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10:23 a.m. - February 15, 2007
Sweeter Than Sugar - A Critical Review
I hope everyone has dug out of the snow, if you had it, and had the Valentine’s Day that you wanted.

Today I’d like to inaugurate another semi-regular feature here on Smed’s Corner, where I deconstruct some lyrics of repute (or ill-repute) from songs of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s.

Sure, today’s pop songs have a lot of cringe worthy lyrics, but to me, nothing can beat the wordsmiths (hah!) of the past, whether they be bubblegum artists, hard rockers, or sensitive singer songwriter folks.

Today, in honor of Valentine’s Day, I’m going to go obscure for a minute. (“No,” the crowd murmurs, “Smed going obscure.”)

Yeah, so sue me.

Actually, this song is known by bubblegum music aficionados, mainly, or those teenyboppers who bought an Ohio Express album back in the late 60’s or early 70’s.

Of course, everyone remembers “Yummy, Yummy, Yummy”, but then there’s “Chewy Chewy”, which I think has a better melody and hook, and then there’s the sublime “Mercy”, plus “Sausalito”, which actually was written and sung by one of the guys from 10cc. (Obscure trivia for $1,000,000 please Alex!)

Anyway, the following song is perfect for Valentine’s Day. Well, at least the sentiment is, at least for me. I really could write this song about Liz. Well, um, I’d write a BETTER song about Liz. I think.

This is “Sweeter Than Sugar” by the Ohio Express, which is actually a fine little pop tune that for whatever reason only inched up to #96 on the charts in 1969, and was soon replaced as a single by “Mercy”, which hit the top 30.

So, let’s dive into this song. Here is is, with my commentary after appropriate lyrics:

SWEETER THAN SUGAR (Levine / Feldman)

Baby you're hotter
Than a bowl of soup
You're oh so very hot

Ok, we’re not done with the first verse and I have to call a time out. Now, soup can be hot, but no one eats soup when it’s boiling. What about gazpacho? I remember having a celebration soup at a Wabash event that was served at room temperature and it was divine.

Now, I think people tend to drink tea or coffee at a higher temp than they eat soup. Plus, there are things hotter than soup, of course. How about molten Carbon? That’s 3500 degrees Celsius, and I think Liz is hotter than that…ok, maybe she’s hotter than molten Tungsten (3410 degrees C). I don’t want to give her an ego!

And baby you're cooler
Than the coolest snow
You know, you know

I may be wrong, but snow is very good at insulating things. Yes, it’s cold, but there are things much cooler than snow. Dry ice, anyone? How about liquid nitrogen? You can easily get your hands on that stuff, I’m sure. Just sayin….

That baby you're
Sweeter than sugar
Uh huh, uh huh
Oh baby you can't be beat, no no
Sweeter than sugar
’Cause sugar you're so sweet

So, you’re calling her Saccharin, or NutraSweet, basically? You know, I think I’d be a lot better if I’d call Liz my sweetie, instead of comparing her to a packet of Sweet ‘N’ Low or a can of Tab.

Baby you're softer
Than a cotton tail
You're oh so very soft

Ah, the cotton tail – the paragon of softness. Take THAT Mr. Whipple. Actually, I think the fur of a new kitten is pretty darn soft and cuddly, and well, um, Liz is right up there in softness. Well, except when she’s a badass, and deservedly so.

And you're so good lookin'
I can't help but stare
’Cause you're all there
And baby you're

Ah, you know, if I sit there and stare at Liz for a while, she gets creeped out. I think most everyone would, if some wild eyed person kept staring at you because you’re all there. Besides, where the heck ELSE would you be. (Ok, I know some people do that Astral projection thing deal bit…but really…most normal folk’ll are just there, Heidegger be damned.)


You're sweet, you're sweet, you're oh so sweet
So sweet, so sweet, so very sweet
You're sweet, so sweet, you're oh so sweet

And you're doin' me fine
You do me outta my mind
And how I love you, I love you, I love her, love her love her

Now wait just a gosh darn minute. This is a kid’s song (well, it’s bubblegum) and they say ‘do me outta my mind’. Um, what exactly are they doing? Don’t answer that, I’m still rated PG here. But it’s right up there with some of the lines in “Jingle Jangle” and “Bang Shang A-Lang” by the Archies.

And then the last line of the bridge where it jumps from “I love you” to “I love her”? You know, if you said that to your sweetie to her face, you’d get slapped at least. “Who is this ‘her’?” You best keep your pronouns straight, Mr. Levine.


Well, actually it’s a pleasant, very singable little single that really deserved a better fate than it got. But the record biz is a cruel mistress, just ask the band that was put on the road as “The Ohio Express” while Mr. Levine and company recorded the singles back in New York under the direction of Jerry Kasenetz and Jeff Katz. Yep, that’s right, if you saw the Ohio Express live in the 60’s you saw no one that sung on their hits, just a few album cuts that no one paid attention to.

There are many more songs on tap, thanks to conspiring between Violet and me when I was formulating the idea. She had some wicked good ideas for songs (and yes, I used that phrase as a tribute to her time in Boston) and over the next few weeks we’ll definitely get into some cringe-worthy songs of the past.

Until then, hug your sweetie, no matter who or what it is. But lay off the aspartame and liquid nitrogen, OK?


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