By Patrick Mondout
No decade so universally loved and loathed for its musical
contributions to Civilization would be complete without heartfelt odes to
pets. So whip out your pooper-scoopers and get ready to reminisce.
Ben by Michael Jackson
Before he took an unusual interest in chimps in the Awesome80s, Jacko sang
this ode to a rat. Why? "Ben" was also the name of an early
Super70s horror movie about rats that invade a town and the little boy
who befriends the king rat. Before you totally dismiss this song, take a
deep breath and note that this was Jackson's first #1 hit as a solo act!
It must have been the lyrics:
"Ben, most people would turn you away
I don't listen to a word they say
They don't see you as I do
I wish they would try to
I'm sure they'd think again
If they had a friend like Ben"
Shannon by Henry Gross
Henry Gross' biggest hit was a tale of a dead dog. It howled its way to
the top ten in the spring of 1976 as a memorial to Carl Wilson's (yes, he
of the Beach Boys) Red Setter. For any child of the Super70s who lost a
pet this tearjerker can still be an emotional Vesuvius:
"Mama tries to hard to pretend
Things will get better again
Somehow she's keeping it all inside her
But finally the tears fill her eyes
And I know somehow tonight
She knows how much we miss her."
And speaking of dogs dying, if you are not easily offended and
don't mind listening to some rather harsh language, listen
to this outtake
from Casey Kasem's American Top 40 show. WARNING: This
contains explicit language.
Two hundred bonus points for remembering that Carl Wilson sang backup
vocals on this track (take an additional 200 if you knew Henry Gross
toured with the Beach Boys). Five hundred points for recognizing Gross as
the original lead guitarist of 50's tribute band Sha-Na-Na. 1000 bonus
points and a copy of Stephen King's Pet
Semetery for recalling his only other top 40 hit: "Springtime
Wildfire by Michael Murphey
"Wildfire" is for horse lovers what "Shannon"
was to dog lovers. For those with a morbid curiosity, a horse named
Wildfire is lost in a blizzard and its owner dies while searching for the
"Oh they say she died one winter
When there came a chilling frost
And the pony she named Wildfire
Busted down his stall
In a blizzard he was lost
She ran calling Wildfire"
"Wildfire" is one of the most hated and loved
songs of the Super70s. It features an excellent instrumental track written
by Larry Cansler and love-them-or-hate-them-with-a-passion lyrics by
Michael Murphey. It also contains a reference to the a hoot-owl. What a
hoot! Murphey, who changed his stage name to Michael Martin Murphy in
1984, jockeyed this song all the way to number three in the summer of
There is lyric near the end of this song which is often misheard.
Rather than explain what I used to think he was singing, I'll just give
you the actual lyric:
"We're gonna ride...
We're gonna leave... sod-bustin' behind"
I don't pretend to know what sod or bustin' (in this context anyway) are.
(But one of our readers does.)
250 points and a trip to the glue factory if you recall Murphey's previous
chart entry, "Geronimo's Cadillac."
With all this talk of dead dogs and dead horses, you are probably
wondering where "Dead Skunk" or perhaps "Muskrat
Love" are. Sadly, only a click away: We decided to cover those
in our Novelty Hits of the Super70s