Draggin’ the Line ~ Tommy James

Tommy James (born Thomas Gregory Jackson, 29 April 1947, Dayton, Ohio) is an American pop-rock musician, singer, songwriter, and record producer, best known as leader of the 1960s rock band Tommy James and the Shondells.

In 1958, when Tommy was eleven, his family moved to Niles, Michigan. In 1959, when he was twelve, James formed his first band called Tom and the Tornadoes. In 1963, the band changed their name to The Shondells. By 1964, a local DJ at WNIL radio station in Niles formed his own record label, Snap Records. The Shondells were one of the local bands the DJ recorded at WNIL studios. One of the songs was the Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich ditty “Hanky Panky,” which was recorded as The Raindrops. The song was a hit locally, but the label had no resources to promote it nationally and was soon forgotten.

In 1965, a DJ in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, found a copy of “Hanky Panky” and played it as a station “exclusive.” Listener response was positive, with many wanting to know where they could get a copy of the “new” single. Another DJ started playing the song at local dance parties. Meeting the demand, a local bootlegger taped the song off the radio and began pressing copies of it. Eventual sales of the bootleg were estimated at 80,000. Pittsburgh DJ “Mad Mike” Metro tracked down Tommy James and informed him that his record was number one in the city. James almost hung up on the DJ, but was convinced to come to Pennsylvania and make appearances promoting the no-longer-forgotten single. Soon, James was in New York, selling the original master of “Hanky Panky” to Roulette Records. By the late summer of 1966, it was the top-selling single in the nation.

In early 1970, the illegal drugs, that Tommy James injected into his system, took its toll when during a concert, James collapsed, and was pronounced “Dead” at the scene, however, James cheated his death, and for a while, refused to perform. He survived by vegetating and moving to the suburbs, hating the recording studio, therefore, James decided that there would be no future to the Shondells, since his semi-retirement. Tommy James and The Shondells broke up in 1970. James went solo and had two further chart hits with “Draggin’ the Line” (#4 in 1971) and “Three Times In Love” (#19 (Adult Contemporary #1) in 1980). James has had twenty three gold singles, and nine gold and platinum albums. He also wrote and produced the million-selling 1970 hit “Tighter, Tighter” for the group Alive ‘N Kickin’.

In October 2007, Tommy James and the original Shondells reunited in a New Jersey studio to record once again.

Tommy James and the Shondells declined an invitation to play at the Woodstock Festival on the advice of their agent, who felt it would be a career killer.

Draggin’ The Line

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Makin’ a livin’ the old hard way
Takin’ and givin’ by day by day
I dig snow and rain and the bright sunshine
Draggin’ The Line

My dog Sam eats purple flowers
Ain’t got much, but what we got’s ours
We dig snow and rain and the bright sunshine
Draggin’ The Line
(Draggin’ The Line)
Draggin’ The Line
(Draggin’ The Line)

I feel fine, I’m talkin’ ’bout peace of mind
I’m gonna take my time, I’m gettin’ the good sign
Draggin’ The Line
(Draggin’ The Line)
Draggin’ The Line
(Draggin’ The Line)

Lovin’ the free and feelin spirit of
hugging a tree
when you get near it.
Diggin’ snow and rain and the bright sunshine
Draggin’ The Line
(Draggin’ The Line)
Draggin’ The Line
(Draggin’ The Line)

I feel fine, I’m talkin’ ’bout peace of mind
I’m gonna take my time, I’m gettin’ the good sign
Draggin’ The Line
(Draggin’ The Line)
Draggin’ The Line
(Draggin’ The Line)

(696)

About DJ Allyn

DJ Allyn is a burned out radio guy who went on to become a burned out sound engineer for a few Seattle area grunge bands in the 1980s and 1990s. Left the madness of worldwide tours with bands, cleaned up my act and went into the relative sanity of sound engineering for television series. Currently working as the Director of Sound for a television series being filmed in North Vancouver, British Columbia. I am always on the lookout for interesting videos, old music, and fun.

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