Andy Kim was racking up some hits in the late 60s into the decade’s turn. As a performer he hit the top 10 with a cover of Baby I Love You, but it was his co-write of the Archies’ Sugar Sugar that brought him those bags of dough. And it was the #1 hit of 1969. Where was our mind that year? Nevertheless he was gaining a following with a blonde surfer boy image. Instead the folks who saw him live were treated to the sight of a swarthy Canadian Jew. Andy realized that he needed to make his music & image align as one.
So after several years away from the music industry, Andy wrote a song with a deeper vocal that still retained some of that bubblegum flavor. He used his own money and went into the studio to cut it. It sounded so good to Andy that rather than record something else for the B-side, he saved his money and released the 45 with an instrumental version of his new tune. He formed his own record label, Ice Records, and released his song, Rock Me Gently. Someone at Capitol Records heard it, picked it up and pushed the tune until it was #1 on September 28, 1974. It was the third single whose title began with ‘Rock’ to hit #1 that year (none of the three were rock…discuss).
Andy was back on his way. But after a #28 showing for his follow-up, Fire, Baby I’m On Fire, Andy disappeared. Maybe we should have seen it coming. I think Andy got too close to exposing the real truth about who rocks who gently and why. And it has nothing to do with that funky ass clavinet solo.
I am not into conspiracy theories. I find them interesting at times, but most of them have more holes than a piece of Swiss cheese at Pebble Beach. Nevertheless I have several gay friends tell me separately that this song is Andy’s veiled attempt at coming out. The first time I heard that, I laughed. The second time I heard it, I said, yeah, someone else mentioned that. The third time I heard it, I said, explain it to me. I sure hope I don’t ruin this song for those who love to sing along with its innocent charm. But what I’m about to tell you came from multiple sources. I’ll try to be sensitive.
Rock Me Gently was code for men being intimate with each other for the first time. Is this true? I don’t know. But when Andy disappeared after 1974, he returned with a new name – Baron Longfellow. He didn’t do himself any favors. Let’s check out the lyrics.
Ain’t it good? Ain’t it right
That you are with me here tonight?
The music playing, our bodies swayin’ in time
Well, I guess that could go either way, as in it could be any 2 couples.
Touching you so warm and tender
Lord, I feel such a sweet surrender
Beautiful is the dream that makes you mine
Still the same. Although the sweet surrender could be his giving in to his true self.
Rock me gently. Rock me slowly
Take it easy. Don’t you know
That I have never been loved like this before
Well, hello! I think we know where they got the notion. If Andy didn’t mean it, he sure opened it up for interpretation and adoption.
Again I have no idea if this is true. But a friend of mine once told me, the best place to hide something dirty is behind something sweet.