70’s Radio Rock, Part 2

Before we get back to the music, a public service announcement:

In the course of discussing our weekend plans, a co-worker mentioned trying to find a Britney Spears costume for a ‘Hollywood trainwrecks’ theme party. I jokingly asked if she was going for the full-bore VMA ‘Night Under the Trailer’ effect, and she informed me that there was no way. “Britney may have had a belly…but at least she didn’t have stretch marks!

So there you have it, folks: It really could have been worse.

Keeping that in mind might also be helpful as we peruse the next set of 70’s mellow musical marvels. Trust me…even the fleeting thought of Three Dog Night performing in satin pants that was required to construct this joke will eventually cost us both many therapy bills. (On the plus side, I’m saving the bling-ed out belt buckle for my next flamewar.)

He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother, The Hollies: OK, common problems you may run across while going in-depth on your favourite old songs: 1. You find out that the band name does not, in fact, pay homage to Buddy. Apparently it was Xmas and they were just riffing off the greenery, which is frankly forcing you to reconsider your ‘oh, they’re not total pretentious dipwads’ stance, considering that even the Dave Clark Five managed to throw in actual math; and
2. Upon trying to recoup self-respect by a closer listen, realise you’ve been so very caught up in a stunning vocal that you never quite twigged that lyric-wise, you’re de facto entrusting the Pointy-Leaved Tea-Towel Decorations here with the conscience of the whole freakin’ human race. Kanye West, eat your heart out. I was seriously considering ceremonially shunning the iPod for awhile…but damn, is that one amazing vocal.

Heart of Gold, Neil Young: As it turns out, one of the Random Suburban Hedge Fillers – Graham Nash, to be exact – eventually migrated over to Neil’s neck of the woods. Must’ve been quite the interesting philosophical debates held on that tour bus. (David Crosby: “What you dudes pointin’ at, man?”)
I like to imagine them as the genesis of this wonderfully satisfying take on the eternal dilemma first defined by Linus Van Pelt: “I love humanity! It’s people I can’t stand!” That’s a nice summary of my music tastes, come to think of it: the ability to admit that just possibly, the search for Truth and Meaning and Love might finally have an unsatisfying answer…or at least, one that isn’t you.

*Memorable lyrics: I been in my mind/It’s such a fine line/That keeps me searching for a heart of gold…and I’m gettin’ old.

Horse With No Name, America: Ah, America. Living proof that most 70’s-era bands were in it mainly for the free booze and girls. Although in this particular case I can see there being a sort of awkward pause between, during which the girls, upon being asked whether the band’s newest lyrics weren’t “like, totally spiritual, man?”, realise that in order to keep the evening going they will have to drink themselves to the brink of alcohol poisoning.
Still, though…there’s a freedom in listening to even the World’s Dumbest 70’s Song Ever (Dave Barry, pace Rich Jeni: “You’re in a DESERT. You got nothing else to DO. NAME THE FREAKIN’ HORSE!”) that’s wholly missing from, say, Justin’s latest opus. They were just so totally sincere, man.

Hotel California, The Eagles: Just for the record, I like the one about how the whole thing is an elaborate metaphor for an [ahem] certain top-secret drug rehab centre out in the desert somewhere. Seriously…while it’s also of course a kick-ass classic rock tune – or at least it was the first 894,347 times I heard it – at this point only warm teenage nostalgia for the time I had to (true story) convince Shoemom the mp3 wasn’t going to possess our computer, those were just hard drive noises, is still keeping it in the personal rotation.

*Memorable lyrics: The whole damn thing, by now. Just personally, my favourite has always been the verse about Her mind is Tiffany twisted/she’s got the Mercedes bends/She’s got a lot of pretty, pretty boys/she calls friends…Strangely prophetic, don’t you think?

I’d Really Love to See You Tonight, England Dan & John Ford Coley – OK, OK, yes, go ahead, get it out of your system.

[pause]

[taps foot impatiently]

Look, I’m on the clock here, and –

Thank you. No, I had no idea who actually sang this either – even after I found out, I felt compelled to surf to a couple more sites and then blink really really hard just to confirm. On the other hand, at least they had the decency not to name themselves the Pipe-Cleaner Reindeer Ornaments, or anything. And their one and only hit was a sweet, succinct tune about loving the girl (I always envision Mary Tyler Moore) too much to hurt her. I think that’s just swell.

