Wiggle Jiggle Jiggle Jiggle," that overshadowed anything on the first disc."


In "This Little Place" Mr. X sings:

"I know a place
Where we can go.
It sits out on
The side of the road.
We can party
All night and day.
24 hours
The music will play.
Grown folks party
At this club.
Don't need no gangsters
And don't need no thugs."

You know you're getting the guy-next-door, not the the teenager-next-door, when you listen to Mr. X's music. Mr. X has the chitlin' circuit running like blood through his veins.

Listen to Mr. X singing "Wiggle Wiggle Wiggle, Jiggle Jiggle Jiggle" on YouTube while you read.

"Girl I like the way you move
When you're dancing on the dance floor.
The way you move your sexy body
Oh, it puts me in the mood.

"You got on your red dress, baby
And you're stepping in your high-heeled shoes.
I don't know how you do it,
But I sure like the way you move.

--Mr. X sings in "Wiggle Wiggle Wiggle, Jiggle Jiggle Jiggle."

Musically, Mr. X songs seldom fail. "Wiggle" is straight, classic, Motown-inspired r&b with a relaxed Southern feel, a hybrid you never hear nowadays outside the South, and therefore all the more precious.

"Wiggle Wiggle Wiggle, Jiggle Jiggle Jiggle" features a vocalist in the mode of Marvin Sease, not hyper-talented but on the other hand perfectly calibrated for accessible, everyman-friendly performance.

"Sit Down On It" is cut from the same mold. The vocal is strong and clear but never overblown or intimidating. Both songs highlight a whiskey-toned tenor that never breaks its hammer-lock hold on the simple things in life related in simple, direct fashion.

"Sweety Pie" adds a touch of amorous vulnerability to Mr. X's oeuvre, although his habit of delivering notes without vibrato or modulation of any kind (a technique he borrowed from The Love Doctor) keeps the song grounded and somewhat one-dimensional.

"This Little Place" features the same simplistic style in praising a "hole-in-the-wall" juke joint.

It's possible the lack of ornamentation in Mr. X's vocals may deter some potential fans. As with The Love Doctor, Mr. X is searching for a rough-hewn, throwback style, a style that couldn't be further from the dominant urban R&B of the last two decades, from Luther Vandross to R. Kelly.

Mr. X's "Make It Do What It Do" grafts this country-R&B style to the salt-of-the-earth experience of common people in a way that is guaranteed to separate fans from detractors:

"We've been together
For so long.
Don't want you to ever
Leave me alone.

Gotta make our love
Last for a lifetime.
Hold it together,
Don't let it unwind."

This is straight-ahead love and commitment. No satire, no irony.

"I gave you everything,
Everything that you want.
And I gave you everything
That you need.

We've got to hold on,
We've got to be strong,
And learn not to never
Treat each other wrong."

Then comes the chorus, a phrase that pulls together all of the confounding ambiguity and reverse-elitism and dark mystery of the poor Black South.

"Make it do what it do.
Make it do what it do.
Just me and you.

Make it do what it do,
Me and you.
Make it do what it do.
Just me and you."

Then come the really illuminating stanzas:

"Makes no difference
If the sun don't shine.
I'm gonna keep you
From the welfare line.

Keep clothes on your back,
And shoes on your feet.
Keep food on the table
For the kids to eat.

I'm going to do
All of these things
Because I know you're so sweet
And I don't want to ever
See you out on the street."

It's sad to think that only a handful of current Southern Soul stars could write lyrics this unashamedly blue-collar: Unckle Eddie, Bobby Rush, Ms. Jody. And nothing could obviously be farther from the bling-bling, Benz consumer gratification of most mainstream urban r&b.

"Makes no difference
If the sun don't shine.
I'm gonna keep you
From the welfare line."

This is one of the most vivid and uncompromising couplets in contemporary rhythm and blues.

--Daddy B. Nice


About Mr. X Mark Safford (R.I.P.: Gone But Not Forgotten)

Mark Safford, aka Mr. X, was born and raised in Selma, Alabama, an area rich in traditional gospel groups. A longtime Gospel singer, Safford was (and remains) lead singer and manager of the Selma-based trio The Joyful Sounds.

Safford began writing secular rhythm and blues songs and in 2005 his compositions were featured on The Love Doctor's Let's Have Some Fun album, released on the Senator Jones label, Hep'Me Records.

The Love Doctor, also known as gospel singer Lewis Clark, reprised many of those Safford-written songs in 2007 on his At His Best CD.

Safford made his debut as the solo artist Mr. X on Senator Jones' Hep'Me Records in 2008. Sit Down On It, which collected the same songs released by the Love Doctor two years earlier, was immediately followed by Wiggle Wiggle Wiggle, Jiggle Jiggle Jiggle, which featured the Southern Soul single and title tune and other Safford songs not included on Sit Down On It.

Mark Safford joined Tony Gideon's Sound Mindz label in 2010, releasing a retrospective album titled The Best of Mr. X.


Song's Transcendent Moment

"Hey, fellas in the club,
Sipping on your drinks.
When they see your sexy body moving, baby,
I know what they think.

But you don't never stop moving.
You just never stop your grooving.
But if one of those fellas
Could take you home tonight,
Ain't no telling
What they might do.

When you wiggle wiggle wiggle,
From side to side,
And you jiggle jiggle jiggle,
You make the grown men cry."


