This week’s prompts for Song Lyric Sunday, hosted by Jim Adams, are ‘Mind, Think and Brain’ suggested by Paula of Light Motifs II.
Two songs I thought of immediately I had already previously used in the last few years and I didn’t want to repeat. Then I remembered this old Rod Stewart song that I still like hearing. “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy? I hope you enjoy him at his sexy best!
Stewart was known for his soulful blues and folk ballads, but this song was a disco departure, and it gave him a new look. He attracted many new fans, but alienated many of his old ones, who had no interest in disco and fondly remembered Rod as a member of The Faces, where he earned a reputation as hard-rocking party animal. Reflecting on the song in the May 1995 issue of Mojo magazine, Stewart said: “I think it’s one of those songs that everyone can remember what they were doing in that particular year. It was one of the 10 songs that summed up that whole dance/disco period. And that’s what music’s about surely, to bring back memories.”
Speaking in Esquire in 2012, he said: “I used to be embarrassed to sing ‘Da Ya Think I’m Sexy,’ but people love it. So it’s in the show.”
Most of the music for this song was written by drummer Carmine Appice, who had recently joined Stewart’s band. Appice told Songfacts: “We were in the studio and ‘Miss You’ by The Rolling Stones was a big hit. Rod was always a guy that used to listen to what was going on around him. He was always looking at the charts and listening. He was a big fan of The Rolling Stones, so when they came out with “Miss You,” disco was really big at the time, so he wanted to do some kind of disco-y song, something like ‘Miss You,’ nothing like Gloria Gaynor.
With the band, he would always tell us, ‘I want a song like this’ or ‘I want a song like that,’ so I went home and I came up with a bunch or chords and a melody. I presented it to him via a friend of mine, Duane Hitchings, who is a songwriter who had a little studio. We went in his studio with his drum machines and his keyboards, and he made my chords sound better. We gave Rod a demo of the verses and the bridge, and Rod came up with the chorus. We played it with the band many, many ways before we got the correct arrangement with Tom Dowd. Unfortunately, they put so much stuff on it that it dwarfed the sound of the band. It made the band sound smaller because it had strings and two or three keyboard players, congas, and drums. When we were doing it, we thought it was going to be more like The Rolling Stones with just the band playing it. It came out and went to #1 everywhere.”
The distinctive riff came from an instrumental song called “Taj Mahal” by a Brazilian musician named Jorge Ben. When Ben filed suit, Stewart agreed to give proceeds from the song to UNICEF. He later recalled in his book, Rod: The Autobiography: “I held my hand up straight away. Not that I’d stood in the studio and said, ‘Here, I know: we’ll use that tune from Taj Mahal as the chorus. The writer lives in Brazil, so he’ll never find out.’ Clearly the melody had lodged itself in my memory and then resurfaced. Unconscious plagiarism, plain and simple.”
There is a blues guitarist named Taj Mahal who made his own version of the song using this same riff. The title, and also the only lyrics in the song, is “Jorge Ben.”
Courtesy of Songfacts
Sugar, sugar She sits alone waiting for suggestions He's so nervous avoiding all the questions His lips are dry, her heart is gently pounding Don't you just know exactly what they're thinking If you want my body and you think I'm sexy Come on sugar let me know. If you really need me just reach out and touch me Come on honey tell me so Tell me so baby He's acting shy looking for an answer Come on honey let's spend the night together Now hold on a minute before we go much further Give me a dime so I can phone my mother They catch a cab to his high rise apartment At last he can tell her exactly what his heart meant If you want my body and you think I'm sexy Come on honey tell me so If you really need me just reach out and touch me Come on sugar let me know His heart's beating like a drum Cause at last he's got this girl home Relax baby now we are alone They wake at dawn ''cause all the birds are singing Two total strangers but that ain't what they're thinking Outside it's cold, misty and it's raining They got each other neither one's complaining He say's I sorry but I'm out of milk and coffee Never mind sugar we can watch the early movie If you want my body and you think I'm sexy Come on sugar let me know If you really need me just reach out and touch me Come on honey tell me so If you really need me just reach out and touch me Come on sugar let me know If you really, really, really, really need me Just let me know Just reach out and touch me If you really want me Just reach out and touch me Come on sugar let me know If you really need me just reach out and touch me Come on sugar let me know If you, if you, if you really need me Just come on and tell me so Writer(s): Duane S Hitchings, Roderick David Stewart, Carmine Appice