*Memorable lyrics: I won’t ask for promises/So you don’t have to lie…

I’m Not in Love, 10cc – One of my very very favourite 70’s musical excesses – besides Rod Stewart in tight pants – has always been this breaking out of the cool new instruments just kind of…because. I mean, I get psychedelia, and I get rock opera; but for the life of me I can’t figure out why a generic male commitmentphobe needs an all-out ethereal crystals-vibrating, heavens-are-opening, stars-are-crying wall of synthesized sound as a backdrop for his angst. Unless perchance that man is in a Marvel comic and is trying to convince his True Destiny the alien princess to let him head back out to Save the Cosmos. Or something.

*Memorable lyrics: Be quiet…big boys don’t cry…big boys don’t cry… Whispered by a Brit-accented female over a random break in the vibrating heavens. Like the Human League are sending a desperate message from the future…or possibly just those aliens again.

It’s Too Late, Carole King: I have always loved this gentle song for its down-to-earth rightness, so was totally excited to finally be lent a copy of the legendary Tapestry CD the other week. At last, I would experience a true milestone in my sex’s history…well, yeah.
As it turned out, it went off about as well as most historical milestones do: after you’ve run through awe, then duty, then guilt, you kinda start wondering what they did for…y’know, fun back then. Splendid that Woman was emerging so free and confident, of course, but how about figuring out something exciting to do with…oh, right. Dynasty. [sigh] Pass the granola.

Joy to the World, Three Dog Night: I have heard that this song was thrown together out of utter nonsense after legendary scribe Hoyt Axton was handed the music and told to churn out another hit overnight. Seriously, Axton just went home, presumably had a lengthy chat with Mr. Hallucinogenic Substance, and hey presto, Jeremiah the boozy bullfrog’s at the top of the charts.
This discovery may well have been the single best moment in this author’s whole entire life, competing only with that time on Canadian Idol when judge Jake Gold informed a contestant that “you really gave [this song] the emotion it needed.”

Lyin’ Eyes, The Eagles: ‘Fraid this one hasn’t held up as well as I expected. The Eagles experience has I think been rather spoilt by the fact that the current generation has seen one too many TV-movies, and when handed imagery of a ‘boy…with fiery eyes and dreams/no one could steal’ now thinks reflexively of Kevin McCarthy being cuckolded by the pool boy.
Anyway, if it’s no longer art then it’s still good trashy fun, with the added bonus – not found in the entire collected works of Harold Robbins – of self-respect the morning after the karaoke bar. Until you realise you also paid for a round of Peaceful Easy Feeling, at which point, no offense, man, but you’re on your own.

Morning Has Broken, Cat Stevens: From the ridiculous to the sublime. What I [heart] most about Stevens – besides that amazing sugar-over-broken-glass voice – is that he is something more than sincere; he is respectful, thoughtful. There is not a trace of false sentiment here, in either old-fashioned hymn nor modern performance. The result is true – earned – enchantment.

*Memorable lyrics: Mine is the sunlight/mine is the morning/Born of the one light/Eden saw play…

Next time: Billy Joel breaks out, The Eagles break another heart, and Paul Simon breaks the law…

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. anonymous
    Oct 15, 2007 @ 08:44:35

    Just the mere mention of some of these song titles are bringing about reactions/memories that are amusing as hell and sort of embarrassing…
    “Horse with No Name”…. That song was playing constantly on someone’s portable radio during the Miles for Millions walk way back when. Can you imagine someone carting around a portable radio during a 21 mile walk??
    “I’d Really Love to see You Tonight”… cringe!!! Heart gripping daydreams about cute boy who LOOKED at me that day (arghh!!!)
    “Morning Has Broken”… First full song I could play on the guitar. I can still smell the wood (of the guitar) and am currently dying a million deaths at the wailing singing I accompanied it with.
    Thanks for this. (I think)
    M

  2. shoebox2
    Oct 15, 2007 @ 18:37:09

    [giggle] It’s OK, really – someday someone will do a ‘Songs of the 80’s retrospective and you can come watch me turn magenta. At least your memories don’t involve MC Hammer in any way shape or form…

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