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Lido Shuffle by Boz Scaggs

Album: Silk DegreesReleased: 1976Charted:
  • Boz Scaggs wrote this song with David Paich, who was also his co-writer on "Lowdown." In our 2013 interview with Scaggs, he talked about how the song came about: "'Lido' was a song that I'd been banging around. And I kind of stole... well, I didn't steal anything. I just took the idea of the shuffle. There was a song that Fats Domino did called 'The Fat Man' that had a kind of driving shuffle beat that I used to play on the piano, and I just started kind of singing along with it. Then I showed it to Paich and he helped me fill it out. It ended up being 'Lido Shuffle.'"
  • The song is about a drifter looking for a big score. Scaggs and Paich were both very good at crafting songs with intriguing storylines using words and phrases that don't often show up in a lyric: "A tombstone bar," "makin' like a beeline..."

    The name Lido is very unusual as well. From the perspective of songcraft, it's very versatile, allowing the singer to get clear vocal sounds and follow with the "whoa-oh-oh-oh" hook. Kenny Loggins did something similar on his song "Footloose," writing the character "Milo" into it ("Woah... Milo, come on, come on let's go").
  • The last single from Silk Degrees, this wasn't released until about a year after the album was issued. The first single, "It's Over," peaked in May 1976; "Lido Shuffle" didn't reach its chart peak until May 1977. The Silk Degrees album was a slow burner, gradually gaining momentum and selling over 5 million copies.
  • The song's co-writer David Paich played keyboards on this track. Scaggs played guitar, bass was handled by David Hungate, and Jeff Porcaro played drums. Paich, Hungate and Porcaro would soon form the band Toto.
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Comments: 19

Scaggs' voice is so affected in this song as to easily defy interpreting the lyrics. Who cares? This is a terrific song, with a great feel, and a chorus second to none. More than almost any other song from the Seventies, it has a cadence and feel that immediately captures me. And the album Silk Degrees is terrific.Steve - Ottawa
First of all, the lyrics are incorrect. The opening line of the second set of verses should be "Lido be runnin'/havin great big fun til he got the note/sayin' "Toe the line or blow" and that was all she wrote." "Toe the line" is common rock slang for "Do as you're told" (see Rocky Burnette's "Tired of Toein' the Line") and "blow" means "go away." SO the note is from a woman telling Lido to obey her rules or get out; apparently Lido's girlfriend/wife was not in approval of his gambling and drinking. Second, The Tombstone Bar is in Calumet City, IL -- which explains why the "next stop" is "Chi-town" some 20 miles away.Brian - Usa
Updates on n my comment below...

I feel this is more appropriate for verse #2:

"Tombstone Bar" doesn't refer a tough guy bar, or an empty bar. It refers a bar in Tombstone Arizona.

In the second verse Lido starts out by making his way to Arizona and passes through Tombstone, Arizona, where he stops at a bar. Hence the term "Tombstone bar"
Ray - Usa
This song is about a drifter who left something good in life in search of the glamour and allure of a drinking and gambling.

In the first verse the character Lido is looking back on, and regretting his mistake of leaving his home (tough guy slang term "shack"). He really "missed the boat" on that decision. But at that time he arrogantly disregards a good life as unimportant (that was all he missed) and thought drinking and gambling and drifting around was more important. In his arrogance and anger he made no plans on returning (ain't coming back).

Lido missed the boat that day
He left the shack
But that was all he missed
And he ain't comin' back

In the second verse Lido finds himself at an empty (tombstone) bar, in a car that he acquired at a pervious bar that had a juke box and dancing (juke joint). The message here is that he is drifting. He stayed only long enough to aquire a bottle of top-shelf booze. (Handle is slang for bottle of booze with a handle. Off the top, or top-shelf is slang for premium liquor).

At a tombstone bar
In a juke joint car
He made a stop
Just long enough
To grab a handle off the top

In the third verse, Lido makes his way to Chicago (chi town is slang for Chicago). While drifting around he seeks to satisfy his gambeling itch and finds himself in a game if craps, or roulette (let em roll signifies a dice game of some sort). He consistently lies to himself that he can change his ways with a repeating mantra "one more fore we quit it. One more for the road". Typical of an out of control drifter.

Next stop Chi town
Lido put the money down
Let 'em roll
He said one more job ought to get it
One last shot 'fore we quit it
One for the road

The chorus shows us that dispite the excitement his life as a drifter is empty. It's all about the money and the show (the thrills). He lies to himself saying "just one more and he will quit" . In reality he knows he can't

In the fourth verse, Lidio is in control of something (the term "running" means a winning streak, or a seduction game with a woman). In any case he is having fun at it. However he is told to either obey the rules or get out. (tow the line or blow it). At this point we see Lido is becoming more reckless.

Lido will be runnin'
Havin' great big funnin'
Till he got the note
Sayin' tow the line or blow it
And that was all he wrote

In the fifth and last verse, Lido takes off in a mad rush, straight (making like a bee line) out of state (heading for the border), again drifting to find his next high.

The last three lines of the fifth verse could have two meanings:

Meaning #1:

He takes a smoke (hit) off a marijuana cigarette. The sentence is broken, and runs into the next thought leaving off a couple words, ones in brackets, in order to make it flow in the lyrics. The real meaning could be: "One more hit ought to do it [off of] this joint. This could be written to signify his desire to constantly reach for his next emotional "high" in life.

