I actually had a baseball related topic in my head for this week's tome, but I guess a week in the redwoods singing and playing guitar--from Celtic to Motown to blue grass to some seriously cranked out progressive jamming--still has me in a music mood.
Well, that and the fact that as I soaked in a hot shower this morning, Norman Greenbaum's "Spirit in the Sky" came on the radio (yes, we still have a radio in the bathroom). Now, I have to confess I never even close to liked this song, not so much because it proselytizes, but because the words and rhymes are really dumb. I mean, rhyming "die" with "sky" and "rest" with "best"? Pathetic (don't these guys ever listen to a Lennon and McCartney rhyme, or Richard Thompson or Ray Davies couplet?).
Still, my overall ambivalence to the song pales compared to some of the songs that really bother me, and just so this critique does not seem so random, a month back a group of us were discussing just that: What is the worst song ever?
So, I will list my Top Five, although I also claim the privilege of ranting for a minute on a couple of other music irritations. Like how I wish they would not play so much Journey at ATT, for though the band had chops, they never put together a tune half as good as, dare I say it, "Spirit in the Sky." I swear every time "Don't Stop Believin'" is played, my mate David Feldman and I start in with what they mean by South Detroit is Toronto.
I am trying to like The Killers, but I just can't. I wish I could. But, their stuff just gets on my nerves. I have "Hot Fuss," and had hopes, but they come off a lot more like Maroon5. And, it is not like I don't love pop rock. When I play with my band Strictly Olga, that is what we do, in fact that is what I write.
But, just so you don't think I am turning into a total curmudgeon, I do love Arcade Fire and White Stripes and Black Keys, and Kings of Leon among current bands. Not to mention The Shins.
But ok, I digress. And, before I note the songs I think are the worst ever, I would like to encourage you to tell me yours, for if you are reading this, I am guessing you are a baseball fan, and if you are a baseball fan, that means you are a fan of lists. And, well, if you are a fan of lists....Need I say more (the songs are linked to their respective Wikipedia page)?
Lawr's Top Five Most Hated Songs
5. Incense and Peppermints Strawberry Alarm Clock (1967): I always felt this quasi-psychedelic tune from flower power days was vastly overrated. These were the days of the Airplane and Moby Grape and the Mamas and the Papas. The Beatles were toying with TNK ("Tomorrow Never Knows") and the Stones were playing with Their Satanic Majesty's Request. The Doors were hot, and though the Alarm Clark tune was sort of catchy, I have no clue what the words mean. Not that this is necessary in any song (who knows all the words to "Wooly Bully?") but the truth is this song always gave me a headache. Pure and simple.
4. You Light up my Life Debbi Boone (1977): I was nowhere close to AM radio--mercifully--when this song came out. In fact I listened to KSAN, one of the first album oriented rock (AOR) stations in the country, where playing a set featuring Joni Mitchell, Gene Amons, and the Tubes (at the time) was not unusual. Still, the song just gives me the creeps. In fact, every time I see that awful "life lift" commercial with Ms. Boone, where they play the song and she sort of pretends to ad lib the lyric, the best thing that happens in I hit the mute button. I don't mind corny. But, I hate stupid. Boone won the best new artist Grammy for that song, which is one more than the Beatles ever won and which validates how meaningless the awards are.
3. Seasons in the Sun Terry Jacks (1974): Hard to believe this song could be so creepy. It is, after all based upon a Jacques Brel tune, and the English words were by Rod McKuen. Brel was great, and though McKuen kind of hippy dippy trippy, there are a lot of poets who are worse. As for the song, double ugh. Maudlin. Maybe it is the sugary (I think Jacks was also the lead voice of the Archies) vocals, for I can hear Brel delivering this in a spoken form and it not bothering me nearly so much. And, there are death songs, like Tell Laura I Lover Her, Teen Angel, and even Dicky Lee's Patches that I don't mind at all despite the similar theme. Like I said: double ugh.
2. In the Year 2525 Zager and Evans (1969): I was 16 years old when this song came out, and right away I knew a bad song when I heard one. Ripped from really fine and prophetic ideas, like Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World," and George Orwell's "1984" this song was like a bad Star Trek episode. Maybe the one with the space hippies and the guy named Adam who were looking for Eden, and of whom Spock noted, "we reach." Pandering is the best word I can think of. But, at the time my family subscribed to "Time" magazine, and I remember there was a review of the Zager and Evans album in it. Somehow I also remember that it was suggested that the other songs on the album were "equally prophetic" to "2525." Really? How prophetic. Cos I think they mean bad. The difference is I knew it then.
1. An Open Letter at a Teenage Son Victor Lundberg (1967): It was obnoxious and--as with what seems a common thread here--pandering. In the worst way. Seizing upon the fear of hippiedom and the changes that flower power proposed, this song is written from the perspective of "I don't understand you and I don't want to, but I will try to accept you except if you prove to be un-American and then I will never let you in my house again." So much for free will, thinking and open dialogue. This song actually hit #10 on Billboard, and was nominated for a Grammy. Once again showing that in the year "Light My Fire," "Hey Girl," "White Rabbit," "Omaha," "I'm So Glad," "A Day in the Life," and "2,000 Light Years From Home" were also released, the Grammy voters had no clue.
And, just in case, some time in the future, we will take a look at the best songs ever!