Ah, yes, the guilty pleasure. We all have them. Outside of my affection for musical groups like The Carpenters, they also include television shows like Jackass and snack foods like Hostess Twinkies. I’m a public television snob who is married to the notion that homemade desserts are worth the effort. I’m also your basic rock chick. Sometimes, though, listening to The Carpenters, watching, Jackass, and scarfing down a Twinkie just makes me feel good. Slightly guilty, but still good.
Aside from The Carpenters, I have a few other guilty musical pleasures and, I daresay, more than a handful of the non-musical variety, mostly where my television viewing habits are concerned. Masterpiece Theater junkie that I am, I would be uncomfortable admitting to any more of these in this or any other setting. I’ll just go ahead and keep that information to myself, if you don’t mind.
I’ll share some of my musical guilty pleasures here, though. I think I can do that.
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THE CARPENTERS, We’ve Only Just Begun from the album Close To You (1970). Words by Pal Williams, music by Roger Nichols.
Since I’ve already mentioned The Carpenters, I’ll just go ahead and share with you my favorite Carpenters song. Really, I like them all, but if I had to choose one, this would be it:
JOHN DENVER, Grandma’s Feather Bed from the album Back Home Again (1974). Words and music by Jim Connor.
My love affair with this bespectacled geek began the first time I heard Take Me Home, Country Roads and ended with his untimely death at the age of 53. One of my past Twisted Mixed Tapes included one of his best ballads, For You. Really, I could have chosen any number of his songs here — Rocky Mountain High, Poems and Prayers and Promises, or, even, Thank God I’m a Country Boy, but they weren’t nearly nerdy enough. This one was just screaming to be selected. Hey, if you’re going to let your freak flag fly, you may as well wave it proudly!
The video I’ve chosen to include is the one from The Muppet Show — nothing like a bunch of muppets jumping around on a bed and John Denver in a nightcap to bring a smile to anyone’s face!
DONNY OSMOND, Go Away Little Girl from the album Donny Osmond, To You With Love (1971). Words and music by Gerry Goffin and Carole King.
Back in the day I loved, loved, loved Donny Osmond. He wasn’t the first guy to record this song or to take it to number one on the Billboard charts — Steve Lawrence had already done that back in 1962. Still, Donny brought a sweetness and vulnerability to it that the older Steve Lawrence couldn’t quite capture. This is the song that put Donny Osmond on the path to stardom. He would record Paul Anka’s Puppy Love a year later, solidifying Donny’s teen idol status.
Watch this for no other reason than the costuming!
THE CAPTAIN AND TENNILLE, Muskrat Love from the album Song of Joy (1976). Written by Willis Alan Ramsey (originally entitled Muskrat Candlelight).
This song is, quite possibly, the silliest song ever written and yet, I love it without apology. It still gets a lot of air play in elevators and department stores. I can’t, much to my daughter’s horror and my husband’s amusement, stop myself from singing along when I hear it.
Yes! Yes! Yes! Those are muskrats on the piano!
BARRY MANILOW, Copacabana (At the Copa) from the album Even Now (1978). Words and Music by Jack Feldman and Bruce Sussman.
Barry began his musical career writing jingles. He’s the guy responsible for gems such as “Like a Good Neighbor, State Farm is There”. That one had staying power. One could argue that many of his more upbeat songs had a jingle-like quality to them. Not this one, though. This one manages to juxtapose the story of jealousy-filled murder with the flamenco-inspired music that makes it so fun to dance to. It doesn’t hurt that it just begs to be acted out while wearing fruit on your head, either. Transvestites everywhere owe a big debt of gratitude to Barry.
No one, and I mean no one, can pull off a white fedora, a gold bow tie, and a blue leisure suit quite like Barry could!