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

Tales of Rock – 5 Songs That Only Became Popular Because We Missed Their Meanings

Ronald Reagan famously misinterpreted “Born in the U.S.A.,” thinking it was about how awesome America was, spacing out during the lyrics about out-of-work vets hounded by memories of dead friends lost in a pointless war. The Gipper wasn’t the only one to miss the point. Pop music can be deceptively deep, and so some songs are only beloved and remembered due to us being completely oblivious.

Funny enough, when those smash hits make millions of dollars, artists generally don’t seem in too much of a hurry to correct us …

“Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” Is About A Father Destroying His Family’s Lives For Money

Commissioned for the musical Meet Me In St. Louis, Ralph Blane & Hugh Martin churned out one of the most memorable Christmas songs ever written and one of Judy Garland’s signature numbers. Everybody loves a warm, cozy Christmas song. Too bad “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” isn’t one.

It’s actually about hard times and the economic necessity to pack up and take your family away from your small, close-knit little community to relocate to New York City, left only with pale memories of better times. Near the end of the film, Garland sings of friends and memories that are lost and might never be recovered, echoed in the line, “Until then we’ll have to muddle through somehow,” with the scene culminating in a child’s emotional breakdown. Not to mention that when Judy Garland sings of trauma, alienation, and lost innocence, she speaks as an authority.

Loew’s Inc.
“Hey, I think you lost your whiskey flask in that mound of asbestos, Judy.”

The song was so depressing that it was altered twice. First changed only superficially, altering the breathtakingly-nihilistic line: “Have yourself a merry little Christmas, It may be your last,” to the slightly less pathetic: “Have yourself a merry little Christmas. Let your heart be light,” the song remaining very downbeat. And then a second time, the song altered by Frank Sinatra, who made it a habit of changing other songwriter’s lyrics, turning it saccharine and easily digestible. While Garland’s rendition remains the more iconic, the melancholy truth has been wiped away by a cheery erasure … which is probably the most on-point message for child stardom imaginable.

“The Clown Song” Was Written as an Epic, Heroic Theme

Nobody knows what it is called, but once you hear “clown music,” you’ll know it immediately.

If you have coulrophobia, shoot, we probably should have given you a trigger warning or something before we dropped that song. Sorry.

The disconnect between intent and interpretation apparent when you learn that the goofy-sounding tune was originally titled: “Entrance of the Gladiators.” And, no, the title is in no way being sarcastic; this was intended to be a grandiose, dramatic, awe-inspiring march to be played by a real military band or orchestra instead of an organ grinder in a circus.

The piece was written in the era when marches were the hottest genre of music, with no shortage of wars to play it during. Tonally, it was conceived to summon the pomp and life-and-death struggle that was armed combat in the Coliseum to life. It was composed by Czech military bandleader and prolific composer Julius Fucik, who, in all certainty, did not have a fez-bedecked simian sidekick.

Library of Congress
His monkey wore miniature gladiator armor.

Fucik approached his craft with great pride, studying under the tutelage of master Antonin Dvorak and touring across Europe, a respected figure. All well and good until one day, his song, also known as “Grande Marche Chromatique,” was reworked by a Canadian arranger as “Thunder and Blazes,” forever destroying Fucik’s creation. The tune would never be taken seriously by anyone not wearing greasepaint and a red nose ever again.

“Baba O’Riley” Is an Ode to Meditation and Warding off Peer Pressure

The Who’s “Baba O’Riley” — or as it is usually referred to by everyone who isn’t a Rolling Stone writer, “Teenage Wasteland” — quickly attained status as a stoner classic. It’s a go-to title or reference for anything involving kids experimenting with drugs and rebelling against their parents.

Need background music to illustrate the generation gap while you give attention-seeking adolescents national TV coverage? Got ya covered:

“What are your kids doing in a back alley when you’re at work? Footage at 11!”

However, The Who’s Pete Townshend was not a dropout nor a casual-drug enthusiast like every other rock idol when he wrote “Baba O’Riley.” He penned the song when he was fed up with the cliched rock persona, making a point about drug dependency as a literal case of wasted potential. Townshend was really interested in trying to persuade us to open ourselves up to love and nourish our consciousness in a land of spiritual desolation. He failed, drowned out by the sound of a million bubbling bongs.

