10 Date Ideas To Try In 2021 That Are 10/10

You’ve had date night on your Google Calendar for over three weeks, and you still haven’t figured out what you and your boo are going to do. You can’t watch another bad movie. You simply can’t eat takeout anymore. You’re ready to put on your sexy pants and paint the town with your flame. Of course, you need to find out what the heck is on the agenda first. If hindsight is 20/20, perhaps the year 2020 will be full of good ideas, wisdom, and learning from the past. In fact, these date ideas to try in 2020 will bring the excitement and the fun back to date night.

From dressing up like it’s 2002 and hitting up your childhood hotspots (Rainforest Cafe, ILY) to drinking some wine and getting crafty, there are tons of creative date ideas out there. Whether you turn off your phones and explore the city with disposable cameras or start a monthly movie club together to share your favorite flicks, getting out of your date comfort zone this 2020 is sure to be a 10/10 experience.

And if you’re looking to add some zest to your relationship, here are 10 date ideas for 2020 that are out of this world.

Two pretty friends women with long hair wearing black clothes in soft background. Girls together in soft yellow background.
Shutterstock

1. Print Out Your Fave Pics & Make A Scrapbook

Go to a CVS or a RiteAid with a photo center, then print out your favorite pictures of you and your boo. Fashion them into a scrapbook, along with concert tickets, little notes, and any other small mementos you may find. It’s like an IRL Instagram feed, but of your relationship.

2. Have A DIY Date

Find a tutorial you like on YouTube (I live for TheSorryGirls and Lone Fox) and grab all the supplies you need at a dollar store or thrift shop. Load up on snacks, grab some wine or tea, and get to crafting!

3. Plan A 2002 Night & Watch A Reboot

Grab your butterfly clips and Juicy tracksuit, and get ready for a 2002-themed date night with boo. Maybe you both dress up like it’s the early 2000s and snuggle up to watch a reboot of an old classic or you hit the town by going to some OG fave spots, like the Rainforest Cafe or Johnny Rockets. Whatever you choose, the best way to celebrate 2020 with your date is to bring it back to 2002.

4. Start A Monthly Club

Planning a running date night to sit down and swap media recommendations can be a great way to start your 2020. Whether you switch off who chooses the movie or book or snuggle up to listen to some tunes together, making time to share your favorite things in 2020 is a great way to connect with your date.

5. Have A Disposable Camera Day

Sure, you have Huji Cam. Or maybe you had it, then deleted it for VSCO. Whatever the case, if you plan to have a romantic, retro 2020 date, hit up a drugstore for a literal disposable camera (yes, they still sell them) and turn your phone off for an entire day. Run around the city with your boo and take some sweet photos together on the camera, to commemorate the adventure.

6. Plan A Silly Scavenger Hunt

From hitting all the places you went together in 2019 to revisiting different memories from throughout your relationship, a scavenger hunt date can be a great way to revisit some old faves as you get into 2020. Run around the city, find clues, and get to the next spot. Then meet up somewhere that neither of you has been before!

7. Try A $5 Challenge

Meet up with your boo in a new part of a town. Then hand each other a crisp $5 bill. Select a set amount of time, then yell, “Ready, set, go!” When you reunite again, see who found the other a better present or the most things for under $5. Balling on a budget, but make it romantic.

8. Make Vision Boards Together

Sitting together and collaging about the future can be a natural way to kick off the “Where do you see this going?” convo. Maybe you talk about a city you’ve always wanted to visit, which leads to a conversation about traveling together. Or perhaps you can describe your dream apartment, then naturally bring up one day moving in together. Blast some tunes, pour some drinks, and start cutting up some old magazines.

9. Go To A Local Show

Find a local theater in your community and see what upcoming shows are coming to town. Is a local high school putting on Bring It On: The Musical (it’s a thing)? Is a community center holding a futuristic, space ballet performance? Supporting your local arts scene can mean connecting more with your date and your community.

10. Brainstorm Date Ideas For The Rest Of The Year

Write down all the things you want to do with your boo this year, as well as any exciting activities you’ve always wanted to try in your city. Mix them all up and place them in a bowl. The next time you’re wondering what to do for date night, pick something out of the bowl and commit! Having a bunch of ideas ready to go can nix any, “Well, what do you want to do?” boredom for the rest of the year.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

You can check out my books here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

Tales of Rock – 29 Secret Backstories You Don’t Know To Hit Songs You Do

Songs have a way of worming themselves into our brains and lives in subtle ways, without us giving a single thought to how they arrived in our ears. And as it turns out, most songs have really interesting histories.

