By Dag Walker
As things are today back home in American there are a large number of folks who really do want to set the world on fire. As of this writing, they have been doing a fair good job of it for three months, and no end in sight, burning, looting, and murder most every night in major cities across the nation. Me? I don’t want to set the world on fire, I just want to be with my girl.
Humility, a quality I highly regard in others and some suggest I personally hold in short supply, is lacking in the crowd today. It’s not just lacking among politicians, from whom we expect ill behavior; nor is it limited to self-important do-gooders saving the world and driving the rest of us insane in doing so. Humility is gone from the minds of many, people who are determined to live public lives at the expense of private citizens. Those others would be normal folks, those who spend their time with family, friends and neighbours, who have jobs and maybe go to church. Folks are getting killed on the streets back home. They are burning down the place. I don’t want to set the world on fire, I just want to start a flame in my girl’s heart. I know the tune to get her in the mood.
The Ink Spots. They came from Indianapolis, Indiana, forming their famous jazz vocal group in 1931, changing the name in 1934 to The Ink Spots for a show at New York’s famous Apollo Club.1.
Those days are gone. I sit with my girl when she’s done making dinner, sizzling fish, steamed rice, fried plantain, a dish of salsa, and we sit together in the dim candle light, living a happy life together on the loveseat listening to music.Who needs ambition, fortune, or fame?
Life is changed today. Kids back home want to burn it all down. No, I don’t. I don’t want to set the world on fire. Better to find a girl and start a flame in her heart. Is it really all gone?
The same year that the Ink Spots became official, William Richard Tolbert, from Bensonville, Montserrado County, graduated summa cum laude from the University of Liberia. He began climbing the ladder of success. He later became the 19th President of the Republic of Liberia. 2. That year, the Ink Spots were climbing the charts of musical history.
Orville Jones, Ivory Watson, Jerry Daniels, Charlie Fuqua started it all, and were joined by Bill Kenny, who replaced Daniels, super tenor, in 1936, the singer who put them in the limelight. Everybody loved them– including my parents. Nothing lasts, and the group broke up in the momentous year of 1954, the year of the Strossner coup d’etat in Paraguay and the equally important birth of our humble author.1.
The Ink Spots soared. Bennie Benjamin, Eddie Durham, Sol Marcus and Eddie Seiler wrote “I don’t want to set the world on fire” in 1938. It was a big hit by many before the Ink Spots recorded it. But it’s the Ink Spot’s version that lives forever.2.
Some folks can get technical about music. “In establishing the prominence of the high tenor lead and adding spoken bass choruses to the backing harmonies, the Ink Spots laid the groundwork for countless doo-wop and rhythm-and-blues vocal groups.”3. I just like it, and so does my girl. We aren’t the only ones.
In 1989, the Ink Spots (Bill Kenny, Charlie Fuqua, Deek Watson, Jerry Daniels and Orville Jones) were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and in 1999 they were inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame.1.
It’s the lead singer of this song who does it. “Often regarded as one of the most influential high-tenor singers of all time, Kenny was noted for his “bell-like” vocal clarity and impeccable diction.”4. I don’t know. I don’t even want to know. I’m not that ambitious. Some are.
Some folks today are trying to burn down the world to make it a better place. Good luck with that. It’s been done before. There is a little known factoid that in 1934, when the Ink Spots ruled, that Poland began its failed attempt to colonise Liberia. 7. Things change.
As the Ink Spots song made so clear in a song recorded in 1947, “It’s All Over But the Crying,” 8.
Main Photo: The Ink Spot/ Discog