Tidbits

1. Mr. X On YouTube

February 22, 2020:

Listen to Mr. X singing "Wiggle Wiggle Wiggle,Jiggle Jiggle Jiggle" on YouTube.

Listen to Mr. X singing "Sit Down On It" on YouTube.

Listen to Mr. X singing ""Doing The Watusi" on YouTube.

Listen to Mr. X singing "Good Time" on YouTube.

Listen to Mr. X singing "She Put A Stroke On Me" on YouTube.

Listen to Mr. X singing "Roll It Slow" on YouTube.

Listen to Mr. X singing "Make It Do What It Do" on YouTube.

Listen to Mr. X singing "He Don't Love You Like I Do" on YouTube.

Listen to Mr. X singing "Keep On Talking" on YouTube.

Listen to Mr. X singing "Baby Come Back Home" on YouTube.


If You Liked. . . You'll Love

If you liked Tyrone Davis' "Banging The Headboard," you'll love Mr. X's "Wiggle Wiggle Wiggle, Jiggle Jiggle Jiggle."



Honorary "B" Side

"Sit Down On It"



5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 
Sample or Buy Wiggle, Wiggle, Wiggle, Jiggle, Jiggle, Jiggle by Mr. X Mark Safford (R.I.P.: Gone But Not Forgotten)
Wiggle, Wiggle, Wiggle, Jiggle, Jiggle, Jiggle


CD: Wiggle, Wiggle, Wiggle, Jiggle, Jiggle, Jiggle
Label: Hep'Me

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Wiggle Wiggle Wiggle, Jiggle Jiggle Jiggle


5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 
Sample or Buy Sit Down On It by Mr. X Mark Safford (R.I.P.: Gone But Not Forgotten)
Sit Down On It


CD: Sit Down On It
Label: Hep'Me

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Sit Down On It


5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 5 Stars 
Sample or Buy This Little Place by Mr. X Mark Safford (R.I.P.: Gone But Not Forgotten)
This Little Place


CD: Wiggle, Wiggle, Wiggle, Jiggle, Jiggle, Jiggle
Label: Hep'Me

Sample or Buy
Wiggle Wiggle Wiggle, Jiggle Jiggle Jiggle


4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 
Sample or Buy Can You Slip Away for Christmas by Mr. X Mark Safford (R.I.P.: Gone But Not Forgotten)
Can You Slip Away for Christmas


CD: Sit Down On It
Label: Hep'Me

Sample or Buy
Sit Down On It


4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 
Sample or Buy Make It Do What It Do by Mr. X Mark Safford (R.I.P.: Gone But Not Forgotten)
Make It Do What It Do


CD: Sit Down On It
Label: Hep'Me

Sample or Buy
Sit Down On It


4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 
Sample or Buy She Put A Stroke On Me by Mr. X Mark Safford (R.I.P.: Gone But Not Forgotten)
She Put A Stroke On Me


CD: Wiggle, Wiggle, Wiggle, Jiggle, Jiggle, Jiggle
Label: Hep'me



4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 4 Stars 
Sample or Buy Sweety Pie by Mr. X Mark Safford (R.I.P.: Gone But Not Forgotten)
Sweety Pie


CD: Sit Down On It
Label: Hep'Me

Sample or Buy
Sit Down On It


3 Stars 3 Stars 3 Stars 
Sample or Buy Another Lonely Night by Mr. X Mark Safford (R.I.P.: Gone But Not Forgotten)
Another Lonely Night


CD: Best Of Mr. X
Label: Sound Mindz

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The Best of Mr. X


3 Stars 3 Stars 3 Stars 
Sample or Buy Can We Dance To A Slow Song by Mr. X Mark Safford (R.I.P.: Gone But Not Forgotten)
Can We Dance To A Slow Song


CD: Wiggle, Wiggle, Wiggle, Jiggle, Jiggle, Jiggle
Label: Hep'Me

Sample or Buy
Wiggle Wiggle Wiggle, Jiggle Jiggle Jiggle


3 Stars 3 Stars 3 Stars 
Sample or Buy I Wanna See Whatcha Working With by Mr. X Mark Safford (R.I.P.: Gone But Not Forgotten)
I Wanna See Whatcha Working With


CD: Best Of Mr. X
Label: Sound Mindz

Sample or Buy
The Best of Mr. X


3 Stars 3 Stars 3 Stars 
Sample or Buy It Takes More Than A Notion by Mr. X Mark Safford (R.I.P.: Gone But Not Forgotten)
It Takes More Than A Notion


CD: Wiggle, Wiggle, Wiggle, Jiggle, Jiggle, Jiggle
Label: Hep'Me

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Wiggle Wiggle Wiggle, Jiggle Jiggle Jiggle


3 Stars 3 Stars 3 Stars 
Sample or Buy Let's Stay Together by Mr. X Mark Safford (R.I.P.: Gone But Not Forgotten)
Let's Stay Together


CD: Sit Down On It
Label: Hep'Me

Sample or Buy
Sit Down On It


3 Stars 3 Stars 3 Stars 
Sample or Buy Louisiana Festivities by Mr. X Mark Safford (R.I.P.: Gone But Not Forgotten)
Louisiana Festivities


CD: Sit Down On It
Label: Hep'Me

Sample or Buy
Sit Down On It


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