The Weirdest, Creepiest and Most Annoying Songs of the 70’s – Part 4

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.

 

Tony Orlando & Dawn -Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree – 1973

In the history of ubiquitous music, none are more annoying than Tony Orlando and Dawn’s peppy, 1920s-retro brain worm of a song. In May of 1973, the record sold 3 million copies in three weeks, and the song received three million airplays in 1973. Lounge singers immediately added it to their repertoires, and washed-up crooners like Jim Nabors, Connie Francis, and Bobby Goldsboro recorded their own versions. By the following summer, CBS gave Tony Orlando and Dawn their own TV variety show, replacing The Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour.

My Ding a Ling – Chuck Berry – 1972

My Ding-a-Ling” is a novelty song written and recorded by Dave Bartholomew. It was covered by Chuck Berry in 1972 and became his only number-one Billboard Hot 100 single in the United States. Later that year, in a longer unedited form, it was included on the album The London Chuck Berry Sessions. Guitarist Onnie McIntyre and drummer Robbie McIntosh who later that year went on to form the Average White Band, played on the single along with Nic Potter of Van der Graaf Generator on bass.

I remember sitting in my friend RJ McMeans’s living room listening to records when somebody put this song on. Chuck Berry is a legendary guitarist and rock ‘n roller and he’s a brilliant artist. But when I heard this song, I was like… what the hell is this? Oh, it’s supposed to be funny. But it’s not. It’s juvenile.

We get it, Chuck. You’re singing a song about your dick.

No.

Half Breed – Cher – 1973

Half-Breed” is a 1973 song recorded by American singer-actress Cher with instrumental backing by L.A. sessions musicians from the Wrecking Crew. Recorded on May 21, 1973, at Larrabee Sound in Los Angeles. Lyrically, the song describes the life of a biracial girl from a white father and indigenous mother and it contains themes of racism and double standards. The song reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100, becoming Cher’s second solo number 1 hit in the US. The single was certified Gold in the US for the sales of over 1 million copies.

CHER HALF BREED MP3 | ukuzaderax

Cher… you’ve made the list again. We get it. You’re hot, but you’re Armenian, not Native American. Just because your then-husband Sonny Bono used to refer to you as Pocahontas on your TV show, this all seems inappropriate. But as always… we love you and your outfits.

Alone Again (Naturally) – Gilbert O’Sullivan – 1972

“Alone Again (Naturally)” is an introspective ballad, starting with the singer contemplating suicide after being left at the altar after his bride deserted him, and then telling about the death of his parents. O’Sullivan has said that the song is not autobiographical, as he did not know his father (who died when O’Sullivan was 11) very well, and that his father had mistreated his mother. Also, his mother was still alive when the song was written. O’Sullivan later commented “Neil Diamond covered “Alone Again (Naturally)” and said he couldn’t believe a 21-year-old wrote it, but for me, it was just one song I had written”. Neil Sedaka was similarly effusive in his praise for the song, stating as he covered the song in 2020 that he wished that he himself had written the song because its complexity was more typical of a man much older than 21. The song is included on O’Sullivan’s The Berry Vest of Gilbert O’Sullivan album (2004) on the EMI record label. Big Jim Sullivan plays the guitar break in the original recorded version of the song.

I remember hearing this song non-stop everywhere I went in 1972-1973. It was a sad song that eventually got on everyone’s nerves. But, I will say this. It’s a very sad, and melancholy song about depression and loss. I’ve suffered from anxiety and depression most of my life and I always had a place in my heart for this song. Something about the sound of his voice brings forth the story in a compelling way. It belongs on this list not because it’s weird or annoying, but because it’s a very unique work by this artist.

Don’t Give Up On Us – David Soul – 1977

Soul is the “actor” from the hit TV show, “Starsky and Hutch” This is when anybody that was on TV thought they could sing and capitalized on their stardom thinking they could sell records. This clown can’t sing and he allegedly hit women. ‘Nuff said.

