This week in music: higher education from the music geek.


Image by J.D. Anderson


Here are all of the interesting things I learned this week, plus the Top Five Love Song Lyrics of all time (or of some time) that may or may not get you the Valentine’s lovin’ you crave…

V-Day Lyrics #5: “You’re My Home” – Billy Joel

“I’ll never be a stranger/and I’ll never be alone/wherever we’re together/that’s my home.”

That should do the trick.

How To Get Valentines

Janice Ian was a one-hit wonder in 1976 with her wholly depressing ballad, “At Seventeen.” It is four minutes that will make you 14 percent more bitter every time you hear it.  The song is a first-person account of a woman who learned the ways of the world (i.e. pretty people have more fun) when she was an awkward, not-so-attractive teenager.  I have heard the song a million times (hence the bitterness), but I never noticed the line “The Valentines I never knew/The Friday night charades of youth.”  Apparently, I wasn’t paying attention quite as closely as some people do.  The seemingly innocuous line inspired 461 fans to send Ian Valentine’s cards in 1977.  Hopefully that helped ease the pain.

V-Day Lyrics #4: “Kathy’s Song” – Simon and Garfunkel

“And so you see I have come to doubt/all that I once held as true/I stand alone without beliefs/the only truth I know is you.”

Deep, Mr. Simon.  Deep.

Cartoons, Michael Jackson, and Confusion

When I found this story it seemed kind of interesting, but upon further investigation it blew my mind.

This week in 1991, The Simpsons were on the top of the charts in several countries with “Do The Bartman,” featuring a rapping ne’er-do-well named Bart Simpson and some smooth backing vocals.  Maybe sort of interesting – but wait, there’s more…

The uncredited writer and producer of “Do The Bartman,” is none other than recently deceased pop icon, Michael Jackson.  After reading that, I went back and listened to the song again, and realized I should have known it was him the whole time.  The backing harmonies, the instrumentation, and even the beat are classic Michael.

I hate it when I don’t recognize these things.  I claim to be a music geek, so I should have put that together.  It’s like when I learned that Eddie Van Halen played the solo for “Beat It,” or when I found out the backgrounds for Smokey Robinson’s “Tears of a Clown” were written by Stevie Wonder.  If I would’ve thought about it, I would have known instantly.  Geek fail.

The last item of interest here is that “Do The Bartman” was the first song sung by cartoons to top the charts since “Sugar, Sugar” by the Archies.  I have always heard that song credited to the Archies but I never realized that it was THE Archies from the comic book.  I am learning a lot this week.

V-Day Lyrics # 3:  “Banana Love” – The Bobs

“I’m gonna take you to my bungalow/in the jungle-o/we gonna make banana love/You sing a high C/in the swinging tree/when we make banana love.”

Don’t try these lyrics on a first date.

Linda Hits #1

Songstress Linda Ronstadt hit number one on the U.S. Top 40 charts for the first time this week in 1975 with “You’re No Good.”

Before Mariah, Whitney, Madonna, and (ewww) Celine came along, Ronstadt was the number one solo female recording artist of all time.  The powerfully-voiced singer had hits through the 70s and 80s and hung out with Neil Young, James Taylor, Crosby, Stills, and Nash, and the Eagles – not too shabby.

Also, in 2001, she sang several concerts with me.  Maybe that’s the other way around, and it wasn’t just with me. But it’s still true.

V-Day Lyrics #2: “Ribbon in the Sky” – Stevie Wonder

“If allowed, may I touch your hand/And if pleased, may I once again/So that you too will understand/There’s a ribbon in the sky for our love.”

Enough said.

Clearing it All Up

This week in 1967, the Beatles started recording John Lennon’s “Being For the Benefit of Mr. Kite,” which is right up there with “Eleanor Rigby” and “Strawberry Fields Forever” on the list of “Top 10 songs of which I have no idea of the meaning.”

But I learned something this week – the lyrics came almost entirely from a poster advertising a circus performance in February of 1843.  John had purchased the poster two weeks prior while the Beatles were filming the promotional film for the aforementioned confusing “Strawberry Fields Forever.”

Unlike the “Bartman” fiasco, I don’t feel bad for not figuring this one out sooner – the lyrics are very confusing:  “For the benefit of Mr. Kite/There will be a show tonight on trampoline/The Hendersons will all be there/Late of Pablo-Fanques is there, what a scene.”

Yeah, that makes perfect sense.

And if all else fails – your last-ditch V-Day Lyric: “Why Don’t We Get Drunk” – Jimmy Buffet

“I just bought a water bed, it’s filled up for me and you/They say you are a snow queen/Honey I don’t think that’s true/So, why don’t we get drunk and screw!”

Warning: do not try these lyrics unless it’s after last call on Feb. 14, or you have some sort of death wish.

Born this week:

Tracy Morrow (Ice-T), Sonny Bono, Walt Becker (Steely Dan), Kurt Cobain, Rihanna.

Died this week:

Composer Albert Fuchs (pronounce it how you will), Ethel Merman.


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