Monday, September 17, 2007

Playlist: Today’s word is ‘motherfucker’

Author and filmmaker Nelson George plans to shoot a documentary this fall about “the life and times of the word ‘Motherfucker.’ ”

As he announced on his blog in July: “I’m looking for stories, songs, novels and personal memories of the word.” (Hat-tip: Rock & Rap Confidential.)

Very cool concept, Nelson. So here’s five motherfuckin’ cuts from my personal stash. (If anybody else has some motherfuckin’ recommendations, put them in the comments section.)

Now, click on the song titles below to hear the tracks on my Vox blog. (NSFW... MF)

1. “The Dirty Dozen” – Jelly Roll Morton

This one might rock your world a little bit. Jelly Roll Morton was a founding father of jazz. In 1938, folklorist Alan Lomax recorded extensive interviews with Morton for the Library of Congress... an oral history of the music’s early days.

Those interviews are now available on an 8-CD box set from Rounder Records – “Jelly Roll Morton: The Complete Library of Congress Recordings.”

The Lomax recordings include this demonstration of a raucous, filthy ditty which Morton says he first heard in Chicago around 1908.

2. “Nuclear War” – Sun Ra

Sonny cracks me up.

3. “Dolemite” – Rudy Ray Moore

Comedian Rudy Ray Moore’s 1970 LP “Eat Out More Often” was a turning point in the history of the word “motherfucker.” The track “Dolemite” alone smashed all record-industry taboos regarding America’s dirtiest cuss word.

This album – and its wild success – allowed Richard Pryor to step up and do his thing on wax, no holds barred.

4. “Shit, Damn, Motherfucker” – D’Angelo

Whatever happened to that motherfucker D’Angelo?

5. “Sexy M.F.” – Prince

Prince can’t rap for shit. But he is a sexy motherfucker.

17 comments:

bumpster said...

Motherfucker has many uses and meanings. Just like 'dude' in a way. The way you say the motherfucker informs one's intent, state of mind, and affect. It is a very useful mo'fuckin' word. I, however, lean toward the word cunt as being the most offensive word in our language. Not very useful or versatile.

dez said...

--"High-Fiving MF" by Local H

--George Carlin's "Seven Words" bit

--"Word to the motherfucker!" (N.W.A., I think)

DeAngelo Starnes said...

I remember the first time I heard Sun Ra's "Nuclear War." I died laughing. But it was his attempt to get radio play.

CJB said...

More Dolemite!!!!

I have a DVD of one of his live shows(in Rudy Ray's later years..) It features a nine minute intro, some baffling profanity, and he urges the fans to buy his album and souvenier back scratchers in the lobby.

neptune said...

This is hilarious (and educational!). The mf word is one that I never use personally but with a little shame I must admit that this sound is what I use for one of my e-mail notifiers. It's from the movie "Eurotrip" and for some reason it reminds me of Garrett Morris from the early days of SNL.

Eric said...

I think special notice has to go to Flavor Flav (or was it Chuck D?) in "Fight the Power" for using the very rare active predicate form of the verb, with the statement "Motherfuck him and John Wayne."

Bryan Wilhite said...

Mufukka goes like this: your depressed, single mother is moping around in 1933, 1953 or 1983 (I can't speak for 2003) and since you are her child you feel her misery as well. And then time passes and this strange man emerges from your mother's bedroom and very politely (but hurriedly) leaves. Your mother is transformed---she is so happy! ---and your childlike intuition knows that this strange man has something to do with the transformation. Eventually you get older and realize that this strange man was one motherfucker!

It will truly surprise me to find this ultra-conservative definition of the word in the documentary.

Anonymous said...

Dolemite: brilliant! I never heard that one before.

Thanks UBM.

Undercover Black Man said...

Bumpster: Don't get me started on "cunt." It's in American English, actually, that the word is invested with its immense cruel power. In British English, it's used as a male-to-male insult, along the lines of calling someone a "prick."

At a (progressive) comedy venue, I recall a female comic employing the adjectival form "cuntish."

I hate hearing the word directed at women in movies... it was happening frequently for a while; Woody Allen used it, Neil LaBute used it... guys not renowned for their together attitudes regarding women.

jena6 said...

I think special notice has to go to Flavor Flav (or was it Chuck D?) in "Fight the Power" for using the very rare active predicate form of the verb, with the statement "Motherfuck him and John Wayne."

I guess mofo is an elision, right?

Edshugeo The GodMoor said...

I also remember Richard Pryor saying "Mutha fuck the Osmond Brothers. Jackson Five sing they ass off!" or something like that on an old record.

DeAngelo Starnes said...

edshugego, that routine was from "Craps." It was brilliant observation about "Jackson Five be singin' they ass off, they be talkin' 'bout the Osmond Brothers. Muthafuck a Osmond brother!" From the early 70s when the Jackson Five became the latest victim of the Elvis Presley Syndrome.

Anonymous said...

Hey Cuz:
My father used to use the term "MF" all the time. MF this and MF that very street and hip. It wasn't until later that I came up with the term "malefactor", bad actor, doer of bad deeds. Of course that doesn't cover MF as descriptor of superlative performance.
CUZ

Undercover Black Man said...

CUZ wrote: "It wasn't until later that I came up with the term 'malefactor'..."

That reminds me... have you seen "Pulp Fiction" cleaned up for basic cable? The stuff they put in Sam Jackson's mouth to cover for motherfucker was tripping me out. I should've written them down.

"Malefactor" wasn't one of them... but I wish it was.

dez said...

One of my neighbors is from Nepal and taught me how to say MF in his language. Phonetically, it sounds like "mah-cheek-knee" (I think the emphasis is on "cheek"). Now I can swear in 20 languages. Sweet!

Anonymous said...

That Jelly Roll Morton is astounding! It's like the musical version of "The Aristocrats", only much, much better.

Undercover Black Man said...

^ Glad you liked it, anon. Yeah, I was astounded by that one too. Kind of lifts the lid on the polite "museum-mentality" approach to jazz and blues history.

And cheers to Alan Lomax for getting it documented in 1938!