Da Do Ron Ron – Shaun Cassidy – 1977

Ahh… I loved his half-brother David in the early 70s. I watched the Partridge Family every Friday night after the Brady Bunch. David was hot and had amazing hair and was a heartthrob for years.

The song is the first collaboration in songwriting by Jeff Barry, Ellie Greenwich, and Phil Spector. The song was composed over two days in Spector’s office in New York. The title “Da Doo Ron Ron” was initially just nonsense syllables used as dummy lines to separate each stanza and chorus until proper lyrics could be written, but Spector liked it so much that he kept it. Phil Spector did not want lyrics that were too cerebral that would interfere with a simple boy-meets-girl storyline.  The rhymes of the opening lines, “I met him on a Monday and my heart stood still … Somebody told me that his name was Bill” was inspired by Bill Walsh, a friend of Spector who happened to visit Spector while the three were writing the song.

If you’ve ever wondered what in the hell “da doo ron ron” means, stop worrying: it means nothing. The phrase was apparently just a filler phrase that songwriters Jeff Barry and Ellie Greenwich put in the lyrics until they could come up with something better, and Phil Spector told them it was perfect as it was. Really, dude?

This clown comes along and decides he wants to be a star, and we have this mess. It’s awful. Somebody realizes David Cassidy has a cute little brother. Let’s make money off of him. He comes running out onto the stage in this clip in what looks like silky pajamas. He has zero stage presence and keeps flipping his hair. Just awful!

I remember my sister met some guy named Chuck who so wanted to be this guy. He even wore a white silk jacket with no shirt. A ridiculous fool that my sister hated. I remember that idiot came sniffing around my house looking for my sister and talking to me. He seemed like a jerk as he gyrated his hips in his dumb jacket thinking he looked like Shaun Cassidy. Please go play in the rip-tide, Chuck.

Oh, one final thing. Listen to how the English guy announces the name of the song at the beginning of the video.

Shdadoo Ran Run?

Let Her In – John Travolta – 1976

This is the 1976 debut single by John Travolta, the first release from his second album. It spent five months on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, peaking at number 10. It also reached number 16 on the Adult Contemporary chart. On the Cash Box chart, the song peaked at number five. In Canada, “Let Her In” reached number seven.

“Let Her In” was released at the end of the first year of the four-year run of Welcome Back, Kotter, in which Travolta starred.

This song was his first and only top-ten hit as a solo artist in the United States, and the biggest hit of his in any country not to be tied to the movie Grease. It was included in his 1978 double-album compilation, Travolta Fever.

Vinnie Barbarino, one of the sweat hogs on Welcome Back, Kotter makes good. John solidified his stardom with that show, Grease and Saturday Night Fever. Travolta was a huge star for a minute back then. He later dissolved into a bunch of forgettable roles, but his career was later resurrected by Quentin Tarantino in 1994.

God… this song is terrible.

 

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Tales of Rock – Chuck Berry – Rock n’ Roll Pioneer

Berry’s showmanship has been influential on other rock guitarists, particularly his one-legged hop routine, and the “duck walk”, which he first used as a child when he walked “stooping with full-bended knees, but with my back and head vertical” under a table to retrieve a ball and his family found it entertaining; he used it when “performing in New York for the first time and some journalist branded it the duck walk.”

Charles Edward AndersonChuckBerry (October 18, 1926 – March 18, 2017) was an American guitarist, singer and songwriter and one of the pioneers of rock and roll music. With songs such as “Maybellene” (1955), “Roll Over Beethoven” (1956), “Rock and Roll Music” (1957) and “Johnny B. Goode” (1958), Berry refined and developed rhythm and blues into the major elements that made rock and roll distinctive. Writing lyrics that focused on teen life and consumerism, and developing a music style that included guitar solos and showmanship, Berry was a major influence on subsequent rock music.[1]

