Romm Diamonds Blog
October 16th, 2015
Welcome to Music Friday when we often bring you vintage songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the lyrics or title. Today the spotlight shines on the legendary Etta James and her 1961 satirical romp, "Tough Mary."

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In this song that tells the story of a pretty girl and the boys who try to impress her with gifts, we hear Tough Mary's sassy way of expressing her distaste for posies. James belts, "Don't bring me flowers; don't bring me the sea / Just bring me diamonds, that'll suit me fine / And I'll love you forever, and you'll be mine."

"Tough Mary" is the fifth track on James' At Last! album, a release that spawned four hits. One of those was the title song, which was to become the R&B legend's signature tune. In 2012, Rolling Stone magazine ranked At Last! #119 on its list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

Born to a teen mother in 1938, Jamesetta Hawkins never knew her father and was raised primarily by her grandparents and foster families. She received her first professional vocal training at the age of five and soon became a popular singing attraction at the St. Paul Baptist Church in South Central Los Angeles. She formed the doo-wop singing group — the Creolettes — with her friends in the early 1950s and scored her first hit single as a 15-year-old.

One year later, James was going steady with B.B. King ("The King of the Blues") and believed that King's 1960 blockbuster hit "Sweet 16" was about her.

James went on to become a headliner in the early 1960s with a string of chart-toppers, including "The Wallflower," "At Last," "Tell Mama," "Something's Got a Hold on Me," "Stormy Weather" and "I'd Rather Go Blind."

Her unmistakable voice, unique style and ability to bridge so many musical genres — such as blues, R&B, soul, rock and roll, jazz and gospel — earned James coveted spots in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Blues Hall of Fame and the Grammy Hall of Fame.

Often referred to as the "The Matriarch of R&B," James passed away in 2012, just five days shy of her 74th birthday. The world misses Etta James, but her music — and her Facebook fan page with 1 million followers — lives on.

We hope you enjoy James' performance of "Tough Mary." The video and lyrics are below if you'd like to sing along...

"Tough Mary"
Written by Lorenzo Manley. Performed by Etta James.

Tough Mary, Tough Mary (Yeah, that's me)
Tough Mary is tough

The boys would come from miles around, with presents every day;
But when they'd call on Mary, this is what she'd say:

Don't bring me poses, when it's shoes I need;
(Tough Mary, Tough Mary, Tough Mary, Tough Mary)
Don't bring me flowers; don't bring me the sea
(Tough Mary, Tough Mary, Tough Mary is tough)
Just bring me diamonds, that'll suit me fine;
(Tough Mary, Tough Mary, Tough Mary, Tough Mary)
And I'll love you forever, and you'll be mine
(Tough Mary, Tough Mary, Tough Mary is tough!)

Well, Mary, she's a very pretty girl; I guess she was born that way;
But whenever they would tell her that, this is what she'd say:

Don't bring me poses, when it's shoes I need;
(Tough Mary, Tough Mary, Tough Mary, Tough Mary)
Don't bring me flowers; don't bring me the sea
(Tough Mary, Tough Mary, Tough Mary is tough)
Come on and bring me some diamonds, that'll suit me fine;
(Tough Mary, Tough Mary, Tough Mary, Tough Mary)
And I'll love you forever, and you'll be mine
(Tough Mary, Tough Mary, Tough Mary is tough!)

Tough Mary
Tough Mary
Tough Mary

Don't bring me poses, when it's shoes I need;
(Tough Mary, Tough Mary, Tough Mary, Tough Mary)
Don't bring me flowers; don't bring me the sea
(Tough Mary, Tough Mary, Tough Mary is tough)
Come on and bring me some diamonds, that'll suit me fine;
(Tough Mary, Tough Mary, Tough Mary, Tough Mary)
And I'll love you forever, and you'll be mine
(Tough Mary, Tough Mary, Tough Mary is tough!)

Oh, I'm tough;
(Tough Mary, Tough Mary, Tough Mary, Tough Mary)
Yeah, yeah I'm tough


Credits: Facebook.com/EttaJames