Trick or Treat

Is that Yvonne Craig, Sally Field, and Lynda Carter? (I don’t think so!)

Philadelphia, PA – 1970s

That special time rolls around every Autumn. It’s not as great as Christmas, but it’s right up there.

Halloween!

There’s all the preparation leading up to the event. It’s almost too hard to believe. We get to dress up as cool characters for one night a year and collect candy from everybody in the neighborhood. Do you mean to tell me we just knock on doors and they give us free candy? How is this possible? We love candy!

Halloween in our neighborhood was especially good. You paint or carve pumpkins into Jack O Lanterns. Each kid in the family picked out their own pumpkin and created their own design. We’d sit them out in a descending line down the steps to show off our handiwork.

Watching Doctor Shock on channel 17. Mad Theater and Horror Theater. All the classic monster movies like Dracula, Frankenstein, and The Wolfman were the best! Doctor Shock was the host and practically invented the genre long before Elvira and MST3K! He even brought his little daughter, Bubbles on the show.

Remember the real horror stories you heard as a kid? That bad kid from around the corner who’s going to be out with his minions to cut kids’ bags and steal their candy! (The mothers were ready with firearms!)

Not really.

It seemed like when you were a kid there were always horror stories. It’s as if they were all made up by adults as words of caution to children in general. There was no such thing as the boogeyman. But many were told of his existence. But it was to scare kids into not wandering off at night. Because in reality there were bad people out in the world who could hurt you. So they gave him a name.

Razor blades in apples? Did anyone ever get one? Of course not. But I think everyone would agree that if any kid ever got a piece of fruit in their trick or treat bag, that sucker went straight into the trash.

And what sort of person gives out fruit on Halloween? How have they not heard of the protocol? Did they not get the memo?

CANDY! WE ONLY WANT CANDY!

I want store-bought, name-brand candy ONLY. I want full-sized Snickers and Hershey bars. What’s with this new thing called “Fun Size?” There’s nothing fun about a tiny version of the real thing you want.

Image result for best candy bars

That’s what I’m talking about.

Image result for best candy bars

Yes, please!

Remember there was always that random neighbor who gave out little bags of loose candy? What sort of crap was that? Juju bees, hard candy, Dots, and candy corn? No one wants that loose candy that you’ve had your hands all over! Straight to the trash! 

We’d get so much candy, we’d have to stop home and dump it because our little orange buckets were brimming with treats. Once our bounty was secured, we’d head right back out again for more. Did we get tired? Hell no! Sugar kept us going, baby!

You wanted to eat it all at once! But your mom was always there with… “You can have ONE!”

Some people even gave us money! It was a bunch of pennies and nickels but hey, we prefer the candy but if you want to give us cash that’s okay too! (How about you toss a few bills in there, pops?)

Back then I remember people doing some decorating to their homes but not at the level at which people celebrate Halloween today. Halloween has become the most profitable holiday behind Christmas. You don’t even get a day off from work.

A few years ago, My friend Scott had come up to visit. I remember us walking into one of those seasonal Halloween stores that pop up around September each year. There was every terrifying nightmarish object imaginable in that store. The place looked like the prop department for Hammer Films!  My friend said, “I remember when Halloween was about getting dressed up, carving pumpkins, and trick or treating. Now it looks like Hell hath come to Earth!”

I found that very funny.

But I think I know as an adult why people love Halloween so much more now. For one night a year, you get to pretend to be someone else, party and drink, and you don’t have to spend time with your family!

But I digress…

When we were in grade school, you got to wear your costume to school on Halloween. That was so cool. You got to see what all of the other kids were wearing that year. The teachers would take us all outside in our costumes and walk us around the neighborhood near Lawndale School. We were like little celebrities in our Halloween parade. People would stop and say how cute we all looked.

Pictured: Melissa, & Deneen Hanley, Sandra Hoffer, Wayne Kacheleries, RJ McMeans, & my sister Jane

When you’re little your parents take you to the department store and you get to pick out your costume. They were all stacked on the shelves in boxes with the clear cellophane window on the lid so you could see the character’s mask. There was a great assortment of costumes for kids of all the things we liked. Most of all, the characters we wished we could be every day. Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, etc.

The funny thing was, you thought you were getting this:

Image result for batman 60s

…and this.

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But you ended up with this:

Image result for 1970s batman halloween costume

Yea… Lame.

Girl: I wanna look like Lynda Carter in the show, Wonder Woman!

Yea… good luck with that. Not happening. WW doesn’t wear a polyethylene bag to fight crime.

Those cheap costumes looked more like pajamas than superhero outfits. But at least they were flame retardant. (It said so on every box) At least you knew the superpower you possessed dressed in one of these ridiculous costumes was you wouldn’t burn to death. Big deal.

Then there was that plastic mask with its razor-sharp edges.

Image result for 1970s batman halloween costume

I was always afraid I would cut my eye on one of the eyeholes in those kinds of masks. You’d be wearing it and the flimsy rubber band that was stapled to it would always come off. It would always somehow pull out of the sides. It never happened at home. It only gave way when you were blocks from your home.

But before that even happened the mask would get all steamed up inside. Sure, there were nose and mouth holes but the whole mask would get wet inside. It was gross. Your face would be soaked as you walked around your neighborhood collecting candy.

The first costume I can ever remember wearing was The Green Hornet. I was just a little guy, maybe 5 or 6 years old. I put it on thinking it was cool, and my dad would laugh because he said I looked like an adult midget! (No offense to little people, but it was the 70s and my father was not politically correct)

Image result for 1970s green hornet halloween costume

Does that look like the Green Hornet to you? No. It looks like the Green Hornet’s jommies.

Almost as bad…

Yea, that’s me.

But we didn’t care. As long as you had something that resembled a costume, you were good to go. My friend RJ would go out as the same thing every year. He didn’t care. Put on some banged-up ragged clothes, burn a cork and rub the charcoaled end all over your face, and grab a pillowcase for candy and your good.

Me: What are you supposed to be?

RJ: A bum.

Me: Cool. Let’s go get loads of candy!

It was that simple.