Born into a middle-class African-American family in St. Louis, Missouri, Berry had an interest in music from an early age and gave his first public performance at Sumner High School. While still a high school student he was convicted of armed robbery and was sent to a reformatory, where he was held from 1944 to 1947. After his release, Berry settled into married life and worked at an automobile assembly plant. By early 1953, influenced by the guitar riffs and showmanship techniques of the blues musician T-Bone Walker, Berry began performing with the Johnnie Johnson Trio. His break came when he traveled to Chicago in May 1955 and met Muddy Waters, who suggested he contact Leonard Chess, of Chess Records. With Chess, he recorded “Maybellene”—Berry’s adaptation of the country song “Ida Red“—which sold over a million copies, reaching number one on Billboard magazine’s rhythm and blues chart. By the end of the 1950s, Berry was an established star, with several hit records and film appearances and a lucrative touring career. He had also established his own St. Louis nightclub, Berry’s Club Bandstand. But in January 1962, he was sentenced to three years in prison for offenses under the Mann Act—he had transported a 14-year-old girl across state lines.

“It was into this charged environment that the Mann Act was born. Signed into law by President Taft in 1910, the Act made it a crime to transport women across state lines “for the purpose of prostitution or debauchery, or for any other immoral purpose.”

After his release in 1963, Berry had several more hits, including “No Particular Place to Go“, “You Never Can Tell“, and “Nadine“. But these did not achieve the same success, or lasting impact, of his 1950s songs, and by the 1970s he was more in demand as a nostalgic performer, playing his past hits with local backup bands of variable quality.[2] His insistence on being paid in cash led in 1979 to a four-month jail sentence and community service, for tax evasion.

Berry was among the first musicians to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on its opening in 1986; he was cited for having “laid the groundwork for not only a rock and roll sound but a rock and roll stance.” Berry is included in several of Rolling Stone magazine’s “greatest of all time” lists; he was ranked fifth on its 2004 list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll includes three of Berry’s: “Johnny B. Goode”, “Maybellene”, and “Rock and Roll Music”. Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode” is the only rock-and-roll song included on the Voyager Golden Record.

Legacy

A pioneer of rock and roll, Berry was a significant influence on the development of both the music and the attitude associated with the rock music lifestyle. With songs such as “Maybellene” (1955), “Roll Over Beethoven” (1956), “Rock and Roll Music” (1957) and “Johnny B. Goode” (1958), Berry refined and developed rhythm and blues into the major elements that made rock and roll distinctive, with lyrics successfully aimed to appeal to the early teenage market by using graphic and humorous descriptions of teen dances, fast cars, high school life, and consumer culture, and utilizing guitar solos and showmanship that would be a major influence on subsequent rock music. Thus Berry, the songwriter, invented rock as “a music of teenage wishes fulfilled and good times (even with cops in pursuit).” Berry contributed three things to rock music: an irresistible swagger, a focus on the guitar riff as the primary melodic element and an emphasis on songwriting as storytelling. His records are a rich storehouse of the essential lyrical, showmanship and musical components of rock and roll. In addition to the Beatles and the Rolling Stones, a large number of significant popular-music performers have recorded Berry’s songs. Though not technically accomplished, his guitar style is distinctive—he incorporated electronic effects to mimic the sound of bottleneck blues guitarists and drew on the influence of guitar players such as Carl Hogan, and T-Bone Walkerto produce a clear and exciting sound that many later guitarists would acknowledge as an influence in their own style. Berry’s showmanship has been influential on other rock guitarists, particularly his one-legged hop routine, and the “duck walk“, which he first used as a child when he walked “stooping with full-bended knees, but with my back and head vertical” under a table to retrieve a ball and his family found it entertaining; he used it when “performing in New York for the first time and some journalist branded it the duck walk.”

The rock critic Robert Christgau considers Berry “the greatest of the rock and rollers”, while John Lennon said, “if you tried to give rock and roll another name, you might call it ‘Chuck Berry’.” Ted Nugent said, “If you don’t know every Chuck Berry lick, you can’t play rock guitar.” Bob Dylan called Berry “the Shakespeare of rock ‘n’ roll”. Springsteen tweeted, “Chuck Berry was rock’s greatest practitioner, guitarist, and the greatest pure rock ‘n’ roll writer who ever lived.”

