Time in a Bottle, and other songs I Abhor by Deb Jenny

As soon I saw that the theme this week was time capsules, I started hearing voices. More like a voice, to be specific. That of Jim Croce, singing Time in a Bottle.

This is not a good thing.

Time in a Bottle ranks up there as one of my all-time least favorite songs. One that makes me about want to slit my throat it is so grim, gloomy, depressing and so very dated. It just screams AM radio circa 1972. On a transistor radio. The song is downright execrable (I love that word and really just wanted to find an excuse to use it).

Anyone who knows me knows I have a deep aversion to 70’s music. Anything played repeatedly on an AM radio between 1970 and 1976 pretty much fits in that category. I know I’m a freak about this. Music connoisseurs always liken 70’s music to nirvana (the state, not the band). To me it’s not nirvana; rather it gets on my nerves. Stairway to Heaven? Pass the ear plugs. American Pie? I’ll take cake, thank you (and I love pie!). Black Water? Sounds bacteria-ridden to me.

Bands I can’t stand: Doobie Brothers, much of Led Zeppelin (yet I like their newer stuff—go figure), Peter Frampton, Captain and Tenille, Melanie (remember that one-hit wonder? I’ve got a brand new pair of roller skates, you’ve got a brand new key. Okay, then.), Cher (Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves? Shudder!), Tony Orlando and Dawn, Dr. Hook, Queen, Aerosmith, Moody Blues (actually a relic of the late 60’s), Stealers Wheel (Stuck in the Middle–I instantly switch channels if this ditty comes on the radio), Bachman Turner Overdrive. Some more lamentable songs: Dead Skunk in the Middle of the Road (Loudon Wainwright), It Never Rains in Southern California; Billy Don’t be a Hero; Sylvia’s Mother; Heartbeat, It’s a Love Beat. Well, you get the drift.

I wrestle with some 70’s icons. Elton John’s had some great hits. But the whole ghastly-dated-70’s-frivolous-costumes-and-such just so resonates with outmoded ridiculousness that it makes me think twice about listening to some of his stuff. I think I like his newer music. I’ll take a pass on B-B-B-Benny and the Jets, thanks.

But I reserve the worst of the worst for those sappy balladeers like Jim Croce (I know, I know, tragic death and all. But really, it’s not that I speak ill of the dead, here. I merely speak ill of the dead’s music. Big difference). Seals and Crofts. Ann Murray. Harry Chapin (Cats in the Cradle, anyone?). And I can’t forget Bread. Oh, and also the pop “artists” (and I use that term lightly). Please, somebody own up to truly liking Captain and Tenille’s Muskrat Love. I mean, really.

I’m going to go out on a limb here. I might even lose friends over this. However if a friend abandons me over this, well, then, so be it.

Okay, here goes: Abba makes me cringe. To me, listening to Abba is like being trapped in a broom closet, subjected to the worst, most boring, bad-breathed, greasy-haired, sweaty-armpitted teacher you ever heard in your life, the one that made your ears pin back like a German Shepherd hearing a dog whistle. Throw in screechy chalk being dragged down the chalkboard and the fingernails slipping off the chalk and following down the board just to add insult to injury. And a couple of feral cats, mating. Maybe include a really loud diesel truck, coupled with a pack of Harleys tooling down the highway at 70 MPH right next to you with the roof down, so you can’t avoid their noise. Abba music pains me that much. So much so that I’ve turned down trips to New York that involved having to go to see Mamma Mia on Broadway (which ranks up there as a close second to Cats in my world). No lie.

So imagine my husband’s great surprise when I expressed the slightest inkling of possible interest—well, interest is stretching it a bit, it’s more like how a ten year old wants to taste a beer but then takes a sip and winces and spits it out like a gloppy furball—to see Mamma Mia: the Movie. “Let me tell you something,” he said to me after I modestly enthused over the movie’s trailer we saw on TV last night. “You are not going to see it. Case closed.”

Now, I have a stubborn streak in me that comes from being part Irish, part German, and occasionally unreasonable. It has much to do with being the only girl amongst three brothers during my formative years. So when I’m denied something, it only makes me want it more (case in point: I chose to be an author. Who does something that insane but for one who regularly rises to the challenge of rejection).

So I went to my friends—because I knew better than to ask any of my children, who know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I can’t listen to Abba, not even for a second.

“Do you suppose I could go to it, and just cover my ears for the singing part?” I asked.

