The Rubberband Man
|"The Rubberband Man"|
|Single by The Spinners|
|from the album Happiness Is Being With the Spinners|
|B-side||"Now That We're Together"|
|Genre||Pop / Soul / Funk|
|Length||3:33 (single edit)
7:22 (album version)
|The Spinners singles chronology|
"The Rubberband Man" is a song recorded by the American vocal group The Spinners (known as "The Detroit Spinners" in the UK).
The song, written by producer Thom Bell and singer-songwriter Linda Creed, was about Bell's son, who was being teased by his classmates for being overweight. Intended to improve his son's self-image, the song eventually evolved from being about "The Fat Man" to "The Rubberband Man".
The last major hit by the Spinners to feature Philippé Wynne on lead vocals, "The Rubberband Man" spent three weeks at number two on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, and topped the U.S. R&B chart at the end of 1976. It was also a top-20 hit in the UK Singles Chart, reaching number 16 in October 1976.
Arrangement and structure
With the opening lyrics, "Hand me down my walking cane, hand me down my hat!", the song recalls the tradition of the one-man band, the days of traveling minstrel shows and such Bay Area musicians as Jesse Fuller.
The arrangement opens with rhythmic clavinet and percussion, followed by a Philly string arrangement provided by the Mother Father Sister Brother musicians. There are brief bursts of brass section and piano. Singer Wynne's delivery is "singularly expressive" and the bridge and chorus provide for a classic call and response routine by supporting vocalists Bobbie Smith (tenor), Henry Fambrough (baritone), Billy Henderson (tenor/baritone) and Pervis Jackson (bass). The song also features the bass playing of Motown Legend Bob "Funk Brother" Babbitt.
Wynne alternates between singing the verse and interjecting verbal asides and improvises the eight bars linking the chorus with the bridge. The backing singers' retort of "do-do-do-do," recalls the distinctive chorus in Stephen Stills' song "Love the One You're With."
In the 1981 film Stripes, the song is featured in the mud wrestling club the platoon visit. During an episode of US television series Martin, Gina sings the tagline of the song after informing Martin that she has reorganized his music CDs. In the early 2000s, the song was featured prominently in a series of OfficeMax television commercials starring actor Eddie Steeples. It was also featured in the Episode 4 of the 2012 Season 2 of Suits. The song also appears on films like Radio and Akeelah and the Bee and About Last Night. It appears on ads for NBA games on ESPN.
The song was used at Wrigley Field when Chicago Cubs closer Carlos Mármol entered the game as well as at Three Rivers Stadium when former Pittsburgh Pirates closer Kent Tekulve would in the late 1970s and early 1980s
- The song was sung by Lynda Carter in a fourth season episode of The Muppet Show.
- In 1977, Tina Turner performed the song on an episode of The Brady Bunch Variety Hour.
- Canadian pop-singer Tamara Silvera recorded the song in 1985.
- Youssou N'Dour released a version on his 1986 album Nelson Mandela.
- Detroit rock band Electric Six released a version on their 2010 album Zodiac.
- Lead vocals: Philippé Wynne
- Background vocals: Bobby Smith, Pervis Jackson, Henry Fambrough and Billy Henderson
- Additional background vocals: the Sigma Sweethearts (Barbara Ingram, Carla Benson and Yvette Benton)
- Instrumentation: MFSB
Weekly singles charts
"Just to Be Close to You" by The Commodores
|Billboard's Hot Soul Singles number one single
October 23, 1976
"Message in Our Music" by The O'Jays
- Feldman, Christopher G. (2000). The Billboard Book of No. 2 Hits. Billboard Books. ISBN 0-8230-7695-4.
- Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 545.
- "The Detroit Spinners: The Rubberband Man". 45cat.com.
- Planer, Lindsay. "The Rubberband Man". AllMusic. Retrieved 30 January 2013.