So we asked our plasticians to come up with fascinating facts about well-known songs, that you can worm into your brain alongside that catchy melody. Here’s what they came up with:

29 Secret Backstories You Don't Know To Hit Songs You Do

29 Secret Backstories You Don't Know To Hit Songs You Do

29 Secret Backstories You Don't Know To Hit Songs You Do

29 Secret Backstories You Don't Know To Hit Songs You Do

29 Secret Backstories You Don't Know To Hit Songs You Do

29 Secret Backstories You Don't Know To Hit Songs You Do

29 Secret Backstories You Don't Know To Hit Songs You Do

29 Secret Backstories You Don't Know To Hit Songs You Do

29 Secret Backstories You Don't Know To Hit Songs You Do

29 Secret Backstories You Don't Know To Hit Songs You Do

29 Secret Backstories You Don't Know To Hit Songs You Do

29 Secret Backstories You Don't Know To Hit Songs You Do

29 Secret Backstories You Don't Know To Hit Songs You Do

29 Secret Backstories You Don't Know To Hit Songs You Do

29 Secret Backstories You Don't Know To Hit Songs You Do

29 Secret Backstories You Don't Know To Hit Songs You Do

29 Secret Backstories You Don't Know To Hit Songs You Do

29 Secret Backstories You Don't Know To Hit Songs You Do

29 Secret Backstories You Don't Know To Hit Songs You Do

29 Secret Backstories You Don't Know To Hit Songs You Do

29 Secret Backstories You Don't Know To Hit Songs You Do

29 Secret Backstories You Don't Know To Hit Songs You Do

29 Secret Backstories You Don't Know To Hit Songs You Do

29 Secret Backstories You Don't Know To Hit Songs You Do

29 Secret Backstories You Don't Know To Hit Songs You Do

29 Secret Backstories You Don't Know To Hit Songs You Do

29 Secret Backstories You Don't Know To Hit Songs You Do

29 Secret Backstories You Don't Know To Hit Songs You Do

29 Secret Backstories You Don't Know To Hit Songs You Do

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

You can check out my books here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

The Weirdest, Creepiest and Most Annoying Songs of the 70’s – Part 9

If you were like me in the 1970’s you listened to top 40 radio most of the time. You heard a lot of great songs and instant classics. But among them were many unforgettable songs that were just weird or strange. I’ve tried from memory to remember the ones that stand out in my mind.

For weird reasons they became hits. They either made no sense or having any musical merit. Just a bizarre era of story songs.

Of course, this stuff is all pretty subjective but I did have a few criteria for what should be here. I decided to include a song if it:

    • made me sick without even listening to it again
    • made me want to break my radio
    • made my stomach turn
    • brought out violent thoughts of hatred, revenge, etc.
    • reminded me how lame the radio and record companies are
    • could make me want to break my stereo
    • would make me leave a bar or club if they started playing it
    • would make me boo a band who started playing it
    • suspended my belief in a divine force that governs the universe

I’m not saying that there weren’t ANY good songs during the 70s but there was just a truck-load of waste back then. If anybody’s stupid enough to think that ALL disco sucks, remember that it’s just a bastard son of rhythm & blues just like rock’n’roll is- so they’re related, see? Also, the 1970s definitely didn’t have a monopoly on shitty music- there was tons of crap unleashed on us in the decade before and after and now also (there’s a future article there somewhere). Clothes-pin anyone?

The 70’s was an interesting time for music. There was a lot of experimentation and creativity from that decade, but there was also plenty of crap as well. Here is my list of the worst and most irritating songs of the 70’s.

 

Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald – Gordon Lightfoot – 1975

Compared to the rest of the songs on this list, this song should win a noble prize. I only just figured out that the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald wasn’t an ancient mariners tale, but was an actual breaking news story. The actual wreck in Lake Superior which killed 29 crew members happened in November of 1975. Gordon read a story in Newsweek about the tragedy and wrote and recorded this song the following month. It came out the next summer and got all the way to number 2 on the singles chart, which is pretty amazing for a 6-minute sea shanty with no chorus. Lightfoot changed a few details. The boat was actually loaded for Detroit not Cleveland and has actually revised the lyrics as more details of the wreck came out over the years.  The other songwriters on this list should take notice. This is how you tell a story in a song.

Run Joey Run – David Geddes – 1975

Ahh… this disaster.

David Geddes wrote a song, and this song was later revived in an episode of Glee. Struggling songwriter, Geddes was in law school when he got a call from a songwriter that thought his voice would be good for a song, called Run Joey Run. In this tragedy, both in terms of the story and this song, Joey sings about his dead girlfriend Julie who haunts him when he tries to sleep. She warns him not to come to her house because she’s been fighting with her father. We’re to believe that Julie is pregnant but she promises her dad that she and Joey will get married. (Just you wait and see) Of course, Joey comes to be by her side, her father tries to shoot him, but he hits her instead. Yes, even in the ME decade of the ’70s these are the lessons and the morals we grew up with.

I was 13 years old when this song came out. Even back then I knew it was an awful pile of garbage. But there’s something about it that has this weird, B-movie vibe to it. Now I actually kind of love it for its kitsch. I love songs and films that are made in earnest that are terrible. I guess that’s why Mystery Science Theater 3000 and Rifftrax are some of my favorite shows. Stuff so bad, it’s good. This is a welcome tune to my list!

Shannon – Henry Gross – 1975

Henry Gross played Woodstock as part of the group Sha Na Na, and he was part of Jim Croce’s band. Sadly his own solo work was going nowhere. But he struck gold with a song about a dead dog. Not just any dead dog. While he was touring with the Beach Boys in 1975, Gross visited Carl Wilson’s house in LA. He mentioned that he owned an Irish Setter called Shannon, Wilson replied that he also had an Irish Setter named Shannon that had recently been killed by a car. That was enough to score a top ten hit and an afterlife when Casey Kasem went on a profanity-laced tirade in 1985 when his producers stuck a long-distance dedication of Shannon right after an up-tempo song by the Pointer Sisters.

