Music + Sex = Good Booty

A new book explores that timeless, lusty link

BY: Nancy Connors

Good Booty: Love and Sex, Black & White, Body and Soul in American Music
By Ann Powers (Dey St. Books)

The old joke goes:
Why don’t Methodists have sex standing up?
Because it might lead to dancing.

Think about the first rock song that really, um, moved you. Mine was the Beatles’ “Love Me Do.” Oh mama – that moment when Paul McCartney sings, “So plea-ee-ee-ease, love me do,” backed by John Lennon’s harmonica? I didn’t know much about sex, but I knew that was it. At least, it was for a couple of weeks, until I discovered the Rolling Stones “Satisfaction.” From that moment on, my fumblings in the dark were always accompanied by some sneaky, greasy soundtrack on a transistor radio hidden under my pillow.

Of course, each generation thinks they’re the first ones to discover this music-is-the-stairway-to-heaven thing, but as NPR rock critic Ann Powers points out in her new book, the music, dancing, and sex connection has been going on for a long, long time. She takes us back to the dark days of slavery (this is an unapologetically U.S.-focused history) to look at the ways music made by slaves preserved their African traditions, provided moments of freedom from their oppression, and was immediately appropriated by whites (starting a trend that continues today).

Powers doesn’t shy away from the big issues plaguing rock: grown men preying on their teen fans/groupies (Jerry Lee Lewis, R. Kelly, Jimmy Page, Ted Nugent); the tough lot still faced by female rockers (Keisha vs Dr Luke); drugs and early deaths (The 27 Club members like Kurt Corbain and Amy Winehouse); and the growing influence of porn in the music video business (Blurred Lines certainly crossed that line). And while her writing style can be a bit academic, Powers’ book is meticulously researched, and some of her stories about individuals are fascinating. Who knew that baby-faced Buddy Holly was into three-ways?

Clearly the link which connects rhythm, dancing and sex, is so embedded in our DNA, it’s unbreakable.

Take a listen to our Good Booty playlist and see how it makes you feel.

1. “Shake That Thing” – Ethel Waters
2. “Tutti Fruity” – Little Richard
3. “Move Over” – Janis Joplin
4. “Touch Me” – The Doors
5. “Fire” – Jimi Hendrix
6. “Cream” – Prince
7. “Erotica” – Madonna
8. “Drunk in Love” – Beyoncé