Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Music Box: '70s Explosion!

My iPod "died" yesterday after I went to the gym, permanently frozen on the song "Suspicion of Love" by Chris Isaak (a much-neglected gem off the "Married to the Mob" soundtrack). Nothing would revive it (the light was even on at the moment it got stuck and wasn't going off), so I went to work thinking it was likely dead or, at the very least, in need of a visit to the Genius Bar. By the time I got home some eight hours later, suddenly it was singing a different tune: VERY LOW BATTERY it announced across the screen. I think that light being on might have caused it to go dead and thus freed it up. (Whatever the case, it's back to normal now.) As I was playing with it I happened to notice the Play Count column way off the screen in iTunes. It made me laugh because I portray myself as the ultimate '80s New Wave geek (an assertion I continue to stand by), yet the three most played songs were actually all from the 1970s and, some might say, of questionable taste. First up was Andy Kim's "Rock Me Gently." This pop classic reminds me so much of my mom, who also loved it and was pregnant with my little sister at the time it was riding high on the charts back in '74. Mom had the album -- featuring a sultry photo of Kim with ample chest hair popping out of his shirt -- and I used to play it over and over again on her stereo, rarely getting past the opening title cut. (Kim actually co-wrote another classic chart-topper, "Sugar Sugar" by the Archies, which was the biggest song of 1969.) Years later, Michael and I were in the Denny's on the Vegas Strip in the wee hours of the morning getting a post-gambling Grand Slam breakfast when this vaguely familiar song came on over the restaurant's speakers. I was kind of out of it, but I still distinctly remember the moment when I realized we were both singing every single word and breath of -- you guessed it -- "Rock Me Gently," and how happy I was at that moment that Michael was all mine.

The next most played is arguably more embarrassing. My boss calls R. Dean Taylor's 1970 smash, "Indiana Wants Me," the "worst song of all time," but I couldn't disagree more. I always the police sirens and bullhorn warning -- and the implied tragic ending was so romantic. I certainly wasn't old enough to have remembered it when it was ruling the airwaves in 1970. But it must have been so huge that radio stations continued to play it nonstop well into the early '80s, because I still have very strong memories of it always being on -- and loving it. (I later learned Taylor was quite a talent over at Motown records back in the day, having co-written the Supremes classic "Love Child," as well as hits for the Temptations and the Four Tops.)

The final most played is the one and only hit by the beloved Vicki Lawrence, whom I grew up adoring on "The Carol Burnett Show."I even went to a taping of "Mama's Family" in 1987, although it had more to do with the fact that my friend's brother thought we'd like it better than the other show they had tickets for ("My Sister Sam"), not because I was a fan. (Everyone knows Mama was only good with Eunice, and "My Sister Sam" -- with HUNKY David Naughton and that really cool apartment in San Francisco with the clear-door refrigerator -- would have been WAY better!.) It doesn't matter how many times I play "The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia," I get goosebumps as the story unfolds. (What's more, even with the lyrics right in front of me I've still never been able to sing along with it. It's so fast and complicated!)

So now it's your turn to tell me about your guilty pleasures or, at the very least, your most played ...

  • Read all Music Box posts HERE.

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    Kevin J Fuller said...

    OK, I'm glad you weren't too embarrassed to admit these song choices to the world... all but "Indiana" are some of my faves too. But "Indiana" hardly qualifies as worst song in the era of "Muskrat Love", "Kung Fu Fighting", "Disco Duck" or Minnie Riperton's screeching on "Loving You".
    My addition: "Angie Baby" (is it curable?)
    Rock on sister!
    Kevin J

    RicknSF said...

    Good Lord, when I play the game "Most embarrassing album you've ever owned" I always fess up the Vicki Lawrence album. My personal fave was Little Green Apples.

    HMM2 said...

    "Timothy" by the Buoys

    Frank Anthony Polito said...

    Yet ANOTHER thing we have in common! "Rock Me Gently" totally reminds me of MY mom--only she had the 45 RPM, which I played over and over on my plastic FisherPrice record player. I think I actually snagged it when I moved to NYC and still have it...somewhere.

    taffy said...

    Read your latest music box blog entry, and i have to confess - i too have a lot of 70s AM radio hits/one-hit wonders on my ipod as well. Love Vicki, and I have the Andy Kim too, but i gotta say - i never even heard that Indiana song. Maybe it got less airplay in NY than in your hometown? Cuz I grew up in the NY burbs with my white ball panasonic radio next to my bed, always tuned to WABC, listening to top 40.

    In the top 25 most played on my ipod are a bunch of songs of this ilk...Exile's Kiss You All Over, The Brotherhood of Man's Save Your Kisses For Me, Jigsaw's Magic, and finally, the amazing Dancing in the Moonlight by King Harvest. You prolly know 'em all. top three played songs are (since you asked)...
    3) - Shirley Bassey's astounding Bondian take on Pink's Get The Party Started
    2) - Kelly Osborne's One Word (the Chris Cox remix), which sounds like an Ultravox/Visage space age robopop song straight outta 1981
    1) - Blondie's Good Boys (the Giorgio Moroder Single Mix) - the version with the synthline lifted right from Donna Summer's I Feel Love - this song got rammed down my friend's throats every wknd back in 2003, and it continues to appear (as do the other two in my top three) on party playlists, hence their ever-increasing play numbers.

    Of course these aren't my favorite songs by any means, and it's kind of bizarro that a no-talent reality show offspring has one of my most played songs, but that is the way the ipod rolls.

    Anonymous said...

    I remember listening to The Night the Lights Went Out…on a.m. radio coming home from rollerskating. But, oh, lord, Vicki can't sing anymore! Reminds me of when Dinah Shore used to sing on her daytime talk show when I was a kid.

    And while Reba can sing it there, that was when she was in the middle of her "Michael McDonald" phase, singing covers all the time. Reba's next big hit, "The Star Spangled Banner"!

    Anonymous said...

    Yikes! I meant Michael Bolton, not Michael McDonald.