Tales of Rock: These Are The Scariest Songs Of All Time, According To Pandora

Today begins an entire week’s worth of Halloween-related posts. Enjoy!

Pandora was on a mission to find the “scariest song of all time.”

So the Oakland-based internet radio company started looking at the many factors that go into making a song sound sinister. In all, 450 attributes were evaluated by the Pandora team.

“Scary songs use key, tempo and timbre to create tension and manipulate the way the listener interacts with sound,” according to a news release. “This includes the use of what scientists call ‘non-linear’ sound. Non-linear sounds are generally scratchy, disorganized, and chaotic, like the sound of vocal cords vibrating violently during a blood-curdling scream. Humans (and many other species) are hard-wired to perceive such sounds as life-threatening.

“The data science team identified structural and musicological properties best fit for frightening moods, including anguished, distraught, eerie, harsh, menacing, spooky, tense, anxious, and volatile, and scored each song against these traits.”

The song that topped the list turned out to be Nine Inch Nails’ “The Becoming.”

Here are the top 10 scariest songs of all time, complete with commentary from Pandora:

1, Nine Inch Nails, “The Becoming”

“This song makes use of distorted “non-linear” instrument timbres and effects, which humans are programmed to find distressing. This contrasts with the hushed + screaming vocals which creates a suspenseful & unsettling mood. Melodically, this song makes use of an exotic-sounding scale, which features a major third, but a flat second scale degree, which gives a dissonant quality.”

2, Pixies, “The Happening”

“Like ‘The Becoming,’ there is more use of distorted, ‘non-linear’ sound along with aggressive vocal attitude, and this one is in a minor key, which is usually perceived as a ‘dark’ sound.”

3, Bauhaus, “Dark Entries”

“The mood of this song is dominated by the tonal quality of the instruments, including distorted riffs and scratchy guitar solos. There is a high level of dissonance between the chromatically descending guitar line and the vocal, which is not a melody exactly, but a series of monotonic, almost unrelated pitches that clash with the accompaniment. The lo-fi aesthetic and freaky vocal delivery make for an unsettling experience, like being chased through the woods by a chainsaw-wielding maniac.”

4, Joy Division, “Transmission”

“The combination of lo-fi production, synth pads, and an exaggerated reverb effect creates a menacing, claustrophobic quality. The song finishes with an intense wall of sound, which along with the staccato and insistent bass guitar rhythm makes this a truly anxiety-provoking track.”

5, Lamb Of God, “Contractor”

“Due to its sheer aggression, it’s a typical example of the death metal genre: it’s loud and distorted, includes a fast tempo, makes use of technically proficient drumming and guitar riffs, and is rhythmically complex in the form of shifting tempos and syncopated hits. The vocals are extreme and gritty and a good example of the ‘death metal growl.’ Lyrically it’s confrontational and threatening.”

6, Tool, “‘nima”

“Similar to the Lamb Of God in its aggressive, confrontational vocal attitude, ‘nima also features loud distorted tones throughout. Still, there is some dynamic range too, with some quieter, more drone-like stretches.”

7, Nirvana, “Heart-Shaped Box”

Like many Nirvana songs, this one defies pop conventions. The harmonic progression is difficult to pin down as major or minor, but there is an unmistakable dark and menacing quality to the music. There is a dissonance between the vocal melody and instrumental parts that is disorienting and can be a bit disturbing to the listener. It makes use of heavy, distorted tones, but also features quieter, brooding stretches.

8, Korn, “Bottled Up Inside”

This song relies on loud, distorted timbres, and some ‘non-linear’ tones to create an aggressive, frightening effect that will transport you straight to the dungeon of despair. The relentless pounding of the drums and the deep, sludgy doom-guitar riffs give this song a truly menacing and diabolical feel.”

