Thing a Week 18 – Dance, Soterios Johnson, Dance

By JoCo January 27, 2006

It was time for this song to get the full treatment and rise up from its obscure position on the Songs page. For those of you who don’t know, Soterios Johnson is the morning anchor on the NPR station here in New York, WNYC. He may or may not have a secret life of dance, but he’s got a pretty sweet radio voice. Thanks SoJo…

Dance, Soterios Johnson, Dance

Note: currently the mp3’s screwy and cuts off before the end. I will fix it soon…

More Note: now fixed. Sorry for the trouble (you get what you pay for I guess).


Marty says

I hate to say this, but.. I think I liked the original version better. It had a taste of frentetic energy that really made you /feel/ it.

Unrelatedly, I still need to send you pictures of Ponkey...

Josh says

I have always thought this was one of your best songs (In the top 3 or 4), and was pleasently surprised to see it as the new Thing. The new one is kinda Techno, as all pop songs today are. I think the first had more emotion, and stuff, but the new chorus is better. I noticed lyrics vary slightly, Including the Little Gray Book #29, (excellent by the way), and the ending is cool like in Lt. Gr. Bk.s.

Also, The podcast is cut off; I will soon check the real one.

Josh says

That is wierd. Both of them end pretty wierdly. Kinda abrupt.

JoCo says

Ah, crap, the mp3's effed up. I will fix it when I am in range again...

Bob says

My first impulse was to say I didn't like it; but I figured that was just the natural resistance to be expected from liking the original version so much.

So I listened to it again, and I have to say it grew on me. In a head-to-head comparison, I still like the original a lot more; this version is a little too "over-produced" for my tastes. Taken on it's own, however, it's pretty good.

That being said.... that "popcorn" synth thing you have going on throughout the song, that just makes me want to jam an icepick in my ears. Other than that, it's a good song. :-)

Glenn says

Huh -- the whole bit with Terry Gross was added, right? And the bit about him winding down for the morning was removed? Pity, I like both of those sections.

I had the same reflex that the original had grown on me, and I liked the idea of the crazy energy, but it makes sense that the new one would sound more rave-like. I do hope if you do another version that you keep Terry Gross and follow him to the morning. (Not to impugn Ms Gross's honor in any way, however.)

JoCo says

Sheesh. This is worse than when Dylan went electric. The lyrics are different in this version - when we did a Little Gray Books show in Philadelphia I localized the song a bit by adding the whole Terry Gross thing (her show Fresh Air started at WHYY in Philly). I for one like these lyrics better. And it's my damned internet!

New Orleans says

Sorry, but the original had more feeling, kinda like Footloose. This version sounds like you're just going through the motions and uninspired. Other than that, it sounds good. Thanks again though for putting it all out there!

Lars nCompany says

I guess I can agree on the "less emotion" sentiment, though I don't think I would have noticed it had it not been mentioned here. Also, it only seems to be there in the beginning and goes away quickly, so I don't really have a problem with it.

But that aside, I'd have to say I quite liked it. I always love new versions of old favorites, and this is no exception.

Michael says

Ah: now that I've heard the Evil Genius interview, I recognize the Terry Gross lyrics. And, pulling up Ms. Gross's picture from the NPR site, I'm now having fun visualizing Mr. Johnson and Ms. Gross as Travolta and Gorney on the dance floor.

One interesting distinction between the two versions: While the acoustic downloadable leaves one thinking more about the double-life cycle, the Little Gray Books version--technopopped for the Thing a Week--leaves one thinking more about "the dance goes on forever." And it does, oh yes it does. Now it's Johnson and Gross as Astaire and Rogers, whirling and twirling across the dance-hall of infinity...

Bob: If you like, you can think of this version as JC in parody mode again. It's the Club Remix, a category in which overproduction is the name of the game. The popcorn, the tropical traffic whistle, the other synth effects, are all dance tropes (not to say cliches) found in so many other energetic dance pieces, and here they are with (would it be redundant to say) bells on.

On the other side, JC, as usual your background vocals are terrific and well-applied, helping bring out the nifty harmonic progression even better than guitar alone. I do like this one.

And folks, as was originally pointed out at ,
this _is_ his Internet. Be nice and he may let you keep it.

Bob says

"Sheesh. This is worse than when Dylan went electric."

Oh *please*, don't even go there.

Bob Dylan was a hack. Do you think Dylan could EVER have come up with "The Town Crotch"? I don't. ;-)

Michael says

Just a quick query--my own SoJo was Charlie Huddle, at one time the morning man ("No time to indulge in slothful ease!"), local theater critic, etc., for WINA-AM in Charlottesville VA, before he left for parts unknown, and I've been unable to track him down. Has anyone heard from this man elsewhere on the dial?

Michael says

Oh, no -- now there's a soundtrack I'm trying to get out of my head: Dylan doing "Baby Got Back."