If you listen to it you can feel the whole Beach Boys vocal sound in the chorus. The only thing that could make this song worse would be if Mike Love sang it. Not a terrible song, but just a weird subject for a tune. Back then I always thought it was about a girl that had died.

It’s also way too long…

Convoy – CW McCall – 1973

Advertising executive Bill Fries created an award-winning campaign for Old Home Bread, featuring a fictional truck driver named CW McCall. A few years later, at the peak of the CB radio craze, Fries got together with Chip Davis from Mannheim Steamroller and they put together a song that chronicled a CB conversation between Rubber Duck, Pig Pen, and Sod Buster, about a fictional trucker rebellion that drives from the West coast to the East coast of the country without stopping.  The song is mostly dialogue, thick with CB lingo and an annoying earworm chorus, Convoy became a number one hit in 1975, it inspired a major motion picture in 1978 directed by the great Sam Peckinpah and starring Kris Kristofferson Ali McGraw and Ernest Borgnine. I would watch this movie for the laugh.

Kids… that’s the kind of thing that was possible in the ’70s.

Convoy | 1978 | Final | UK One Sheet » The Poster Collector

Look at the body on Kristofferson in this rendering! Lookin’ ripped!

Wildfire – Michael Murphey and the Rio Grande Band – 1975

Murphey and Larry Cansler co-wrote “Wildfire” in 1968, shortly after Murphey emerged as a solo artist. Earlier in the decade, he had been part of a duo known as the Lewis & Clark Expedition (which had appeared and performed in an episode of I Dream of Jeannie) in 1968 with his fellow singer-songwriter Boomer Castleman. When Murphey rerecorded “Wildfire” for a new album in 1997, he was quoted by Billboard as saying that what many consider his signature song “broke my career wide open and, on some level, still keeps it fresh. Because that song appeals to kids and always has, it’s kept my career fresh.”

In a 2008 interview, Murphey talked about the origins of the song and the context in which it was written. He was a third-year student at UCLA, working on a concept album for Kenny Rogers (The Ballad of Calico). The work was demanding, sometimes taking more than twenty hours a day. One night he dreamed the song in its totality, writing it up in a few hours the next morning. He believes the song came to him from a story his grandfather told him when he was a little boy – a prominent Native American legend about a ghost horse. Murphey didn’t have a horse named Wildfire until a few years before the interview when he gave that name to a palomino mare.

The lyrics are those of a homesteader telling the story of a young Nebraska woman said to have died searching for her escaped pony, “Wildfire”, during a blizzard. The homesteader finds himself in a similar situation, doomed in an early winter storm. A hoot owl has perched outside of his window for six days, and the homesteader believes the owl is a sign that the ghost of the young woman is calling for him. He hopes to join her (presumably in heaven) and spend eternity riding Wildfire with her, leaving the difficulties of earthly life behind.

The song is rather famous for its piano intro and outro, which is often left off versions of the song edited for radio. The introduction is based on a piece (Prelude in D-flat, Op. 11 No. 15) by the Russian classical composer Alexander Scriabin.

This song is not annoying or weird. It’s just a really unique story song that was very popular in the mid-70s. It’s kind of sappy, but also sort of beautiful and sad. I like it so I added it to this list.

Muskrat Love – The Captain and Tennille -1976

I really have to hand it to my readers on this one. I was discussing compiling this list with a few of my followers and they sent me some of their favorite weird songs. The Captain and Tennille clearly deserve a spot on this list, but they didn’t go for the obvious choice with “Love Will Keep Us Together” or “Do That to Me One More Time.” No, they wisely went with “Muskrat Love,” by far their hit that’s aged the worst. The song (originally called “Muskrat Candlelight”) was written by obscure country-rock artist Willis Alan Ramsey in 1972.  The band America covered it in 1973, and the Captain and Tennille cut their own version of it in 1976. The song isn’t some sort of analogy. It’s about actual muskrats falling in love. They played it at the White House in 1976 when Queen Elizabeth II came for a visit. It’s unclear why the Ford Administration thought that was a good idea. If they came a year later, Jimmy Carter would have probably pulled in a better act.

If you google pictures of them, Daryl always looks like he’s uncomfortable and doesn’t want to be in any photos with her. I can’t blame him.

Tennille filed for divorce from Dragon in the State of Arizona on January 16, 2014, after 39 years of marriage. Dragon was unaware of the termination of his marriage until he was served with the divorce papers. The divorce documents referenced health insurance or health issues, and Tennille had written on her blog in 2010 that Dragon’s neurological condition, similar to Parkinson’s, known as essential tremor, was characterized by such extreme tremors he could no longer play keyboards. Dragon later stated that some of his health problems were the result of errors in dosing his medication.

In 2016, Toni Tennille, Tennille’s memoir (co-written with niece Caroline Tennille St. Clair) was published. In it, Tennille painted an unflattering picture of Dragon and their years together.

Dragon and Tennille remained close friends until his death from complications of kidney failure on January 2, 2019, in Prescott, Arizona. Tennille was at his side when he died.