9, A Perfect Circle, “Thinking of You”

“This song has a creepy combination of tones, including heavier distorted ones, alongside more ambient & suspenseful tones that will leave you convinced the demons are watching you. The melody at times makes use of an exotic-sounding scale that adds to the mood — the first two vocal notes you’ll hear from a ‘diminished 5th,’ a musical interval which since the 18th century has been nicknamed ‘Diabolus in musica,’ or ‘The Devil in music’ due to its dissonant quality.

10, Whitechapel, “Eternal Refuge”

Eternal Refuge is another Death Metal entry, therefore it’s extreme in its volume and distortion, with that famous ‘death metal growl.’ Try putting this on at home in the dark.”

Wanna be a better guitarist? Click this link to learn the secret!

https://beginnerguitarhq.com/guitar-exercises/

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

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

Tales of Rock – The Cool Parents’ Guide to Rock Music for Kids

If there’s one universal truth to parenting, it’s that whatever songs your kid listens to will end up on repeat in your head at 3 a.m. Most of the time we’re fighting off tunes about frogs or balloons or shapes from Little Baby Bum, or we’re reluctantly humming a particularly annoying little ditty about a family of sharks (and just like that, dear reader, it’s now in your head too. Sorry).

Look, we have the power — the obligation — to introduce our kids to better music, for their sake, and very possibly, our own sanity. Nursery rhymes are adorable and learning-shapes songs are valuable. But with the state of things around us, social distancing and staying at home can provide a great opportunity for parents to expose their little ones to better music, some even with helpful life lessons.

We’ve compiled a list of some of our favorite kid-friendly albums from what we dub the “Golden Age of Rock,” the classic oldies of rock ‘n’ roll from the ’50s through the ’70s, to help create a fun music experience for you and your kids. So, clear the living room, turn off the TV and fire up the record player (or Spotify playlist) and, hopefully, get to dancing.

Chuck Berry

The Great Twenty-Eight

Chuck Berry defined the sound and spirit of rock ‘n roll, so it’s only right that our kids hear his music. This compilation album, which Rolling Stone ranked No. 21 on its 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, starts off with the toe-tapping “Maybellene,” and kids just know what to do when songs like this come on. Later on the album is “Johnny B Goode,” a fun opportunity for you to mention a great scene in Back to the Future when Marty McFly baffles everyone at a dance with a rendition of this hit. This album is a necessary lesson on the roots of rock ‘n’ roll. Nicknamed the “Father of Rock ‘N’ Roll,” Berry was a major influence on decades of music that followed him.

Little Richard

Here’s Little Richard

With lyrics that go “A-wop-bop-a-loo-lop a-lop-bam-boo,” “Tutti Frutti” is probably the most fun a kid will have singing to a song, and the second you drop a needle on this track, your toddler will light up. It’s the opening track on Little Richard’s 1957 debut album Here’s Little Richard, which also includes “Long Tall Sally (The Thing)” and “Slippin’ and Slidin’ (Peepin’ and Hidin’)” Simply put, these are just fun songs.

The Beatles

Rubber Soul

The Beatles helped define 20th-century rock ‘n’ roll, but not before dominating the pop charts. If we had told fans of the hit “I Want to Hold Your Hand” that the same band would later be making songs like “Helter Skelter,” they wouldn’t have believed us. But, there’s one album, in particular, that is a great introduction to the Beatles for kids, and has both the catchy, pop-like melodies that launched the Fab Four to stardom, but a little more meaningful message than the idea that they want to hold your hand. And it seemingly has no references to drugs yet: Rubber Soul. It’s said that Beatlemania ended on Dec. 3, 1965, the day the record hit the shelves. It was the album that saw the Beatles as men, not boys, similar to a teenager coming of age. And tracks like “Nowhere Man” explored John Lennon’s own dealings with inadequacy.

David Bowie

Hunky Dory

David Bowie is a great artist to introduce to kids early on because he took on many alter-egos, opening up the possibility of a young person to find one that relates to their own personality. His music explores fantasy-like storylines, and he always encouraged young people to be themselves –– no matter how weird. His 1971 album Hunky Dory is especially great for kids, and the song “Changes” reflects those ever-changing personas. He also wrote the track “Kooks” for his first son, which is a great song to dedicate to your own children.

