(David Courtney/Leo Sayer)
You’ve heard of singing for your supper: How about dancing for your dinner? This novelty song written by David Courtney and Leo Sayer was the first U.S. chart success for Leo Sayer. It chronicles the unusual experience of a weary traveler who stops in for a bite to eat at a roadside diner and is told he can’t eat until he dances. So much for small-town hospitality. It originally appeared on the 1974 release Just A Boy and was released as a single on 22nd March 1975. It had cracked the U.K. top five the previous year and managed to crack the Billboard top ten in the States.
Adding to the queer surrealism of this song is the banjo of Keith Nelson and the slide guitar of Paul Keogh. Sayer really hits the rafters when singing the subtitle, in particular, revealing an impressive vocal range without going falsetto. It is little wonder only a couple of bands have tried to cover this one. The Greaseball Boogie Band had a hit with it in the ’70s, in spite of the fact that they changed their name twice between its recording and release. Southern Culture On The Skids performed it on an episode of The Drew Carey Show, “Drew Gets Out Of The Nuthouse”, which originally aired on 3rd October 2001. There is a big dance number in the mental institution, which is not an ill-fitted setting for this song.
Leo Sayer recordings
Warner Bros. WBS 8043 (SAA6689)S