On 2 February, 1980, “Dig the Gold” by Joyce Cobb peaked at #42.
I have tagged “Dig the Gold” as reggae, not because I think it is, but because that’s what Wikipedia says it is. What I think it is is weird, so I’ve also tagged it with that. It’s not Joyce Cobb’s usual style — she’s a jazz and blues kinda woman. But then, this isn’t really anyone’s style that I know of, at least not until the ragamuffin Haysi Fantayzee show up in 1983, and then it’s more a willful obnoxiousness that they have in common with this song than anything stylistically or melodically.
Not that willful obnoxiousness is necessarily a bad thing, because often an in-your-face approach is novel, memorable, and, like this, unique. Joyce Cobb has taken some sort of tropical something or other, double-timed it, put in a disco backing beat and bass, and then played around with it. That’s not really violin you’re hearing, it’s more zydeco or bluegrass fiddling. And a clarinet, I think, which is also very zydeco. Maybe this is zydeco disco, but without an accordion?
Anyway, then there are lyrics. This is some subversive stuff. This singer, whoever she is, is digging gold, like her father in South Africa, and when she starts to think about the fruits of her labor and the distribution of wealth among the workers and suppliers of capital (where does that gold go, anyhow?) she decides to up and run with her excavated gold. Of course, running with gold is actually a pretty difficult thing if you have a lot of it, given how much it weighs, but this character sounds beaten down enough that maybe just a few ounces will turn her life around. Forget the gold, where does the singer go? What does the future have in store? Prison? A life as a new capitalist? As a labor organizer? Who’s to say? We’ll have to imagine whatever we want, based on our own political predilections and, I guess, on how much we like the song. So… does she make it or not?