The B-52’s glide into town Saturday night — appearing with the Louisville Orchestra in a POPS concert in Whitney Hall — and it brings to mind the notion of finding the actual “Love Shack,” from the title of the group’s big hit that got everybody dancing and thinking there might be a place in the “middle of a field” where everyone parties till all hours, and then … well, Love Shack!
The lyrics provide some clues, that “If you see a faded sign by the side of the road that says 15 miles to the Love Shack,” you’re on your way — “headin’ down the Atlanta Highway, lookin’ for the love getaway,” which is, probably, the road to Atlanta out of Athens, Ga., home town of the B-52’s.
Legend has it the group got started one night in 1976 after drinks at a Chinese restaurant. Athens is the college-town home of the University of Georgia and a cosmopolitan center in a region where cosmopolitan centers are pretty scarce — which is how there could be a Chinese restaurant in Georgia.
The band performed its first gig at a friend’s house on Valentine’s Day, 1977, naming themselves after a Southern slang term for high-lofted hairdos, sported on stage by Kate Pierson (the redhead) and Cindy Wilson (the blonde), who still star with the band, along with lead singer Fred Schneider, who is a style all his own.
But you knew about the swirling-tall beehives, named after the B-52 bomber.
Which, of course, is a far different look than any other group was sporting in 1977. Instead of hair down to here, hair down to there, it was hair up in the air!
And this guy Fred Schneider, the lead singer, doesn’t so much sing, as calls out the toasts, serving as the chief party host for the dancing.
He also drives everybody out to the Love Shack.
I got me a car, it’s as big as a whale
And we’re headed on down to the Love Shack
I got me a Chrysler, it seats about twenty
So hurry and bring your juke box money
Well, in the video, Fred’s car is a 1965 Chrysler convertible. I had one of those, too, except it was a ’64 Chrysler convertible, maroon with a white top, that I bought from Pam B., the girl next door who had already been to college and had the most fun of anybody. Pam would know exactly how to find the Love Shack — and she would have showed up there on her own, rather than tied to some date.
Ooh-wah, ooh-wah, ooh-ooh Kitty
Talk about the band in New York City
But anyhow, the B-52’s soon split for New York City and caught on big, following “Love Shack” with hits like “Rock Lobster” and “Dance This Mess Around.”
At one time I thought the B-52’s had started at the University of Georgia and then caught on in nearby Myrtle Beach, the seaside town where everybody dances the shag. But that was the Swinging Medallions (“Another Shot of My Baby’s Love”).
The B52’s went national.
There is a notion that the B-52’s “Love Shack” was an answer song to the Temptations’ “Psychedelic Shack,” like the Temps’ “My Girl” is an answer song to Mary Wells’ “My Guy.” But I don’t think so — “ ’cause loves rules at the Love Shack,” and it sounds like a real place, rather than something abstract like a psychedelic shack.
Again, there are hints:
Well, it’s set way back in the middle of a field
Just a funky old shack and I gotta get back
Glitter on the mattress
Glitter on the highway
Glitter on the front porch
Glitter on the hallway
Of course, rock ‘n’ roll is littered with people heading off to special locales, where everything is groovy. You know, like people visiting New Orleans to find “The House of the Rising Sun.” Or, “Heading up to San Francisco, for the Labor Day weekend show. I’ve got my Hush-Puppies on …” Or in an earlier time, “If you’re going to San Francisco, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair.”
They’ve got the same thing in classical music, heading out get a haircut from “The Barber of Seville.” Or riding with the Valkeries up to Valhalla. And after closing time in country music, heading back to the “Achy Breaky Trailer.”
OK, “Achy Breaky Trailer” might not be a real song.
But following the B-52’s is not really about finding a tin-roofed Love Shack. It’s not about “Going up the Country,” or landing “On Broadway.”
Not “Under the Boardwalk,” or “Up on the Roof.”
It’s about the beat.
A funky little shack
Which brings us to Saturday, Oct. 21, when the B-52’s bring their intoxicating dance beat to the Kentucky Center’s Whitney Hall. And if you can’t quite picture a rock ‘n’ roll band laying down the sound with the Louisville Orchestra, click here to hear the B-52’s with strings in the Hollywood Bowl.
Could happen here, too.
‘Cause it’s wide between rows in Whitney Hall. The seats flip up — and the whole shack shimmies.
Showtime is 8 p.m., and tickets start at $27.