Remember when you were all fired up in your costume and chomping at the bit to get out there and start trick or treating and your mom would say this?

“It’s cold out. Put on your jacket.”

“Really mom? Batman doesn’t wear a coat over his costume!”

I remember as I got older we went with more creative costumes. If we had store-bought costumes we’d grown out of, we’d simply give them to younger kids in the neighborhood.

One year, someone in the local government came up with the brilliant idea of making the kids go out in the late afternoon. We thought this was a terrible idea. Halloween was meant to be played out at night.

I had passed on one of my old kid’s costumes to this kid who lived up the corner named Douglas Miller. It was a store-bought astronaut costume.

Image result for 1970s astronaught halloween costume

I remember the only cool thing about it, was that they had built in a tiny light bulb in the mask that could be operated by a little battery pack you had to carry. I give the company points for creativity and making a costume that is more visible at night. But here comes Douglass with the costume on carrying his trick or treat bag in broad daylight. I think he was the only one out at 4 pm in the afternoon!

That rule was quickly abolished the next year. The costumes looked bad enough at night let alone in daylight!

But the costumes did get better as we got older. I remember going out as Dracula one year. A friend of my dad’s had made a really amazing cape that was red on the inside and black on the outside. I slicked my hair back, popped in some fake fangs, and became a vampire that night.

I was a cowboy one year, complete with a cool hat, vest, boots, and a pair of toy Rango guns on my belt. Being a hippie a year or so later was also good. I really didn’t look that much like a hippie though. More like a biker or Jerry Garcia.

My older sister was a pilgrim one year and the costume looked really authentic.

And of course… there’s my absolute favorite Halloween costume of all time.

Pictured: Chaz (Gene Simmons)– Steve Peoples (Peter Criss) – Jimmy Hunsinger (Ace Frehley) Jimmy did all of our makeup. Such a talented fellow.

But the absolute most creative Halloween costumes I ever saw were made by our neighbor, Mrs. Hanley. She was an expert seamstress, who could make anything out of fabric.

Although brilliant designs with expert craftsmanship, they weren’t always that functional. Case in point, one year her two daughters went out as Witch Hats. Not witches. Just hats.

Image result for giant witch hat as a costume

This is the only image I could find on the internet that even remotely resembled the costume. Just picture a giant black witch hat, with a wide brim and a hole cut out for the child’s face. I couldn’t find the costume online because they were custom-made and completely original designs created by Mrs. Hanley. Elegant in theory, but as I said. Not very functional. You can’t climb steps in it. You can’t clear a doorway either. So, sadly the Hanley girls had to stand down at the bottom of people’s steps, and whoever they were with would have to point to them and say to the neighbor. “Oh, and can you give me two more candy bars for the Witch Hats down there?”

But she made them better costumes the next year. A more functional model. Mrs. Hanley made her girls into Mice. They were really cute costumes and the girls looked adorable. Again, custom designs and fully handcrafted. Something like this, but better.

Image result for cute mouse costume

But here’s the thing…

The tails on the costumes were made of stiff wire. They even curled up at the end. So sadly, the girls’ little tails were getting hooked on everything! Doors, doorknobs, door frames, railings, street signs, fences, and other children.

Clever costumes, but be careful! They’ll put your eye out!

We were happy just to go from door to door with our little bags out and the neighbors would make a fuss and dump the treats into our bags. It was simple and efficient.

But there was always that one family…

We’d stop at the Hunsinger’s house at the corner of Fanshaw Street and Hasbrook Avenue. They had a super ferocious dog named Jason, so there’s that. But the worst part was, you couldn’t just stand on the porch with your bag out.

You had to go in the house. Say what your costume was, and tell a joke to EARN your treat. (Did they not get the memo either?) We’re not here to perform like chimps for your entertainment. We walk up. Bag open. Say Trick or Treat, and you turn over the goods to us and we thank you. Period!

I get that they wanted to see us, take photos and engage us. It was all in the spirit of the holiday, but come on. I have 39 Reeses Cups in this bag. How about we make it an even 40 and I’ll be on my way. Okay? We’re on a tight schedule here. We got rounds to make tonight!

We’d have a whole route mapped out to maximize our return on Halloween. But the final destination and most glorious was Rising Sun Avenue. It was wall-to-wall stores for blocks. We’d start at the beginning and go in and out of every single store getting candy. And it was the good candy too. You know what I’m talking about. We’d work one side of the street down to about Levick Street and then cross over and come down the other side and hit every store over there too.

Funny thing was, there was a really nice candy store called Bauer’s on Rising Sun. You could go in that store any time of year and it smelled like what a child would imagine what Heaven smelled like. Just delicious chocolates and sweets of every kind imaginable. A nearly mythical place from fables and storybooks.

But… on Halloween, I remember getting a giant taffy from there. It looked like an oversized lollipop on a wooden stick. The business end was carefully wrapped in wax paper and it was gently placed into my bag for transport. But wouldn’t you know, the very next place I walked into, I was given a candy apple? The clerk would blast that thing into my bag like they were Steve Carlton and it would shatter my lolly from Bauers! Thanks, Lefty!

After a few exhausting hours of trudging around in our costumes to as many places as possible, we’d head home.

But that’s when the inventory and trading took place. We’d lay out all of our candy onto the carpet. Counting how many of certain brands we got that night, and exchanging them with our family and friends. It’s probably the only time in your childhood where you actually can possess a substantial amount of something you love, and it’s absolutely FREE!

Pictured: RJ McMeans, Jane, Chaz, Nancy & Gail

But what I remember most was the excitement on the street itself. Kids running up and down the sidewalk in their costumes. The crisp snap in the Autumn air. The smell of the Fall. The leaves crunched under your feet as you ran from door to door.

The night wasn’t filled with ghosts and goblins. It was full of happy children and the sound of laughter.

Have a Happy Halloween, everyone!

 

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

Wildwood Daze – Maritime Fun – Part 2

Philadelphia, PA – 1976

My father was a Vice President at the Provident National Bank in center city. In his time with the bank, he had risen up the ranks and had made dozens of friends and contacts. My dad was a charming and effervescent guy. Everybody liked him. He was the “cool” dad to my friends. A guy who shot from the hip and not afraid to tell it like it was. I think my mom and I would disagree with some of that.

