Thursday, May 17, 2012

Lamont Dozier's "Fish Ain't Bitin" - Video, Lyrics, & Comments

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post showcases the song "Fish Ain't Bitin'" composed by Lamont Dozier, McKinley Jackson, & James Reddick and sung by Lamont Dozier.

The content of this post is presented for historical, sociological, educational, recreational, and aesthetic purposes. The copyrights remain with their owners.

Special thanks to composer, singer Lamont Dozier as well as to McKinley Jackson & James Reddick, the other composers of this song. Thanks to those who filmed this segment on SoulTrain. Thanks to sahikademircan, the YouTube uploader of this video which is embedded here, and to jbmontag who uploader a sound file with one photo of this song in 2008 which resulted in the viewer comment thread that I excerpted. Thanks also to those whose comments I quoted.

Lamont Dozier - Fish Ain' t Bitin' | SOUL TRAIN

Uploaded by sahikademircan on Apr 4, 2011
Live on Soul Train...
From Album " Out Here On My Own " in 1973...


The "s" word is deleted in this performance. According to video commenters, this expletive was also bleeped out when this song was played on the radio.

(by Lamont Dozier, McKinley Jackson, James Reddick)

I'm out here fightin, hungry
The fish ain't bitin
Life's so frightenin
I'm out here stumblin
Broke and crumblin
And nothing's hatchin
And I ain't catchin
Nothing, nothing
Nothing, nothing, nothing

I'm running last
in this human race
Tryin to get over
this hopeless place
Trying to fight
with no defense
That I can't win
with no confidence
And meanwhile in DC
Tricky Dick is tryin to be slick
And the short end of the stick
is all I'm gonna get.
Tricky Dick
please quit


I've been tryin to recover
From that phase one
But it's just too hard when
The damage is already done
Lord, when will I overcome
Or am I just destined
Destined to be ah bum
With phase two
I thought I was through
In phase four gonna
Take me out the back door
This I know it's for sure
I'm on my knees begging please
Tricky Dick, stop your shit


Can't afford to be lazy
When the cost of living's
Gone crazy
Whoa. whoa.



"DC" = Washington D.C (District of Columbia), the capital of the United States

Richard Nixon, whose nickname was "tricky Dick", was the President of the United States, serving from 1969 to 1974. Phase one, two, and four probably refer to certain economic policies enacted by that administration.

According to commenters, the "s word" was always bleeped out of recordings aired on the radio. That expletive is also bleeped out on the segment of the television show Soul Train which is shown below.

Several transcriptions of this song are posted on online several lyric sites. However, I believe that certain lines in those transcriptions are incorrect. Those mistakes are also mentioned by some YouTube commenters in the comment thread that I referenced whose link is given below.

I wrote this transcription by repeatedly listening to videos of this song, and by reading several comments on

Any corrections to my transcription of this song are welcome.

Note that this is NOT the same song as "If The Fish Ain't Bitin'" by David Lee Murphy

(To date 11AM 5/17/2011 there are 189 comments on this video's viewer comment thread. These 33 excerpted comments are posted in chronological order with the oldest comments posted first. Replies are posted after the comment they are written in response to.)

1."As the US banks fail, its firms shrink payrolls, its home values collapse, its foreclosures soar, oil ascends, households' savings crater, and its new cars stack up in the showroom....Fish Aint Biting will make a resurgence. It is as relevant in 2008 as it was 34 YEARS ago in the Spring of 1974 on black AM radio. This was also a gold single.

This is the same L. Dozier who co-wrote almost all of the Supremes, Four Tops, and many other Motown #1 hits in the 1960s."
-AvlDao; 2008

2. "Amen! I wrote on another web site that this classic is timeless because the MESSAGE is an ongoing one...."
-MusicManKevin in reply to AvlDao; 2008

3."Tricky Dick! President Nixon!"
-1975tooto; 2008

4."man, dozier must have knew what was gonna happen in the future when he put out this song"
-browngal1709; 2008

5. "Perhaps he did. I believe he was just capturing how incredibly bad things were in the years, 1972-1974, that led up to the songs release in 74. The US has fallen into the habit of thinking the 1970s were mainly about disco. See 1975Tooto's comment above about 1974: by almost every economic, social, political and global measure, 1974 was much worse than 2008 in every way, except maybe for bank filures. That was one reason we churned thru 4 Presidents in 9 years."
-AvlDao;in reply to browngal1709; 2008

6. "This song is timeless. We're going through the same crap today."
-DeLeeJay12; 2008

7."Super 70's stuff. But then what do expect from someone who was one third of the songwriting team responsible for a lot of the early Motown hits.

The reference to Tricky Dick Nixon is a classic."
-ozell1992; 2009

8."Hey, people: For anyone who's lived thru those days of Tricky-Dick Nixon, "Moon Beam" McNamara, Henny KissHerGer, and McGeorge "Al" Bundy, Dozier's timely missive is a cautionary musing for these today's depressing times. So, give a big whoop for the tradional Soul militant songs of the 60s and 70s!!! And thank you Mr. Dozier. I know it must have broken your heart to see the Chi-Town, De-Town, and South Central L.A. burn in those turbulent days!!!"
-Atomank68; 2009

[Editor: "Chi-Town" = Chicago, Illinois and "De-Town" is Detroit, Michigan.]

