Sunday, August 18, 2013

The Wacky Top 40

1993, possibly first edition, from Bob Adams, Inc.
Bruce Nash and Allan Zullo
The Wacky Top 40
Probably bought new for $7.95
Slightly worn paperback

This book brought back a lot of happy memories.  For instance, "Afternoon Delight" will always be the "Bicentennial Song" for me because I was too little to get the innuendo and the "skyrockets in flight" made me think of the Fourth of July.  And what could be more 1970s than "Junk Food Junkie"?  (Not that the sentiment is that dated, but the references to Euell Gibbons and Hostess Twinkies are, although apparently Twinkies just came back.)  Even the songs that are before my time, like "Monster Mash" and "Witch Doctor," were still frequently played in the '70s.  

This is definitely a case where an accompanying CD would've helped.  (I'm playing some of the songs on Youtube, as I write this review.)  Also, I wish Nash and Zullo had explained their criteria, not just what makes a song "wacky," but how they decided the order of their "top" songs.  ("They're Coming to Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!" is #1.)  Some of the songs in here are deliberate novelty songs, while others were meant in all sincerity, like "(You're) Having My Baby."  What makes a song about cannibalism ("Timothy") less wacky than "Sugar, Sugar"?  Also, while it's nice to get the backstories on the songs, the lyrics are sometimes inaccurate (if not worse than the average lyrics website).

Under the category of singers whose careers still had surprises in the years after this book came out are Randy "Short People" Newman, who won a couple Oscars, and Richard Harris, who, well, back to Youtube:

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