Parenthetical Hits (Of The ’70s)

Brandy 45

For whatever reason, (and I’m sure it’s a good one) too many seventies songs, (and especially those known as AM Gold) have parentheses in their titles. This phenomenon begins around 1970 (the year that I was born) and by 1978 (the year I was eight) is all over (as in, done.) Why?

Parentheses: a word, clause, or sentence inserted as an explanation or afterthought into a passage that is grammatically complete without it.

Of the over one hundred hit songs that employ this affectation, only a handful are justified. Gilbert O-Sullivan’s “Alone Again (Naturally)” perfectly meets the criteria of an afterthought. Both “Evergreen (Theme From A Star Is Born)” and “Theme From Rocky (Gonna Fly Now)” are great uses of parentheses because they serve as explanations. They’re movie themes (although each uses the parentheses in a different part of the title. Hmm.) Even Don McLean’s “Vincent (Starry, Starry Night)” is a fair usage because “Vincent” appears but once in the lyrics and “starry, starry night” opens each verse.

Then we have “(You’re) Having My Baby”. Useless. Either remove the parentheses or eliminate the phrase entirely. As the definition clearly states, the passage is “grammatically complete without it”. They’re all like that.

• Brandy (You’re A Fine Girl)
• (They Long To Be) Close to You
• (Hey, Won’t You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song
• (You Make Me Feel Like A) Natural Woman
• Mamma Told Me (Not To Come)
• Love Story (Where Do I Begin?)
• Long Cool Woman (In A Black Dress)
• Ain’t No Woman (Like The One I’ve Got)
• Get Down, Get Down (Get On The Floor)
• December 1963 (Oh, What A Night!)
• That’s The Way (I Like It)
• Country Boy (You Got Your Feet In LA)
• Ain’t Gonna Bump No More (With No Big Fat Woman)

Mixing and matching yields some fun new results:

• Alone Again (Oh, What A Night!)
• Natural Woman (Naturally)
• (They Long To Be) A Long Cool Woman
• Ain’t Gonna Bump No More (Gonna Fly Now)
• Country Boy (Where Do I Begin?)
• (You’re A Fine Girl) (I Like It) (Get On The Floor) (You’re) Havin’ My Baby (In A Black Dress) (Theme From A Star Is Born)

Here are a few songs that could have used parentheses.

• Cat’s In The Cradle (Dad is Emotionally Vacant And It’s a Viscous Cycle)
• Three Times A Lady (I Like Big Butts And I Cannot Lie)
• Margaritaville (The Ballad of The Tropical Idiots)
• Disco Duck (Really? Good Lord! Kill Me Now!!)
• Saturday Night (Do We Have To Spell It Out?)
• Chevy Van (Chester The Molester)
• Ramblin’ Man (Deadbeat Dad)
• Bad Bad Leroy Brown (You Don’t Mess Around With Jim)
• You Don’t Mess Around With Jim (Bad Bad Leroy Brown)
• I’d Like to Teach The World (Especially This Band) To Sing
• Precious and Few (Are The Moments of Our Career)
• Heart of Gold (Voice of Rubbish)
• Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves (Meet The Oregon Assembly)

(I’ll be performing some of these songs and more on February 27th as part of the AM Gold Seventies Soft Rock Show at Tony Starlight Showroom)

Full details and tickets Feb 27, 2015


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