A Song I Love – Loan Me a Dime – Boz Scaggs w/Duane Allman

A while back I did one of my “Tres Songs” posts and one of the featured artists was Boz Scaggs. At the time I said, “In 1969, he recorded his eponymous album with the Muscle Shoals rhythm section including Duane Allman. This is the album that has the great “Loan Me a Dime” that I’ll get around to featuring one fine day. So, this is that day. 

Wikipedia: Fenton Lee Robinson (September 23, 1935 – November 25, 1997)  was an American blues singer and exponent of the Chicago blues guitar. Robinson was born near Greenwood, Mississippi. He left home at the age of 18 and moved to Memphis, Tennessee, where he recorded his first single “Tennessee Woman” in 1957.

He recorded his signature song, “Somebody Loan Me a Dime,” in 1967 for the Palos label, the nationwide distribution of which was aborted by a freak snowstorm that hit Chicago. A cover version was recorded by Boz Scaggs in 1969, but the song was misattributed, and legal battles ensued. (Since corrected, fortunately). It has since become a blues standard, being “part of the repertoire of one out of every two blues artists,” according to the Encyclopedia of Blues.”  (How exactly do they know that one wonders.)

Robinson’s version is a nice medium shuffle and I figured you’d dig hearing that first:

Spotify link

Which leads us to Boz Scaggs. As I mentioned in my Steve Miller Six-Pack, “While in college in Wisconsin at the tender age of 19 he formed the Ardells and then – with buddy Boz Scaggs – played the Chicago scene. (Boz played, sang and wrote on the first couple of Steve Miller Band albums then split to do his own thing.).”

Boz released his second eponymous album in August of 1969 (in fact, literally the day after Woodstock ended.) This came about because his pal Jann Wenner, editor of Rolling Stone, got Jerry Wexler, honcho at Atlantic Records to listen to some of Boz’ stuff. Muscle Shoals Sound Studio in Alabama was suggested and Boz made a visit there to check the place and the musicians out.

Boz wanted Duane on the album but the latter had earlier that year (January 1969) recorded the debut Allman Brothers Band album and was already living in Macon. Jann Wenner convinced Duane to come back for a week and the boys at Muscle Shoals were happy because they knew him from Aretha and other sessions and were always happy to see old Skydog.

Funny story – Another blogger featured this song a while back and related the story of how his young kids – who grew up on cell phones – had to have it explained to them why someone would need a dime.

The song kicks off with maybe the sweetest organ this side of heaven played by Barry Beckett, a member of the legendary Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section.*

Duane kicks in at about the 1:20 point with some sweet guitar, a portent of what is to come. (No wonder this song is so long. Boz doesn’t sing until almost 2 1/2 minutes in. Interestingly, if you go back and listen to some ’40s’ Big Band stuff it sometimes took forever for Sinatra to kick in.)**

As opposed to Fenton’s traditional blues, Boz slows the whole thing down, at least at first:

I know she’s a good girl
But at that time I just didn’t understand
I know she’s a good girl
But at that time I just didn’t understand
Oh no I didn’t

He, Duane and the Muscle Shoals crew keep up that slow, sexy hypnotic groove for a good 7 1/2 minutes.

Now I cry.. I just cry
Just like a baby all night long.. oooh
You know I cry I just cry
Just like a baby all night long.. oooh

Somebody better loan me that dime
I need my baby
I need my baby here at home.. oooh YES

At that point, Duane basically takes over, staying at the same tempo for a while. But even though the tempo doesn’t pick up, the intensity of Duane’s playing does and the horns play a repeated riff. We’re getting excited here, ready for liftoff.

Around the ten-minute mark, the band starts to cook even faster. We’ve movin’ on. Duane goes nuts on guitar! The whole band comes up, the organ plays the horns swing – we’re grooving, we’re dancing. And it just goes on from there and gets more and more exciting till fades out at the 12:30 mark. And man, you wanna hear more but it’s good that they leave you wanting more. And trust me, you are gonna want a cigarette afterward.

What a song! Literally one of the greatest blues recordings ever made. I remember once I was sitting at the drive-in window of some fast food place. They were playing this tune on the radio, you know, back when they played good shit. The woman I was ordering from heard it and said, “What is that jazz you’re listening to?” I told her. She fucking loved it!

Somebody better loan me that dime
I need to call my old time
Used to be

Spotify link

*If you get a chance be sure to find and watch the 2013 Muscle Shoals documentary.

**The original version of “Loan Me a Dime” was a forty-minute jam session, which was shorted to the twelve-minute version on Boz Scaggs.

13 thoughts on “A Song I Love – Loan Me a Dime – Boz Scaggs w/Duane Allman

  1. The original by Fenton Robinson is nice, but the cover by Boz Scaggs with Duane Allman and the Muscle Shoals guys is something else!

    Already the beginning in and of itself with the Hammond is worth the price of admission. And when Duane and Boz are kicking in and do their stuff it’s truly off the charts – wow

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        1. Wow, I’m surprised. I know you dig the blues. I kinda took it for granted everybody knew this song. It’s great. You will never get tired of it.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. I like the Fenton cut. Good solid blues.
    I discovered Shoals when they worked with Traffic (There’s that band again). Yeah this really is a fantastic piece of music. That coming in later with the lyrics is a choice I like. Scaggs and Miller sound a lot a like. Just the build inn this song. It would have been good without Duane. But knowing it you just anticipate him coming in, like a Coltrane solo. What can I say. I love this kind of music and it just gets better. Out to the back yard for a cigar.
    I remember seeing this tune featured by our old friend ‘Forgotten Rock Classics’. I miss that guy.
    (Song like this have almost erased that experience from yesterday. Thanks Doc)

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    1. Yeah this shit is good for ails ya which, lately, is a lot. Christian had never heard it and it blew his fucking mind. He loves that Hammond. Plus there’s some tasty piano in there as well. Duane is the icing on the cake. Reminds me of the first time Clapton heard Duane on the radio playing on Clarence Carter’s version of ‘Hey Jude.’ He found a phone booth, called some exec and said, “I need to know who that guitar player is right now!”
      Too bad about ‘Forgotten.’ There’s been about 4 or 5 good bloggers in the 4 1/2 years I’m doing this that eventually just disappeared.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yeah, really fine, mellow singer. His voice will be missed for sure. Wrote about him a while back.

      As to Boz, he has been in and out of rock and blues but his peak was in the Seventies with a monster album hit called ‘Silk Degrees.’ Kinda slick and disco-y but I forgave him. ‘Lido Shuffle’ is a great tune.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Hello,I was wondering if you would be interested in reviewing Ashes to Omens upcoming single which is a cover of Pink Floyds, “Another Brick in the Wall”. If you are I can send you the MP3 and the link to presave it on Spotify. Thank you Best,Ceilidhe 

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