Song Of The Day 10/9/2015: Susan Christie – “I Love Onions”

The Hidden '60s, Part 2 – It’s an unwritten rule here – well, all of the rules are unwritten here, I have no stone tablets – that I avoid programming novelty tunes. The older I get the more they seem like the clickbait of the old music industry. Even the good ones. And I can’t think of many good ones. You could argue that Randy Newman’s “Short People” was a novelty tune, and it certainly interrupted the narrative of his other, far more scabrous and hard-hitting work, but in hindsight it was all part of his plan. But the stand-alone novelty songs that served as the single money shots of one-hit wonders, with no surrounding context or career to place them, they just floundered around and some rotted the teeth. “Telephone Man,” “Junk Food Junkie,” “They’re Coming To Take Me Away, Ha-Ha” (that one was okay, if you like knob-twiddling as much as I'm discovering I do) – when they floated off the Dr. Demento playlist and onto the Top 40, it was like they were punted out there on their own. Released from prison with nothing but a hostel voucher and a couple of coupons. How am I ever going to explain to my kids that we had something called “Disco Duck”? What am I going to do when time comes for that morbid rite of passage? What's that thing on my neck?

Susan Christie’s “I Love Onions” (#63, 1966) got my attention, I guess, because it was so self-consciously odd, and a little ahead of its humor’s time in the American mainstream. To put it as an analogy of George Schlatter TV comedy/variety shows of the '60s, which I know you've all been waiting for me to do: “They’re Coming To Take Me Away, Ha-Ha” was Laugh-In, but “I Love Onions” was Turn-On, full of such untethered and disconnected phrases and style choices that reasons for its existence could be argued about amongst people who care about such things, which amount to… well, at the moment I only count one.

Anyway, here it is. Christie sings in a near whisper about her dislike of Moby Dick and strange friends who physically assault her from overhead. There’s also an obnoxious Jim Henson type doing a recitation in the bridge and an Elmer Fudd bit at the end. And kazoos. Whatever I do, no matter how appealing it seems to the untrained reader, never let me do a kazoo theme week. Ever.

Christie actually released a really good psych-folk album in 1969 called Paint a Lady, which lingered in total obscurity for a very long time. Apparently its first pressing consisted of only three copies. It’s a bit on the dark side, which is fine with me. It’s closer to shallots than onions.

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