“Baba” refers to mute guru and avowed living god Meher Baba, of who Townshend was a zealous adherent. The mystic preached abstinence from drugs, with The Who songwriter gushing, “I felt more keen about getting into Meher Baba than I felt about being stoned all my life.” Listeners? They just wanted an awesome keyboard riff and refrain they could blast out a car window as they peeled out of the high school parking lot to pick up munchies.

“Song 2” Is a Smug Criticism of American Musical Tastes

The English “Brit-pop” outfit Blur was mostly overlooked by America in the mid-90s, with the grunge bands stealing all the spotlight. In response, “Song 2,” off their fifth studio album, was conceived as a joke. It imitates American grunge groups’ distorted, wailing guitar sound while also mocking their fan bases’ hyperactive antics, whom the band perceived as having trash taste. Even the title reminiscent of a hunk of molded plastic that rolls off an assembly line.

“Song 2” was a rebuke of everything that grunge stood for and a celebration of Blur’s Brit Pop genre. But, just like today, no one in America gave a shit about British musical pretensions, with listeners blasting it alongside grunge band de jour. Joining the pantheon of incoherent but catchy rock staples, the song was locked in at sports arenas and frat-party playlists.

Sounding like nothing the band had made to date …

… nobody understood the joke, assuming Blur were altering their sound and trying to appeal to Americans, yet more identical, skinny white dudes wailing over electric guitars. Their hit came to represent everything the singers were opposed to, as it became the most requested rock song on MTV. In America, it remains their only recognizable song despite a sizable back catalog. Blur seemed to forget about their message too and embraced it as their career-defining hit:

“Stayin’ Alive” Details Escaping a Depressing, Crumbling Dump

 

Soaring into the zeitgeist, fresh off the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack, “Stayin’ Alive” was the biggest hit and most recognizable single of the Bee Gees, the song emblematic of the disco era and decade. As the lyrics: “Somebody help me,” and “Life goin’ nowhere,” clearly hints at, the song was not designed to chronicle the local discotheque’s joys.

The Gibb Brothers were Brits, raised in Australia, and the song recorded in France. Their knowledge of America was limited to hotel rooms, buses, and newspapers. “The lyrics very obviously state the scenario of survival in the city, and it’s not about disco dancing at all,” Robin Gibb said. The city is New York, and survival is used quite literally. In 1977 the Big Apple was a laughingstock. If you know anything about its reputation as a failed, crime-ridden, miserable dump, you can figure it out what reality the song was really getting at…

The Bee Gees were trying to be profound, and we didn’t give them a chance. The line “New York Time’s effect on man,” is explained by the co-writer Barry Gibb, describing the song as bleak and intended for “desperate” people “crying out for help,” explaining why the music video was shot in a rubble-laden slum. There is a line about “dancing shoes,” but considering the rest of the song’s content, it’s metaphorical at best; according to Robin Gibb, the band completed “Stayin’ Alive” without even knowing the John Travolta film’s plot.

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 10

This is the final chapter of this series! Thanks so much for reading it and following me on this strange journey.

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.

Paper Lace, a British group – 1974

The Night Chicago Died. A fictional shootout between members of Al Capone’s gang and police. Based on The Valentine’s Day Massacre between Capone’s men and Bugs Moran’s gang. Police weren’t involved, and no one died. There was never a showdown where 100 officers were killed. They also mention the East Side of Chicago, which isn’t really a thing. Just like the girl born and raised in South Detroit, in the Journey song Don’t Stop Believing’. But the guys in Paper Lace just figured there was an East Side to everywhere. It’s a catchy song, and well done, but it’s a strange song.

Billy Don’t Be a Hero – Bo Donaldson and the Heywoods  – 1974

I think because of its anti-war sentiment, a lot of people thought this was about the Vietnam War. This song went to number 1 on the charts. I think it’s about the Civil War. Rolling Stone has voted it as one of the worst songs ever made. I remember hearing this song on the radio back then. One of the girls in my class sang along with it at an assembly at school one day. Her version was worse because she seemed to be terrified to be on stage in front of everyone, but the song is an odd choice.

Look at the ridiculous outfits on these guys. Mummer’s Parade much? Elvis called, he wants his wacky sequined jumpsuits back.

