I used to love those kitschy story songs that filled my youthful eardrums. You know, the elaborate ditties with cheesy, involved narratives–basically shlock short stories set to irresistibly catchy pop music.
Among the classics of the genre are:
“The Night The Lights Went Out in Georgia” sung by Vicki Lawrence. The lone smash hit by the woman better known as bitter, old Mama.
“Ode To Billie Joe” by Bobbie Gentry. A smoky, sad tale–much better than the boring movie version.
“Little Green Apples” by O.C. Smith–a Hallmark card of a song, but as sweet and easy as a Granny Smith.
“Son of a Preacher Man” by Dusty Springfield. One of the dirtiest songs to ever hit the airwaves. Loved it!
“Half Breed” and “Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves” by Cher. Ethnic kitsch at its most delicious, with fringe on top.
Those were all storytelling classics, but the best/worst of all is:
“I’ve Never Been To Me” by Charlene. By time she’s sipping champagne on yacht, I’m totally in this dame’s corner. “Hey, lady” indeed!
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 16, 2009