There are some times you look back on times in your life and wonder “what was I thinking?” I wonder if musicians do that about some of their popular songs? Let’s face it, there are some real stinkers out there that somehow managed to sell a lot of copies. I guess if it put enough money in their bank account, they don’t mind.
Wildfire by Michael Martin Murphey went to #2 on the Billboard charts in 1975. It’s lyrics tell the story of a pioneer who is trapped in a blizzard and is going to die who thinks when he gets to heaven he’ll meet a beautiful girl who also died in a blizzard while looking for her horse, Wildfire. No, really.
Honey by Bobby Goldsboro spent five weeks at #1 on the Billboard Pop Chart and was the best-selling record worldwide for 1968. The lyrics are a man remembering his dead wife looking at a tree she planted in their yard:
She wrecked the car and she was sad
And so afraid that I’d be mad
But what the heck
Yummy Yummy Yummy by the Ohio Express reached #4 on the Billboard Pop Chart in 1968. I have no clue what the motivation was behind this song, and the lyrics are just silly. It’s catchy though and I think I remember singing it in my younger days. I can’t believe parents didn’t flip out all over the place back then when their kids mimicked the song.
Why are some of the worst songs ever made about death? Seasons in the Sun by Terry Jacks stayed at number 1 for three weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 in the beginning of 1975. It’s sung in the first person as a man who is dying of a broken heart due to his wife cheating on him saying goodbye to everyone under the sun.
The opposite of songs about death? In 1974, Paul Anka hit #1 with (You’re) Having My Baby. Anka says he wrote the song for his wife and four daughters, but the lyrics are kind of out there, reflecting the patriarchal society of the times. It also seems to take a swipe at the Roe Vs. Wade decision handed down less than a year before:
Didn’t have to keep it
Wouldn’t put you through it
You could have swept it from you life
But you wouldn’t do it, no, you wouldn’t do it
In 1976, the Starland Vocal Band hit #1 on the Billboard charts with Afternoon Delight. It’s about getting a quickie in the afternoon. Band member Bill Danoff wrote it based on a menu he saw while his wife was undergoing surgery for cervical cancer. No, really.
One of the top charting and selling songs for the duo The Captain and Tennille is 1976’s Muskrat Love. It’s literally about two muskrats getting it on.
Billy Don’t Be A Hero by Bo Donaldson & the Heywoods would probably be what I would pick out as the worst song of all time. It 1974 it somehow went to the top of the Billboard charts. Billy is going into the Army and his girlfriend is afraid he’ll get killed, hence the title. Of course, he is killed, and then she gets mad and throws away the letter that tells her about it.
A satirical song by then Memphis DJ Rick Dees, Disco Duck managed to hit #1 in October of 1976. A man has the urge to dance like a duck at a party and suddenly everyone is copying him. It was continuously played on the radio in NYC around the time it was released and I can still hear it in my head.
I like Warrant. Heaven is one of my favorite songs and I used to think Jani Lane was hot. But Cherry Pie? Somehow this got to #10 on the billboard charts. I think a lot of people thought it was a taboo song about having sex during a woman’s period and somehow that made it cool. You can thank their record label for this song, written in 15 minutes on the cover of a pizza box because they asked for “something like Love in An Elevator.”
There are more songs out there that make me cringe or change the station on the radio, but these are among the worst.