He had a diverse set of friends and acquaintances around Philly. One of his friends was this rich lawyer who drove a Rolls Royce. He’d get drunk and stay in the city at his apartment at The Drake. He’d tell my dad to take his Rolls for the night and bring it back to him the next day. I remember getting driven to school in a Rolls Royce one morning and it was like sitting in my living room.

This lawyer guy was a total maniac. One night he was hit by a drunk driver in the Rolls. The drunk guy who hit him was killed instantly in the crash, and the Rolls was the only thing that saved my dad’s friend’s life. They took him to the hospital, and while he was waiting to go in to get checked out, he bummed a cigarette off of somebody in the lobby. (You could smoke anywhere, anytime back in the 70s!) As the man is puffing away on the cig, he notices that smoke is coming out of the side of his shirt. In the accident, his lung had been punctured and the smoke was leaking from his wound. The man told the doctors not to put him under anesthetic. Just sew him up while he was fully awake. He said, “If you put me under, I’ll die.”

Yea, this dude was a wildman. He would be speeding down the Garden State Parkway with my dad in his Rolls, and my father would warn him to watch his speed. The guy would simply say, “Let the cops mail me the ticket.”

Lunatic.

But this story is about another friend of my father’s. He owned/managed a restaurant that my dad and his friends would frequent in the city. It was called Davinci’s. My father became friends with the man, and they’d chat at length. We’ll call him Steve, and leave it at that.

He loved hearing about my dad’s place at the seashore, the sweet sea air, and the sheer bliss of having a shore house. Steve wanted this for his family.

Steve had a hot wife who was a slender redhead with an unforgettable bustline. His eldest daughter Jaime was a slightly curvier version of her mother who was blessed with the same assets. He also had an adorable younger daughter Stacy, who was a delightful, hip kid despite her young age.

Wildwood, New Jersey – 1977

So, Steve decides to buy a shore house right around the corner from us on 9th street. It was nice hanging out on the beach with this family. Steve was a charming guy. Picture Lou Ferrigno but without the speech impediment. His wife Jackie was a lovely woman who became fast friends with my mother.

My friends and I, being 15-year-old boys, were instantly enthralled in the presence of daughter Jaime. She exuded raw sexuality and aloofness which fascinated us. (In hindsight, I think it was just that body) Jaime wanted nothing to do with twerps like us. She was already dating older dudes.

Here’s a photo I found of me and hot Jaime.

This is what we’re dealing with. That girl is only a year older than me. She’s built like a woman and I look like a twink next to her. What made things worse for us guys was, she and her friend Debbie would go out into the ocean up to their necks. They would then proceed to remove their tops and swing them around their heads. We were like… “Are they trying to make our brains explode?”

My bathing suit was wet when this photo was taken, but there was endless ribbing from my friends about how it looked like I was “sportin’ one” because I was standing next to her.

Here’s another shot of me with Jamie and Carol. (Sandy’s older sister from the previous chapter)

The struggle was real.

Sigh… I need to move on.

Their house was nothing like ours because they were obviously wealthy. I remember seeing a french phone on a fancy table in their house. Who has a $100 phone in their seashore house in the 70s?

French Crystal Telephone | French Phones at NoveltyTelephone.com

We just assumed they were loaded. They owned a restaurant in Philly. They must be rich. We don’t know anything.

One day, we’re all on the beach and Steve tells my dad that he’s acquired a little boat. (Like the one in the photo above) He’s determined to firmly ensconced himself into seaside living. Apparently, he had won the boat in a card game in Philly. That’s some high stakes, I thought. (I think the boat was worth $12k) He told my father that he could use it any time he wanted.

It was a cool little boat to have access to. My father of course got me a little book to read about boating. I like how before my dad took on anything new he tried to learn all he could about it. He passed that good trait onto me. I read the book cover to cover. I knew starboard from port, and bow to aft. I also knew that if the tide was going out that you had to give the boat that was traveling with the tide the ‘right of way’. All of these things are as important as rules that apply to the road when you’re driving a car.

I remember the boat being up on its trailer in our yard for a period of time. Somehow it was my job to scrub the barnacles off the bottom of the hull and paint it with a special blue paint to keep them from getting back on there.

I also studied the steering mechanism of the boat and rewired the whole thing with fresh cable to fix the steering. That was my contribution to our new shared toy.

Before we ever left the dock my father would always make his presence known with someone on staff. He would tell them where we were going and how long we expected to be out. Safety first!

On the property of the marina was this goose named Thor. He was like the watchdog of the whole place. I had seen him on several occasions squawk and chase hapless mariners around the property. Head down, wings out, at a full angry run.

We’d take the boat out and dad taught me how to drive it. It wasn’t like the boat I had previously ridden in. This had a steering wheel and a throttle. (Way cooler!) You’d get it out in the bay and gun the throttle up, and the nose of the boat would rise up as the boat went faster. I still had much fear about the ocean and water in general, but I really enjoyed driving the little speedboat around.

Once my dad took my sister and me out of the bay and across the channel into the ocean. We were across from second and JFK Blvd at the northern point of the isle. Once we crossed the channel, (which I was told had been dredged to 40 feet deep so the bigger boats could travel through it!) he drove us out to a huge sandbar 100 yards offshore. This amazed me at the time. One always thinks that the farther you go out into the ocean the deeper the water becomes. This is true, unless there’s a sandbar.

He beached the boat and tossed out the anchor. So we were far from the shore and standing on dry land because the tide was low. It was like being on a small desolate island offshore from Wildwood. My mother had packed us all lunches and we had a little picnic out there that afternoon. Everything always tastes better at the shore!

Dad would get his fishing rod out and cast a few times back into the channel. Normally, if there is a sand bar, the bigger fish hang out at the edge of it, waiting for the little fish to come across the sand bar as the tide rolls in.  As they reach the deep water they get eaten by the bigger fish. My dad was hoping to get one of those fish to fall for his lure.

