Sunday, January 14, 2007

Caught On Tape: James Ingram & Michael McDonald - 'Yah Mo B There'

Though Paul Rudd's character in The 40 Year Old Virgin may have expressed his utter distaste for the 1983 Ingram & McDonald duet, 'Yah Mo B There,' I can't help but taste sweet ambrosia everytime I hear it. A melody like a feather tickling the follicles in my ear. Vocal harmonies lap at me like a slippery wet willy. The beat plays my ear drum like a timpani. This is a great song, I exclaim with resounding enthusiasm. And every great song deserves, in return, a great music video.

As a fan of the the one-and-only Michael McDonald (and similarly of the fantastic comedic series, Yacht Rock), this song strikes an instant chord for me. The track's title sounds phonetically like a tribal chant. Some have even claimed it to mean "God Will Be There," which is understandable given the uplifting, spiritual nature of the lyrics, and the use of the religious reference 'Yah.' Whether this dissection of the song is accurate is up for interpretation. Upon initial listens, one could easily hear the lyrics repeating "Yeah, I'm gon' be there." Or, as others have interpreted/misinterpreted the lyrics, "I'm a beaver" or "I'm a weiner."

While the lyrical message may be up for grabs among dissenting minds, the soulful music was able to overcome and gain a wide enough favoring to win a 1985 Grammy Award.

In the video, Ingram and McDonald portray a couple of fed up fry-cooks, who abandon their jobs and traverse the country in an Airstream RV. Along the way, the video jumps to a number of individuals who seem to be in trouble, and literally/theoretically drowning. Will they be hoisted from certain peril or left as chum for the sharks? You'll have to watch to find out.

While occasionally steering into the same confusing undertow that so many other videos did in the 80s, the overall cinematography is lush and vibrant, and is able to keep afloat nicely. Fortunately, Ingram and McDonald yah mo b there to throw it a life preserver.


Steve said...

I love the little "Night Tracks" factoid that is thrown at you in the beginning.

...I'm a wee-ner!

Anonymous said...

I guess this just goes to show that you can't agree with even your favorite music critic all the time. Most of the time, you've shown me the light and I've never posted because all I could think, "Yes. Right on." But Ingram and McDonald? Your taste has been permanently called into question. I've been with you for more than a year now, so I won't abandon you hastily; instead, I will wait to see if this is the result of a brain tumor perhaps. Maybe you ain't something that didn't agree with you.