Angie Baby – Helen Reddy – 1974

Was 1974 the year of weird songs? Helen Reddy already had two huge hits with I Am Woman and Delta Dawn. Written by Alan O’Day. Who knows why she did this song. This song is about a weird girl who gets kicked out of school who stays in her room and listens to the radio all day. Imagining boyfriends who come and visit and dance with her. One day a boy comes to visit her and gets absorbed into the music. Does he shrink? Does he disappear? Does Angie kill him? Does he become her forever lover? I guess we’ll never know because Helen Reddy never said and now she’s passed away.

Another awful outfit. I never realized how bad some of the 70s fashions were.

Leo Sayer – Long tall glasses – 1974

I always hated Leo Sayer. He reminded me of a skinny version of that workout guy, Richard Simmons. It was Leo’s first US top 10. He later had hits with, You Make Me Feel Like Dancin’ and When I Need You. The story in this song is, some guy wanders into a fantasy bar or magical pub, but before he can eat he has to dance like Fred Astaire. He doesn’t think he can dance at all, but he somehow figures it out and everything works out. I really couldn’t stand Leo Sayer in the ’70s. I had zero tolerance for anything that wasn’t guitar-driven rock back then. This performance just looks like old vaudeville to me. Complete with that barbershop banjo in the background. Watch his performance in this video. His choreography and him acting out the lyrics is ridiculous.

Back when I was in a band if someone told me I could only become famous if I did this act and this kind of music, I would have jumped into a tree shredder.

God, I hate him.

Cher – Dark Lady – 1974

Cher was at the time on the hit TV show Sonny & Cher. I’m sure that was a great place for her to break any new material. I get why the LGBTQ community has always embraced Cher. Even though she’s an attractive lady, she always resembled a guy doing a drag act. Even her voice has the limited range of some dude singing songs in a bar in a dress doing karaoke on 13th street in Philly.

The dark lady in the title is a gypsy fortune teller in New Orleans. The protagonist of this song follows the fortune teller’s limousine back to her lair and gets her fortune told. She learns her lover has been unfaithful to her with as the gypsy tells her, someone who is very close to her. The dark lady tells her to leave and never return. But when she gets home she smells the very perfume that the gypsy had been wearing. So she sneaks back to the fortune teller’s shop with a gun and catches her lover with the gypsy. They’re laughing and kissing. She shoots them both killing them. Cher hit number 1 with Dark Lady and she wouldn’t have another number 1 until 25 years later, with Believe.

It’s a crazy story song, which was popular in the 70s.

One Tin Soldier – 1969 – Coven – 1973

This song tells the tale of two neighboring tribes, the warlike valley people and the peaceful mountain kingdom. The mountain people possess a great treasure buried under a stone, which the valley people demand. The mountain people offer to share it with their brothers but the valley people invade and slaughter them all. When they turn the stone over they find nothing but the words, Peace on Earth. It was this kind of thing that was a radio hit in my youth. Insane!

It feels like a statement about God and country and how man kills in the name of religion and for whatever else.

Go ahead and hate your neighbor, go ahead and kill/cheat your friend all in the name of heaven you can justify it in the end.

What???

The Night The Lights Went Out in Georgia –  Vicky Lawrence- 1974

Bobby Russell was a grammy-winning songwriter who wrote songs for Frank Sinatra and Elvis. When he wrote this next song,  he disliked it so much he didn’t even want to cut a demo. His wife, Vicky Lawrence who was a cast member on The Carol Burnett Show thought it was a hit. But after Liza Minnelli and Cher both turned it down, Vicky decided to record it. I’m not even going to get into the details of this complicated ridiculous plot, but let’s just say that the narrator accidentally frames her own brother for murder and gets him hanged, while killing two people herself and hiding the bodies, but the whole time she blames the crooked criminal justice system for her brother’s death.

It makes no sense. But it was a number 1 hit. It was later recorded by Reba MacIntyre and Tanya Tucker, and was even turned into a feature film starring Kristy McNicol! She won two Emmy Awards for her portrayal of teenage daughter Letitia “Buddy” Lawrence in the TV drama Family.

Insane! All of this and a pre-Star Wars Mark Hamill too!

 

Here’s this crazy song!

