5 YEAR REWIND: JOE BATAAN



(As part of our 5th year anniversary, we’re revisiting 20 key songs. This post was originally published on May 2, 2008).

Joe Bataan: Ordinary Guy
From 7″ (Fania, 1967)

(From the original post:) “Joe Bataan’s “Ordinary Guy” is not just a fan favorite – he’s recorded it five times (and released it six) – but it’s also a song integral to his own sense of self; he may be a star but in his own mind, he’s still just a regular Joe (you saw that coming, right?) From the man himself: “While in prison, we did a lot of experimenting with songs. I had first heard the title “Ordinary Guy” in prison in Coxsackie, so I eventually rewrote the words, came back home, put ‘em to music. The song makes me cry sometimes when I see the reaction of people. In New York, it is so popular. People just love that song, and I guess the words mean a lot. “Hey, I’m just an ordinary guy, don’t expect anything else. That’s me” and I’ve always been that way. Having sung the song and how I have endeared a lot of people, how they felt about it, only influenced me more [to] give more of my heart than almost any other song. It describes me.”

“For reasons not entirely clear, Fania decided to re-record the song to release on single. For the most part, this 7” version isn’t wildly different from the LP except that Fania brought in pianist Richard Tee. Tee changes the opening to the song, giving it a stronger presence, especially with a striking arrangement that sounds very much like the beginning of Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell’s “Precious Love.” This is probably my favorite version of the song, precisely for that intro which gives the tune such a rich, soulful feel to it.”

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