I walked on the sandbar away from shore. It’s so cool because if you walk east you would think the water would suddenly get deeper and you’d go into the sea. But I could walk really far out into the ocean and it only remained a foot or so deep. It was weird to be so far offshore and only be in water up to your knees for 50 yards. But of course, the idea of all of this went against all of my instincts and I didn’t stay out there long. That coupled with my active imagination. I had remembered reading that most shark attacks against humans occurred in less than three feet of water. So I was pretty sure, even though I was in shallow water, I was really far from the shore. I was positive there were tons of big sharks out there just waiting to kill and eat me there. So, I quickly got back to the safety of the sandbar and my dad.

We had some good times out in that little boat. I have another story about our fishing exploits on that boat in another post.

The tide would start coming in and we’d head back to the marina. We took care of that boat like it was our own. But that’s how our parents raised us. You clean up after yourself and you take good care of things that don’t belong to you.

However, this wasn’t the case with Steve’s family. His daughter Jaime and one of her boyfriends would go out in the boat on occasion. We’d find trash in the boat and things in just general disarray onboard when we’d go to use it.

I remember finding a bottle of men’s aftershave stowed under the dashboard of the boat once. I was looking for something when I came upon it.

“Hey, dad. Now we don’t have to worry if the boat sinks.”

“Why not, son?”

Amazon.com: Canoe By Dana For Men. Aftershave 8-Ounce: Beauty

“Because we can just hop into this!”

I don’t think my dad really liked having to share the boat with Jamie and her friends, but it was Steve’s boat, and she was his daughter, so there was little we could do.

I was once sitting on the beach with my next-door neighbor. We were just minding our own business and chilling on the banket. Jaime’s boyfriend comes rolling up to us. He was this big, tanned, buffed-out dude named Rocky. We used to refer to him as “Rocky Berufi” because it just seemed to fit him. (Happy Days TV show reference) He was just a big meathead.

So he comes over and says: “Where’s Jaime?!”

“We don’t know. Isn’t it your job to watch her?” (Me, always the wise guy)

This response only serves to infuriate the brute even further. He grabs our little bag of pepperidge farm goldfish crackers and proceeds to crush it in his hand, turning the contents to dust.

This is like being in a cartoon. Are we supposed to be afraid of this guy?

“Where is she?”

“We really haven’t seen her, Rocky.”

And off he goes down the beach looking for her. I’m sure Jaime was probably out somewhere with a new suitor. We got a fit of laughing after his dramatic exit.

At some point, Steve started giving me $5 a week. He told me that if it ever rained, I was to promise to go out to the marina and bail the water out of the boat. Back then, I was happy to have the free cash and it seemed like an easy gig.  But I was young and busy with my life at the shore. Things slip your mind when you’re a teenager. Too many distractions!

I also wondered if he has the disposable income to pass on to me, why doesn’t he simply invest in a tarp to cover the boat?

Well, one day it really rained hard and I totally forgot to go check on the boat.

It flooded and sank to the bottom of the bay.

He came over to our house and gave me an earful. I was sure that I was in deep trouble. But the gods were smiling upon me that day. My father snapped at him for going behind his back and giving his son money to bail out his boat instead of buying a tarp.

All was forgiven, but we really didn’t use the boat much after that.

I really liked that family. They were really fun people to be around. Much different than my family. My favorite memory of Steve was when their dog once ran away during a thunderstorm. They were from Philly, so the dog probably spent its life in a nice apartment in a building in center city. But at the shore the weather was wild, and thunderstorms on the cape could be intense.

So, their dog panics and gets out of the house, and takes off. I’ll never forget that night. Hours passed and Steve came back into the house after looking for the lost dog. He was soaking wet and quite agitated, but happy he had located his lost dog in the storm.

But here’s the thing. It wasn’t his lost dog. It didn’t even look like his dog. It had short hair and was obviously an older stray.

“Steve… I don’t think that’s your dog. Your dog had longer fur than that dog has.”

“What kind of sicko steals another man’s dog and shaves his fur off to make him look different?!”

“Yea… I think it might be time to lay off the coke, dude.”

The family only kept their shore house for a few seasons before they sold it and didn’t return to the shore again.

But with every encounter in life, a story is born.

 

 

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

Wildwood Daze – Maritime Fun – Part 1

Wildwood, New Jersey – 1975

One summer day my family were all at the beach together. This wasn’t uncommon, especially on the weekends. My dad was off from work, and we’d all make our mandatory pilgrimage to the sea. Everybody had their job. Each member had to carry a different object. My job was carrying my father’s binoculars. I loved those field glasses. You could just see so far on the beach. If something was happening you could see it before anybody. Those binoculars were so powerful. I always hoped I’d witness a shark attack.

My father was frolicking in the surf with one or more of my sisters when he noticed another girl playing and swimming in the water by herself. Somehow a conversation ensued and introductions were made. She was the same age as my older sister. Her name was Sandy, and her folks had a house about four blocks west of our house up above 8th and New Jersey Avenue.

Sandy was sort of a plain teenager. She was from Warrington, PA, and seemed like a simple country girl. A kind of naive chick that appeared to lead a sheltered life. She had an older sister named Carol, who was tall and beautiful. Odd thing was they appeared to come from humble beginnings. Sandy wore the same bathing suit every day and I think her sister Carol only owned one yellow bikini. They both seemed nice, but maybe they were poor.

We eventually met their parents and that was quite the contrary. They were wealthy and misers. My parents did everything they could for us kids. Sandy’s parents were sort of wrapped up in their own lives and did little for their daughters. Bordering on neglect. They were pretty basic, simple people that saved their pennies, and lived an itinerate life of church and faith. Sort of the opposite of my parents.

Sandy’s dad seemed nice enough and volunteered to take my father and I out in his boat. It wasn’t a ship or anything. It was more like a skiff.

Even though I didn’t really like deep water and could hardly swim, he said we’d just cruise around the bay and do a little fishing. I knew the backwater was calm so I wouldn’t lose my mind or get sick with fear. Unlike an incident a few years earlier.

https://atomic-temporary-111921946.wpcomstaging.com/2020/11/24/the-big-flamingo/

So my older sister had a new friend, and they seemed like nice people. I’d get some time out on the man’s boat with my dad, and everybody wins.

