I don't remember where I was when I had the premonition that one day I'd host Family Feud. (I'm scheduled to assume hosting duties in the summer of 2023--after Jack Black and Andy Richter but before Cuba Gooding, Jr.) I know that I have a little time to figure this out but I'm still mystified as to exactly how the game's played. I figure that it somehow involves looking at a big board and making small talk with hillbillies while everyone cheers. There's some type of scoring system, but how the heck is that supposed to work? So much of life is a tortuous mystery, a brow-beating funnel of mocking despair and this particular TV show is yet another chimera that taunts my waking hours. For years I've stealthily searched in the bleak darkness, adjusting my rabbit ears and awaiting that "Eureka!" moment of sobering Dawson-like clarity. Until the Network Gods divine the correct cue cards upon me, I'll trod onward, measuring my life in Metrocard swipes and Junior Jumbles, assured that one day I'll finally unlock The Secret of The Feud and it will be then, and only then, that I will rejoice amid the bright hoopla and comb my real hair forward.
Co-written by Shirley "Nitty Gritty" Ellis and her manager/producer Lincoln Chase, The Name Game shot up the national charts to #3 in the waning days of 1964. Now I'm not a total square from nowhere--I can grasp the five main rules (see chart) of said game--however it's the three sub-sections of the "contrary rule" where I lose my footing and tumble headfirst into the inky land of Bonana, Fanna and Fo. Those directions make no sense to me and they never will. And in mid-song, when Shirley says "if the first two letters are ever the same, I drop them both and say the name like Bob, Bob drop the B's Bo ob," I pray to sweet Jesus for the simplicity of The Nitty Gritty. Wrapping my brain around this mess is like getting instructions from Tim Conway on how to land a plane. Of course, none of that takes away from the fact that The Name Game is one of the sickest, most awesome dance records ever recorded.
Play it now and play it loud.
Shirley Ellis: The Name Game (MP3)