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Archive for March, 2012

Weird Songs of the 70s

Top 5

Every decade has it’s share of weird music. I’m not talking about novelty, parody or comedy songs like those from Weird Al Yankovic or something you might have heard on the Dr. Demento radio show. No, I’m just talking about music that’s odd, strange, off-beat, or peculiar. These are songs that feature unusual lyrics, funky sounds, or something really odd like a marimba solo for example. My last post featured music from the late 60s and early 70s so let’s continue with that theme and listen to some of the weird tracks from the 1970s.

The tracks that I’m including on my list all achieved at least some commercial success on the pop charts. I’m not going to include music nobody’s ever even heard before.

5. “Coconut” – Harry Nilsson – 1971iTunes
This song was featured on the 1971 album titled, Nilsson Schmilsson. Nilsson is the only singer on this track but he plays the role of three different individuals, the narrator, the sister, and the doctor. As best as I can tell the sister put lime juice in coconut milk and “drank em both up.” This gives her a stomach ache, so she calls her doctor, wakes him up, explains what shes done and asks if there is something she can take for relief. The doctor thinks she’s a bit crazy and needs to confirm she’s really drank this concoction. Once that’s cleared up, the doctor tells her the remedy is to put more lime juice in more coconut milk and call back in the morning. Humm, weird!

4. “Lookin’ Out My Back Door” – Creedence Clearwater Revival – 1970iTunes
Here’s a song that sounds like it should really be about drugs. “There’s a giant doing cartwheels, a statue wearing high heels, look at all the happy creatures dancing on the lawn.” What was John Fogerty smoking when he wrote these lyrics? Not to mention, “Won’t you take a ride on the flying spoon?” The wikipedia states that it’s really a song for Forgety’s son about a parade and that it was inspired by a Dr. Seuss book. I don’t know if I believe that.

3. “Midnight at the Oasis” – Maria Muldaur – 1974iTunes
Okay, this is “love” song with some suggestive lyrics about getting freaky but, weird none the less. With lyrics like, “Send your camel to bed” and “Cactus is our friend” you have to admit that this is an odd choice for a song about having sex. I realize the lyrics suggest some middle eastern desert love affair but I still find it strange. What about the lyric that says, “And you won’t need no camel, no, no.” What’s that supposed to mean?

2. “Spill the Wine” – Eric Burdon & War – 1970iTunes
Here’s a song about a dream so I guess that’s why the lyrics are about some odd stuff. The lyrics for most of this song are more like spoken word rather than singing. It’s not until at least half way into the song that we really hear Burdon begin to sing. I’m not going to get into the lyrics on this one, you just have to listen for yourself. You figure out why you should, “Spill the wine and take that pearl.”

1. “Moonlight Feels Right” – Starbuck – 1976iTunes
A marimba solo, seriously? What other pop songs can you think of that feature the marimba, much less a solo? Like the rest of the songs on this list, this song was actually successful. It made it to number 3 on the charts. Like I mentioned at the beginning, this track was not intended to be a novelty. It seems like a summertime love connection. The lyrics, “I finally made a tricky French connection. You winked and gave me your okay.” seem to indicate that the singer was trying to hookup with a girl and he finally got the timing right and his girl agreed to have sex with him. Everything about this song is just a little odd and that’s why I’ve selected it for my number one on this list.

What do you think? Do you have your own list of weird 70s songs, share it with us in the comments.

Vietnam War Era Music

Vietnam Era Music

I’m not a history buff nor do I know a lot about politics or the military. I remember from the time I was in Jr. High and High School having an interest in Vietnam and things surrounding the Vietnam war. I don’t see every war movie but I have watched a number of films about the Vietnam war. I don’t know what it is about that part of history that sparks interest for me. I think it might have to do with the fact that it was more current. I think, when I was in Jr. High studying Vietnam felt more relevant because it had only happened a couple decades earlier. I think another really important factor that sparked my interest was the music of the era.

I remember watching a documentary at school, I think in the 9th grade, called Letters Home from Vietnam. In the film, real letters written by American soldiers to their families during the Vietnam war are read by popular actors. DeNiro, Fox, Penn, Dafoe and many others narrate the letters featured in the film. What I remember most about the film was the music. The soundtrack for the film features a number of popular tunes from the era or about the Vietnam war. “Gimme Shelter” by the Stones, “Born in the USA” by Springsteen, and “Fortunate Son” by CCR are just a few of the tracks featured in the film. One song however, struck a cord with me and a number of my male friends and classmates. That song was “Walk Like a Man” by Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons. I remember asking our teacher who sang that song and I remember walking the halls of my Jr. High school with a few of my friends singing, “OOoooooo WEeeee oooo oooo ooo ooo ooo”, “Walk like a man, talk like a man, walk like a man my son.” All of us trying to emulate Frankie Valli’s Falsetto voice. Thinking about it now it seems all too appropriate. We were young, puberty was setting in, and we were all boys looking to become men.

So I thought coming up with a Top 5 list of music about the Vietnam conflict would be easy. I’ve listened to plenty of music from that era and I know some good music about the war in Vietnam. Well, when I started digging in a bit to come up with my Top 5, I did some research on my track picks. It turns out most of the songs I thought were specifically about Vietnam are really about other things. So while a few of the tracks I picked are specifically about the war or are in protest of the war, others that sound like they should be were written about something else entirely. Interviews with the artists and bands revealed that they were just thinking about something personal going on in their lives and the masses mistook the lyrics to be about the war.

So this list is about Vietnam era music that sounds like it should be about the war but, may or may not actually be about that. Make sense? No… Okay, it’s a list of late 60’s and early 70’s music. 🙂

5. “Mother Freedom” – Bread – 1971 – iTunes
4. “Gimme Shelter” – The Rolling Stones – 1969 – iTunes
3. “Get Together” – The Youngbloods – 1967 – iTunes
2. “Fortunate Son” – Creedence Clearwater Revival – 1969 – iTunes
1. “For What It’s Worth” – Buffalo Springfield – 1967 – iTunes

As a bonus, here’s a a video of The Four Seasons performing “Walk Like a Man”

As always, if you have a favorite track from this era, share it in the comments.