The Almighty Charles says

Haha, I don't see what the fuss is about. Both versions are charming (and dancable!).

Gle3nn says

That was very good and stands on it's own away from the original version.
Now do a heavy metal/ Punk/ Ska version!
Jam Soterios Johnson Jam!!

Dave says

I like it a lot. I can't help imagining a UK localised version "Dance, Sir Trevor MacDonald, Dance" makes me laugh.
For non-british readers, Sir Trevor MacDonald recently retired from presenting the evening national news on TV after doing so for over 20 years.

New Orleans says

Alright, so now I'm feeling guilty for leaving a less than positive feedback comment. The new cut does sound good, I gave it another listen. I have to agree with Michael about the dance going on forever feel, it does inspire dancing more than the original. But don't worry Mr. Coulton, I wouldn't be here if I wasn't completely enamored by your music. You're the real genius smashing expectation. But, you know what would have been a nice touch - vocoder!!

JoCo says

NOLA: now wait a minute, nobody should feel bad for leaving less than positive feedback. Of course I always enjoy unanimous rave reviews, but they would be meaningless if I thought that everybody was lying or holding back. Part of Thing a Week for me is learning not to censor myself, even if I think something I'm doing isn't as good as it could be. This means some things are going to be good, and some other things are going to be not so good. So be it. Call em like you see em, I can take it.

Glenn says

The more I listen to it, the more I like the new version. But I also still love the old version. Story of my life.

Wait. hold on... I'm receiving a transmission. Something about February 15th... There's a lot of static, probably the rain. Or the wind may have blown down the aerial. Excuse me, I must mobilize the monkeys.

Stevie D says

I love this song...but I don't know about this new version. I think there's less happening in the song now that you added more instrumentation, it was really the juxtaposition of opposites (simple acoustic guitar/Rave subject matter) that did it for me. I think you listen to the lyrics more that way. Though I must say the new background vocals on the chorus make me smile. I really miss the bit about returning back to his life 'in office cloths' it sorta wraps things up. But I guess these things happen when everyones used to something and you go and change it on them.

Jennybean says

I love that you brought Terry Gross into it! And I can't believe that people are still making fun of me for the internet comment! I was trying to be eloquent and supportive.

Michael says

Jennybean: If you're the "madwomanintheattic" on the page I cited, please rest assured that I'm NOT making fun of you (actually, I was piggybacking on Glenn Peters's clever riposte). "Eloquent and supportive" was indeed how I took it.

In fact, I agree with you wholeheartedly. The 'net has provided a wealth of information--not to mention some neat music, ahem--but it's also been a horrendous time sink. You were wise to warn against it.

This said by a recovering netaholic.


Kyle says

I was reading all these entries and thinking of how I heard the song. First I heard the new Thing a Week version then the origional. I have to say I liked the Thing a week better. The origional seemed rushed and flat. But that is my opinion.

Gary says

Michael, We had a Charlie Huddle in Hudson, NY. He was great. Invented a pesky cat that terrorized him in the morning. Called the thing Carson. The darned thing never really existed, but it was the bane of his existence. This was a WHUC around 1962.

Liam says


Is the original that people keep talking about available anywhere? I like this song, I'd love to compare and contrast.



Liam says

Never mind, I found it.

Well, not that you probably care, but I love the song in both versions, but I do think I like the raw energy of the original slightly better.

Nevertheless, in either form, it's currently one of my favorites, so thanks for writing it and sharing it with us!


Jerry says

OK, I'm late to the party, and I have yet to go back and scan "the original", but I love the TAW CD version, and the Terry Gross line makes me laugh every time. (Like JC, she just does NOT look like her voice...).

Janet says

Oh I love this song. It never goes out of style.

Cat says

I invested in the full Coulton catalog (yay for buying direct from artist!) earlier this year and I keep discovering new favorites.

The original Demo version is consistently stuck in my head, and the TAW version is pretty sweet also. And now that I know Soterios is an NPR guy...oh the song is even better. I had been imagining Soterios was some internet dancing dude, so to merge the two ideas is great. Lyrics do matter!

Steve says

so who is terry rose?

Charlie says

I heard the newer version first, but I have to say I think I would have liked it better regardless. You've written a lot of songs that are absolutely perfect with a simpler arrangement - sometimes just you and your guitar is all the song needs to be complete. But this is one that really benefits from a fuller sound, especially the synth pop and club elements. I also like the newer lyrics better, they make the story even more 'epic,' and really isn't that what this is about?

tom says

this song rocks!
all your sungs are so lol-ish!
from your number one israelish fan-

TheFifthSister says

You should totally do this song when you play in London. Yesterday I was down the street listening to it on my MP3 and found myself dancing along. It's an odd site to see someone burst into sponatneous dance!

TheFifthSister says

I was walking down the street.... that makes more sense

thejackyl says

Why the hell isn't this song on B.C.E.??