Friday, March 26, 2021

Insight: Overplayed or overappreciated? 1970s pop music revisited

By Ed Pierce

Managing Editor

As I’ve mentioned previously, my car radio receives plenty of use as I drive to and from work and the “70s on 7” station on Sirius XM provides the backdrop for plenty of nostalgia for me as someone who survived that decade in American history.

And as a frequent listener to that channel, I’d be remiss not to mention there are plenty of overplayed songs on their playlist. Many of these songs were overplayed when they were first released, and others irritated me from the moment I first heard them more than 40 years ago on AM radio.

Without further fanfare, here’s my list of the most overplayed (and highly irritating) songs of the 1970s and some brief explanation of what I dislike the most about them:

** “Alone Again (Naturally)” by Gilbert O’Sullivan. A depressing saga from 1972 about a man whose girlfriend stood him up at their wedding. And then his mother died, leaving him all alone in the world. Vapid and pure and simple schlock in my opinion.

** “Sometimes When We Touch” by Dan Hill. In a time when disco music ruled the charts in 1978, comes this caterwauling assault on your eardrums in a bogus ballad about a ridiculously sensitive commitment-phobic man. It attempts to tug at your emotional heartstrings but instead leaves one wondering how anyone could be so wrapped up in themselves.

** “Feelings” by Morris Albert. Since 1974 I have wanted to reach out and tell Brazilian crooner Morris Albert what I truly think of this hideous ode to elevator music, but being a Christian, I can’t bring myself to do it. Anyone who professes to love soft rock should be ashamed to say they like this song.   

** “It Never Rains in Southern California” by Albert Hammond. A cornerstone to the “Easy Listening” genre, this 1972 tune about a broke, starving, and unemployed actor contemplating returning home always make me want to vomit, from the first few notes.   

** “Convoy” by C.W. McCall. Even over-the-road truckers cringe when they hear this 1976 country crossover hit that spawned a movie and unleashed a barrage of Citizens Band radio lingo and CB handles upon the civilized world. The “Rubber Duck” says “watch out for bears good buddy.”  

** “I’ve Never Been To Me” by Charlene. Why this 1977 release remains on the playlist anywhere escapes me. It wasn’t a Top-40 hit then and its sappy lyrics about the singer’s banal regret for leading a jet-setting lifestyle and pining away for a simpler life and self-fulfillment doesn’t deserve frequent airplay 44 years later.    

** “Seasons in the Sun” by Terry Jacks. A dying fellow bids farewell to his friends, his pastor, and his wife in this 1974 release that ultimately reveals he’s aware of his wife’s affair and forgives her and everyone else who’s wronged him in life. What is it about depression and anxiety that singers like to turn into hit songs?     

** “You Light Up My Life” by Debby Boone. Anyone alive in the 1970s remembers the sheer number of how many times this was played on the radio. It spent 10 weeks as the “Number One” song in 1977 and won all kinds of awards, but DJs wore out the turntable playing this romantic love ballad over and over so often I immediately began changing the radio station whenever it aired. Still do decades later.

** “You Make Me Feel Like Dancing” by Leo Sayer. It was a bad idea in 1975 to wail about how a girl brought “rainbows and happiness” into a bushy haired singer’s life and 46 years later, as Sayer’s high-pitched and nasal voice blabbers on, it still resembles fingernails being incessantly scratched across a blackboard to me. Yuk.

** “Disco Duck” by Rick Dees and His Cast of Idiots. This might be the ultimate folly that brought the Age of Disco to an untimely end. Memphis DJ Rick Dees created a satirical novelty song so awful, many radio stations, including the one he was working at, refused to play it. That edict should have been enforced nationwide in 1977, yet somehow all these years later, “70s on 7” continues to torture me by playing it at least once every three hours or so. In my opinion, it’s absolutely terrible and radio abuse in its highest form.

These “gems” make me ponder how I ever made it out of the 1970s with my sanity intact and I thank God for the sheer existence of the “On” and “Off” buttons on my radio today. <

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