“Uh, no!” My friend laughed. “The entire thing is singing. That’s all they do is sing.” Abba music, that is. Hmmm…Maybe I could wear my iPod and just crank it every time another Abba song came on. This seems imminently unfair. Because the movie looks so darned cute. That cheerful, colorful cast of big-name actors, all kicking up their heels and having what looks like a hell of a good time in Greece. The usual sort of frivolity one would seek were one to embark on a Grecian holiday. What’s not to like? Well, except that Abba music. Looks like I’ll be returning to see the monochromatic Wall-E when my family goes to see Mamma Mia: the Movie. Curse that blasted, Abba.

In my time capsule, then, I think I would be sure to not include any 70’s music. Also no bell-bottoms, smiley faces, platform shoes, have-a-nice-day stickers, or any other hint that we all must have been out of our minds (either that or smoking some early version of crack) to have liked all of that stuff. Let me just say I go on record as having never liked it. The 70’s needs to be relegated to the mothball-ridden attic of our memories, where it should have been from the word go.

And now I’ll throw down the gauntlet and challenge you to suggest some 70’s songs that I did like. Believe it or not, there are plenty of them. It just doesn’t seem that they’re the ones that remain in the oldies vaults, dragged out as they are ad infinitum. You got a good 70’s hit for me?

(PS, my apologies, for some reason this was set up to disallow comments. Now you can comment away! My internet and phone have been down since yesterday due to storms so only now have been able to get on. Sorry!)

25 Replies to “Time in a Bottle, and other songs I Abhor by Deb Jenny”

  1. Hey Girlfriend–One word for you–BRUCE. “Born to Run” “Thunder Road” “She’s the One”–need I go on?

    But I’m right there with you in hating ABBA, “Stairway to Heaven”, disco, and most 70s crap.

  2. Hmmm, dang, I cannot for the life of me think of one single 70’s hit I can stand to listen to now. This might actually be the reason I retreated into jazz in the first place!

    Okay okay wait- Simon and Garfunkle really did flow out some great stuff, oh wait wait, it’s coming to me–and James Taylor, and my all time favorite album, Tapestry from Carol King. hmmm i think we had a different ’70’s! You were rockin’ and I was folkin’. Oh and well, Dylan in his best days, but that was pre-’70’s.

    There. Except Fire and Rain- Sweet Baby James can keep that one. What was with these songs about Suzanne and her too soon ending anyway? There was that one and the Leonard Cohen “Suzanne” with her tea and oranges all the way from China. Well yes, that was me in the ‘7o’s but hello, were they talking about the same Suzanne? hmmm Did she eat oranges then jump off a bridge having been exposed to Abba, inspiring James Taylor to mourn about her?

    Yes, Jen, we were all stoned in the ’70.s :~) Suzanne-Alive, well, and sober.

  3. Simon and Garfunkel can be awfully sappy, sort of maudlin–is this blasphemy to say? But some of their stuff is really great, if you’re in the mood for it.
    I do like James Taylor but again, I so have to be in the mid for it.
    I did love Carol King’s Tapestry. THAT was a great album. I still have to be in the mood for her, though.
    Like all of that is sort of break-up music when you want to cry LOL
    I actually listened to a lot of R&B in the late 70’s.
    LOL re: Suzanne…Stoned in the 70’s…

  4. OMG: Hello????? BRUUUUUCCCCEEEEE!!!!! BTW, I have tickets to my third show on this 2008 tour. Are you green with envy? LOL! I just listened to Harry Nilsson (sp?) “You Put the Lime in the Coconut” song on my Stiletto. I admit to loving the 70’s. Can we still be friends? In fact, I’m hoping striped Danskin tops with matching shorts make a comeback soon. OK, not so much.

    Fun post!


  5. Kim! I am slightly green. Like the shade of a banana just as it’s about to ripen. That shade of green.

    And even more so b/c when I did see Bruce it was shortly after the death of Danny Federici and it was a rather subdued event–NOTHING like the Bruce of old. Clarence Clemmons sat in a rocking chair for half the concert…

    that is so funny you mentioned Harry Nilsson because there is one song of his I took a liking to because it was so subversive: YOU’RE BREAKING MY HEART, YOU’RE TEARING IT APART SO F**K YOU…
    What is a Stiletto?
    Yes, we can still be friends (Todd Lundgren–see, I do know my 70’s music)

  6. I love you.

    My husband on the other hand would be horrified by this entire post. All of it. He loves himself some ABBA. And nothing beyond the 70s really should be played in public. OMG! Save me from this toe-tapping hell.