Wings

Wings Greatest

We’re the last people to reduce the fantastic music of Wings to “just another Beatles band,” but once your child realizes that the Beatles broke up in the summer of ’69 and are left wanting more, they may want to hear what one Beatles head songwriter, Paul McCartney, made in the ’70s. Only two years after John, Paul, George, and Ringo parted ways, McCartney co-founded Wings with his wife. Yes, we’re recommending a “greatest hits” album, but it’s a great start for kids, or anyone, who hasn’t taken the time to listen to the band before. It’s a fun record that highlights the best of a great band.

Melanie

Gather Me

This album is packed full of emotional ’70s folk-rock ballads. But track four, “Brand New Key,” recalls the innocent days of young love. A particularly adorable song from singer-songwriter Melanie, “Brand New Key” follows a young, empowered girl thriving off confidence and nudging a crush to play along as she roller skates along — and it’s super fun to dance to. The rest of the tracks are probably more fitting for a teenager, as it covers a lot of heartbreak, but it’s also a great introduction to blues-rock.

Bob Dylan

Another Side of Bob Dylan

Is your child an aspiring poet or songwriter? Look no further than Bob Dylan to inspire that creativity. And his fourth studio album, 1964’s Another Side of Bob Dylan, is a great introductory album for your little one. OK, this is a folk album, but Dylan has become an influential figure in rock ‘n’ roll. Like the album title suggests, this was the first album Dylan released that didn’t reflect his usual politically driven songwriting, making it easy listening for kiddo. In fact, it played on his humor quite a bit too. Give “All I Really Want to Do” and “I Shall Be Free No. 10” a listen with the kids around for a good laugh. “To Ramona,” though, shows Dylan at his best on this album. A beautiful, lullaby-like song, the melody alone is likely to capture your child’s attention.

The Beach Boys

Endless Summer / Pet Sounds

It’s hard to decide which album is best for introducing your little one to when it comes to The Beach Boys. Endless Summer, a great album for those summer pool days in the backyard, captures the best of The Beach Boys’ 1963-1966 catalog. Be sure to pick up the vinyl reissue that includes “I Get Around,” “Surfin’ USA” and “California Girls.” These are all great introductory songs to surf rock and capture a great slice of the band’s career. You can almost feel the warm sun and sound of the hot rods driving by.

Pet Sounds is universally regarded as The Beach Boys’ best album. So, go ahead and save your kid the future embarrassment of admitting they haven’t heard this album by introducing it to them now. It begins with the super catchy tune “Wouldn’t It Be Nice,” which captures the thoughts we have when we’re lovesick teenagers. It’s been said that Beach Boy Brian Wilson was aiming for tracks that kids could relate to on this album, and we think he did a pretty good job.

The Monkees

The Monkees Greatest Hits

Yeah, we’re recommending another greatest hits album. But look, this one cuts out some of the more experiential songs the band did (oh, you didn’t know about that?) We’re not going to recommend that you introduce your kids to The Monkees by having them watch the film Head, or listen to The Monkees’ soundtrack for it. Trust us. And, The Monkees didn’t have an endless catalog of amazing songs, but the hits they did have are upbeat, really fun, and definitely kid-friendly.

The Byrds

Mr. Tambourine Man / Turn! Turn! Turn!

This double album (not to be confused with a greatest hits album) was partly taken from earlier writings from Bob Dylan. It contains Dylan originals in a pop-rock-friendly tone, including: “Mr. Tambourine Man,” “Chimes of Freedom,” “All I Really Want to Do” and more, so it’s a great opportunity to show your child how songs can be made differently.