I always thought of Toni Tennille as a poser who sang flat with little range. They’re like a bad act you’d see in a hotel lounge in the middle of nowhere. This song is trash and I can’t believe why anyone would focus their songwriting energy on such an odd subject.

On a final note, the weird solo that sounds like little farts is supposed to be Muskrat Love sounds.

It’s just Awful!

I hate her and this song too. She just comes off like the type of person that would be best friends with Kate Gosselin.

You’re Having My Baby – Paul Anka – 1974

Nobody disputes the fact that Paul Anka is brilliant – the man wrote “My Way” for God’s sake. That feat alone earns him a spot on the Songwriters Hall of Fame.  But in the summer of 1974 he released “(You’re) Having My Baby,” an uber-saccharine song about a man overjoyed about the news that his wife is pregnant. The song hit home for a lot of Americans, and it gave Anka his first Number One since 1959’s “Lonely Boy.” It’s aged about as well as a rancid bucket of sweet and sour pork. New life was breathed into the tune in 2009 when it was featured on Glee. Finn sang it to Quinn while having dinner with her parents. At the time, he didn’t know that Puck was the real father and that Quinn’s dad would throw her out of the house after hearing the news.

In 2018, heavy metal singer Glenn Danzig invited Anka onto the main stage at the Wacken Open Air Festival to sing “(You’re) Having My Baby.” Despite not having sung the song live in nearly 40 years, Anka agreed and appeared with Danzig wearing bell-bottom pants and a plaid shirt with a butterfly collar.

Less than thirty seconds into the song, the crowd of roughly 66,000 expressed their disgust with boos and empty beer bottles, forcing the two to stop singing. Unable to quell the crowd with offers of singing “Long Way Back from Hell” and “Do You Wear the Mark” together, Anka and Danzig fled the stage shortly before the frenzied crowd stormed the stage.

“These kids don’t know Anka as I know him,” Danzig later said through tears. “When I first heard ‘You’re Having My Baby,’ I knew that’s what I wanted to do in life.”

Despite the underwhelming catastrophe of the Wacken Open Air Festival, other heavy metal singers have followed suit with Danzig’s idea. Paul Anka is currently collaborating with thrash-metal band Slayer and an album is due in stores during the summer of 2021.

Watch the performance. Notice how Paul is up on stage singing it by himself? Odia Coates the woman who sings the duet with him isn’t with him on stage. She’s sitting on a bench at the piano. Was a white man and a black woman standing next to each other on stage singing about how he’s so happy he got her pregnant and she’s keeping their mixed-race baby, too controversial for 1974? I don’t know. Just sayin’…

My mother hated this song and so did I. My mother appreciated good music and couldn’t understand why someone would write a song like this. If you listen to the song you’ll hear how gross this song really is. “You could have swept it from your life, but you didn’t do it.” Nice Roe vs. Wade reference, Paul.

Ugh!

Watching Scotty Grow – Bobby Goldsboro – 1970

is a song written by country music singer-songwriter Mac Davis and recorded by Bobby Goldsboro in 1970 on his album, We Gotta Start Lovin. Davis recorded his version on his 1972 album, I Believe in Music.

This song deals with a father witnessing the activities of his son growing up, while the father does his usual laid-back adult activities. The phrase, “that’s my boy” is used in all 3 verses. One of the verses, “Mickey Mouse says thirteen o’clock,” refers to the Mickey Mouse watches which were popular at the time.

Who the hell told Bobby Goldsboro that this was a good haircut? It looks like a fur helmet. But I digress. I hate this song. It’s so sappy. The lyrics just make me want to puke. If my handlers asked me to record a song like this I would have quit the music business.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

You can check out my books here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

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The Weirdest, Creepiest and Most Annoying Songs of the 70’s – Part – 5

If you were like me in the 1970’s you listened to top 40 radio most of the time. You heard a lot of great songs and instant classics. But among them were many unforgettable songs that were just weird or strange. I’ve tried from memory to remember the ones that stand out in my mind.

For weird reasons they became hits. They either made no sense or having any musical merit. Just a bizarre era of story songs.

Of course, this stuff is all pretty subjective but I did have a few criteria for what should be here. I decided to include a song if it:

    • made me sick without even listening to it again
    • made me want to break my radio
    • made my stomach turn
    • brought out violent thoughts of hatred, revenge, etc.
    • reminded me how lame the radio and record companies are
    • could make me want to break my stereo
    • would make me leave a bar or club if they started playing it
    • would make me boo a band who started playing it
    • suspended my belief in a divine force that governs the universe
I’m not saying that there weren’t ANY good songs during the 70s but there was just a truck-load of waste back then. If anybody’s stupid enough to think that ALL disco sucks, remember that it’s just a bastard son of rhythm & blues just like rock’n’roll is- so they’re related, see? Also, the 1970s definitely didn’t have a monopoly on shitty music- there was tons of crap unleashed on us in the decade before and after and now also (there’s a future article there somewhere). Clothes-pin anyone?

The 70’s was an interesting time for music. There was a lot of experimentation and creativity from that decade, but there was also plenty of crap as well. Here is my list of the worst and most irritating songs of the 70’s.

