Every type of music it has its own type of “Swing”, which ultimately refers to the feel of the music. Even music that is considered “straight” has its own particular type of swing. The reason that I have Go-Go in parentheses is because it is the type of swing that I wanted to talk about today but not in the manner you may think.

Every now and then I’ll get in a place where I want to hear some Go-Go. The music is near a dear to me because it was through that music that I got my start playing “professionally” whatever that means. I mean we did have paying gigs but trying to split however much money between 7 or 8 folks it usually ended up being that we were subsidizing a meal moreso than making a profit. But I digress…

But really the purpose of this post is to show how the “swing” of Go-Go was co-opted into song that you may not immediately think of as being related to Go-Go. But as the title implies it’s all about that swing! Another impetus for writing this is for all the “I can’t stand that music, it all sounds the same to me people” that I’ve encountered for decades. It’s not that everyone has to like every type of music but it makes me laugh when people can’t connect the dots between something they “despise” and something they love.

First let’s get something out of the way… the initial swing, the pocket of classic Go-Go comes from this song:

Listen to the pattern of the drums: Boom bap boom boom bap boom : That’s the basis for the Go-Go swing.

Checkout the Godfather of Go-Go Chuck Brown and how the basis for the entire groove is built on that beat.

Now at this point it would be incredibly easy to post a clip of Salt N’ Pepa’s “My Mic Sounds Nice” which uses the Mr. Magic sample to prove my case, but that’s entirely too easy. Nah we’re not going to do that. But we will take another song from that era that was produced by a producer who was influenced by the Go-Go Swing: Teddy Riley

Go-Go Swing was also very, very popular in The U.K. in the 80’s… listen at the influence it had on this hit from 1989

Finally, what really spurred this post on was I was driving to work the other day and this particular song came on the radio and upon listening to it I was reminded that here was another example of a song that had co-opted that swing and then went on to chart success.

This really is not a moratorium on whether or not you like Go-Go. As I stated at the outset everything is not for everyone… this is more about connecting the dots and recognizing influences and how something a seemingly simple as a groove, a swing, a feel can create a genre of music and influence countless others.

Ivan Orr is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, performer, and writer. A native of Charlottesville, Virginia Ivan was involved with the forming and nascent days of The Music Resource Center as its first Program Director. A graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University’s Department of Music, Ivan currently resides in Richmond, VA where he maintains an active performance and production schedule while serving as the Music Editor for Grown Folks Music, a position he has held since 2010.