Monday, September 05, 2016

My Ten Least Favorite Songs From the Seventies


I could have called this post, "The Ten Worst Songs of the Seventies" but I can hear the comments starting already..."Hey Pam, how could you have missed (insert song title here)?"..."I don't agree that (insert song title) should be on this list."..."What the hell makes you such an authoritative expert?" Etc. etc. etc.

OK, I truly don't believe that any of you lovely readers would give me a hard time. The point is, these lists are subjective -- you all know that. Hence, these are just my least favorite songs from the era. You'll probably notice that some typical easy targets such as "Kung Foo Fighting", "The Streak", and "The Night Chicago Died" are notably absent from this list. That's because I actually like those songs well enough to not change the radio dial when they come on Sirius (yes, I wholeheartedly admit that I think "The Night Chicago Died" is a catchy tune.) The ones below are a whole different ballgame. And trust me -- I still think I've compiled a ghastly list, considering these are mostly pap that involve clowns, babies, ducks, and muskrats. Can't say I didn't warn you. Here they are, in no particular order, except for the last song, as it's my least favorite among these least favorites...

1. "Muskrat Love" by Captain & Tennille, 1976



Even though it was recently revealed in Toni Tennille's autobiography that her marriage of over 40 years to Daryl Dragon was a sham and nothing more than a business arrangement, the duo's hits like "Love Will Keep Us Together", "Do That To Me One More Time", and "The Way I Want To Touch You" are among my favorites of the era. However -- no matter how hard I try -- I simply can't stomach a song about muskrats breeding, even though "Muskrat Love" reached number four on the music charts in 1976.

Even more baffling, "Muskrat Love" was a cover version of the song for Captain & Tennille. It was written by Willis Alan Ramsey in 1973 for the band America. Their label Warner Bros. "hated" the song and begged them not to release it as a single. (I tried listening to America's version. Those Warner Bros. guys were right.)

Toni Tennille liked the song, however, and needed one more track for their Song of Joy album so for better or worse, "Muskrat Love" filled the gap.

The couple performed it at a White House dinner in 1976, which was attended by Queen Elizabeth II. The following day the media reported that a guest at the dinner was offended that someone should sing about mating muskrats in front of the queen, citing it as "very poor taste." Tennille defended the choice, saying the song was Disneyesque and innocent, and that "only a person with a dirty mind would see something wrong."

I guess I have a dirty mind, then.

I just have one question for Mr. Ramsey: of all of the animals to choose for a song subject, why muskrats? They're water-based beaver-like creatures and not sexy at all. I'm also pretty sure they don't "chew on cheese" -- this guy was getting his rodents mixed up! People were sure smoking a lot of stuff back then.

2. "All By Myself" by Eric Carmen, 1975



I have one word for Eric Carmen: STFU! I hate this song because it has been used so many times in movies and TV shows to accompany a character that is single and depressed about it. It truly gives single people an unfair stigma and sends the message that if you're not partnered, you must be terribly lonely and suicidal. You know what's worse than being single? Being stuck in an unhappy marriage/relationship (see the entry on Captain & Tennille above.) I seriously want to kick Carmen in the ass for this song and tell him to stop being such a crybaby. As if this track weren't bad enough, he also blessed us with "Never Gonna Fall In Love Again" (but then followed up with a "redemption" tune, "She Did It.")

But...the guy later gave us "Hungry Eyes" from the Dirty Dancing soundtrack, so I guess I shouldn't be so hard on him.

Fun fact: the song ripped off classical musician Rachmaninoff and because his compositions were not public domain yet (unlike Frederick Chopin, whom Barry Manilow borrowed from for his hit "Could It Be Magic") a huge portion of royalties from "All By Myself" had to be paid to the Rachmaninoff estate.

3. "Send In the Clowns" by Judy Collins, 1975



I have a minor personal reason for disliking Judy Collins. Years ago, when I worked at a hotel, she went down in history as one of the rudest famous people that ever stayed at our property. She was very blunt and curt on the phone with me and I heard from the front desk employees that she was a bitch. (You may be interested to know, however, that Bob Newhart was a wonderful guest and Louis Gossett Jr. was the NICEST celebrity I ever met in the hotel during those years.)

I know that "Send In the Clowns" is a famous Broadway tune from A Little Night Music and there's all kinds of metaphorical explanations about exactly who the "clowns" are, but that doesn't make me dislike the song any less. I hate it, don't get it, and don't wish to understand it.

Besides, clowns are creepy.

4. "Run Joey Run" by David Geddes, 1975



Horrible. Makes "Billy Don't Be A Hero" sound like a Beatles masterpiece.

The overly melodramatic "Run Joey Run" represents the worst of the "teen tragedy" and "splatter platter" records that gained popularity in the 1950s and petered out by the 1980s.