 

The Jaggerz – The Rapper – 1970

The Rapper” is a song by The Jaggerz, written by band member Dominic Ierace, better known as Donnie Iris. Released as a single, it reached No. 2 on the Billboard Pop Singles chart, behind Simon & Garfunkel‘s smash “Bridge Over Troubled Water” and it was certified Gold by the RIAA in 1970 (see 1970 in music) for selling over a million copies. (Iris later launched a solo career; his biggest hit was “Ah! Leah!“)

The song is addressed to a girl or girls in general; it describes the method of a man who seduces women with untruths (“rapping”.) The singer says, “You know what he’s after”; he concludes by saying there comes a point at which the man has his target where he wants her. The girl has to “face reality.” The record ends with a small group of applause heard in the studio. (Which is probably the only applause this tune ever got!)

The “rapper” of the title and “rappin'” in the lyrics have only some coincidental resemblance to the vocal style of rapping.

It resembles something to be flushed.

Ray Stevens – Everything is Beautiful – 1970

If there’s any song from the past that epitomizes shooting for the stars and failing miserably, it’s this one. Ray Stevens, a guy known for unfunny comedy songs, decided to get serious and made Everything Is Beautiful, which became his first number-one single. Let’s just call this song for what it is: it’s religious propaganda. It has the presentation of Sunday school and it’s barf-inducingly sappy and disingenuous at heart. This is the music that would get played at some Republican convention somewhere in the country. Now, there’s nothing wrong with the message. Be more tolerant to others who look different from you? Fine. But there’s an issue with the messenger. As I said, Ray Stevens made a career out of comedy songs. If he wants to be serious, fine, but be consistent, dude. Let me remind you that this guy made a song called Ahab The Arab. I won’t put up a link, you go listen to it yourself. And in the 21st century, he made some hack political songs, including one in 2010 called God Bless Arizona where he defended the state when they proposed a law that would allow more racial profiling against Latinos. What I’m trying to say here is that Ray Stevens is a flaming hypocrite. And this won’t be the last time we’ll hear from him on this series. Congratulations to Everything Is Beautiful for being one of the worst songs of 1970.

 

Demis Roussos – Forever and Ever – 1973

The song was written by Alec R. Costandinos and Stélios Vlavianós. The recording was produced by Demis Roussos.

There is also a Spanish-language version, titled “Eternamente”.

What Clint Eastwood Spaghetti Western did this guy crawl out of? Just a horrible warbling song I never want to hear again. Painful to endure.

Charlene – I’ve Never Been To Me – 1977

I’ve Never Been to Me” is a ballad, written and composed by Ron Miller and Kenneth Hirsch and made popular via a recording by American singer Charlene. Although its original release in 1977 barely registered on the Billboard Hot 100, its re-release in 1982 hit number three in the US and earned her a Gold certification in Australia, where it held the number one spot for six weeks. In addition, the song topped the charts in Canada (4 weeks), Ireland (3 weeks), and the United Kingdom. It was also a Top Ten triumph in Norway, Belgium, New Zealand, and the Netherlands, and became Motown‘s first Top Ten hit by a white female solo singer.

When I hear this song all I can think about doing is grabbing a serrated hunting knife and sawing through my corroded artery and ending it all in a bloodbath of horror. This song and video are an absolute disaster.

Listen to those dreadful lyrics!

Oh, and wait until she starts talking. I defy you not to find a brick wall and just smash your head into it over and over until you lose consciousness to escape this nightmare of a song. This song is so bad it actually makes me angry when I hear it.

DISASTER!

Bobby Gentry – Ode to Billy Joe – 1967

Ode to Billie Joe” is a song written and recorded by Bobbie Gentry, a singer-songwriter from Chickasaw County, Mississippi. The single, released on July 10, 1967, was a number-one hit in the US within three weeks of release and a big international seller. Billboard ranked the record as the No. 3 song of the year. The recording remained on the Billboard chart for 20 weeks and was the Number 1 song for four weeks.

It generated eight Grammy nominations, resulting in three wins for Gentry and one for arranger Jimmie Haskell. “Ode to Billie Joe” has since made Rolling Stone‘s lists of the “500 Greatest Songs of All Time” and the “100 Greatest Country Songs of All Time” and Pitchfork‘s “200 Best Songs of the 1960s”.

The song takes the form of a first-person narrative performed over sparse acoustic accompaniment, though with strings in the background. It tells of a rural Mississippi family’s reaction to the news of the suicide of Billie Joe McAllister, a local boy to whom the daughter (and narrator) is connected. Hearsay around the “Tallahatchie Bridge” forms the narrative and musical hook. The song concludes with the demise of the father and the lingering, singular effects of the two deaths on the family. According to Gentry, the song is about “basic indifference, the casualness of people in moments of tragedy”

Bobbie Gentry’s “Ode To Billie Joe”

Why does this weird song make me think about the song, Harper Valley PTA? It’s just one of those endless story songs that you have to sit through to try to find the meaning. Halfway through it, I was like… Who cares, Bobby? Nobody wants to hear you describe this dull story in a lame song.

CRAP!

