“Mustang Sally”: White People’s Mating Call

Mr. Pop Rocks and I headed over to The Big Easy last weekend to listen to the stylings of Houston’s own Trudy Lynn, a fabulous blues singer and genuine kick-ass lady. During Trudy’s breaks, her (excellent) back up band played several numbers. As I just said, they were excellent, but as they started playing “Mustang Sally,” I had a realization that I’ve had numerous times before, and the realization was this: Sometimes, White People really embarrass themselves.

You know the type. They act like they’ve never heard “Mustang Sally” before in their entire lives (although that’s not possible, seeing as the law dictates “Mustang Sally” must be played at the birth of all Americans). Anyway, they act like they’ve never heard it before, so when it starts, they have to jump up and down and dance like lunatics.

“I feel like I’m at a frat party at Sigma Chi,” I whispered to Mr. PR.

I mean, I love Wilson Pickett, and in theory I love “Mustang Sally.” But I've heard that song 207,334 times in my life, and it’s lost some of its magic (sadly). So why are these lame white people dancing as if they’ve never heard it before EVER? As if they might blow a freaking gasket if they don’t get to the part where they can scream out, “Ride Sally RIDE!” all off-key and everything?

To me, there are several songs by black artists that white people ruin everytime they try to dance to them. I refer to these as “The Canon.”

The Canon

”Brickhouse” by The Commodores

”My Girl” by The Temptations

”Celebration” by Kool & the Gang

”Car Wash” (don’t know who sings it, but it’s the one that goes, “Workin’ at the car wash yeah, doo doo dee doo doo dee doo)

”Respect” by Aretha Franklin

”Proud Mary” by Ike and Tina

That song where the women sing about prostitutes in French (Lady Marmalade or whatever)

Okay, so I totally know there are more, but you get my drift.

I know I’m not saying anything original here. Much has been said about white people and how we’re not cool and how we move our asses in this really frightening way when we dance, and much has been said about the white man’s overbite and about the way white girls have a scary way of dancing that always makes it seem like one of them is going to run into something with the huge, gigantic purse they got at Kohl’s. But for some reason, all of this is on my mind today.

I don’t know what the answer to this problem is. But moments like the one I had tonight at The Big Easy make it very clear to me why God invented punk music. You know what I’m saying? -- Jennifer Mathieu

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Jennifer Mathieu
Contact: Jennifer Mathieu