Call me dense, but when I first heard this song I couldn't figure out why Julie's dad wanted to kill Joey. Then I got it -- he got her knocked up, and daddy is pissed ("Daddy, please don't. It wasn't his fault. He means so much to me. Daddy, please don't. We're gonna get married -- just you wait and see.")

Nice going, dad -- you killed your daughter and your unborn grandchild. Could you imagine playing this at a party?

By the way, David Geddes dropped out of law school one semester short of graduating to re-enter the music business (he had left the music industry when he failed to make a name for himself, but the success of "Run Joey Run" made him switch his career back.) Huh. Do you think he made the right decision?

5. "Chick-A-Boom (Don't Ya Jes' Love It)" by Daddy Dewdrop, 1971



Just an annoying song that grates on my nerves. Daddy Dewdrop speaks most of the lyrics, and it's clear the chick in the black bikini wants nothing to do with him, or she wouldn't be running away throughout the whole song. The plot sounds like a Benny Hill sketch set to music, but completely devoid of any humor. Give it up, Dewdrop.

6. "Don't Cry Out Loud" by Melissa Manchester, 1978



I wonder why there were so many schlock songs with depressing themes climbing the charts during the '70s? What does this say about society at the time? "Don't Cry Out Loud" was written by Peter Allen, and the cryptic lyrics refer to Allen himself and his family ("baby" in the lyrics was his younger sister, and Allen's father killed himself which prompted his mother to instruct him "always put your best face on.")

But before Wikipedia, how many people knew that? I'm also not a fan of keeping emotions bottled up -- crying can be therapeutic.

And uh, oh -- the song references a clown and this performance is from The Muppet Show. Here we go again. Who came up with the bright idea to feature this downer of a track on a children's program?

7. "Convoy" by C.W. McCall, 1976



For some reason CB radios and trucker culture was all the rage in the '70s. I even remember toy CB radios for sale in the Sears Wish Book catalog. The question is, why? Why did we need a song about a convoy of truckers rattling off their slang and nicknames back and forth to one another? It was the mid-70s. Don't ask why.

But C.W. McCall (born Bill Fries) wrote a song where most of it consisted of him speaking trucker jargon into a CB radio, and it went to number one on both the country and pop charts in 1976. It even inspired the Sam Peckinpath film called...what else? Convoy. If the song sounds like a painfully too long commercial jingle, that's because Fries was an advertising executive that decided to launch a country music career. I have no explanation for it all, so best to just move on to the next track on my list.

8. "Feelings" by Morris Albert, 1974



I wonder why there were so many schlock songs with depressing themes during the '70s? Wait, didn't I just say that? I honestly cannot tell you why I dislike this song so much, other then it's a downer and makes me want to fall asleep. And just like Eric Carmen, Morris Albert was accused of ripping off another song by writing and recording this over-covered, much lampooned ballad. Louis Gaste wrote a French song called "Pour Toi" in 1957. In 1981, he successfully sued Albert for copyright infringement and they now share credit on the song.

Oddly enough, whenever I hear the excellent 1950s Santo & Johnny guitar instrumental "Sleep Walker" the melody reminds me of "Feelings", but in a much hipper, sped-up tempo. I'm a little surprised those guys didn't push for a plagiarism review.

9. "Disco Duck" by Rick Dees and His Cast of Idiots, 1976



More like Disco F***ED.

I found Rick Dees quite annoying when he hosted the Top 40 Countdown in the '80s, and I disliked him even more once I learned of this song. (By the way, his real name is Rigdon Osmond Dees III. RIGDON. WTF? I hate him even more now.)

What self respecting man writes such a God-awful, annoying song that rips off Donald Duck's voice and is about a man dancing like a duck at a disco party? Furthermore, what kind of a man has zero shame performing it on stage, flanked by a duck puppet that looks like it's having an orgasm and someone in an ugly duck costume? If you couldn't appreciate "The Streak", then "Disco Duck" may just help.

And now we're ready for my absolute least favorite song of the 1970s. Drumroll, please...

10. "(You're) Having My Baby" by Paul Anka, 1974



I've never been an Anka fan, and I've been even less enamored of him ever since I saw his megalomaniacal meltdown that was exposed on video a few years ago, when he screamed at an employee backstage because one of the band members was wearing a t-shirt.

As if it weren't already too easy to hate on Anka, he also gave us the most ridiculous soft rock song ever recorded in the history of music: "You're Having My Baby." Let's forget the controversy this song stirred up at the time; it was accused of being chauvinistic, anti-feminist, and anti-abortion. Putting all of that aside, it's just a really, really, REALLY crappy song. Just those opening lyrics alone...You're havin' my baby / What a lovely way of sayin' how much you love me...

Hearing this song, I can only think of one thing: the chick "forgot" to take her pill and got knocked up on purpose to trick the narrator into marrying her. And there's nothing loving or romantic about that!