Now, I don’t know if this incident happened the first time we ever went out on his boat or on a subsequent mission. But I’ll tell the story as I remember it.

We would drive with the man in his jeep back to 5th and the bay. There was a big parking lot there, and a concrete ramp where you could launch small boats. He would have the boat on a trailer, and back his jeep down the ramp to the water’s edge. Then he’d get out and crank a handle that would slowly launch the boat into the water while it was tethered to a rope. Once in the water, My dad and I would hold onto it. The rope would be untied from the boat and the man would pull away in the jeep. He’d park it and the trailer, and return to join us. We’d all hop in it and he’d start the motor and off we’d go. There were plenty of men and boys out there and it was a pretty simple process.

It was fun to cruise around in his little boat, and sometimes he’d let me steer it. You just sat in the back of the boat and held the tiller on the motor and went from there. If you turned it in your hand the boat went faster. (Sort of like the throttle on a motorcycle.)

After a few hours out on the bay, and much slathering of mosquito repellant, we’d return to the ramp to bring the boat back.

On this particular day, he suggested I stay in the boat while they pulled it up onto the trailer on the ramp behind his jeep. I don’t remember why. Maybe I had to pull the motor up out of the water so the skeg wouldn’t hit the concrete.  So, he and my dad haul the boat up onto the trailer and I’m assuming we’re good to go.

He gets in the jeep and starts to pull up the hill to get back into the parking lot. But he forgot to tie the boat to the trailer. The boat proceeds to slide off the trailer backward with me in it. All I remember is a sudden, jarring, BANG! as the fiberglass hull struck the concrete. I held on for dear life. I was shaken but more surprised than afraid.

The man and my father jump out of the jeep to grab the rope as the boat begins to slip back into the bay. They pull it up and I clamber from the boat. There was no way I was staying in there anymore. I needed to put my feet on land again.

My dad flips out on the guy. I was actually surprised by how angry my father was at this error. I was okay, it was just a careless mistake. But he laid into him about what had happened. I realized it wasn’t about the mistake, it was more about his son being in the boat when it happened.

That was the last time we ever went out in his boat. My parents even cooled to Sandy and Carol’s parents in general. It just wasn’t a match. I think what tore it for me was the neglect of their teenage daughters. Oh, that and I heard the guy’s wife once refer to African Americans as “Darkies.”

I’m done.

But my sister remained friends with Sandy and her sister. They were both really nice girls despite their naivety.

But my short history with boating was just beginning. There would be another boat that would come into our lives. That, and a brand new cast of characters that would join us on the sandy stage of Wildwood in the summertime.

More tomorrow!

 

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.

 

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 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.

 

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The Weirdest, Creepiest and Most Annoying Songs of the 70’s – Part – 7

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 Brady Bunch – Keep On Movin – 1973

Keep On Movin’ is a 1973 song that was sung by the Brady kids from the popular television sitcom The Brady Bunch.

The episode is title “Amateur Nite”. The kids appear on a television talent show to win $100 for Mike and Carol’s anniversary gift. This was the result of Jan’s misunderstanding the price for the engraving of a tray the kids had intended to give their parents (it was 85 cents per letter, not for the entire engraving).

Feel free to sing along… (I know you know the words!!)

I also included Time to Change, which is a song about puberty. (It appears Peter isn’t the only one who’s going through some changes in this video.) These songs are dreadful. I can’t imagine anyone who worked on this show ever thinking that the dreck they were producing was any good. But America loved this family. Even though this is not what America looked like in the early 70s. In real life, Barry Williams was banging Florence Henderson, Maureen McCormick was a coke head and poor Robert Reed, a Shakespearean actor who believed television was below his ability and sitcoms even worse later died from AIDS.

That’s the show I want to watch!

Even when this show was on the air, it was awful and dated. The only reason I watched it was, like many other boys back in the early 70s we loved hot Marsha. 

God, this music is awful!

Kill me now…

Tee Set – Ma Belle Amie – 1970

The song reached #5 on the US Billboard Hot 100 and #3 in Australia and Canada in 1970. In South Africa, it was a #1 hit. The song also reached the Top 10 across central Europe.

The original issue of the single in the Netherlands was released in 1969 on Tee Set Records (TS 1329), selling over 100,000 copies. There are available at least three studio-recorded versions of the song – the US hit on Colossus Records (CS107), released in 1969, a British issue on Major Minor Records (MM666), released in 1970, and a Black and White video featuring the band miming along a waterfront. This video version appears to be the same as the hit US rendering but for minor differences to the repeated chorus ending of the song. The British release is completely different, slower in tempo and starting in a lower key. The group also recorded an Italian language version of the song.

This song is just annoying. It feels like these guys are the inbred cousins of the Bay City Rollers. Every shot is either the band members in separate boxes, (which makes no sense) or a super uncomfortable close-up on the singer’s face.

Robin McNamara – Lay a Little Lovin’ On Me – 1970

Lay a Little Lovin’ on Me” is a 1970 song written by Jeff BarryRobin McNamara, and Jim Cretecos and recorded by Robin McNamara. The song reached #11 on the Billboard Hot 100, and was McNamara’s only hit. “Lay A Little Lovin’ On Me” also peaked at #6 (for 2 weeks) on Canada’s national RPM Top 100 singles chart in August of 1970 and at number 49 in Australia in 1970.

This guy is like Tommy Bolin, Robert Plant, and Tiny Tim had a kid. It’s not a terrible song, but bad enough to add to this list.

https://lpintop.tripod.com/robinmcnamara/

The Poppy Family – Which Way You Goin’ Billy? – 1970

Which Way You Goin’ Billy?” was a global, multi-million-selling hit single from the Canadian band The Poppy Family. The single, first released in 1969, was from the album of the same name and was a chart-topping hit in Canada and Ireland. It was also a significant hit in other parts of the world, reaching #2 on both the U.S. Cash Box and Billboard pop charts.

This song feels like the cross-eyed stepchild to Terry Jacks, Seasons in the Sun. Just a weird song. I remember hearing it on the radio in the early 70s and thinking… “Where’s Billy off to?”