Dusty Springfield

Dusty in Memphis

Dusty Springfield was an anomaly among the usual British female pop stars of the 1960s. Her voice was deep and rich, and her music sounded not unlike the hits coming from Motown or Stax. Her singles include “I Only Want to Be With You,” “Wishin’ and Hopin'” and “Son of a Preacher Man.” The latter of which is on one of the singles from her best-rated albums, Dusty in Memphis. A hallmark of the oldies we so love to wax nostalgic, Springfield’s music is a great lesson in love, and perfect for any lovelorn preteen.

Buddy Holly

20 Golden Greats: Buddy Holly Lives

Buddy Holly was a pioneer in 1950s rock ‘n’ roll, with hits like “Peggy Sue” and “That’ll Be the Day.” His signature “hiccup,” unique spin on rockabilly and as-innocent-as-can-be songs make him perfect for introducing a young person to rock ‘n’ roll. After all, he’s said to have inspired greats like Beatles John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Unfortunately, he died shortly into his blossoming career, so his discography mainly includes compilations. But 20 Golden Greats: Buddy Holly Lives is listed on Rolling Stone‘s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, and includes tracks he made with The Crickets — his band he played with before going solo.

Wanna be a better guitarist? Click this link to learn the secret!

https://beginnerguitarhq.com/guitar-exercises/

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

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

Tales of Rock – The Best Band You Never Heard – Stabbing Westward

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

Wanna be a better guitarist? Click this link to learn the secret!

https://beginnerguitarhq.com/guitar-exercises/

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Wanna be a better guitarist? Click this link to learn the secret!

https://beginnerguitarhq.com/guitar-exercises/

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Library of Congress
His monkey wore miniature gladiator armor.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sounding like nothing the band had made to date …

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

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

 

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

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

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

Wanna be a better guitarist? Click this link to learn the secret!

https://beginnerguitarhq.com/guitar-exercises/

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

Listen to Phicklephilly LIVE on Spotify!

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Feelings – Morris Albert – 1975

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

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

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

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

Aerial refueling - Wikipedia

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

Seasons In The Sun – Terry Jacks – 1974

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

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

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

The Streak – Ray Stevens – 1974

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

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

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

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

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

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

Escape (Pina Colada Song) – Rupert Holmes – 1979

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

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

But I digress…

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

You Light Up My Life – Debby Boone- 1977

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

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

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

The Morning After – Maureen McGovern – 1972

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

Kill me now!

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

Listen to Phicklephilly LIVE on Spotify!

Aerosmith – Part 7

Wildwood, NJ – 1984

I was working one Saturday afternoon at my job at Home Video Centers. We rented movies and sold all sorts of video equipment. We played MTV on all of the televisions all day long. It was good background music for the store and the video images looked great on all of the different sets. I was standing with a couple of the sales guys and we were just chatting and watching videos. Then Kurt Loder came on and did the music news. He made the announcement that the original members of the band Aerosmith had drifted back together, put their differences aside, and had gotten back together as a group again. My heart skipped a beat I was so happy. I was glad they were all okay, and prayed a new album would come out soon!

Aerosmith – Done With Mirrors – 1984

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

All of the text on this album was backward. (No idea) What did the title mean? (It was all just a reflection, or was it a magic trick? (Did the title mean that the band was done snorting coke off of mirrors?) Who knows. I bought the cassette and took it home to listen to it. Let’s review.

  1. Let the Music Do the Talking: They took the title track from Joe’s first solo album and reworked the lyrics and arrangement and made it their own! Great version of an already good song. It’s a great, ‘welcome back song’ for the band.
  2. My Fist Your Face: As the title says, this song hits hard and kicks ass!
  3. Shame on You: Another solid laboring rocker. All of these songs have great Joe Perry riffs!
  4. Reason a Dog: Okay, not bad. Typical slow song for this point on an album.
  5. Sheila: Okay… a song about a girl. Not bad.
  6. Gypsy Boots: I can’t remember this one, but it works okay.
  7. She’s On Fire: Love this one. Solid build and good swing.
  8. The Hop: A jumping tribute to the band!
  9. Darkness: Great ominous closer with some real positive glimmers of more to come.

