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8:17 p.m. - November 22, 2005
Soap Operas on Vinyl - A Sad Story
Watching “Best Week Ever” on VH-1, many times they lampoon R. Kelly’s “Trapped In the Closet”, which I guess is best suited for DVD more than anything. As a song, it’s rather tuneless and blah – really – but it’s hi-lariously campy when you see snippets of it on “Best Week Ever”, and you can really adapt the style for other mundane things as well.

“Now I’m sitting at the keyboard
And I’m searching for the next words to write
I’m in a hockey jersey – listening to the Lyres
I’m thinking of the next phrase
And then Katie walks into the room and asks me what I’m doing
I tell her that Daddy’s trying to writes something funny
Katie laughs at me and calls me silly
Now I’ve got nothing
Now I’ve got nothing
I’m still sitting at the keyboard
And I can’t make the people laugh”

(Sing the above in an over-emotive style, use any melody that comes to mind.)

“Trapped In the Closet” harkens back to the time when soap operas and first person narratives were all the rage on the radio. Of course, I thought of some of the ones in my collection, and I thought we’d all take a trip down memory lane. So let’s all join hands, as we go back to the past.

(Warning, spoiler alerts, if you care…and I doubt you do.)

Run Joey Run - David Geddes
The Last Game Of the Season (The Blind Man In the Bleachers) - David Geddes

Oh, I had to start with these. In fact, hearing “Run Joey Run” this morning when running out to Satan’s Discount Store to by kitchen shears (don’t ask on either count) started this whole thought process. “Run Joey Run” is probably the most inadvertently hilarious record I’ve ever heard. From the beginning with the off-key plaintive plea from a teen age girl, then an overwrought singer who sounds like he’s about 35 (and what the hell was he doing with a teenager, anyway) tells the tale of Joey and Julie.

Guess what, Julie’s knocked up, her old man is a bit miffed, and he’s knocked Julie around a bit. Joey goes to her house to try to save her, and the old man pulls a gun, it goes off by accident and well…Guess who got capped?

It wasn’t Joey. But you probably could have guessed that from the minute the record started.

This piece of tripe is just so over the top, it’s just too funny. The sad thing is that this went to #4 in 1975.

The other song, “Last Game of the Season” is even worse. It’s more manipulative, if you can believe that. This concerns a blind man, in the bleachers (jeez, could you have guessed by the parenthesis in the title) who listens to the radio waiting to hear that his son got into the game. Well, his son stinks – I guess he can’t even get in on special teams – so he never hears the sons name being called.

Well, it’s the last game of the season (no, duh!) and the old man isn’t in the stands. At halftime, the kid takes a call in the locker room and is late getting out to the field. He demands to be put into the game. Guess what? He’s the hero, of course! Guess what? The old man was started his dirt nap that very day, and (sniff, sniff) that was the first time he got a chance to SEE him play. Awwww….yuck! This also hit the top 20, meaning that the consumer of 1975 was pretty liberal in their spending dollar.

Rocky - Austin Roberts.

This poor sad sack, I guess is 22, because he met this groovy lady when was 18. They got it on together in such a super way, as Austin…er…Rocky said, and they fell in love. They even traded dreams each day. (Who wrote this crap?) All through the song the lady, who shall remain nameless (no, seriously, she is) is concerned about the relationship because she’s a-scared about being in love, living together, getting pregnant, and all that jazz.

Well, she’s preggers, and has a kid, a baby girl. Then, of course, the lady is terminal. And she’s never had to die before, and don’t know if she can do it. Well, it’s not like she had an option, there.

So poof, she’s gone, and now Rocky is the one concerned, because he’s a single dad raising a two-year old in this crazy world, but he hears a voice that tells Rocky that it’s going to be Ok, because love sets them free. So I guess at age 22 or so, he’s not going to have another relationship, because his dead girlfriend (I don’t think they were married, just shacking up) is going to tell him things and help him from the great beyond.

Actually, I think they missed a sitcom possibility.

(This was another 1975 hit, #9 on the charts. Yikes, what a horrid year for tunes).

Emma - Hot Chocolate.

This starts off with a groovy bass line and a slow version of the patented Hot Chocolate guitar riff and guitar sound. This is the story of Emma and the protagonist. Emma wanted to be a movie star. He and Emma (also known as Emmaline, for whatever reason, probably because it fit the rhymes in the chorus) were married at 17 (of course) and then went out to try to make Emma a super-duper star.

No dice, thus far, and Emma’s getting bit depressed. It was a dark, December night, and she’s deader than a doornail on the bed, with a note that says “Darling I love you, but she just can’t livin’ on dreams alone”. Maybe she should have traded dreams with Rocky. Anyway, that’s basically it.

This hit the top-10, guess when? 1975. Urge Overkill had a pretty reverent cover of it when they were on Touch & Go records.

Give Us Your Blessing - The Shangri-Las.

The Shangri-Las perfected this kind of song, with “The Leader of the Pack” and “I Can Never Go Home Again”, but this is probably my favorite of theirs. Jimmy and Mary were two crazy kids in love, who wanted to get married. A bit early, but hey, it’s their life and I assume they were at least 18 or so. Their parents basically said no dice.

So they go off to elope. It’s raining, and there was a detour. Well, they didn’t see the detour and ooopsy…

In the mornings, the parents find the car all crumpled against a tree, and Jimmy and Mary are no longer with us. Did you expect anything else? Like the Montagues and the Capulet’s, Jimmy and Mary’s parents now face life without their children all because they just said no. Well, that, and that said children were a tad bit impulsive.

This barely hit the top 30, but the year? 1965. Of course, it all makes sense, now. 1965, 1975, 2005.

There are other soap opera and tales of woe, of course, filling all kinds of genres.

Some are macabre tales, like “Timothy” by the Buoys, where three miners are trapped down below, and only two came back. What the hell happened to Timothy? Well, he was cooked to perfection in a white wine sauce with shallots and parsnips, or something like that.

“DOA” by Bloodrock is another tale of…well…it’s a tale. Basically, it’s a plane crash, and the guy is bleeding to death as he’s singing the song. You know, if he didn’t waste his energy singing this song, he may have pulled through.

It’s like “El Paso”, where the guy is singing as he is dying. How can he do that?

Of course, the famous “Dead Man’s Curve” should be mentioned. Every time I see a Jaguar, I start saying that little monologue in my head. “Well, the last thing I remember doc I started to swerve…”

There were all kinds of records that featured dead teenagers early in rock and roll. “Teen Angel”, “Tell Laura I Love Her” and the most macabre (I haven’t heard it, but I’ve heard of it…) “I Want My Baby Back” by Jimmy Cross. The girlfriend dies; the boy is inconsolable, so he digs her up and climbs in with her. Ick. (The Hoodoo Gurus also did a song like this called “Dig It Up” but it was tongue in cheek. I think.)

I haven’t even gotten to prison soap operas yet, which Johnny Cash perfected. However, the above should be enough for you to start your weeping. And all of them (except the Hoodoo Gurus) were top 100 hits.

That’s probably the biggest tear-jerker of them all.

 

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