The Five Stairsteps – O-o-h Child – 1970

O-o-h Child” is a 1970 single recorded by Chicago soul family group the Five Stairsteps and released on the Buddah label. The Five Stairsteps had previous peripheral success recording in Chicago with Curtis Mayfield; when Mayfield’s workload precluded his continuing to work with the group they were reassigned to Stan Vincent, an in-house producer for Buddah Records, who had recently scored a Top Ten hit with the Lou Christie single “I’m Gonna Make You Mine“. The Five Stairsteps’ debut collaboration with Vincent was originally formatted with the group’s rendition of “Dear Prudence” as the A-side with Vincent’s original composition “O-o-h Child” as B-side. However, “O-o-h Child” broke out in the key markets of Philadelphia and Detroit to rise as high as #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the summer of 1970. The track’s R&B chart impact was more muted with a #14 peak, although “O-o-h Child” is now regarded as a “soft soul” classic. Billboard ranked the record as the No. 21 song of 1970.

I lived with a woman once who was as crazy as a shithouse rat. I would come home from work and she would be having one of her many bi-polar fueled rage-fests at her kids. I would just start to sing this song to annoy her. Because her life was so easy living at my house rent and bill free. She ended up cheating on me and moving out. But whenever I hear this song it makes me think of that time. With its La la la’s…

It’s just an annoying song. Prove me wrong.

Hurricane Smith – Oh Babe, What Would You Say? – 1972

  • This recording was a demo of a song that Smith had written for a different artist to record. When he played it for Mickie Most, the record producer was impressed enough to tell him to release it as it was.
  • Smith said about this song: “The melody was happy and simple. It was the producer in me that designed the lyric to recapture the era I grew up in. It’s almost a true story of my life. I would go to a ballroom, but I was so shy I couldn’t even ask someone to dance. I’d walk home imagining a romance when I’d never even reached first base. ‘Oh, Babe’ was about those fantasies.” (Weird)
  • Born Norman Smith in northern England, he took up the “Hurricane Smith” moniker from a 1952 film. Smith worked as an engineer on all the Beatles’ sessions between 1962 and 1965 when EMI promoted him to producer. The last Beatles album he recorded was Rubber Soul. In the late ’60s, Smith produced Pink Floyd’s early albums and one of the first rock concept albums, The Pretty Things’ S.F. Sorrow. Smith later appeared on albums by Teardrop Explodes and Julian Cope. He died on March 3, 2008.

This clown worked with the Beatles. You’d think he would have learned something or simply stayed out of the game! How the hell did he get on Carson?

His voice sounds like Dr. Hook and the Medicine Show on booze and crack and living in an alley somewhere. Why was vaudevillian music like this still being recorded in the 70s?

And why the hell did he stick his finger in the sax player’s ear? WTF?

Awful!

Clive Dunn – Grandad – 1970

“Grandad” is a popular song by Herbie Flowers and Kenny Pickett, and recorded by Clive Dunn.

While starring in the long-running BBC situation comedy Dad’s Army, Dunn met bassist Herbie Flowers at a party, and on learning, he was a songwriter challenged him to write a song for him. Flowers wrote “Grandad” with Creation vocalist Kenny Pickett.

The single was released in November 1970, and, aided by promotion such as appearing on children’s shows such as Basil Brush and DJ Tony Blackburn claiming it as his favorite record, in January 1971 it reached No. 1 on the UK Singles Chart for three weeks, during which time Dunn celebrated his 51st birthday, and went on to spend a total of 27 weeks on the chart. Dunn never had another hit single but he did release an album which featured “Grandad” and B-Side “I play the Spoons” titled Permission to Sing Sir!

In 1979-1984, Dunn starred as Charlie “Grandad” Quick in a children’s television show named Grandad, although the series did not use the song as the theme tune. (Which is weird) I just added this song to my list because it’s just weird.

The chorus just makes my skin crawl. Just when I think it’s over, another verse begins and I wish my life would end.

Melanie – Brand New Key – 1972

The song is sung from the viewpoint of a girl with roller skates trying to attract the attention of a boy.

In an interview with Examiner.com, Melanie described what she claimed was the inspiration for the song: “I was fasting with a 27-day fast on water. I broke the fast and went back to my life living in New Jersey and we were going to a flea market around six in the morning. On the way back… and I had just broken the fast, from the flea market, we passed a McDonald’s and the aroma hit me, and I had been a vegetarian before the fast. So we pulled into the McDonald’s and I got the whole works… the burger, the shake, and the fries… and no sooner after I finished that last bite of my burger… that song was in my head. The aroma brought back memories of roller skating and learning to ride a bike and the vision of my dad holding the back fender of the tire. And me saying to my dad… ‘You’re holding, you’re holding, you’re holding, right?’ Then I’d look back and he wasn’t holding and I’d fall. So that whole thing came back to me and came out in this song.”

This is an odd song that deserves to be on this list, but that last part about her dad got to me. I promised myself I wouldn’t trash it.

 

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Tales of Rock -10 Greatest Rock Documentaries You Need To See

Few areas of life lend themselves better to the documentary format than music. The life of a rock star is undeniably fascinating: alien to the likes of you and I, a little scary at times, but undeniably desirable. They do and say outrageous things, they perform before baying crowds, they often end up doing something out of order – what’s not to love?

There are rock docs, though, and there are rock docs. These days everything merits a camera presence – an album launch, a tune on a film soundtrack, a tour which needs that little extra oomph to get it over the line. Candid footage is commonplace these days.

