Sunday, July 5, 2009

Dead Air Church: Somebody's Knockin

Yes, you sinners, Dead Air Church is back in session!

This week, one of us deep-voiced alto gals in the spotlight, the amazing Terri Gibbs, whose voice is even deeper some decades later. Gibbs is blind and her countryish hit song, "Somebody's Knockin," was largely a fluke. Record companies didn't know how to package her, this being the same year as the launch of MTV. The story-video was still unknown, which is too bad, because this song would make a great one. (Gibbs wouldn't need to be in the video at all, to make an entertaining fable of the narrative.) As it was, there had never been (to my knowledge) a blind woman with a hit song, although blind men such as Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder had hits. But they are men, with the accompanying gravitas of manhood. It is evident from this video that the director really didn't know how to film Terri, and the camera seems to back away out of some weird misplaced politeness.

This song marked a period of time in my life in which I was separated from my first husband, and I strongly identified with it. It seemed I attracted a lot of unwanted attention, which scared me (I was still in my 20s). There have been lots of songs about women as "the devil"--devil in the blue dress--women as personification of evil. I like the fact that this song handily reverses that trope, and the guy is now the devil.

Ohhhh, so true, so true.

I don't particularly like the musical arrangement, which reeks of 70s doodly-doodly riffs (not the good kind, the Stephen Bishop kind) and like the camera, seems uncomfortable with Gibbs and her sexuality and seeks to cutsify it. The song and Gibbs are strong enough to overcome the mediocrity of the production. In addition, her deep, resonant voice was a breath of fresh air in a soprano-laden Olivia Newton-John era.

I love the way she sings, My fever's burnin, so he oughtta feel right at hooo-ooome.

Terri pounds the piano like a southern gal raised in church, and we are all much poorer for the fact that they couldn't, or wouldn't, make her a star. Wouldn't that have been nice?

Terri, you were ahead of your time. And thanks for a great song!

**Also notable for an introduction by Dionne Warwick and Barry White... in which Barry exhibits his famous fashion sense!


Terri Gibbs - Somebody's Knockin (1981)


sheila said...

Great song, great voice. Funny, I never heard of her or the song. And that clip just looks so much older than 1981. 1981 just seems like it wasn't that long my minds eye. lol.