I suspect that few of you know this song. Sure, we all know that MacArthur Park was the absolute worst song in the history of pop music, but I’m not going to put that one up. We all know about the cake left out in the rain. Today’s song is not only execrable, but obscure—at least to those of you not alive in the late 50s.
Victor Lundberg was a radio announcer and a political conservative who wrote and released this “talking” song in 1967. Now imagine yourself a long-haired hippie, deeply opposed to American’s unconscionable war in Vietnam—much like the boy below, who was granted draft status as a conscientious objector.
And then imagine how this song would strike you:
Yep, that’s pretty much the reaction I had.
Here are some of its LOLzy lyrics (my emphasis):
You ask me if God is dead.
This is a question each individual must answer within himself.
But a warm summer day with all its brightness, all its sound, all its exhilarating breathiness just happened?
God is love. Remember that God is a guide and not a storm trooper. Realize that many of the past and present generation,
because of a well intended but unjustifiable misconception,
have attempted to legislate morality.
This created part of the basis for your generation’s need to rebel against
Our society. With this knowledge perhaps your children will never ask Is God dead?
I sometimes think much of mankind is attempting to work Him to Death.
If you are not grateful to a country that gave your father the
Opportunity to work for his family to give you the things you have and you
Do not feel pride enough to fight for your right to continue in this
Manner then I assume the blame for your failure to recognize the true
Value of our birthright. And I will remind you that your mother will love
You no matter what you do, because she is a woman. And I love you too,
Son. But I also love our country and the principles for which we stand.
And if you decide to burn your draft card, then burn your birth
Certificate at the same time.
From that moment on, I have no son!
This dreadful song was actually a hit. As Wikipedia notes:
“An Open Letter” became a surprise hit in Michigan and was released nationally by Liberty Records, jumping onto the Billboard Hot 100 at #84 on November 11, 1967. Within three weeks it went #58 – #18 – #10, making it one of the dozen or so fastest-climbing records in Hot 100 history up to that point, and Lundberg made an appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. After another week at #10, the record slipped to #22 for the week ending December 16, 1967, then vanished from the Hot 100 completely, after a total run of just six weeks. Few other records have ever been ranked so high in such a short chart stay on the Hot 100 (Napoleon XIV’s “They’re Coming To Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!” peaked at #3 but was only on the Hot 100 for six weeks; Kenny G’s “Auld Lang Syne” (The Millennium Mix) peaked at #7 but was only the Hot 100 for five weeks). However, it sold over one million copies within a month of release and was awarded a gold disc. “An Open Letter” also received a Grammy Award nomination for Best Spoken Word Recording.
There were also at least seven “response” records: Keith Gordon’s “A Teenager’s Answer”, released on the Tower label, “A Teenager’s Open Letter To His Father” by Robert Tamlin., “Letter From A Teenage Son” by Brandon Wade [Philips 40503], “A Letter To Dad” by Every Father’s Teenage Son” [Buddah 25], “Hi, Dad (An Open Letter To Dad)” by Dick Clair [Imperial 66272] and “An Open Letter To My Dad” by Marceline [Ion 102].