Some docs, though, will stand the test of time and have cemented themselves as classics not just of the subgenre, but of non-fiction film full stop. A good rock doc can capture a time and a place, shifts in society as well as the inner thoughts of some of the culture’s greatest icons. They’re a window not just into the stars themselves, but the worlds they inhabit and sometimes affect.

And if they’ve got a whole bunch of smashing tunes, well, that’s just an added bonus.

10. Amy

Altitude Film Distribution

 

The tragic tale of Amy Winehouse is hardly a new one in the music business – star after promising star has succumbed to the temptations of substances and the pressures of fame. Few have done so as publicly as Winehouse, however, whose 2011 death felt at the same time heartbreaking and somewhat inevitable.

Asif Kapadia’s documentary is a sensitively made look into the life of a star who looked like she could be one of Britain’s best in many years (and perhaps, even in such a short time, still was). It takes a simple biographical approach, but crucially builds a deeper image of Winehouse than the troubled and self-destructive hellraiser of her public profile. She was all those things, of course, but there was far more to her than that, as the tremendously affecting interviews with her family and close friends go to show.

For Winehouse novices, the film provides a great life and career retrospective that ably demonstrates why she’s so beloved; for those already enamored with the late singer, there’s great early and rare footage of a woman who wasn’t around for long but left an indelible mark on modern music.

9. One More Time With Feeling

This isn’t a watch for a cheery night in. The death of Nick Cave’s son in 2015 came after the majority of his 2016 album Skeleton Tree had been written, but he was yet to step into the studio with his band The Bad Seeds.

Naturally, the loss cast a shadow on the entire production. Rather than subject himself to press junkets and interviews, Cave and Andrew Dominick collaborated on the masterful One More Time With Feeling, through which the singer could explore and explain his grief, as well as give fans a sneak preview of the upcoming record. Skeleton Tree’s sparse, haunting songs made their debut in the gorgeously shot black and white film, and they capture their singer’s feelings of distress, emptiness, and ultimately hope, better than words ever could. Cave doesn’t spill his guts to the camera, but the performances, weary yet driven and brilliant, tell us all we need to know.

It’s one for the fans primarily, but the lush camerawork, beautiful music, and terrible but universal story can appeal to a far wider audience. It’s an exercise in grief, but a wonderful and strangely uplifting film, too.

8. Amazing Grace

AP/AP

Blessed with one of the greatest voices music ever produced, Aretha Franklin’s legacy was guaranteed long before she was immortalized in this 2018 film (shot in 1972, but held up by legal proceedings until shortly after her death). Sydney Pollack’s Amazing Grace is a masterfully made concert film and a gift for a younger generation who can appreciate the power of Franklin’s awe-inspiring talents the way an audience should.

Backed up by a community choir, Amazing Grace is a testament to the healing powers of song and faith. You don’t need to sit Franklin down and interview her to get to the heart of the woman. You simply need to watch her perform and listen to her sing. At this time especially, her voice is astonishing and appears effortless. Her early life was far from easy, and she has spoken previously of the release music gave her; Amazing Grace is her opportunity to give that back to the world.

There will be others who can sing with the same technical proficiency or range or control as Franklin, but it’s hard to imagine there will be many if any who can access so naturally the purity of emotion that Pollack unobtrusively captures in Amazing Grace.

7. The Ecstasy of Wilko Johnson

HBO

An underrated figure in UK rock, Wilko Johnson was the guitarist for pioneering pub rock act Dr Feelgood. With his distinctly aggressive playing style and imposing physical presence (he played Ilyn Payne in the first few seasons of Game Of Thrones), he was hugely influential, a trailblazer.

When he was diagnosed with terminal cancer, this was unsurprisingly an eye-opener for the taciturn axeman, and he allowed Julian Temple, key documenter of UK punk, to chart his final days. Johnson faces his mortality with trademark humor and an admirable calm, reflecting on his life and his achievements, and concluding it time well spent. He embarks on a goodbye tour, rocking venues like old times, bringing together friends and collaborators to say farewell to fans and well-wishers the only way he knows how.

Then, the twist – the cancer which seemed so final suddenly goes into remission, and Wilko is given another chance – more time than he knows what to do with. The film celebrates life in all its forms, but it’s clear that Johnson will go on rocking and creating until the real final curtain.

6. The Decline Of Western Civilization Part 2

New Line Cinema

The first film in the Decline series was a relatively serious look at the often-po-faced world of hardcore punk. For the follow-up, director Penelope Spheeris cast an eye on the hair metal scene of 1980s LA, where things were a little wilder.

The documentary is a riotous look at acts famous and otherwise, from the heavyweights of the rock and metal scene to upstart bands hoping to make it as big as their idols (spoiler: none of them do). Highlights include Ozzy Osbourne making a colossal mess in his kitchen as he concentrates more on his anecdote than pouring juice into a glass, and Chris Holmes from W.A.S.P, who floats around his pool drunk off his head while his disapproving mother watches on. They put on a brave face, the folks of the scene, but many are stricken with sadness (others still are outright creeps).