Go Away Little Girl – Donny Osmond -1971

is a popular song written by Gerry Goffin and Carole King. It was first recorded by Bobby Vee for Liberty Records on March 28, 1962. The lyrics consist of a young man asking a young attractive woman to stay away from him so that he will not be tempted to betray his steady girlfriend by kissing her. The song is notable for making the American Top 20 three times: for Steve Lawrence in 1963 (US number 1), for The Happenings in 1966 (US number 12), and for Donny Osmond in 1971 (US number 1). It is also the first song, and one of only nine, to reach US number 1 by two different artists.

The song almost didn’t get recorded, because according to the Mormon laws, one had to be 16 for double dating and 18 to date alone, however, as long as this was an innocent song, the Mormon faith allowed the song to be sung and recorded. Donny was 13 at the time the song was recorded. Listen to that voice. Is our Donny a little late getting to puberty?

Say hello to white bread America’s version of Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5. Michael had sass, talent, and pipes. Donny is a little, strained, shrill, knock-off of the obvious King of Pop.

Just sayin’…

I hope you enjoyed this series. I had fun compiling this stuff and writing about it. Maybe I should do the worst films of the 70s next!

Just want to say Hi to my sister Gail, for reading and listening to this whole series!

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.

 

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The Weirdest, Creepiest and Most Annoying Songs of the 70’s – Part 8

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 1970’s 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.

 

Feelings – Morris Albert – 1975

Thankfully, Morris Albert has no incredibly sad story and famous offspring that will make you regret listening to his song. He’s just the singer of an incredibly, stunningly crappy song. “Feelings” has been mocked and reviled for a good 45 years, largely for the lack of specificity in the lyrics. What kind of feelings is Morris singing about? It’s clearly a love song, but it’s hard to think of a more vague term than “feelings” to describe, um, feelings. Albert maintains a following in his native Brazil, but he hasn’t had much success in America since he shared his “Feelings” with us back in 1975. If you wonder why punk had to happen, listen to this song.

It’s about a noun. It could have been written by a suicidal 14-year-old submitting to her high-school literary magazine in a last-ditch attempt to garner sympathy from the would-be lover who spurned her in front of everyone in the cafeteria. Feelings? Whoa whoa whoa, feelings.

I think we all felt the nausea of this song in 1975. I remember one of the neighbor’s girls said the following words to my sister. “Let’s sing…Feelings.” My sister quietly declined the offer because she had just eaten.

I remember when the song would come on a friend of mine would mock the lyrics. “Fuelings… Mid-Air… Refuelings.”

Aerial refueling - Wikipedia

Excuse me… I have to go throw up in a bucket.

Seasons In The Sun – Terry Jacks – 1974

I really have it out for mid-1970s soft rock. This one is another song about a tragedy. “Billy Don’t Be A Hero” is about a woman begging her boyfriend to be safe while fighting the Civil War, and Terry Jacks’ 1974 mega-hit is about a dying person saying goodbye to his loved ones. The song was written by poet Rod McKuen in the early 1960s and first made a hit by Belgian singer Jacques Brel in 1961. The version by Terry Jacks hit Number One around the world in 1974, but Jacks largely retired from music just a few years later.

 Terry Jacks “Seasons in the Sun” hit #1 for three weeks in 1974, making 1974 perhaps the worst year ever for popular music. In fact, out of all of the songs on this list, 12 of them peaked in airplay during 1974, 10 of which reached the #1 spot on the Billboard chart. 1974 was such a hideous year for music that popular radio station WLS in Chicago dropped their weekly ranking of their 40 top songs down to a weekly ranking of only 15 records per week. Still, even with only 15 records, most of them were virtually unlistenable, as in this example.

Ugh… this song makes me want to eat a bullet.

The Streak – Ray Stevens – 1974

Ray Stevens was actually a talented songwriter, producer, and music executive with a dark side. In spite of his obvious talent, he insisted on writing and recording distinctly offensive or idiotic low-brow novelty songs for most of his career, including “Ahab the Arab” (“humorously” pronounced “Aay-rabb”—get it?), “Guitarzan,” and “Harry The Hairy Ape.” In 1969, Stevens became a regular on The Andy Williams Show, and in the summer of 1970, he got his own summer replacement show, The Ray Stevens Show. “The Streak” played on the 1970s prank of running naked through a public place. Released in late March 1974, the song hit #1 on the Billboard charts for three weeks in May 1974, and its insidious presence was all but inescapable for most of the American public.

I’m ashamed of all popular radio in the 70s at this point.

