My song today is ‘Hi-Heel Sneakers’. This song was released as a single in 1964. Although writers cite a 1963 recording date, there is conflicting information about the studio location. Aldrin puts it in Chicago, while the Blues Foundation locates it in New York City. The song's distinctive guitar parts are provided by Dean Young.
Numerous musicians have recorded ‘Hi-Heel Sneakers’. Aldin notes the song "has the distinction of having been recorded by such unlikely musical bedfellows as Johnny Rivers: Elvis Presley: Chuck Berry: Jerry Lee Lewis and David Cassidy, among many others.
This now-familiar rhythmic chord progression of accenting the beat a la "Hi-Heel Sneakers" was in turn incorporated into many cover versions of ‘Big Boss Man’, and ironically influenced how the Jimmy Reed standard is typically played today.
In 2017, Tommy Tucker's single was inducted into the ‘Blues Hall of Fame’. In its induction statement, the ‘Blues Foundation’ noted that ‘Hi-Heel Sneakers’ was the "last blues record from the mighty ‘Chess Records’ [Checker subsidiary] catalogue to hit Number 1 on the charts" and its popularity as a performance number.
As a female fashion item, the popularity of stiletto heels changed radically over the 1950s, 60s, 70s and 80s. After an initial wave of popularity in the 1950s, they reached their most refined shape in the early 1960s, when the toes of the shoes which bore them became as slender and elongated as the stiletto heels themselves. It would be the 1980s however before the height of some stiletto heels could graduate to a pointed base six inches away from the shoe’s under-sole. For the women wearing them, it must have seemed like high-wire-walking on a pair of daggers! God only knows how any woman could walk in comfort and safety, and not topple, fall down and break a leg in the process.
The sure things that can be said about high-heeled stilettos are that women did not wear them for comfort or safety, but instead used this footwear of female fashion as a means of male enticement, to enhance the visual excitement and sexual pleasure of men, as well as carrying a legal form of a deadly weapon, in the event of needing protection.
I worked as a Probation Officer between 1971 and 1995. During that time, I came across many women who had seriously maimed a man by various means. In some instances, the women concerned were 'abused women' who had been pushed too far and had snapped in violent response, but the vast majority of women I am referring to in this post were women who could not control their excess aggression and who lashed out at a man for an unwarranted and often trivial reason.
I have known enraged women who came before the court for ‘Assault with Intent to Do Serious Bodily Harm’, and on a few occasions, 'Attempted Murder'. Such means used have included setting their victims alight: pouring and throwing boiling water or hot cooking fat at him: striking him with a hammer or some other heavy instrument: stabbing him with all manner of knives, chisels, screwdrivers and daggers: slashing at him with an axe or a machete: and using many more items found around the home and garden shed as weapons to harm. Given my experience, I believe that an innocent man has more chance of reasoning with a vicious rottweiler than a woman gone mad.
You may be surprised to learn that in my work experience, the most common weapon used by women assailants (against men or other women), was the pointed end of a high-heeled stiletto aimed at the victim’s head, shoulder or arm areas. I have spoken with nurses and doctors who frequently attended to assaulted men and women who came into A&E with a stiletto shoe stuck in a part of their anatomy! Many a female told me that she would rather have a stiletto shoe to defend herself with, as opposed to carrying a can of pepper spray or a knife on her person.
The most disturbing aspects of most of these assaults I refer to were often committed for trivial cause against victims who did not deserve such a violent response. There were a few beaten wives and partners, but as a general rule, long-standing physically-abused women rarely fight back through the use of force, but when they do, they tend to kill instead of wounding their abuser!
At the stage of preparing reports for the sentencing court, I was often astounded by the wholly unwarranted reasons why the accused women attacked the men or other women in question. Most of the women involved had been accidentally ‘bumped’, ‘pushed’ or ‘verbally abused’ or had experienced having a drink in a crowded pub accidentally 'spilt over them’. A few aggressive women even considered ‘moderate criticism’ or ‘daring to be looked at by a stranger’ to be sufficient cause to severely hurt or half kill the victim. I literally come across one ‘larger than life’ woman (weighing twenty stone) who ‘lost it’ totally when her husband went into the bathroom and saw her standing on the weighing scales, totally naked and letting it all 'hang out'. He silently smiled at the sight of her before he hurriedly left the bathroom in squeals of laughter he could neither conceal nor prevent turning into palpable mirth. Her response was immediate and was fuelled with anger and engagement. She deliberately pushed him down a flight of twenty steps. He landed at the bottom of the staircase unconscious and sustained a broken leg and other fractured bones.
I recall one 5O-year-old wife who lived in Holmfirth. She stabbed her husband of thirty years in the arm with a kitchen knife because he did not like the new dress that she had bought herself. I will never forget that incident as it occurred the very same day that a man in Netherton near Wakefield beat his wife so badly and broke her nose and one of her arms, just because he was less than impressed with her cooking skills. Upon arrival home from work one evening, she had presented him with a plate of sausage and mash for tea. As she had been cooking her husband's meal, her noisy and boisterous children were fighting each other, and with their distraction, she overcooked the sausages. Upon seeing the offending food, he accused her of having burned his sausages through carelessness and decided that she deserved to be taught a lesson. He beat her severely.
I prepared Social Enquiry Reports on both people to acquaint the court with the circumstances surrounding their offence, besides presenting the court with my assessment of the nature of their character, to assist the court with appropriate sentencing. The Holmfirth woman was committed to Crown Court for sentence and was eventually given a two-year suspended prison sentence. The Netherton man who severely beat his wife who presented him with burnt sausages to eat got 18 months imprisonment. Both women eventually left their husbands.
Now, just as a means of illustration how female fashion can be a powerful force of persuasion in all circumstances, consider this possibility. I’m willing to bet that had the wife-beating Netherton husband been served burnt sausages for his tea ‘by a wife dressed to kill and wearing black stockings and suspenders, and high-heeled stilettos at the time, he’d have eaten every morsel of his burnt sausage without the slightest complaint before suggesting that they ‘had an early night’.
Don’t mistake me as I neither condone the unacceptable action of knife-stabbing wives or wife-beating husbands. I am merely indicating the power of the high-heeled stiletto as a deadly instrument of both appeasement or assault!
Love and peace Bill xxx