I loved this record just as much as Rock in a Hard Place. It feels like Rocks 2. I know that’s a bold statement but the band took a few years off from each other and worked to get clean. It doesn’t have the warmth of Rocks and the whole production seems sparse and a bit chilly, but it really kicks ass as an album, and a powerful return of America’s greatest rock n roll band! LOVE!

But… would this be the last time I really loved an Aerosmith album?

Wildwood, NJ – 1987

By 1987, I was out of retail and now working as a loan assistant at a local bank. Aerosmith had been working hard on writing songs, and their sobriety. I was happy about all of that and would buy anything they put out because of my decade-long love affair with them.

This next record feels like a transition for the band. They’re moving towards a more commercial sound. This was the first time I heard Aerosmith songs that I didn’t really care for. I think by then, I loved what I loved and if it didn’t look or sound like what I liked, then I wasn’t that into it. But I’m loyal so I bought it.

Overall this is a solid record for the masses. I never thought of Aerosmith like that. I’m not going to go track by track, which may sound surprising to most, but I’m losing my attraction to the band. It kind of hurt. It was like the beginning of the end of any relationship. You’re trying for a few years, and then the inevitable happens. A few hits came out of this record that were very popular on FM and MTV, but I sort of have lost that loving feeling for Aero. There are moments on this album when I hear the old band, but that ship is vanishing on the horizon. But I’m not 14 anymore. I’m a 25-year-old man now. Anyone expecting to feel what you felt at 14 when you first saw Star Wars or heard the Rocks album is kidding himself and setting himself up for disappointment. But I still love Aerosmith.

Aerosmith – Permanent Vacation – 1987

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

Hits: Dude (Looks Like a Lady) Rag Doll, and Angel.

The song Angel is the kiss of death for this band. It’s like the song, ‘Nothing Else Matters’ by Metallica. The hardcore fans know the honeymoon is finally over.

My favorites on this record: St. John, Girl Keeps Coming Apart, The Movie. Because they sound like the band I loved!

Check out my Aerosmith playlist.

 

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

Listen to Phicklephilly LIVE on Spotify!

Tales of Rock – The story behind the writing and recording of ‘Sympathy For The Devil’

Since 1964, the songwriting partnership between Mick Jagger and Keith Richards has been controversial, innovative, and legendary. Throughout the turbulent political mire of the ’60s, The Rolling Stones both shied away from their adversity and attacked it head-on.

For instance, when Street Fighting Man was released, various radio stations banned the track due to the racial and student protests it helped inspire. As you can imagine, when The Rolling Stones released Sympathy For The Devil all hell broke loose, cementing the legacy of their most iconic song.

Sure, presenting yourself as the devil to the public might be pretty daring, but Mick Jagger pulled it off with style and not a second thought. Declaring his inner demon “a man of wealth and taste”, Jagger confessed to being the culprit of some of the most wicked deeds in history. Leading the Nazi blitzkrieg raid, spurning the Russian revolution, assassinating JFK, and encouraging Jesus’ crucifixion – that one’s a no-brainer – all with a suave backing choir seemed like a jolly old gag to Mick Jagger.

But how much do we really know about Sympathy For The Devil? Here are the song’s darkest secrets.Sympathy For The Devil

One of the most controversial songs in rock history doesn’t go without its fair share of secrets. This is the tale of Sympathy For The Devil.
Birth of the Devil

In 1967, The Rolling Stones were under fire from the press, religious leaders, parent groups, and government officials on a variety of moral corruption charges. The most extreme claim was that the Rolling Stones supported Satanism. Ridiculous in hindsight, though the band had just come out with Their Satanic Majesties Request. 

The Rolling Stones sealed their fate the following year with Sympathy For The Devil. Mick Jagger drew the central lyrical inspiration from a collection of sources that he stumbled upon in 1968, explaining:

“When that song was written, it was a time of turmoil. It was the first sort of international chaos since World War II. And confusion is not the ally of peace and love. You want to think the world is perfect. Everybody gets sucked into that.”