Oh, wait… Terry Jacks was in this band!

The Sandpipers – Come Saturday Morning – 1970

Come Saturday Morning” is a popular song with music by Fred Karlin and lyrics by Dory Previn, published in 1970. It was first performed by The Sandpipers on the soundtrack of the 1969 film The Sterile Cuckoo starring Liza Minnelli. The Sandpipers also included the song on their 1970 album, Come Saturday Morning. In 1970, “Come Saturday Morning” was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Song, losing to “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head” from the film Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.

The sound of this song just makes me depressed. It feels like a rejected song from The Graduate. I almost want to watch the film The Sterile Cuckoo. How did they even pitch that picture?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Sterile_Cuckoo

I’m sure it’s trash.

The Piglets – Johnny Reggae – 1971

Johnny Reggae” is a 1971 novelty song credited to The Piglets. The single cover states that it was “conceived, created, produced and directed by Jonathan King“. It was released on Bell Records.

King himself has explained in comments on his YouTube channel] and in his autobiography 65, My Life So Far that the vocalists were session singers “coached to sound like teenage scrubbers”, and that the lead vocalist was session singer Barbara Kay, who also recorded as Kay Barry for Embassy Records.

The lead vocals have been at various times been incorrectly attributed to Adrienne Posta or Wendy Richard.

This song makes me want to get a running start in an office building and plow through a plate glass window and plummet to my death 40 stories below.

Blue Swede – Hooked on a Feeling – 1974

“Hooked on a Feeling” is a 1968 pop song written by Mark James and originally performed by B.J. Thomas. Thomas’s version featured the sound of the electric sitar (played by Reggie Young) and reached No. 5 in 1969 on the Billboard Hot 100. It has been recorded by many other artists, including Blue Swede, whose version reached No. 1 in the United States in 1974. The Blue Swede version made singer Björn Skifs‘ “Ooga-Chaka-Ooga-Ooga” intro well known (and famous in Sweden at the time), although it had been used originally by British musician Jonathan King in his 1971 version of the song.

The original version of this song was fine. B.J. Thomas is a good writer. But why in the world would someone record that song with the “Ooga-Chaka-Ooga-Ooga” nonsense on the track to ruin it. But, I’m sure there are people out there who like this version. Just odd, so it makes my list.

 

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The Trellis – Part 2

Philadelphia, PA – Mid 70s

There was this guy named Rudy Falf who lived with his brother across the street. They were probably both in their early 40s back then. They were both weird guys. They kept to themselves and I have no idea how they supported themselves. I’m assuming their parents maybe left them the house across the street where they resided.

Now, when I say “weird guys” I don’t mean creepy, pedo-type guys. They were both really sweet people. But a little touched in the head. Rudy’s brother was really quiet and sort of furtive. We didn’t see much of him. But Rudy was always out. He had a cast in his one eye which made him look even weirder. Like, ‘one eye is looking at you, and the other one is running down to the shop to get a pack of smokes.’ But they were both sweet and harmless men. Rudy was really friendly to us kids, and would always give us comic books. I remember he would sit in his car and just run the motor and read his comic books. I didn’t know why, but I heard he did that to charge up the battery because I rarely saw him ever drive that car.

I remember one of our neighbors told her two daughters that they couldn’t go to the Falf house for trick or treat on Halloween because she figured the brothers would diddle her daughters. But that would never happen because they were two really nice people. Just a little touched in the head. It’s that kind of ignorant behavior that creates prejudice in people. Just because somebody is different or weird, doesn’t make them evil pedophiles. I wasn’t raised that way and never agreed with her behavior.

But we liked him because he was nice and always gave my friend RJ and I comic books when he was finished reading them. I probably still have a few left in my collection. Free comics are always welcome!

Oh, one last thing. Rudy had this crazy stutter. Certain words would just hang there and he’d just keep saying the prefix of a word over and over really fast until the rest of it came out of his mouth. It was odd, but as kids, we just saw it as the way he spoke. And could this guy talk. He could ramble on forever about the most simple of subjects.

Everybody in the neighborhood loved my mother. I mean, everybody. It was like she had a fan club. Back then all of the dads worked and the wives all stayed home and took care of the house and kids. The ladies would stop over and chat with her. My mom was such a good listener and very cordial, so people just gravitated to her. I think there were days where our neighbor, Mrs. Hanley would come over with a cup of coffee and her cigarettes and talk my mom’s ear off. But my mom was always nice and would host anyone who wanted to swing by out of boredom.

Of course, my mother would be at the market and always run into somebody in the neighborhood and they’d chat. But one of the people who was the most annoying was Rudy Falf. Not because he was nuts, but because he would walk her home from the market and literally chatter nonstop. Stuttering his way through some nonsensical tale. My mother would smile and listen respectfully.

But one day she runs into him in the market and she hears him going on and on about a theft at his house. He’s literally talking non-stop to anyone who will listen about this crime that’s been committed against him.

Of course, this gets the attention of my mother in the checkout line. I mean, you couldn’t escape this guy if he started waffling on about something. He just wouldn’t stop going on and on about the subject. But my mom, knowing she’s been cornered and will probably have to listen to him all the way home, smiles and listens to him.

“What happened, Rudy?”

Rudy responds in his usual stutter, more manic than ever because he’s upset about the crime that’s committed against him.

“Somebody stole my ligga, ligga, ligga, ligga ligga, ligga, ligga, ladder!”

“Oh really? That’s awful. I’m so sorry to hear that.”

“Yea, it was lying right on the side of my house and somebody came along and stole it!”

“What did it look like?”

“It’s wooden and about this long! I’m going to call the police!”

The stark realization of what’s happened hits my mom like a freight train.

Rudy’s stolen ladder is resting against the wall of the garage in the garden of our yard.

She tells him how sorry she is for his misfortune and will keep an eye out for it. She never tells him!

Of course, my mother being the sweet woman she is, and an upstanding member of the community, is mortified. She immediately comes home and tells me the story she just heard.

