ou may not recognize the name George Baker, and in fact, there is no George Baker in the George Baker selection. But if you’ve been listening to music in the US or Europe at any time during the last thirty years; in fact, if you’ve been to the movies, you’ve almost certainly heard their song “Little Green Bag.” Making it to number 5 on the US charts when it was released in 1969, it took the spotlight thirty years later as the title song for the 1999 movie “Reservior Dogs.” A raucous and fun number, it features snappy basslines, infectious guitar, and the almost-Tom-Jones voice of Johannes Bouwens, the Dutch singer/songwriter behind the group.
But that’s not what I wanted to talk about. I want to know what a little green bag has to do with anything. Think about it; which makes more sense, poetically or otherwise:
Looking back On the track For a little green bag
Looking back On the track For a little greenback ?
Okay, maybe it’s farfetched to believe that even the group’s official website would perpetuate the wrong lyrics, but it’s not impossible.
One of the biggest hits Cream had, owing partly to the distinctive guitar of someone billed as “L’Angelo Mysterioso” but who was in fact George Harrison, was a song called “Badge.” But it wasn’t supposed to be called that; George’s solo is the transitional section between the first half of the song, and the second half — the bridge. Bridge. Not badge. But a studio technician saw ‘bridge’ written in the sidebar of the sheet music, took it for the title of the untitled piece, and that’s how it went to press.
Gordon Lightfoot’s first album “Lightfoot” contained, among other masterpieces, a tune called “Rich Man’s Spiritual.” Lines like
I'm gonna buy me a poor man's troubles, Yes, Lord, to help me home
make it clear that this is a rather sarcastic look at the commercialization of religion. Or something like that. But on the album’s liner notes, Lightfoot points out that, either due to some deepseated feelings about the general brotherhood of man, or because it was late and the technician was tired, it was almost recorded as “Richman’s Spiritual”; a different proposition entirely.
So unless someone can dispel my ignorance, when you hear me singing it, you’ll hear ‘little greenback.’