One of my earliest musical memories was hearing this song come out the loudspeakers at Shea Stadium during a Mets game. I guess what drew me to this tune as a kid and as an adult was the combo of Amos Garrett’s tastefully jazzy guitar solo and Maria’s unique vocal stylings. Many have covered this song but no one has done it justice since Maria.
Maria was a music veteran by the time this song was released. She had been involved the Greenwich Village folk scene before joing the Jim Kweskin Jug Band. When they broke broke up her and their singer, Geoff Muldaur got married and put out a few folk albums of their own. By 1972 she was divorced legally & musically from Geoff. Keeping his last name she went on start a nearly 40 year solo career with at least 6 Grammy nominations. Her debut album and this song kicked it off.
Maria, with her flared peasant blouse tied above her bellybutton and tight hip-hugger jeans, played up the sexy liberated hippie chick and Midnight At The Oasis was the perfect vehicle to show off her sultry side. Although I wonder how hot and bothered she was at the oasis to make statements like “Cactus is our friend”, especially when there wouldn’t be any cacti in the Middle East where this song is set. Or they brought some camels to Arizona, but that’s not as sexy. And for all the feminist woman’s-in-charge vibe this song put sout, she still suggests a woman-to-service-you role by wanting to be his bellydancer while he’s the sheik.
Baby steps, I guess.