Kung Fu Fighting…and Other Great Love Songs

Kung Fu Fighting: a 1974 disco song written and performed by Carl Douglas and composed and produced by Biddu.

You’ll notice there on the album cover it says “And Other Great Love Songs.”  Although i wasn’t cognizant of the subtitle when i decided to use this song as a lead in for this post, it does actually speak to the point i want to make so…woot woot for serendipity.
Before i get to any further discussion, i would be remiss if i didn’t provide you what you probably most came here to get:
So…yeah.  Carl Douglas, Jamaican born musician and one-hit wonder thanks to this song, originally intended as a B-side to “I Want To Give You My Everything.”  You know – that old classic everyone loves.
i imagine Carl Douglas probably loved the success he enjoyed through the popularity of this song.  On the other hand, after a certain point i bet he felt pretty stifled creatively.
“I’ve got to wear the kimono on stage again?  Every time?!”
On the other hand, and this is related to the point i’ll eventually get to, maybe he did continue to enjoy the hell out of performing this song.  It did reach #1 on the Soul Singles charts and was at the top of both British and American charts at one point.  It won a Grammy and sold 11 million copies worldwide, making it one of the best-selling singles of all time.
i’ve loved this song for a long, long time.  In fact, a friend of mine once told me it ought to be my wedding song if and when i ever get married officially.  i’ve got no qualms about that.  Sounds good to me.
What i’ve always admired about this song, and maybe put a bit of my own imaginative spin on, is that Carl Douglas really loves him some kung-fu.  During the martial arts film craze of the 60’s and 70’s people couldn’t get enough of these movies. i recall reading somewhere that, when it was released in 1979, the film i consider to be the absolute best of this genre played in a sold-out theater in NYC for over 6 months straight.  Anyone who knows me well has no doubt seen this film.  It is…well i don’t want to say a requirement for friendship.  But i believe you’re doing yourself a disservice if you have not seen this film.  i can’t think of anyone who has seen this that felt like it was a waste of time or didn’t enjoy it at least on some level.
Anyway, back to Carl Douglas.  i was thinking about his hit song and wondering where that kind of excitement is in today’s entertainment scene.  Or more specifically, music scene i suppose.  Now granted, i am not very hip on current trends in popular music.  If i do get a chance to listen to the radio it’s probably This American Life or Here’s The Thing or Science Friday.  All three of which you ought to at least check out once.  Especially in light of the recent danger to Big Bird and the other educational folks over in the Alphabet City neighborhood.

Whoa, stop.  i made a solemn vow not to delve into political discussion on this blog.  It’s strictly for things that don’t incredibly frustrate me.  But i think it’s safe to get away with that one teensy comment.  It’s not an indictment, just a little nudge to get you to support public broadcasting.  Which you should.

To get back on track (pun intended), i’m wondering if there’s a market for songs like this on the Billboard charts.  And…turns out there is, sort of.  Any idea what the #2 song on the Hot 100 is right now?  i’ll spare you a video because we’ve all seen it.  Not that it’s bad or anything.  In fact i think it’s pretty frickin’ catchy.  It’s “Gangnam Style” by PSY.  And it’s #2!
Perhaps my initial thought when i started today is unfounded.  Fun, catchy tunes about stuff that people like is still being made and performed.  As a matter of fact the #3 song is by a group called “fun,” but i listened to a clip of “Some Nights” and it didn’t sound all that fun to me.
Carl Douglas sure knew fun when he saw it though.  Can’t you just picture him there in the theater, watching The Big Boss or Five Deadly Venoms or any of hundreds of other chopsocky flicks?  And he really picked up on the details too.  Everybody did know their part.  The choreography is more like an elaborate dance.  Every move had another to counter it until one guy broke the other’s kung fu and then it was all over.  One of the coolest kung fu fights i’ve even seen on film was in Hit Man In The Hand Of Buddha.  It was a shot of just these two fighters’ hands battling each other for probably 30 seconds to a minute straight.  It was really cool.
Well unfortunately, because of the terrible weather we’ve had here in Northeast Ohio, i’ve got to cut this short today.  So let’s consider this as Part 1 of a short series.
i hope you come back again to check out Part 2.  Don’t worry though, you won’t need to have expert timing to catch it.

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