When asked what caused the explosion of the popularity of rock ‘n roll that took place in the 1950s, with him and a handful of others, mainly him, Berry said, “Well, actually they begin to listen to it, you see, because certain stations played certain music. The music that we, the blacks, played, the cultures were so far apart, we would have to have a play station in order to play it. The cultures begin to come together, and you begin to see one another’s vein of life, then the music came together.”

 

President Bill Clinton recognizing Chuck Berry after Berry was named a Kennedy Center honoree, Dec. 3, 2000, C-SPAN Among the honors Berry received were the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1984[and the Kennedy Center Honors in 2000. He was ranked seventh on Time magazine’s 2009 list of the 10 best electric guitar players of all time. On May 14, 2002, Berry was honored as one of the first BMI Icons at the 50th annual BMI Pop Awards. He was presented the award along with BMI affiliates Bo Diddley and Little Richard. In August 2014, Berry was made a laureate of the Polar Music Prize. 

Berry is included in several of Rolling Stone magazine’s “Greatest of All Time” lists. In September 2003, the magazine ranked him number 6 in its list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time”.[92] In November his compilation album The Great Twenty-Eight was ranked 21st in Rolling Stones 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.[93] In March 2004, Berry was ranked fifth on the list of “The Immortals – The 100 Greatest Artists of All Time”.[8][94] In December 2004, six of his songs were included in “Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time“: “Johnny B. Goode” (#7), “Maybellene” (#18), “Roll Over Beethoven” (#97), “Rock and Roll Music” (#128), “Sweet Little Sixteen” (#272) and “Brown Eyed Handsome Man” (#374).[95] In June 2008, his song “Johnny B. Goode” was ranked first in the “100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time”.

The journalist Chuck Klosterman has argued that in 300 years Berry will still be remembered as the rock musician who most closely captured the essence of rock and roll. Time magazine stated, “There was no one like Elvis. But there was ‘definitely’ no one like Chuck Berry.”

Random Trivia

Chuck Berry is a graduate of the Gibbs Beauty School with a degree in cosmetology.

Near St. Louis, Missouri, Chuck Berry has built an amusement park aptly named, Berry Park.

“It was into this charged environment that the Mann Act was born. Signed into law by President Taft in 1910, the Act made it a crime to transport women across state lines “for the purpose of prostitution or debauchery, or for any other immoral purpose.”

Crazy motherfucker.

Martha, his sister, can be heard singing on her brother’s recordings of Come On and Go Go Go.

In 1979 Chuck Berry was sentenced to a 120 day term in a federal prison for income tax evasion.

In the late 1980s, Berry bought the Southern Air, a restaurant in Wentzville, Missouri.  In 1990 he was sued by several women who claimed that he had installed a video camera in the bathroom. Berry claimed that he had the camera installed to catch a worker who was suspected of stealing from the restaurant. Though his guilt was never proved in court, Berry opted for a class action settlement with 59 women. His biographer, Bruce Pegg, estimated that it cost Berry over $1.2 million plus legal fees. During this time Berry began using Wayne T. Schoeneberg as his legal counsel. Reportedly, a police raid on his house found videotapes of women using the restroom, as well as one minor. Also found in the raid were 62 grams of marijuana. Felony drug and child-abuse charges were filed. In order to avoid the child-abuse charges, Berry agreed to plead guilty to misdemeanor possession of marijuana. He was given a six-month suspended jail sentence and two years’ unsupervised probation and was ordered to donate $5,000 to a local hospital.

On March 18, 2017, police in St. Charles County, Missouri, were called to Berry’s house, where he was found unresponsive. He was pronounced dead at the scene, aged 90!

TMZ website posted an audio recording in which the 911 operator can be heard responding to a reported “cardiac arrest” at Berry’s home.

 

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