Tuesday, June 25, 2013

America -- "Sister Golden Hair" (1975)

Well, I tried to make it Sunday
But I got so damn depressed

This is the second-most unconvincing use of "damn" in a pop song.  (The next 2 or 3 lines will feature the song with the most unconvincing "damn" ever.)

"Damn" is probably the most inoffensive of the common four-letter words.  I use a variety of four-letter words on this blog -- only when there's a good reason to do so, of course -- and I usually place asterisks in place of a vowel or two if I think the word might bother any of my readers.  (I'm not sure that really helps, but it makes me feel better.)

From Tumblr's "A Page for Four-Letter Words"
But I don't write "d*mn" -- I'd feel a little silly doing so, even though I don't use the word in casual conversation.  (Childhood habits die hard.)

I don't know where most people draw the line on four-letter words any more.  It used to be that people on radio and television eschewed the use of such language.  I listen to a fair amount of sports-talk radio, and it used to amuse me how hard people worked to avoid the word "ass" -- they would use "butt" and "backside" and "rear end" when they clearly wanted to say "ass."  

I was surprised to hear a former NFL player who co-hosts an ESPN radio show use the word "t*rd" on the air a few days ago.  (He said "pardon my French" after using that word, which made me believe it had just slipped out -- but then he used it again.  So I guess that word is officially OK to use on radio.)  Call me prudish, but I just don't like that word, and I'd be happier if I never heard it again on the radio.

"Sister Golden Hair" was written by Gerry Beckley, who was one of the three founding members of the soft-rock band, America.  The song, which appeared on America's 1975 Hearts album, was the group's second #1 hit single.  ("A Horse with No Name" was the first.)

"Sister Golden Hair" sounds a lot like "Take It Easy," the Eagles' first single.  That's not surprising given that "Take It Easy" was written by Jackson Browne (with a little help from Glenn Frey), and that Beckley admitted that "Sister Golden Hair" was inspired by Browne's body of work.

Although Beckley admired Browne's ability to put words to music, he once said "I find Jackson can depress me a little bit."  No kidding!  I find Jackson Browne's music depressing because IT SUCKS, and sucky music is depressing -- especially navel-gazing music from the L.A. school of wimpy, politically correct folk-rock like Browne's.

One of the many Jackson Browne
albums that I don't own
I think most people take the music of the Eagles much more seriously than the music of America, but I'm not sure that's justified.  I think the Eagles are massively overrated.  No one takes America that seriously, so they avoid being overrated.  

America released a few perfectly nice singles -- "Sister Golden Hair" is one of them -- but I was never tempted to buy an America album.  (You may be surprised to learn that America has released 16 studio albums -- including eight in the 1970s.)

"Sister Golden Hair" isn't bad at all when you place it in historical context.  The song that preceded it as #1 on the Billboard pop singles chart was John Denver's "Thank God I'm a Country Boy."  (The Baltimore Orioles still play that song for the seventh-inning stretch at their home games, which is perhaps the best -- although not only -- reason to root against the Orioles.) 

Captain (left) & Tennille
The song that succeeded it was "Love Will Keep Us Together," by Captain & Tennille.  

Compared to those two songs, "Sister Golden Hair" was "Like a Rolling Stone" and "Satisfaction" and "A Day in the Life" rolled into one.  (Obviously the summer of 1975 was not a high point when it came to American popular music.)

Here's "Sister Golden Hair":

Click here to order the song from Amazon:

1 comment:

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