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Boz Scaggs, Rita and “The Cadillac Walk”

When the moon comes up the sun goes down

Rita starts her creeping around

Flame in her blood fire on her breath

Fourteen names carved on her chest

She gotta rose tattooed on her thigh

Dead men raise and sigh

It drives my young blood wild

My baby’s got the Cadillac walk

The Cadillac walk…

“Cadillac Walk” was written by John David “Moon” Martin, an Oklahoma singer/songwriter, and popularized by Mink DeVille, the founder and lead singer for The Mink DeVille Band in the late 70s. Now it has been revived by Boz Scagg whose version we see below.

 

The Mink DeVille version is completely different, in part because he comes from a different world than Scaggs. His band was one of the original house bands for CBGB (Country, BlueGrass and Blues), a popular Bowery music venue in Manhattan in the 70s and early 80s. It then became a venue for the early punk rock movement in New York in the early 80s, and DeVille got caught up in that music style as well. Here you can hear and feel the difference in DeVille’s version of Cadillac Walk.

Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and blues songwriter Doc Pomus said, “Mink DeVille knows the truth of a city street and the courage in a ghetto love song. And the harsh reality in his voice and phrasing is yesterday, today, and tomorrow—timeless in the same way that loneliness, no money, and troubles find each other and never quit for a minute.”

Music critic Neil McCormick at the Daily Telegraph describes DeVille’s music this way:

“DeVille and his band reached deep into blues and soul, the classic romantic pop of Ben E. King and The Drifters, with a side order of Spanish spices and New Orleans Zydeco swing. They favoured castanets over tom-toms, and accordion over distorted guitars, and Willy delivered his vocals with a sweet, tuneful flexibility that brought out the emotional resonance beneath his nasal sneer. What the wiry, dapper DeVille had that tied him to fellow CBGB resident bands like The Ramones, Television, Blondie and Talking Heads was an edge. He was drawing on some of the same musical areas that Bruce Springsteen’s epic rock dipped into, but Willy was an entirely different creature, a macho dandy in a pompadour and pencil mustache, with the dangerous air of a New York gangfighter and an underbelly vulnerability that came out through the romanticism of his music. Springsteen sounded like he was your friend in desperate times. DeVille sounded like he couldn’t quite decide whether to serenade you or pull a knife on you.”

What we enjoyed about the research for this post was learning how Mink DeVille go his name that he used for his band. There are a lot of versions out there. DeVille said, “We were sitting around talking of names, and some of them were really rude, and I was saying, guys we can’t do that. Then one of the guys said how about Mink DeVille? There can’t be anything cooler than a fur-lined Cadillac can there?” Another story version says that “it originated with Fast Floyd, DeVille’s sideman, who owned an old Cadillac with a cracked dashboard. To cover the cracks, Fast Floyd glued an old mink coat he had purchased at a thrift store to the dashboard.”

A great story, a great song. The closing lines sum it all up:

Leave your heart she’ll steal your soul
No matter what the cost
Them dual exhausts
Make my motor sigh

My baby’s got the Cadillac walk
She’s got the Cadillac walk…

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About Author

Josh is an author, former blogger, media critic, x-Capitol Hill legislative aide and White House assistant, business consultant, idea marketing specialist, a squatter at the global village virtual bar and an alpine rock gardener where he lives in Woodstock, NY.

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