As if it all weren't bad enough, the TV show Glee resurrected the song during a 2009 episode.

Well, that's my list. What songs would be on yours?

20 comments:

  1. I could probably do without hearing "Cracklin' Rosie" again, and I say that as a guy who actually likes a lot of Neil Diamond's stuff.
    That song just gets on my nerves.
    Paul McCartney's "Silly Love Songs" too...ack.
    M.P.

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    Replies
    1. I'm a Diamond fan too, but "Cracklin' Rosie" is definitely one of his most overplayed hits and it isn't even about a girl named Rosie, but about a bottle of wine! From what I remember of the story behind the song, it's what Native Americans called a type of wine. Oh! You just reminded me...I should have included McCartney's "Temporary Secretary." I should amend this list and give it an honorable mention!

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  2. Excellent choices Pam. I remember when "All By Myself" came out. Those of us who were Raspberries fans were not happy about this record. Way over the top with classical pretensions. Eric really seemed to loose it when he went solo. I was glad to see you included "Send In The Clowns", never could stand that one. Paul Anka has too many bad records to count, he could have his own Top Ten bad list! Plus, his bull headed belief that he is the logical successor to Frank Sinatra since Ol' Blue Eyes died turns my stomach. I might add "Lovin' You" by Minnie Ripperton. Whenever she hit that high note, it used to drive my cat at the time crazy; his ears would go back and he'd get the most irritated look on his face.

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    1. LOL, Jeff -- an animal will never lie! They know what crappy music is.

      I looked up Minnie Ripperton...I remember this song now and yeah, she was like a pre-cursor to Mariah Carey with those over the top, glass-shattering high notes. Ugh.

      The other thing that drives me crazy about Carmen's song is that the first line is, "When I was young..." WTF...he was what, 22 when he wrote the song???

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  3. Wow... those are some pretty bad songs. I think I'll have to go with Muskrat Love. Actually all of Toni and the Captain.

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  4. Darn it! McCartney's "Temporary Secretary" was released in September of 1980...disqualified. :(

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    1. Technically, the seventies were from Jan. 1, 1971 to Dec. 31, 1980, so you could include it.

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  5. The Pina Colada song, definitely as bad a song as has ever been made.

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    1. "Escape" by Rupert Holmes. That one never bothered me for some reason.

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  6. Lists are subjective, but you have definitely hit some of the top contenders. While there were some great songs from the '70's, I generally remember being repulsed by top 40 back then. AOR was in vogue on FM channels (hence the movie and the song FM) and those are the stations I generally tuned in.

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  7. I'm with you on the whole list, Pam especially the weird Muskrat Love which I own on CD by America, not the Captain and Tenille. And even though I consider myself a 70's music lover and connoisseur I had never heard the Chick a Boom song. The rest, sadly, I've heard enough of that I don't want to hear again.

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    Replies
    1. Same here, Luis...there was an awful lot of bad music recorded in the '70s (but an equal amount of good stuff, too.)

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  8. As I scrolled thru your list (btw, loved the personal asides with Judy Collins, Bob Newhart etc) all I kept thinking was "please Pam, don't forget the horror of Disco Duck"--for once I'm glad to see it on a list :)

    I have to be honest & admit I enjoyed several of these other songs though (except for 'Feelings', omigod the WORST) but only because I grew up in the '70s & they take me back. But if I had the power to do so, I think I'd rake Paul Anka's 'Having my Baby' (c'mon, Paul Anka!) off your list & replace it with Barry Manilow's "I write the songs". 35 years later & I still pray I never have to sit thru it again!

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    1. Ha ha, Doug -- does that mean you're a secret fan of "Convoy"? I'll cut you some slack because everyone has their own personal list. OK, I'll admit Paul Anka's earlier hits like "Diana" and "Put Your Head On My Shoulder" are tolerable, even pleasant. But I don't like the way he treated his staff backstage. I worked for someone with an overblown ego and inflated opinion of himself; it's no fun. And I still think his baby song is the worst...LOL.

      Disco Duck is so downright embarrassing.

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  9. Regarding Rick Dees...horror writer Stephen King disliked the guy so much he named an unsympathetic character, a sleazeball tabloid journalist, after him, in the short story "The Night Flier."
    I won't reveal whether the vampire gets him in the end or not!
    M.P.

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  10. Fat Bottomed Girls
    by Queen
    or anyone else who
    wants to sing it
    my John said
    Turn The Page
    by Bob Seger

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    Replies
    1. p.s.
      Refugee
      by Tom Petty
      recorded 1979
      released Jan 80
      may not qualify
      still sucks anyroad

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  11. Tennille (in my opinion) had one of the most beautiful voices of that era. It's too bad that most people don't listen to her anymore.

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  12. Normally I appreciate your posts bringing back great retro memories. But "Muskrat Love??" Sheesh, that is more like a retro nightmare!!

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