Did The Lovin’ Spoonful Get Their Name From a Sexual Slang Term?

Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about music and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the music urban legends featured so far.

MUSIC URBAN LEGEND: The Lovin’ Spoonful got their name from a slang term for male ejaculate.

As established here, The Lovin’ Spoonful did not get their name from a slang term for heroin. However, there is ANOTHER famous claim for the origin of the band’s name, stating that it is a reference to male ejaculate. And this claim is a far trickier one.

As noted before, John Sebastian attributed the name of the band to a song lyric of Mississippi John Hurt’s classic blues song, “Coffee Blues.”

Let’s take a look at the lyrics from the song,…

(spoken:This is the “Coffee Blues”, I likes a certain brand – Maxwell’s House – it’s good till the last drop,
just like it says on the can. I used to have a girl cookin’ a good Maxwell House. She moved away.
Some said to Memphis and some said to Leland, but I found her. I wanted her to cook me some
good Maxwell’s House. You understand, if I can get me just a spoonful of Maxwell’s House, do me much good as two or three cups this other coffee)
I’ve got to go to Memphis, bring her back to
Leland
I wanna see my baby ’bout a lovin’ spoonful
, my lovin’ spoonful
Well, I’m just got to have my lovin’
(spoken: I found her)
Good mornin’, baby, how you do this mornin’?
Well, please, ma’am, just a lovin’ spoon,
just a lovin’ spoonful
I declare, I got to have my lovin’ spoonful
My baby packed her suitcase and she went away
I couldn’t let her stay for my lovin’,
my lovin’ spoonful
Well, I’m just got to have my lovin’
Good mornin’, baby, how you do this mornin’?
Well, please, ma’am, just a lovin’ spoon,
just a lovin’ spoonful
I declare, I got to have my lovin’ spoonful
Well, the preacher in the pulpit, jumpin’ up and down
He laid his bible down for his lovin’
(spoken: Ain’t Maxwell House all right?)
Well, I’m just got to have my lovin’

If you read the lyrics of Hurt’s song, it’s hard to look at it as anything BUT sexual innuendo, right? (you have to love Hurt, in the above piece, trying to expressly say, “No, no, you see, it’s about coffee! Just coffee!” In a slight bit of “to be fair,” though, Maxwell House HAD used the slogan “Loving spoonful” before Hurt wrote his song).

So since they took a lyric from Hurt’s song that was sexual innuendo in the first place, then that would mean that they are taking the sexual innuendo as well, right?

Sebastian noted in the past that people’s reactions to the name when they were trying it out tended towards that response, so it is not like he did not know that people would take it that way, so I lean towards saying “true” to the name being a reference to male ejaculate. However, I’ve seen plenty of people act like it is a pointed reference to male ejaculate, and I don’t know – when your innuendo is once removed from the original reference, it seems to lose a lot of any pointedness.

The legend is…

STATUS: True Enough for a True

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future urban legends columns! My e-mail address is bcronin@legendsrevealed.com

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