I tell her I had no idea where Michael had gotten the ladder from and thought he had picked it out of someone’s trash. For once, I was telling the truth. My mom surprisingly believes me and tells me to figure out a way to get that ladder back to Rudy.

I concur with Michael. He tells me that he did indeed nick the ladder from the side of Rudy’s house but thought it was in the trash. The truth of what he does or doesn’t believe is a moot point at this juncture. We need to get that ladder back to Rudy’s house as soon as possible before we get in deep trouble.

So that night, Mike and I quietly crept over to Rudy’s house under that cloak of darkness. We gently placed the ladder back where Michael had found it. Then we did what all boys do when faced with adversity. We ran away!

So, in closing, no harm was done, and Rudy’s ladder miraculously reappeared safely back on his property. When I think about this whole incident now, I think it wasn’t so much about us climbing on my mom’s flower trellis. We just wanted a way to get up on the roof. My mother knew that if the trellis broke and we fell, we risked falling through a bunch of sticker bushes and possibly crashing down on one of the many large stones that surrounded her garden.

Parents don’t stop their kids from doing risky stuff to control them, but to try to keep them from killing themselves.

Or… one of us boys could have fallen off the roof and hit the concrete driveway below doing some serious damage to ourselves. Can you imagine falling 20 feet and landing headfirst onto cement as a kid? If you survived the injury you might end up talking like Rudy for the rest of your life.

And nobody wants that.

But, I got a good story out of it, so it was all worth it!

 

 

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

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The Trellis – Part 1

Philadelphia, PA – Late 60s, Early 70s

When we were kids we had this little pool in our backyard. It was actually set up in our carport, not our yard. My mom would put down a big blanket on the ground, and then haul the pool out of our garage. It wasn’t very big, but we had a good time playing in it. It was probably only 6 feet square and less than a foot deep. But it was a fun thing that we could play in to cool off and frolic about.

My mother would fill it up with water from the hose. She’d do this before lunchtime around 11am. By the time we were finished eating, the sun would have warmed the water and we could all go in.

Some of our friends would come over and we’d all have a grand old time on a warm spring day.

The Mitchell family down the street had acquired a large above-ground pool and that became the popular spot in the summer for the neighborhood. I didn’t ever go over there for that because to me it was too crowded and too deep. Not for me.

Besides, once school let out we’d be down the shore for the summer. Which was 1000 times better than any pool in our neighborhood.

Anyway, when we were done playing in our little pool, we’d obviously have to come in and get into some dry clothes. But for some reason, my sister and I would leave our wet bathing suits on our beds. I have no idea why we did this. We could have turned them into mom, or hung them on a doorknob or something. Who wants a wet bed?

But we did that a number of times and my mother was not pleased. She finally told us that if we did it again, we’d have to write: “I will not leave my wet bathing suit on the bed.” 50 times. Which when you’re a kid is a tedious and time-consuming process. I suppose because we didn’t listen to her initial request, this punishment would drill the idea into our thick heads.

So, it happened again and my older sister and I had to write. She was a good student and had mad school skills, so she blew out the punishment in an hour or so. But it took me forever. I finally got it done, and never left a wet bathing suit on my bed again. Effective punishment. It got the result my mom desired. She also figured a little exercise in penmanship never hurt anyone.

My mom had a wooden trellis bolted to the sidewall of the garage in our yard. That’s where all of her rose bushes were located. I remember we always had nice roses growing out there. My mother always liked nature and animals, so she was a natural green thumb out there in the garden.

You had to be careful out there by the rose bushes because as lovely and fragrant roses are, they all have thorns. Much like the women I would meet later in my life.

But when boys see a trellis bolted to a wall, they don’t see a structure to support the flora and fauna of mom’s garden. They see a ladder. What do you do with a ladder? Yep. You have to climb it.

The only reason we climbed the trellis was to get up on the garage roof. Kids love climbing and exploring new spaces. It’s fun to get up on top of things when you’re small. There’s a feeling of power and safety at that height. The garage rood instantly became a cool hiding spot and hang-out spot.

When I think back on the construction of that trellis I’m amazed it never broke under our weight. It was just thin slats of wood nailed together. It was meant to support the vines of plants, not the bodies of young boys. But we climbed up there all of the time.

My mother caught sight of this, and told me if I didn’t stop climbing her trellis, I’d have to write as I did after the wet bathing suit incident.

I may have stayed off it for a week, but in no time we were back up there. Sure enough, I was caught, prosecuted, and sentenced to writing the same sentence over and over. “I will not climb the trellis.” I had to write it 100 times. Not just once… but this time, for a week straight.

That seemed a cruel and unusual punishment for such a simple infraction, but it wasn’t about climbing the trellis, it was the fact that she’d told me not to and I willfully disobeyed her and did it anyway. That sort of repugnant behavior was always met with swift justice in our house. That, or a good smack!

So, each day I would write the same sentence over and over after lunch. It was horrible. After a while, the words you write mean nothing to you. It’s just the same thing over and over. Sometimes I would write the same letter or word over and over down the page and then go on to the next one. Anything to change up the sheer monotony of the task.

I think by the fourth or fifth day, she lightened my sentence and I only had to crack off 50 sentences. Did my handwriting improve? Not in the slightest bit, but it kept me off my mom’s trellis for good!

But I missed going up on the garage roof and hanging with my friend Mike. That was our little throne up there. But what to do?

A year or so passes.

One day Mike comes over and tells me he found an old wooden ladder in the trash somewhere. Back then we were always picking things out of people’s trash and making stuff out of it. But this was a big ladder. Sturdy too!

So Micheal brings it over and we carefully place it in the garden and lean it up against the edge of the garage. It fits perfectly! It was just the right height to get us safely back up on the garage roof. We left it there and it became the way up and down to our little clubhouse. We’d sit up there and chat, and eat peanuts, tossing the shells everywhere. We didn’t care about the mess. The shells were organic material and anything we left up there couldn’t be seen from the ground so who cares?

The most important person who didn’t care was my mother. She never said anything about the old wooden ladder leaning against our garage. I suppose as long as we weren’t on her trellis, we were fine.

To be continued tomorrow!