9. "Ironically enough TODAY we can actually say to Cheney "Tricky Dick stop your shit" LMAO"
-Ediva75 ; 2009

10. "Sounds like he talking about gone mad. Poor Obama stepped right into it. I pray for him. Tricky Dick was the one before him."
-ms4play2000; 2009

11. "U AIN'T LYING!! I said the same thing ironically when I discovered that Youtube had this song in here!!"
-Ediva75in reply to ms4play2000; 2009

12. "jbmontag you are mistaken in serveral of your transcribed lyrics: "aye aye captain" should be "I ain't catchin'" and it is not "when will we overcome" but "when will I overcome". I hope you will correct your mistakes. I bought this album when it first came out in 1974 during the Recession of that time and times were in fact real tough! Lamont Dozier was not a great singer but he was a tremendous composer."
rufusterrymcconnell, 2011

13. "Actually, the mistake comes from wherever I copied and pasted the lyrics from."
-jbmontag in reply to rufusterrymcconnell; 2011

[Editor: Another commenter on this thread pointed out other transcription errors, and uploader eventualy deleted the lyrics from this thread.]

14."Believe it or not, when this cut first came out, I thought it was Genesis (Phil Collins as lead). Never knew it was Lamont Dozier all along. Been looking for this song for years. If Phil Collins was to do a cover version of this song, I believe he would do an outstanding job."
-mikesmes, 2011

15. As good as Phil Collins is, he could never do this song justice. This is really a period song. Nixon was president at the time and the times were hard. Long gas lines. rationing of gasoline. The Arab oil embrago. Rising food prices. Lamont Dozier was telling a story that Phil Collins just couldn't do right by. Mostly because he couldn't relate to what was going on at the time. I know. I lived through it. Heard this song when it was going on."

16. "God those were the days Thanks so much for uploading this one"
-steeleyes101; 2010

17. "whoo boy is this timely! Or, should I say timeless? I woke up thinking about this song in much worse shape today than I was in 1974. Thank goodness my memories are free!"
-vinvid2u; 2010

18. "Oh Lamont!! You AINT NEVER LIED!!! Today is even worst than ever! It is amazing how the only thing that changes in time is the day! I LUV THIS SONG!!"
-Contessais4u; 2010

19. "This song was released when I was a young girl in summer camp. The song made me cry because I was devoid of all understanding of how my grandmother and mother struggled as the lyrics state. We will never know how much our parents really sacrificed to give us the things we took for granted. Today the fish may not bite, but I go after them, diving deep, and I will overcome every obstacle. Hope this inspires someone out there."
-2010barbarabell; 2010

20. "Hit #4 soul, #26 pop in Billboard. Kept Lamont from bein' a 1 hit wonder on the pop chart. God bless!"
-DaveWollenberg; 2010

21. "Choooon! Great upload. Talented singer and song writer!"
-11192e1; 2010

[Editor: "Choooon"="Tune!", a Caribbean way of saying "That's my jam!" (I love that song!)]

22. "This reminds me of my school days back at L.A. High. Love this song. Lamont was also part of the famous Holland-Dozier-Holland song writing trio who wrote seminal songs for the Supremes, The Temptations and other Motown acts. He's a genius!!"
-WinstonLorde; 2010

23. "Excellent!!! This cut had a serious political message with a serious smooth groove. Thank you so much for the post."
-tlover1062; 2010

24. "This is a bad man right here* love his music! go head lemont yo bad self, you should be in the soul music hall of fame brother!"
-treygoff; 2010


26. "I don't have any superlatives left - I used them all on the other Lamont Dozier Youtube postings! But this is one of the best. (Much credit to McKinley Jackson also, for this absolute gem of an album)"
-drwhatson; 2011

27. "This true to todays time without a doubt , with the division of the ultra rich and the poor."
-nursedjones; 2011

28. "That's how things are right now, fish aint biting. Cost of living has gone insane now than ever before"
-bubbajackification, 2011

29. "Thank you for putting this great man's song up for the rest of us to enjoy! Lamont Dozier was title Black Bach because of his enormous talent and he was someone who indeed was deserving of the title....I bought this when it first came out also and even had it on eight track!"

MrTrackfreek; 2011

31. "I've always loved and appreciate the message in this song. The meaning was true then and perfectly frames the struggle many Americans face today."
-eluvre; 2011

32. "This is straight out of the summer of 1974...Good music and good times then...Always wondered why this record seemed to take off like lightening and then all of a sudden it dropped out of sight never to be heard again...Until here on You Tube."
-mrob75; 2011

33. "this song is on Lamont Dozier's first official solo album after splitting from the Holland brothers...the album is called "OUT HERE ON MY OWN", and was produced by McKinley Jackson, formerly of Invictus Records also...You might want to check out Freda Payne's "PAYNE AND PLEASURE" album on ABC also. These 2 LPs had a lot of the same writers, and personnel. Both produced by McKinley. MASTERPIECES!!"
-hollidayevery, 2012

Hat tip to SkeeterVT who wrote on a video comment thread for the Parliament's song "Chocolate City". That comment made me aware of "Fish Ain't Bitin" video. Surprisingly, I'd never heard that song before then.

"It's funny that Parliament's "Chocolate City" got almost no radio airplay during Obama's inaugural. Play this back-to-back with Lamont Dozier's "Fish Ain't Bitin'" and Stevie Wonder's "You Haven't Done Nothin'" -- both of which were blasts at Richard Nixon's presidency when they first came out -- and you have a suddenly-relevant-once-again commentary on the state of politics in the nation's capital TODAY.
SkeeterVT;,November 2011.

That url can serve as a link to a YouTube video of "Chocolate City" which has a very welldone photo montage.

Here's a link to Stevie Wonder's "You Haven't Done Nothin'":

Click for Lamont Dozier's official website.

Click for this award winning African American songwriter, singer, producer's Wikipedia page.

Thanks for visiting this page.

Viewer comments are welcome.

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