I’m still thin on the ground and can’t brain: I’m revising the last chapter of my book, teaching all afternoon, and have precious little time left for posting. Mea culpa. Fortunately, readers still send me items, some of which are worth mentioning.
One, from reader Barry, is this deeply misguided list from Vulture of the “150 Greatest Schlock Songs Ever.” The problem is that the compiler, Jody Rosen, doesn’t define “schlock,” so the list winds up being simply weird, with #1 and #2 being “Over the Rainbow” and “Purple Haze,” respectively. “Over the Rainbow” is a great song, and if it’s schlock, well then any song about love, or longing, is also schlock. “Purple Haze” is not a schlock song by anyone’s lights: it’s a very good psychedelic song, meant (I think) to mimic an acid experience.
I know a bit of Yiddish, and my conception of “schlock” meets that of the Merriam Webster Online Dictionary’s: “of low quality or value.” Those songs (and many on Rosen’s list) don’t fit that.
You can read the rest, but I have my own list; I’ve had it for years, and besides many sub-lists of great music (“soul”, “country”, etc.,) it includes a list of bad schlock songs, and there’s no quarreling with it:
Ballad of the Green Berets; Sgt. Barry Sadler
An Open Letter to My Teenage Son; Victor Lundberg
Spill the Wine (Dig that Girl); Eric Burdon
I Got a Brand New Pair of Rollerskates; Melanie
I’ve Never Been to Me; Charlene
Octopus’ Garden; The Beatles
Macarthur Park; Richard Harris
Old Rivers; Walter Brennan
Take the Money and Run; Steve Miller
Muskrat Love; The Captain and Tenille
The Name Game; Shirley Ellis
Drops of Jupter; Train
Needless to say, feel free to add your own. You can either go by Rosen’s guidelines, which I guess include “good but sappy songs”, or mine (truly dreadful songs).