Have You Never Been Mellow – Olivia Newton-John – 1975

I couldn’t decide between this song and her other horrible hits of the ’70s (“I Honestly Love You,” “Hopelessly Devoted to You,” and “With a Little More Love”), but in the end, the title question itself is what put it over the top.

Olivia Newton-John | Olivia newton john, Hottest female celebrities, Female singers

I’ve always loved ONJ as a woman and as a songbird. I probably only like the actress Susan George because she reminds me of ONJ. She always had such a lovely light feminine voice. Who can forget her enormous hit, Physical? I bought that album. I loved her then and I love her now. But this stuff from her early career is just so sugary, I need an insulin shot after listening to any of them.

Escape (Pina Colada Song) – Rupert Holmes – 1979

This is the one song on the list that some people might actually appreciate on some level. Holmes was inspired to write “Escape (The Pina Colada Song)” when he saw a want ad in the paper. He wondered what would happen if he responded to it, only to discover it had been placed by his own wife. The lyrics originally went “If you like Humphrey Bogart,” at the last minute he changed it to “Pina Coladas,” a drink he didn’t even particularly enjoy. The couple in the song both agree to meet at O’Malleys Bar and don’t seem all that miffed to discover they were both trying to cheat on each other. Instead, they discover they both love Pina Coladas, being caught in the rain, and making love at midnight. It’s like a modern-day, O. Henry story. Maybe those should be called O’Malley stories now.  Holmes had another hit in 1980 with “Him,” but after that, his pop career pretty much went into the trash. He’s had far more success in recent years as a playwright.

I love his wardrobe choice for this video. Really dude? You had nothing else to wear? It looks like you just came from Sunday brunch. His stage presence is awful. I saw better choreography during the Lee Harvey Oswald prison transfer.

But I digress…

It’s also fun to watch him gingerly descend the stairs on set.

You Light Up My Life – Debby Boone- 1977

How many weddings in the late ’70s was this steaming pile of garbage played at? (All of them?)

You don’t hear it much these days, but “You Light Up My Life” was actually the single biggest song of the 1970s. It spent 10 weeks at Number One, a record not beaten until 1991 when Boyz II Men stayed on top for 13 weeks in 1991. The song was written as a love song, but Pat Boone’s daughter Debby always interpreted it as a song about her devotion to God. The song was written by Joe Brooks, who was arrested in 2009 on charges that he lured 11 women to his apartment with the promise of a movie audition, and then sexually assaulted them. He committed suicide before the case went to trial. Around the same time, this was all going down, his son Nicholas was arrested for murdering his girlfriend. The New York tabloids had a field day with the two cases. Knowing all that, it’s hard to listen to the song in quite the same way. It just goes to show that you can write the biggest hit of the 70s and still go out and do some vile stuff.

We already hate the song, and now because of what I wrote above, we can all hate it even more!

The Morning After – Maureen McGovern – 1972

This was featured as a song on the doomed ocean liner in the film The Poseidon Adventure, Maureen McGovern’s schlocktacular effort (penned by 20th Century Fox songwriting hacks Al Kasha and Joel Hirschhorn) was released a year after the film and climbed to #1 for two weeks in August 1974. The song won best original song Academy Award and led the trio to team up again for another Oscar-winning debacle, “We May Never Love Like This Again,” in 1974’s The Towering Inferno. Few efforts better encapsulate the way that musical expression and creativity were cynically packaged for commercial consumption throughout most of the 1970s.

Kill me now!

Me and You and a dog named Boo – Lobo – 1971

This is the 1971 debut single by Lobo. Written by Lobo under his real name Kent LaVoie, it appears on the Introducing Lobo album.

The single peaked at #5 on the Hot 100 and was the first of four of his songs to hit #1 on the Easy Listening chart, where it had a two-week stay at that top spot in May 1971. The song also reached #4 in the UK Singles Chart in July 1971 and spent four weeks at #1 in New Zealand. 

Internationally, “Me and You and a Dog Named Boo” was Lobo’s second most successful song among more than 15 single releases, surpassed only by “I’d Love You to Want Me” the following year. (More trash)

Like Bobby Goldsboro, Lobo has the same ridiculous haircut. It’s just awful. Hair helmet! It doesn’t even look real!

I’d knock over an elderly lady in a walker to get to the radio to turn this crap off. England Dan and John Ford Coley, I’m not.

 

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

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