Meaning #2:

He's heading to his next "hit", or next place to gamble, and lies to himself thinking he will make it big this time saying this next one " "ain't nothing to it".

Whichever meaning it is we can see Lido will never change his ways -- Once a drifter, always a drifter.

He'll be makin' like a bee line
Headin' for the border line
Goin' for broke
Sayin' one more hit ought to do it
This joint ain't nothin' to it
One more for the road
Ray - Usa
On July 13th 1977, the Boz Scaggs concert at the Avery Fisher Hall in New York City was cut short due to the famous 1977 NYC Black-Out, the power outage in the Big Apple lasted 25 hours...
Eleven days earlier on July 2nd was the last day his "Lido Shuffle" was on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart, it was at #98 {See next post below}...
As stated below it reached #2 {for 3 weeks} on the Australian Kent Music chart; the three weeks it was at #2, the #1 record for those three weeks was a covered version of "Walk Right In" by Dr. Hook...
Between 1971 and 1988 he had fourteen Top 100 records; with one reaching the Top 10, "Lowdown" for two weeks on October 3rd, 1976.
Barry - Sauquoit, Ny
On March 6th 1977, "Lido Shuffle" by Boz Scaggs entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #72; and nine weeks later on May 8th, 1977 it peaked at #11 {for 2 weeks} and spent 17 weeks on the Top 100...
It reached #2 on the Australian Kent Music chart...
Was track four of side two on his seventh solo album, 'Silk Degrees', and the album peaked at #2 on Billboard's Top 200 Albums chart and stayed on the chart for over two years {115 weeks}...
Three other tracks off the album also made the Top 100 chart; "It's Over" {#38}, "Lowdown" {#3}, and "What Can I Say" {#42}...
William Royce 'Boz' Scaggs will celebrate his 71st birthday in three months on June 8th {2015}.
Barry - Sauquoit, Ny
It's just a story about a guy who thought he had no opportunity where he was (missed the boat), so he took what he had and hit the road. His first stop is at a 'tombstone bar", a place frequented by a rough crowd- (lots of fights), he just goes in and buys a bottle of good whisky for the ride (grab a handle off the top=buy a bottle of top shelf whisky, the good stuff) and heads for Chicago, the big city. When he gets there he finds a club where people play craps in the back room. He gets on a winning roll, he's pretty drunk now and feeling invincible (this joint, ain't nothin to it), and starts to get loud and sloppy. The bouncer comes over and tells him to control himself or get out. (havin great big fun til he got the note, sayin toe the line or blow) He has to choose to pick up his winnings and leave, or throw the dice one more time to try and double it before he gets himself tossed out. So he heads for the borderline, goin for broke-he picks up the dice, getting ready to throw, and that's where we leave our friend Lido. Some pretty cool old time slang, even if he did mix it up a little, going from 1930's speakeasy to 50's interstate culture.Hobopete - Us
I could have sworn when I looked at this page months ago it said Lido Shuffle was about a traveling musician, not just a drifter. Odd.Jim - Pleasant Hill, Ca
I became a huge Boz fan in junior high in the mid-70's. My very cool history teacher (Mr. Olson)played rock all the time. This was his favorite musician and then he put the poster of the Eagles on his wall (from Hotel California) when they all looked stoned. The principal wanted him to take it down, but he left it because he was so rebellious besides the fact he was a tremendous teacher and loved history with a passion. He would incorporate rock into history lessons.Brent - Denair, Ca
Jim, I'm sure it was a synthesizer, but I love that frantic riff, too.Esskayess - Dallas, Tx
I'd always assumed this was some sort of illicit running-for-the-Mexican-border tale. Re-reading the lyrics, it's all clear now. The instrumental part where the organ(?) rapidly repeats is my favorite. P.S. If anyone knows what the album title "Silk Degrees" means, please comment here.Jim - Pleasant Hill, Ca
Great song, love hearing when it comes on the radio...Boz Scaggs' voice is so awesome. The beat and rhythm of this song really make you feel like you're running right along side him, jumping into cars, pulling of a heist, dashing to the next place. That's what makes the song enjoyable; the tune enhances the lyrics.Camille - Toronto, Oh
Jeff Porcaro on the drums and David Paich co wrote the song with Boz Scaggs.Sante - Windsor, On
My wife thought it was Elton John too. Damn you Sir Elton!Paul - Toronto, On
Well, to me, the song seems to be about a small time gangster who wants to make one more score and then retire. He gets a note from his girlfriend telling him to straighten up but "one more oughta get it" and he goes ahead to try to make the big score. At the beginning he goes to Chicago (Chi-town) and "lays his money down" which may be gambling or helping to finance a heist.Rod - Gainesville, Fl
Somehow i always thought that the song was about Cocaine, Lido(caine) is sometimes used as a street word for coke, as lidocaine is often used to cut the killing substance.Also, many artist in the 70`s believed that it wasn`t that dangerous after all....John Andersson - Arnhem, Netherlands
One of my favorite Boz skaggs songs.Jennifer Harris - Grand Blanc, Mi
Man I thought it was Sir Elton John singing this hit !!!!!!Shawn - Lafayette, La
I interpreted this song to be about a gambling addict that got deep in debt and was forced to leave town. On his way he stopped to commit armed robbery.Launce - Clearfield, Pa
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