While there’s the suggestion that elements of the film are a put-on, Spheeris captures an accurate portrait of one of music’s most indulgent and tacky scenes. Everyone involved is keen to show just how rock ‘n’ roll they are, and to one end up making prize fools of themselves in the process.

5. Beware Of Mr. Baker

SnagFilms

Cream drummer Ginger Baker died in 2019, and while his passing is a great blow to the world of rock and jazz, after watching this captivating documentary, you’ll be amazed a man so gnarly was even capable of death.

Director Jay Bulger traces Baker’s musical journey from South London to South Africa, where he now lives on an imposing compound. Baker’s career is a remarkable one, having pioneered a jazz/rock fusion style with Cream, traveled to Africa to drum with Fela Kuti, and kicked and taken up heroin enough times to kill most ordinary men. Ordinary Baker most definitely is not, though: he is a fascinating but utterly cantankerous individual, ultimately clashing with and physically assaulting Bulger after a line of questioning is not to his liking.

The man lived hard and fast and achieved an incredible amount, and it’s great that his life story was aired in such an engaging piece of work. Formally inventive and ever engaging, this is proof if proof be needed that the devil has the best tunes.

4. 20 Feet From Stardom

RADiUS-TWC

A celebration of some of the music business’ unsung heroes, 20 Feet From Stardom is all about putting a name to the voices you’ve heard so many times, as Morgan Neville’s Oscar-winning doc digs into the world of backing singers.

Featuring the likes of Darlene Love, Merry Clayton, and other incredible performers whose names you may not know but whose vocals you’ve certainly danced to, 20 Feet From Stardom is a melancholic look at a business that can be so rewarding, and so frustrating, all at the same time. There are incredible anecdotes from those on the periphery of the world’s biggest rockstars, and superb performances, like Clayton’s isolated vocal track from the Stones’ “Gimme Shelter”. Many of those interviewed are jobbing musicians who accept their status, but it can’t help but feel cruel that their contributions so often go uncelebrated.

With talking heads from bonafide A-listers like Bruce Springsteen, this is a star-studded production, but more than anything else it’ll give you an appreciation of the sheer physical graft that goes into the singing business. You may just be harmonizing on a chorus, but it’ll take it out of you.

3. Gimme Shelter

20th Century Fox

An era-defining documentary, this still-harrowing film captures The Rolling Stones at their world-conquering finest as they tour their incredible run of records between the late ‘60s and early ‘70s. It also pinpoints the moment the hippy dream died and something altogether more sinister settled into American counterculture.

Gimme Shelter serves as a concert film for a band who, at the time, may have been the world’s greatest. This ultimately pales into insignificance, however. The documentary is most famous for its recordings of the Stones’ 1969 concert at the Altamont Speedway, during which 18-year-old Meredith Hunter was fatally stabbed to death by a member of the Hell’s Angels, who the UK rockers had hired as their tour security. Co-directors Albert and David Maysles and Charlotte Zwerin adopt a hands-off approach to their film making, simply observing the chaos that unfolds as a peaceful scene turns ugly.

The ‘60s ended literally and metaphorically around the time of Altamont, but if there are lessons to be learned, it’s a stroke of luck that there was a camera there to record the destruction.

2. Don’t Look Back

Leacock-Pennebaker, Inc.

D. A. Pennebaker’s 1967 masterpiece invented the rock doc and the myth of Bob Dylan in one fell swoop. Following the Nobel prize-winning songwriter on his 1965 UK tour, the documentary was one of the first opportunities an audience had to watch a rock star simply exist in his natural environment.

As a subject, Dylan couldn’t have been much better. He is riding the crest of a wave, writing and playing some of the best music of his career, and coming to the tumultuous end of his relationship with Joan Baez. He is captivating but unprecious with his public image: indeed there are moments in which he acts like a real jerk, one-upping Donovan with a bravura performance just because he can, and needlessly abusing a poor jobbing journalist. The opening scenes serve as a music video for the track Subterranean Homesick Blues, another of the film’s groundbreaking moments.

Dylan has been documented and hagiographed half to death by now, but Pennebaker’s passive camera catches him in the flesh, and at a pivotal point of an incredible career. Taking aside all it influenced, it remains a superb piece of work.

1. Dig!

Interloper Films

A friendly rivalry turns into an all-out indie war in Ondi Timoner’s wild documentary. The director shot over 10,000 hours of footage as two upstart bands, The Dandy Warhols and The Brian Jonestown Massacre, came up together before dramatically falling apart.

The narrative comes down to jealousy, as the Massacre, arguably the better band, stew over their former friends’ sudden burst of success. Petty swipes turn to open hostilities as one band rises and the other turns in on itself. The subjects are fascinating, most notably Massacre frontman Anton Newcombe, whose musical talent is outstripped by his self-destructive street. He has the aura of a cult leader but the temperament of a stroppy child, and slowly alienates those around him and blows chance after chance at the big time.

Musicians from either camp have refuted the realism of the finished product, but that hardly matters when the documentary is this outrageously entertaining. Dig! may not hit as heavy as some other acclaimed rock docs, but few films can match the uproarious fun – and killer tunes – of this bonkers film.

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please read, like, comment, and most of all follow Phicklephilly. I publish every day.

You can check out my books here: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=charles+wiedenmann&ref=nb_sb_noss_1

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