High School Yearbook Photo

"More than a place, the Shady Dell was and will forever remain a state of mind." - Shady Del Knight

"More than a place, the Shady Dell was and will forever remain a state of mind." - Shady Del Knight

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Your Typical Dell Rat Had Animal Instincts (and Stones!)

If you continue to follow my countdown of the Greatest Hits of the Shady Dell, you will notice that there are no Beatles songs in the top 100 and only one in the Top 200. If that seems strange, please allow me to explain why I bumped the Beatles
Songs by the Beatles don't remind me of the Dell nearly as much as those that I ranked higher in my countdown, like
the recordings of the Animals and the Rolling Stones.

I spent many months observing how the Dell crowd reacted to various songs as they played on the jukebox. I found that the rough, raw, blues-based, working class anthems of the Animals and the Stones resonated with Dellions to a greater extent than songs by the Beatles. Terrific as they were prolific, the Beatles, nevertheless, occasionally came across as intellectually remote and, if you'll pardon my use of the vernacular, elitist.

The Animals and Stones were street, not elite. Maybe it was a guy thing. Men found it easier to relate to Burdon and Jagger. They evoked a visceral response; they hit us in the gut. The messages contained in their songs, the language they used to convey those messages, and their angry, defiant vocal style stoked our machismo and made us feel powerful...invincible!

Seven Animals songs became popular at the Dell during the mid 60s and earned spots on my Greatest Hits list. "It's My Life," the first in the series, bombed the barn in November 1965 and remained one of the most heavily played jukebox gems through the winter and following spring. As a result, "It's My Life" staked its claim to one of the highest positions on my Dell survey.

"It's My Life" brings back memories of my earliest Dell daze when I was a newbie trying to learn the rules of the game... those incendiary nights when a potent, heady mix of romance, adventure, and danger permeated the air and I never knew from one minute to the next if I was going to get kissed or punched out or both! Hell, I might be swingin' on the Riviera one day, and layin' in a Bombay alley next day..... know what I'm sayin' Jack?

From the bold, dramatic bass notes at the beginning to the impassioned climax, "It's My Life" grabs you by the throat and never lets go. This rock classic is still capable of producing Pavlovian chills and fever every time I hear it!

There'll be women and their fortunes
Who just want to mother orphans
Are you gonna to cry when I'm squeezin' them dry
Taking all I can get, no regrets, when I.........
openly lie...(laughs)...and live on their money... 

Eric Burdon’s vehement pledge to bust loose, beat the odds, rise above mediocrity, say goodbye to hard times and hello to the good life no matter what it takes - even if the plan involves becoming a wanton gigolo and exploiting wealthy dowagers - rocked big time with Dell regulars in spite of its blatantly misogynistic and misanthropic themes.

On the flip side of “It’s My Life” is another genuine killer bee, “I’m Going to Change The World,” a compelling and under-
rated social commentary that's still relevant today.

Whenever “It’s My Life” started playing, Dell rats dashed to the floor, formed a big strong line, and performed the awesome synchronized line dance that I mentioned in a previous post – the one with figures, steps and gestures similar to those of “the Madison” (two up...two back). No matter what it was called, those Dell dancers had it down! Night after night, I had the pleasure of witnessing some of the greatest terpsichore this side of Don Cornelius!

One more for the road - how cool is this?

Have a Shady day!


  1. Love your blog Shady Del. Being in the barn, listening to the jukebox. Life didn't get much better than that. All for the price of 25 cents.

  2. Hi, BJ! Think about it - 25 cents a night in exchange for a lifetime of priceless memories. A pretty good deal, I'd say! I hope to be able to help all of us to reexperience the Dell in every way possible - to see it, hear it, smell it, taste it and, most importantly, to feel it. If you let the Dell back into your soul, it can still empower you now as it did then. We have discovered the fountain of youth. Thank you so much for writing and welcome aboard!


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