This was my brain on 70s songs

Midnight at the Oasis is a song about narrowly escaping death, cannibalism, and having to drink your own pee

Midnight at the Oasis is a song about narrowly escaping death, cannibalism, and having to drink your own pee

TO ME, the 1970s was the decade of memorable music. When I look back, I see a more relaxed and care-free time than now. You could write a song about anything—like driving around in a truck, with a bunch of other people who are also just driving around in a truck. And you didn’t even have to sing; you could pretty much talk the whole song. The result in this instance is the huge hit “Convoy.”

I admit that the music of the ‘70s would have been very different for me if I hadn’t been a kid at that time. That’s because kids take everything as it’s presented to them. I know I did. And with music, especially, this makes for some interesting experiences.

For example.

Afternoon Delight

To my child brain, this song was about a chocolate bar—like Turkish Delight, except you could only eat it between noon and five, and only in outer space. The Afternoon Delight Chocolate Bar Song was ground-breaking, on account of the chocolate bar having its very own motto: “When it’s right it’s right.” As far as I knew, no other candy bar had an actual motto—but I could have been wrong, because my motto was “When I’m wrong, just keep saying it louder, until everyone gives up.”

Love is Like Oxygen

I wasn’t sure if this was a warning about love, or oxygen, or maybe both. All I knew for certain is that I’d better find the right balance, otherwise I’d be dead or floating somewhere above Lake Erie like a stray helium balloon. Worst of all, the song didn’t provide any tips for breathing, which seemed pretty irresponsible, given the life-threatening dangers.

Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?

It seemed weird to me that someone would go to the whole trouble of writing and recording this song, instead of just finding a clock or asking someone with a wrist watch. I mean, how hard is that? And then, in the same song, he figures no one even cares what time it is anyway. Talk about an attitude problem.

Short People

What on earth could have provoked this genocidal campaign against people whose only mistake was not being tall? Of course, I didn’t know the word “genocide” yet. But I knew that I wasn’t very tall, and that if this guy ever came to my town I would definitely need to stay clear. Although, to be fair, most of the time my fingers were kinda grubby.

Midnight at the Oasis

Apparently, a lot of babies were made to this 1974 Maria Muldaur hit. I still find that hard to believe. But, hey, if camels and sand dunes get you all hot and bothered, then heaven’s bells to you. I was 9 and thought this song was about a bunch of lost desert-wanderers who stumbled on water in the middle of the night. Because we’ve all seen that in movies. What happens is that you walk around in the heat for three days with a towel on your head, and pretty soon you are so delirious from thirst that you are sending the camel to bed and making friends with the cactuses. And pretty soon after that, you think the cactuses are pointing the way, and that your dad is a Sheik. So basically this song is about a narrow, near-death escape from dehydration, madness, and cannibalism. Plus, oasis guitar solo.

Black is Black, I Want My Baby Back

This song about child abduction was pretty disturbing to my youthful brain. I 100% believed it was about something that actually happened. I mean, think about how this poor man must have felt, not knowing where his baby was, and just wanting to get her back. More menacing yet, you never hear from the mom. So it’s possible that she was kidnapped, too, and that the next time he is able to get into a recording studio, he’ll be making Black is Black, I Also Would Really Like My Wife Back.

Also, the baby was a black baby, although I didn’t know why that mattered. Unless it was to help the police with identification. I was glad this song was being played all over, on the radio, because it meant everyone who heard it would be furiously looking around their neighbourhood for a missing black baby. Or was it a grey baby? The man in this song was so distraught, he no longer knew for sure what colour exactly his missing kid was.

I also thought it would have been a good idea if, somewhere in the song, he had left a contact number, for example: “Black is black, I want my baby back, please call ‎650-623-4000 after 5 pm.”

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