Song Lyric Sunday – Yacht Rock

Welcome to another Song Lyric Sunday. Our prompt for this week is Yacht Rock, suggested by John Holton from the blog The Sound of One Hand Typing. I suppose Yacht Rock is a ritzier name for Soft Rock and it’s a genre with plenty of easy listening to choose from. I have picked a Boz Skaggs song that i like called Lowdown. I hear it frequently on the playlists,

The Song

Scaggs wrote this song with the keyboard player David Paich, who would later form the band Toto and write many of their hits. “Lowdown” was the first song that Scaggs and Paich wrote together; it was Silk Degrees producer Joe Wissert who put them together.In a Songfacts interview with Boz Scaggs, he explained: “We took off for a weekend to this getaway outside of LA where there was a piano and stayed up all night banging around ideas. We hit on ‘Lowdown,’ and then we brought it back to the band and recorded it. We were just thrilled with that one. That was the first song that we attempted, and it had a magic to it.”

This was the second single released from Silk Degrees. The first was “It’s Over,” which charted at a modest #38 in May 1976. Scaggs had little name recognition at the time, and sales were stagnant for the album until an R&B radio station in Cleveland started playing “Lowdown.” Other stations followed suit, and it quickly became clear that the song had crossover appeal and hit potential. Scaggs’ label, CBS, released it as a single and it climbed to #3 on the Hot 100 in October, spurring sales of the album along the way.

The song is about a girl who doesn’t appreciate what her man gives her. The “dirty lowdown” is the honest truth – what Scaggs is encouraging this poor sap to face.The word “Lowdown” was popular slang meaning a summary of what’s going on for real. The first Hot 100 entry with the term in the title came in 1969 with the instrumental “Lowdown Popcorn” by James Brown (#41, 1969). Next came Chicago’s song “Lowdown” (#35, 1971).

Along with keyboard player David Paich, two other future Toto members also played on this track: drummer Jeff Porcaro and bass player David Hungate. The Silk Degrees marked the first time that Scaggs used these studio pros, and it was also his first album produced by Joe Wissert, who was a staff producer at Columbia Records who had previously worked with Earth, Wind & Fire.The crew for the album found just the right sound, a disco-blend that could play in dance clubs and pool halls. Scaggs credits Wissert for giving him and the other musicians plenty of freedom in the studio, resulting in one of the most successful albums of the ’70s – Silk Degrees went on to sell over five million copies.

This won the Grammy for Best R&B Song of 1976, making Scaggs the first white artist to win the award (Leo Sayer was the second, taking the trophy the next year for “You Make Me Feel Like Dancing.”)

The producers of Saturday Night Fever asked to use this in their movie, but Scaggs’ manager turned them down and instead used it in the movie Looking For Mr. Goodbar. Not a good move – Saturday Night Fever became one of the best-selling soundtracks of all time.

When the actor Rob Lowe started a podcast in 2020, he wanted to call it Lowe Down and use this song as the theme, but getting the rights proved too expensive. He went with Literally! for the title, a reference to something his Parks And Recreation character, Chris Traeger, often said.

Courtesy of Songfacts

The Lyrics

Baby's into running around
Hanging with the crowd
Putting your business in the street 
Talking out loud
Saying you bought her this and that
And how much you done spent
I swear she must believe it's all heaven sent

Hey boy you better bring the chick around
To the sad, sad truth the dirty lowdown

(Ooh I wonder, wonder, wonder, wonder who) 
Taught her how to talk like that
(Ooh I wonder, wonder, wonder, wonder who) 
Gave her that big idea

Nothin' you can't handle
Nothin' you ain't got
Put your money on the table 
And drive it off the lot
Turn on that old love light 
And turn a "maybe" to a "yes"
Same old schoolboy game got you into this mess

Hey son, better get back on to town
Face the sad old truth, the dirty lowdown

(Ooh I wonder, wonder, wonder, wonder who) 
Put those ideas in your head
(Ooh I wonder, wonder, wonder, wonder who)


Come on back down, little son
Dig the low, low, low, low, lowdown!

You ain't got to be so bad, got to be so cold
This dog eat dog existence sure is getting old
Got to have a Jones for this
Jones for that
This runnin' with the Joneses, boy, just ain't where it's at, no, no

You gonna come back around
To the sad, sad truth, the dirty lowdown

(Ooh I wonder, wonder, wonder, wonder who)
Got you thinking like that, boy
(Ooh I wonder, wonder, wonder, wonder who) 

I wonder, wonder, wonder, wonder who
Said I wonder, wonder, wonder, I wonder who
Oh, look out for that lowdown (ohh, I wonder, wonder, wonder, wonder who)
That dirty, dirty, dirty, dirty lowdown

Ooh I wonder, wonder, wonder, wonder who
Ooh I wonder, wonder, wonder, wonder who

Got you thinkin' like that
Got you thinkin' just like that
(Ooh I wonder, wonder, wonder, wonder who) 
Lookin' that girl in the face is so sad
I'm ashamed of you

I wonder, wonder, wonder, wonder who
Writer/s: Boz Scaggs, David Paich 
Publisher: CONCORD MUSIC PUBLISHING LLC, Spirit Music Group
Lyrics licensed and provided by LyricFind

  2 comments for “Song Lyric Sunday – Yacht Rock

  1. February 5, 2023 at 10:13 am

    Great choice, Christine. I always thought this song was about a used car salesman saying, “Put your money on the table And drive it off the lot.” It still makes me wonder, wonder, wonder, wonder what the heck it is about.

    • Christine Bolton
      February 5, 2023 at 11:43 pm

      I know right Jim? Sometimes the music is better than the lyrics! 🤣 I’ve always loved this song, and I’ve always enjoyed Boz Skaggs. Nobody I know seems to like him though. Lol 😂

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