Drinkin' Wine Spo-Dee-O-Dee

Album: Volume 1: 1947-1951 (1947)

Songfacts®:

  • The R&B guitarist Sticks McGhee adapted this song from a chant he learned at Army boot camp. He first recorded it in 1947, but the song became a hit when McGhee signed with Atlantic Records and recorded it again in 1949. It became the first hit for Atlantic, which later was home to Led Zeppelin, Aretha Franklin, The Spinners and many others. A young Tom Dowd engineered the session; he went on to produce The Allman Brothers, Eric Clapton, The Drifters and many others.
  • Fairly tame by today's standards, this was a particularly raucous song when Sticks McGhee recorded it in 1949. It's about getting drunk and not caring who knows it. The song was an early influence on Jerry Lee Lewis and many other rock music pioneers.
  • The title and chorus came from a 1937 song by Sam Theard called "Spo-De-o-Dee." He's not drinking wine in that one, but dancing (yeah, we'll go with dancing). Theard is best known for co-writing the Louis Jordan song "Let The Good Times Roll." He later recorded under the name Spo-De-o-Dee.
  • Jerry Lee Lewis performed this at his very first live appearance in 1949. The song was a good indicator of things to come, as he sang about drinking despite a stern religious background that prohibited such behavior. Lewis became famous for his rowdy stage antics and sexually charged persona, as well as 7 marriages (including one to his 13-year-old second cousin) and a history of alcohol abuse.

    In 1973, when outrage from Lewis' child marriage had abated, he released a version of this song that went to #41 in the US.
  • The producer J. Mayo Williams is credited as a co-writer on this track along with McGhee.

Comments: 12

  • Michael from Fort Worth, TxDenis, you may be correct. In the liner notes for atlantic Rhythm and Blues 1947-1974 (Volume 1) it is written "While in the service, Stick (McGhee) had learned a barracks ditty that had a lyric line unacceptable even to 1980's ears. Rewriting the lyrics to the extent of replacing the offensive phrase with "spo-de-o-dee," he cut the tune for Harlem Records. . ."
  • Rotunda from Tulsa, OkGood rockin' song. I have two versions of this song by Jerry Lee Lewis. One is a fair rocker while the other is a far rowdier rocker with a wild guitar break then later on his piano break which leave you all hot and nasty! A party song, without a doubt! And such a talent as Jerry Lee Lewis' vocals and red-hot piano. Yes indeed, party time!
  • Cynthia from Lake County, IlFrom "A Morning for Flamingos" by James Lee Burke.... "the customers ate boudin and pickled hog's feet off paper plates, drank long -necked Jax and wine spotioti, a mixture of muscat and whiskey that can fry your head for a week...." The Cajun/Creole "spotioti" became "Spo-De-O-De".
  • Denis from St.paul, MnI heard that the word Spo de o de actually means the words mother f.....r. Has anyone else ever heard that or is someone pulling my ....
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyThis was the second of his 'drinking theme' songs;
    in 1968 he released "What's Made Milwaukee Famous (Has Made A Loser Out of Me)", it peaked at No. 94!!!
  • Darrell from Muskegon, MiMy favorite part/line is the end "think about it"...
  • Oscar from Zebulon, NcI believe the confusion some appear to have with the actual spelling, can be attributed to Jerry Lees' personality.
    In his youth; Lee was a very cocky, self absorbed showman. He relished in being seen as the "Bad Boy" standard bearer of the newly emerging Rock'n Roll genre.
    With out him, the popularity of Rock'n Roll would have been resigned to represent a bunch of wiggling hips.
    His contribution helped turn it into the revolutionary anthem, for all who dared to be different.
    That said, his rendition used a play on the lyrics from "Dee" to his own name of "Lee".
    So the title under copyright was "Spo-Dee O'Dee"
    but the lyrics were slurred to sound as "Spo-Lee O'Lee". A deliberate self absorbed act of showmanship, of which Jerry Lee was truly the "King"
  • Robert from Philadelphia, MsThe Sigma Phi Epsilon Chapter at the University of Iowa in Iowa City, Iowa, at one time had big parties they called "Spo-Li-O-Li" parties. This was in the early 1960s. I can't say if they still exist. I suppose they got the name from this song.
  • Doug from Tempe, AzJerry first recorded this song while at Sun Records.
    In the mid 1960's, Smash/Mercury released an album by Jerry in stereo, Memphis Beat I believe, that had a version of this song on it.
  • Ed from Nashville, Tn"Drinking Wine Spo-Dee O-Dee" was written during WWII by Stick McGhee, the brother of blues great Brownie McGhee. Stick first recorded it in 1946 on Harlem, then again in 1949 for Atlantic - at which point Decca re-released his original version. The Atlantic release (as by Stick McGhee and his Buddies) became a hit with rock and rollers, and was the version I heard growing up in Pittsburgh and the one on my 78 jukebox at home.
    Ed S., Nashville, TN.
  • R from Seattle, WaIn the Pacific Northwest, high school students used to call a partially hollowed-out watermelon filled with vodka a "spo-de-o-de"
  • Ted from Loveland, CoThe title is actually..."Drinkin' Wine Spo-De-O-De"
see more comments

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