“Why don’t you get out of the nation” – Earnest Jackson featuring Sugar Daddy and the Gumbo Roux
My day job is as a banker. Writing is only a moonlighting gig when I’m inspired. As a banker, we discuss exciting things like interest rates for loans and deposits. We have fun acronyms like LTV and NIM and DCR. We talk about employment, housing, and costs. Oh, the costs! Costs for purchases. Costs for construction. Costs for developments. Costs, costs, and more costs.
And we also discuss the very present elephant in the room these days – inflation. We discuss inflation as a whole, and as a core number (excluding the volatile food and gas industries). We discuss how inflation might affect our region, our workforce, and our economy in NW Arkansas.
As a banker, I take an interest in these facts and figures and have to stay knowledgeable on financial topics, and so I listen to financial podcasts – many times on my daily commute. One of my go-to’s for many years has been NPR’s “Planet Money,” and that is exactly what inspired this particular post.
I don’t always catch every episode, but the recent two-part podcast (each episode is approximately 25 minutes and linked below) is a great listen. The two episodes combine the topics of inflation and music by featuring a largely-unknown, over-looked singer/songwriter and a song he recorded in 1975. The song had never seen the light of day… until recently.
It’s a fascinating tale which centers around a funky, R&B jam called “Inflation.” It was written and sung by Baton Rouge native Earnest Jackson with a backing band in 1975 called Sugar Daddy and the Gumbo Roux (if that isn’t a name for a R&B/soul band that originated in Baton Rouge during the mid 70’s then I’ll take my Boney M and Love Unlimited Orchestra albums and go home right now). The song was cut as a demo but was never released on an album or as a single. The band, at that time, included a few musicians that would go onto successful music careers and one in particular, who would become a very well known bass player (you’ll have to take a listen to the podcast to learn the identity).
Inflation in 1975 was very close to what it is today (approximately 8-9%), and it prompted Jackson to write the song in one sitting. Rising inflation is the enemy of consumers causing the cost of goods and services to rise much faster than wages. Our Federal Reserve attempts to maintain a healthy rate of inflation (2%) by raising or lowering interest rates to discourage/encourage borrowing and/or spending. Now, this post could get more technical and boring right about now, but I’ll spare you, and instead I’ll post a link to historical interest rates, and just skip ahead to the good stuff.
Earnest (pictured recently above) is the central character of the two-part podcast as the team from “Planet Money” is made aware of the song and begin their process to track down Earnest in an attempt to get the very likable man and his single, “Inflation,” released out into today’s music world. In the process, they try to give Earnest some long overdue fame by getting the song played on a popular local R&B radio station, and they even try to make him a little money if they can only navigate the tricky world of recording contracts, former bandmates, attorneys, and accountants.
As you can deduct from the Youtube video I’ve embedded at the end of this post, the “Planet Money”team was successful (the song is now on streaming platforms as well), but you’ll want to check out the highs and lows they went through in becoming their own music label and in becoming part of the chaotic streaming-dominated music industry today. I highly enjoyed it, and if you have some time you should also take a listen and stream “Inflation,” because in today’s inflationary world we can all use a few extra bucks in our pockets. It seems like Earnest Jackson is well overdue for a few of his own.
“Now people, stop what you’re doing, and listen to what I have to say, cause inflation is in the nation and it’s about to put us all away.”
Let’s hope inflation doesn’t put us all away, but in the meantime let’s keep Earnest trending towards superstardom! I’m doing my part. The word inflation has never sounded so soulful and so good as it does coming out of the mouth of Earnest Jackson. I dare you to listen and not tap your foot and sing along! Do you dig, sugar daddy? You will. You will.
As always, thanks for reading, and thank you Earnest for the part you’re playing even if it is some 47 years later. And let’s all hope inflation gets out of the nation sooner rather than later.
the 80’s (and sometimes the 70’s)
(Postscript: At the time of posting, the song had over 109,000 streams on Spotify since its’ recent release. I’ve personally been responsible for at least 10 of them… and more to come!)