There’s something to be said for a song that finished #73 on an AOL list of the worst songs of all time, just above “Do They Know It’s Christmas”. It’s a fine example of Miami bass music, of which the most famous practitioners are 2 Live Crew. “Tootsie Roll” was a crossover hit, not only reaching the top of the Rap Singles charts, but also going Top Ten in the Hot 100 charts.
The lyrics are stupid. Hey, guess what, so are the lyrics to “Tutti Frutti”, which is only one of the seminal tracks in rock and roll history. I’ve always been someone who, if I like the sound of a song, will often forget to pay attention to the lyrics. Said lyrics refer to a new dance, and in the true pop music tradition, the name of the dance carries a double meaning referring to body parts. “Cotton candy, sweet and low, let me see that tootsee roll!”, along with the usual lyrics laying out the dance moves:
To the left, to the left, to the right, to the right
To the front, to the front, to the back, to the back
Now slide, slide, baby, slide, just slide, baby, slide
Just slide, baby, slide, come on, come on
Whether you like the song depends entirely on your taste for the sound of Bass music. The reason this particular song holds a special place in my heart comes from a night when we were driving across the Bay Bridge, probably to a Giants game at Candlestick Park. I don’t even remember if the song came on the radio. What I do remember, as we approached the tunnel in the middle of the bridge, is proclaiming that someone should place big giant speakers atop the tunnel entrance, and put “Tootsee Roll” on a loop, so that every time you entered the tunnel, you’d hear the song. To my mind, this was guaranteed to put drivers in a good mood, for who could suffer from road rage when “Tootsee Roll” was blasting from the tunnel.
Sadly, the powers that be have never taken my idea seriously.
Nowadays, I can’t hear “Tootsee Roll” without thinking of this classic commercial: