How hard can it be to write a hit song?
Pick up a Guitar or sit down at the Piano.
You know the notes and the chords.
You’ve listened to songs all your life.
Thousands of them playing in your head.
Find a combination of melody and rhythm and words which will have the listener turning up the radio, memorising the name of the song and opening their wallet.
But, nobody, nobody, can guarantee they know what the magic combination is.
Every songwriter, every time, has to take on the persona of a safe cracker turning the tumblers hyper alert to the tell tale click that says, ‘That’s it! This is going to be a Billboard Bullseye!’.
Melody, Rhythm, Words.
Now you will almost certainly need to add Style and Attitude and find a distinctive singer with the mysterious power to sell a song if you want the Hit you hear in your head to become a bona fide hit on the radio and on the charts.
Sometimes, as a songwriter, you realise that perhaps you’re not that singer yourself.
Holding a tune is one thing but there are singers out there who take your breath away.
Singers who win and hold your allegiance.
Your own version of this sure fire hit may become an aficionados favourite but it is not the aficionados who’ll pay the mortgage – it’s the great amorphous record buying public.
Now for subject matter.
Can’t ever seem to go wrong with Cars and Girls.
Worked pretty well for Chuck Berry!
And, the bard of New Jersey keeps rolling them out on exactly those themes.
A memorable title sure helps.
And, featuring a Girl’s name.
And, maybe there’s a dance move in there too.
Wrap it all up and what have I got?
Let’s lay down a hot rod rockabilly rhythm.
Let’s call the Girl Rita (lots of Ritas around).
Lets have a car – got to be a Cadillac (everyone wants to drive a Cadillac).
And, come to think of it that Jimmy McCracklin song ‘The Walk’ always seemed to hit the spot for me.
Let’s have flowers and tattoos and guns.
And, since my name is now Moon Martin let’s not forget to reference the Moon in the very first line!
Marinate in the Studio and here we go.
Maybe it won’t be a hit for me but I sure as hell ain’t gonna hold back.
When the moon comes up the sun goes down
Rita starts to creep around
Gets a flame in her blood fire on her breath
Fourteen names notched on her chest
She gotta rose tattooed on her thigh
Dead men raise and sigh
And it drives my young blood wild
My baby’s got the Cadillac walk
When Rita turns down her bed
Grown men plead and beg
Baby honey baby you’re the one
Carve your name right on my gun
Ain’t she something nice
Bones rattle my dice
I slobber down my side
My baby’s got the Cadillac walk
Lonely tonight honey hear my call
She said boy I won’t make you crawl
Rita pound by pound
Knows how to work it down
Weep and cry to and fro
Leave your heart she’ll steal your gold
No matter what the cost
Ooh…them duel exhaust
Make my motor sigh
Moon Martin never did have a Hit with Cadillac Walk.
But when Moon worked with legendary Priducer/Arranger Jack Nitzsche the latter realised that pair this song with a dynamite singer and a hot band and you most assuredly would have a hit.
The lead singer of Mink Deville, Willy Deville, has pipes good enough to have sung lead for The Drifters.
No style of music he can’t sing the hell out of.
You hear him sing and he wins and holds your allegiance.
Plus, the guy gets straight A’s for Style and Attitude.
Gonna make this a Noir Production.
You want a singer to drive young blood wild?
Step up to the microphone Willy Deville!
And, when a singer like Willy Deville sings a song other singers listen.
Thus an obscure song becomes a treasure.
A treasure that a connoisseur of songs and singers like Boz Scaggs will surely discover and file away for the day when it’s the right time for him to show what he can do with it.
Boz is a class act.
He purrs through the song on cruise control.
Boz gets the blues and rides with the rhythm.
Boz got nothing to prove these days – he’s a master assured of his mastery.
Let’s finish up with Jukebox Hero Willy Deville pulling out all the stops to give Cadillac Walk a blistering live rendition.
Said it before, gonna say it again – a true message always gets through sometimes it just takes a while.
Hey Moon! That’s quite some song you wrote.