 

 

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

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Aerosmith – Part 3

Philadelphia, PA – 1977

The first time I heard a little bit of this album was over at my friend RJ’s house. I knew at that moment… I had to own it as soon as possible.

I think I bought this next record at Sam Goody records at the Roosevelt Mall in Philly before I went down the shore that year. I had the first album thanks to my older sister, I heard the second album thanks to my friend Mike, I owned Toys in the Attic, and now to collect the final piece of the Aerosmith catalog. This brings me to this masterpiece.

Aerosmith – Rocks – 1976

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rocks_(Aerosmith_album)

Toys in the Attic is to A New Hope, as Rocks is to The Empire Strikes Back.

This is my first choice for desert island records. There are obviously others, but this is the album I’d reach for first if the ship was sinking and I was going to be stranded on a desert island. To me, this the finest work by the band. They have reached their creative zenith and playing. They are one of the certified platinum hard rock acts of the decade. This is what they’ve been building to. A rough house rock album, fueled by rage and drugs. Just an amazing watershed moment in the band’s history. This is the quintessential Aerosmith original recording.

Or as I used to call it… The Soundtrack to My Life.

I listened to this album every day for two years straight. I literally played it so much it lost some of its fidelity because the stylus was dragged through the delicious grooves on the vinyl created by this glorious band. This record is the crown jewel to the soundtrack of my young teenage life. There is no other recording at the time that makes me feel the way this record made me feel in the summer of 1977. It felt as though Aerosmith had recorded every song just for me as a thank you for my loyalty.

Rocks is a love letter to me to tell me that I will survive puberty and will be okay. “We know how you’re feeling, Chaz. We know it feels weird, and it hurts. We know you want everything now. So do we. Let’s get there together through these songs. Take this metal medicine every day, and you’ll get better. Life will get better for you. We’ll never hurt you. We’ll never betray you. We’ll never give you a hangover. We’ll never cheat on you or break up with you. We’ll never scold or hit you. We’re your band. We’re the boys from Boston. We’re Aerosmith, and we belong to you.

I’ll tell you what… I’m not going to do this one track by track. I don’t need to. This record is their finest work, and no matter what anyone says, it is.

This album makes a singular statement. “Aerosmith. Rocks.”

And rock they do, sir.

Check out my Aerosmith playlist.

Oh, and of course I had to buy this belt buckle and wear it every day!

If you can see it, it says 1977 on it so you know it’s legit!

Here’s a pic of my older sister and me. As you can clearly see from this old photo, I’m wearing not only an Aerosmith t-shirt, I’m wearing the very belt buckle I just showed you!

Okay, let’s move on.

Wildwood, NJ – 1977

Things had changed for the better for me. The nightmare of Fels Junior High was over and I was heading down the shore for the summer. Things were looking up for me.

I was on the boardwalk one day. I was probably just wandering around with my next-door neighbor. There was a cool store that was down by Marine Pier called The Fun Shop.

The Fun Shop was probably one of the most unique stores on the boardwalk. It had magic tricks, T-shirts, jewelry, music, and other cool junk for sale. Think Hot Topic before there was a Hot Topic. We were in there looking at some cool black and white prints of celebrities and bands. I was deeply in love with the actress from Charlie’s Angels, Farrah Fawcett, and of course all things Aerosmith.

What I didn’t realize at the time was probably all of their merch and memorabilia was bootleg stuff. The word “bootleg” originates from the practice of smuggling illicit items in the legs of tall boots, particularly the smuggling of alcohol during the American Prohibition era. The word, over time, has come to refer to any illegal or illicit product.

boot·leg
/ˈbo͞otˌleɡ/
adjective
  1. (especially of liquor, computer software, or recordings) made, distributed, or sold illegally.
    “bootleg cassettes”
noun
  1. 1.
    an illegal musical recording, especially one made at a concert.
    The only access we had to celebrities back then was television, movies, and magazines. That’s it. No internet and no social media. Celebrities and rockstars lived on an exclusive planet in our galaxy that we mere mortals could only look upon in limited places. I bought a few photos of Farrah to hang on my wall and a cool photo of Aerosmith.
    But I saw a rack of record albums by artists I was familiar with but not the albums. A two album set by Led Zeppelin called Moby Dick. A Rolling Stones record called Garden State, and the album pictured below.

Aerosmith – Look Homeward Angel – 1976

If you look closely it’s obvious it’s a bootleg. It’s not released by the band. It’s a concert recorded at Madison Square Garden in NYC. It’s on Fantasy Discos, not their label which was clearly Columbia at the time. Luis Martinez is not Jack Douglas.  Aerosmith isn’t recording any albums in Guatemala City. This product is a rip-off made by somebody to make money off the band. They wouldn’t see one cent from the sales of this record. All of the songs are from the 1975 tour to support Toys in the Attic. Because even though their next album was already out, there are no songs from that new record. This is a pure bootleg, through and through.

But to me, anything Aerosmith was something I had to own. The album was only five bucks. I didn’t really know what bootlegging and piracy was back then. I just wanted more rock by a band I loved. So I bought it and took it home.

To be honest, I loved this album. It’s not a bad recording and I got to hear Aerosmith play live for the first time. It was exciting and new to me. I played the hell out of this album and liked it as much as all of their albums. The second side is what really struck me about this record. The live rendition of Train Kept a Rollin’ is spectacular. It’s a furious explosion of hard rock live magic being performed by a great band. On a live recording, you’re lucky if you get those little improvisational extras you can’t get on a studio recording. Near the end of Train, Joe Perry just starts jamming the theme from Batman, the 1966 TV show. I went bananas. I loved that show as a child, and to hear my idol Joe Perry start playing Batman during one of their songs live was just sweet heaven. They close out the song and then burst into Toys in the Attic, which blows away the studio track. It’s so incendiary that it makes the original sound tame.

So even though at 14 years old I’m guilty of buying a bootleg record of Aerosmith, I loved it and it brought me hours of aural joy for many years.

I found this recently on YouTube. This to me really captures the band I fell in love with over 45 years ago. Just glorious!

Thank you, Gods of Rock!

 

Thank you for reading my blog. Please like, share, 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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