Jimmie Spear

Biography by

No discussion of musicians whose names can be used as lethal weapons is complete without a mention of Jimmie Spear, a country singer who recorded for the Houston-based indie Freedom in the early '50s.…
Read Full Biography

Artist Biography by

No discussion of musicians whose names can be used as lethal weapons is complete without a mention of Jimmie Spear, a country singer who recorded for the Houston-based indie Freedom in the early '50s. Likewise, Spear's name should be on all lists of musicians who have appeared on a greater number of compilations than songs they have known to have recorded. Spear reached this status upon the release of a second compilation which included his material, as the Spear was apparently thrown at the record-making target only once. "Turn Me 'Round" is the name of the track, released under the name of Jimmie Spear & the Bluebonnet Boys. The existence of a b-side, i.e. a rare Spear, is not happening as the original label liked the split-single approach, turning over the other side to another artist and revealing in the process the possibility that the b-side might have been Spear. Freedom recorded some unique, groundbreaking country and early rockabilly performers on the south Texas scene, but Spear may not have been part of that elite, at least based on the evidence that exists.

Indeed, there seems to be little about this Spear that is sharp in any way, the nature of his recording seeming increasingly generic the deeper the analysis goes. His sound can't be considered to have any rockabilly overtones; it is straight country prior to the electric combo sound, with the fiddle soloist easily achieving dominance over poorly recorded acoustic guitars. The singing style is pure Hank Williams, which Spear would have absorbed from that artist's heavy touring and broadcasting in both Louisiana and Texas, well before Williams took over the nation's country jukeboxes. With the Bluebonnets, Spear used a band name as worn as the shoes of a Houston hobo. Delores & the Bluebonnet Boys and Dick Dyson & His Bluebonnet Boys were both well established Texas western swing bands well before Spear stepped into the studio.

Other Houston country performers from this era came up with attention-grabbing song titles, such as the sticky "Syrup Soppin' Blues," the comfortable "No Shoes Boogie," the suffocating "Wrapped in Cellophane," the gross "Buggy Wuggy Love," and the short "Stubby's Tune." "Turn Me 'Round," on the other hand, belongs to a classification of lyrical themes used with a regularity that, well, turns one around.

"So turn me around and let me go the other way," Spear pleads in his song, but the best known use of the expression in song historically is in an anti-segregation hymn where the lyric is "Ain't gonna let nobody turn me 'round." Quite often the possibility of turning someone around is offered in song as one of various options. "Turn me up or turn me down/turn me off or turn me round," Neil Young wrote in a Buffalo Springfield song. "You shake me up/turn me 'round/drop it all on me," is an effort from the songwriting team of Gunn & Fames. From the Kiss band, this variation: "You make me sweat/you turn me 'round/you get me up/you never let me down."

In summation, it is a conflict between singers who want to be turned around, indeed are begging for it, and those that take great pride in not being turned around. Spear, in the former category, could be considered an influence on any later songwriter who would like to be turned around, that is if it was probable that any of them would have heard his dismally distributed record. Spear may have possibly influenced rap music, then, as in Ja Rule: "I'm coming outta my clothes/you better, dick me down/then, uh, turn me 'round." Also in the pro-turn-around camp are the Cardiacs, asking for someone to "pick me up and turn me 'round" in "The Seaside," a request repeated verbatim in a Talking Heads song, "This Must Be the Place." Ironically, it is Ted Nugent whose point of view on being turned around contrasts completely with Spear; ironic, because Nugent is most likely the only recording artist in history who has actually used a spear for its original purpose. For this alone he should have the last word here: "The road I cruise is a bitch now baby/but no you cant turn me 'round."