Friday, January 16, 2009

Dr. Funk Picks His 1970s Favorites, Part 3

Two horny teens.

It's the main topic of a whole lot of rock 'n' roll songs, going back as far as the genre itself. In fact, the term "rock & roll" was regarded as slang for the same thing as knockin' boots, gettin' the freak on or whatever else term was in vogue for its day. But the fact remains -- despite the revisionists who try to convince us that the 1950s were somehow more pastoral or innocent -- there has been an undercurrent of sex running through the music for well over 50 years.

The lyrics are certainly a lot more "in your face" now than they were in past decades, but for those trying to say that there wasn't a lot of sexual subject matter in the past must not have been paying attention. Any fan of 1970s music only has to pull out the catalogs of Barry White, Al Green or Marvin Gaye to poke holes in that argument. Neither "Let's Get it On," "Pillow Talk" nor "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy"(which describes a one-night stand with a woman he had just met) left much to the imagination. Even the easy-listening stuff was searching for some lovin': "Afternoon Delight" anyone? When Toni Tennille sang "You Never Done it Like That," I'm guessing she wasn't complimenting her Captain on his handling of a keyboard. Then there's Meat Loaf's epic "Paradise By the Dashboard Light"which makes no bones about what's going on.

Despite all of these songs, there was another one about teens feeling their hormonal pressures that gets overlooked by 1970s music afficianados: "I Wanna Be With You" by The Raspberries.

When picking great Raspberries songs, "I Wanna Be With You" isn't usually the first one mentioned: "serious" music critics tend to gravitate toward "Overnight Sensation (Hit Record)" and the record-buying public made "Go All the Way" a much bigger hit for the group. Furthermore, "I Wanna Be With You" was likely seen as a second helping of "Go All the Way" when the single was shipped in the Fall of '72 as a follow-up to the earlier hit.

The two songs are similar. Played back-to-back, "Go All the Way" is the more obvious pop tune, with a catchy melody, Roy Orbison-inspired phrasing and guitar hook. However, "I Wanna Be With You" is faster, more impatient, more immediate, direct and aggressive -- in short, a lot like I was at 16 -- and even the guitar line conveys the urgency that only a teenager can come up with in his efforts to get his girlfriend to let him get past second base.

At just over three minutes, it's a perfect length for a pop tune. It's long enough to satisfy but still leave you wanting more after it was finished. Kind of like the song's subject was for me when I was a lot younger; sadly, about three minutes was usually all I needed then.

Want to hear it? The Amazon link below has a 30-second snippet of the song.

If you're more of an iTunes type, here's a link to the song there: The Raspberries - Greatest - I Wanna Be With You

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