You may, too. I’m not here to argue that they’re great music. But I think they’re pretty spunky pop songs, and for some reason Lawr picked them out of thin air and created a pantheon of my bad taste.
But maybe you don’t know about them.
Royal Guardsmen, “Snoopy Vs. the Red Baron”
History is a deep well of ideas for stories and songs. This song borrows a rather odd story from the Peanuts comic strip to tell the story of the greatest fighter pilot if World War I, the war to end all wars, and how he was vanquished by a cartoon beagle whose best friend was named Woodstock. With harmonies and sound effects, and Snoopy of course, who at the time was big. Irresistible. As a 10 year old I don’t think I thought much about the copyright implications of using a character created by someone else in a pop song. But the writers were sued by Charles Schulz, the creator of Snoopy, and United Features Syndicate, which sold the strips to newspapers, and lost, and ended up giving up all publishing royalties to Snoopy’s creator. Ouch.
Fun fact: Co writer Dick Holler’s other big hit song was “Abraham, Martin and John,” performed by Dion. Martin Luther King fact No. 1.
Bobby Goldsboro, “Honey”
This is not rock in any shape or form. It’s Lawrence Welk crossed with some kind of kitchen sink melodrama, shaped by Jeff Koons. I like the plain spoken words, which don’t overreach while drawing grandiosely from a vocabulary of knee jerk emotion. Rain falling on kittens? Go away. The song was written by a guy named Bobby Russell, whose other hits were Little Green Apples and The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia, two other songs Lawr probably hates.
Fun fact: Honey hit No. 1 on the Billboard charts the week Martin Luther King was murdered. Martin Luther King fact No. 2.
Strawberry Alarm Clock, “incense and Peppermints”
The Strawberry Alarm Clock are still touring and recording. This, thier first single, has some of the sound of a Door’s song, but it also has sweet backing vocals, skrunky guitar breaks, pentatonic piano backups, and a lot of other fake psychedelic effects, ending with a sweet Cowsills-like harmony. It is all going to be alright.
Fun fact: The band’s drummer worked up a jet system attached to his wrists, so it looked like his hands were on fire while he played.
After their No. 1 experience they were scheduled to go on tour with the Beach Boys and Buffalo Springfield, but many dates in the south were cancelled after Martin Luther king was killed. MLK fact No. 3.
Norman Greenbaum, “Spirit In the Sky”
I was going to write a lot about the guitars and the backup singers. Norman’s plain and straight-forward vocals, and the song’s clean melody. It’s a rhythmic stomp, a dark harbinger, and an inspiration even if you’re an unbeliever, all at once. But it’s the killer guitar sound and the gospel singers backing it up that make it work. But then I saw the video. Wow. There is that Jesus stuff, but Norman was a good Jewish boy trying to write some Gospel music, and he succeeded. Though for me it isn’t the gospel, it’s the sound, which is pretty unusual for AM radio hits.
Bob Dylan is another Jewish boy to write praise songs for the Lord. FWIW.
I’m told the song is used to introduce the Angels of Anaheim before their home games. Good choice.
And then there is Martin Luther King fact No. 4.
Zager and Evans, “In the Year 2525”
Totally catchy, but totally ridiculous. I’m embarrassed for ever having suggested this had any redeeming value. Fun fact: It was knocked off the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 by the Stones Honkey Tonk Women.
Plus, there is no Zager and Evans and Martin Luther King connection. How can that be?