One known reference point is the writing of French poet Charles Baudelaire. Another major and more obvious influence is Russian author Mikhail Bulgakov’s novel The Master And The Margarita. Jagger’s girlfriend at the time, Marianne Faithfull, gifted it to him.

Bulgakov’s book is hailed for its ability to seamlessly blend fantasy with social satire. For example, he compares the life of Jesus Christ to that of an artist in Soviet Russia cast against a backdrop of arbitrary arrests and mental hospitals.Sympathy For The Devil

This concept of reverse values and the confusion of reality is prevalent within the lyrics of Sympathy For The Devil. The cops are all criminals and all the “sinners saints”. He even references the pain of Jesus Christ and his “moment of doubt.”

Another influence in the composition of the lyrics is Bob Dylan. By referencing major moments in history such as the execution of the Romanov family in 1917, the October Revolution, WWII and, the assassination fo the Kennedy Brothers, Jagger assumes a Dylanesque poetic verse heightened by the elucidation of archetypal figures as a focal anchor.

In reality, the essence of Sympathy For The Devil is no different from that of Gimme Shelter. The philosophy of peace and love remains as true as ever as the political instability as war efforts of 1960s America bled into the ’70s.

Capturing the devil

It’s logical to assume that the Jagger/Richards songwriting partnership is divided so that Mick pens the lyrics and Keith would track the music, however, this was rarely the case.

In this instance, Mick Jagger wrote both the lyrics and the music to Sympathy For The Devil. Keith Richards’s major influence was assisting Jagger in determining the rhythm.

“I was just trying to figure out if it was a Samba or a goddam folk song,” Richards recalled in 2002. “Sympathy’ is quite an uplifting song. It’s just a matter of looking the Devil in the face. He’s there all the time. I’ve had very close contact with Lucifer – I’ve met him several times. Evil – people tend to bury it and hope it sorts itself out and doesn’t rear its ugly head.”

Another crucial addition to the song came from Keith Richard’s girlfriend Anita Pallenberg – previously Brian Jones’s girlfriend – who stopped by the studio.

“Anita was the epitome of what was happening at the time. She was very Chelsea. She’d arrive with the elite film crowd,” says Stones producer Jimmy Miller.

After 32 takes of the folk rendition, they gave it a spin with a Samba beat and Anita Pallenberg began singing “Whoo-whoo” in the booth. The Stones immediately took a shine to it and eventually recorded the part as a gang vocal with Palenberg, Keith Richards, Brian Jones, Bill Wyman, Marianne Faithfull, and Jimmy Miller.

The creation of Sympathy For The Devil is remarkably captured in Jean-Luc Godard’s film of the same name. The movie exquisitely documents the evolution of the song as it slowly incorporates elements of Brazilian dance. Jagger and Richards are seen running the show with flair and passion while Brian Jones sits alone in an acoustic booth for much of the session.

Aftermath

When Beggars Banquet hit the shelves on December 6, 1968, the world was astir. With the assassination of Bobby Kennedy exactly six months earlier Jagger’s lyrics took on a whole new meaning. Critics and fans alike began calling the band ‘devil worshippers’ or ‘messengers for lucifer’. Of course, this was great for publicity and went on to calcify the song as one of the Stones’ immortal tracks.

On the devil, however, perhaps Keith Richards should have the last word:

“When that song was written, it was a time of turmoil. It was the first sort of international chaos since World War II. And confusion is not the ally of peace and love. You want to think the world is perfect. Everybody gets sucked into that. And as America has found out to its dismay, you can’t hide. You might as well accept the fact that evil is there and deal with it any way you can. Sympathy for the Devil is a song that says, Don’t forget him. If you confront him, then he’s out of a job.”

Wanna be a better guitarist? Click this link to learn the secret!

https://beginnerguitarhq.com/guitar-exercises/

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

%d bloggers like this: