Bad boys, bad boys… what-cha gonna do when they name a song after you? Let’s explore some of the more hideous and repulsive songs with boys’ names in the title — and thank you again, Mike Howie!
“Jessie’s Girl” – Rick Springfield. First off, the Jessie in this song spells his name like a girl. Second, the song features some of the most insipid rhymes and god awful lyrics to ever grace the Top 40. “You know I feel so dirty when they start talking cute / I wanna tell her that I love her, but the point is probably moot.” And how about this couplet: “I’ve been funny; I’ve been cool with the lines / Ain’t that the way love’s supposed to be?” Really, truly deep. In its favor, the music is catchy and the song is instantly recognizable — which makes it super easy to change the radio channel immediately after the song starts. And I’m sure this song had nothing to do with…
“Jesse” – Carly Simon. She won’t cut fresh flowers for you. She won’t make the wine cold for you. She won’t change the sheets for you. So no flowers, warm wine, and dirty sheets await the male romantic interest who captivates the singer’s interest — but who at least spells his name in a more masculine fashion.
“I’m Henry VIII, I Am” – Herman’s Hermits. Spelled H-E-N-R-Y but pronounced ’Enery, this song is just plain stupid. A guy marries the widow next door, whose previous seven husbands were all named Henry. And now the singer is the eighth Henry. Someone please tell me what this Henry could possibly be thinking … and if he truly believes that he’s going to survive this marriage. The point of this exercise in musical bowl-swirling inexplicably must have borne repeating: “Second verse, same as the first!”
“Joey” – Bob Dylan. This track from the Desire album, co-written by Jacques Levy, painted a very sympathetic portrait of an otherwise murderous mobster. Rock critic Lester Bangs pronounced the song “repellent romanticist bulls**t.” The original recording goes on for 11 minutes and 5 seconds, which is approximately 11 minutes and 4 seconds too long. When Dylan toured with the Grateful Dead in the 1980s, Jerry Garcia persuaded Dylan to play this song with them — and no one knows why. Even their live version, however, only lasted a bit over nine minutes. For the Dead, a live version that’s shorter than the original recording is really saying something.
“Louie Louie” – The Kingsmen. No matter how many people call this song a classic, it still doesn’t change the fact that it’s an abomination of the highest order. Give inebriated frat boys enough guitars and a keg of beer, and this is what happens. The drunken slurring of otherwise inconsequential lyrics prompted an FBI investigation into alleged obscenity (no charges were ever filed). It just goes to show how different the world was in 1963, and just what I know — this song went to Number 2 the same year that John Glenn orbited the Earth. A bit of trivia: there actually is a dropped F-bomb in the song! At 0:56 into the recording, you can hear the drummer curse after he dropped a stick!
“Ben” – Michael Jackson. A song about the bromance between a boy and his rat, this beautiful melody was nominated for the Academy Award and won the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song in a movie in 1972. “Ben” reached Number 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, and I don’t believe any other rodent ever got that high on the charts. Ben (the rat) was the main character in the sequel to “Willard,” the first killer rat movie. A bit of trivia: the song was originally written for Donny Osmond to sing. Osmond was on tour and unavailable to record, so the future King of Pop got to wrap his velvety vocals around rat fur and snarls and teeth.
“Hey Mickey” – Toni Basil. A truly obnoxious song, the less time spent writing about it, the better. Let’s move on.
“Mike The Headless Chicken” – various artists. In one of those too-weird-to-make-up stories, there was a chicken named Mike that survived (and thrived) for eighteen months after being beheaded in 1945. Mike made the cover of Life magazine, and the chicken’s hometown of Fruita, Colorado hosts a Mike The Headless Chicken Festival every year. There’s even a sculpture of Mike in downtown Fruita. I swear that this is all true; look it up yourself. Needless to say, people wrote songs about Mike the headless chicken. I’m not sure if any of them belong in the bad song category, but the absolute strangeness of this fowl story demanded that any song with this title be included here.
While there are no guys’ names in the titles of the songs on my new CD, After The Storm, it is officially online and available on major download and streaming services. For previews and links, just point your browser to johnbartus.hearnow.com to find out more!
Catch John Wednesdays at Herbie’s, Thursdays at Sparky’s Landing, Friday on Facebook Live, Saturday afternoon at Boondocks, Saturday night at the Key Colony Inn, and Sunday brunch at Bongos. Music wherever you get your streaming or downloads. www.facebook.com/john.bartus