    The worst and I can’t even be bothered to look this up to assure that it is 70s music is the finger nail on the chalkboard sounds of Steely Dan.

    I can’t think of any good 70s songs right now because I have Abba in my head…thanks.

  7. we should totally get our husbands together. There is no musical intersection in our lives. His favorite song of all time is Paradise by the Dashboard Lights by Meatloaf.
    Uh, MEATLOAF? Blech. Don’t like the food or the “artist”.
    He and I have to resort to talk radio in the car b/c he hates my music and vice versa LOL

  8. Jackson Browne? Steely Dan? Rolling Stones? I’m a totally 70′ girl except for Abba!! Agree with that! Great post!

  9. Gordon Lightfoot!!! (I’m laughing hysterically over here.) I had a boyfriend who gave me a Peter, Paul, & Mary CD once. And a large Partidge family t-shirt. Yes, he was a total stoner.

    “Let me tell you something. You are not going to see it.” Ha!

    In all seriousness, Jason and I would like to submit: ELO. We love us some ELO.

    What about The Eagles?

  10. I sorta liked Jackson Browne then but totally hate that whole wife-beater thing of his now. Steely Dan, mixed. Stones, okay, but really they started out 60’s.
    Gordon Lightfoot–Jess, you totally get where I’m coming from. Was he also the dude who did the Legend of the Edmund Fitzgerald? Oy.
    ELO I totally love a few ELO songs–Mr. Blue Sky no doubt.
    Eagles–I’m the only person in the world who does not like them. I passed up several chances for free tickets to their recent concert in town. Everyone said it was phenomenal…

  11. I loved this post, Jenny. I must admit, 70s music makes me a bit nostalgic, probably because I was born in ’72 and experienced my very few totally innocent, unjaded years with 70s music going on in the background. I’m not saying I think most of it was “good” just that it occasionally makes me FEEL good.

  12. The Stiletto is the Sirius Satellite Radio portable mp3 player. The headset is an antennae – so you can take Sirius anywhere or it finds a computer network. Channel 10 is E Street Radio – all Bruce, all day and night. Throughout the tour dates. I ran to “Rosalita jump a little lighter!” Actually, at that point, I was slogging. The old “wheels” don’t turn as fast as they used too!


  13. Thanks for that clarification! We have XM so I didn’t know that! I know they have their version of that but I don’t drive the car w/ XM anymore so don’t hear it as often–though I guess they’re merging soon anyhow. All Bruce All the Time? What a great invention!!

  14. Kalynne, I SAW The Knack a few years ago in Cleveland. Swear to God. They opened for The Raspberries. My husband is 7 years older than I, which is a lifetime in music, isn’t it? I’m an 80’s dance music girl. He’s a 70’s rock guy. And yet, we’ve managed to survive 16 years of arguing over whats on the radio, cd player, tape deck, satellite radio, ipod!

    That whole “running down the length of my thigh, Sharona” is so skeevy!

    Oh, I need to correct an error. My lyric to Rosalita is wrong wrong wrong. … jump a little higher. I always sing it “lighter.” Then again, I thought “Do the hustle!” in the 70’s disco hit was “Chew a hot dog” (Swear to dog) until I was in my twenties.


  15. Kim even knows the band name ! impressive! The Raspberries–that’s a blast from the past…I’m an 80’s dance girl too.
    chew the hot dog. Oy. That could go with the My Sharona lyrics LOL

  16. Okay…I won’t refuse to be your friend over your musical choices (I actually agree with most of them), but am totally confused as to how Led Zeppelin can be lumped in with all those other boredom-rock bands and artists you mentioned. Their music is timeless to me. For the most part, I loved a different breed of band/artist from the 70s: Kiss and Alice Cooper! Love ELO (as someone above mentioned) and also LOVE Warren Zevon. Though his music isn’t for everyone, it’s more morbid than maudlin and sappy. And did you like the Eagles? I love The Eagles.

    Oh, and besides some of the stuff you mentioned, Linda Ronstadt depresses me. As does Sir Elton. Sorry.

  17. Sorry DSB–Stairway to Heaven? ACK!!!! But like I said, later LZ I like (In Through the Out Door album I loved, but that probably is blasphemy to Led Zeppelin fans!).
    Alice Cooper I could handle–he had anthems to a generation. Kiss–ugh–HATE Gene Simmons. ELO I really liked a lot. Warren Zevon–totally! Excitable Boy and Werewolves of London 😉
    hated the Eagles. Linda R–no thanks. Elton–meh…

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