Ten of the Worst Songs of the 1960’s and ’70’s, Part 1

Sometimes there is nothing as good as something that is truly bad.

I mean, by this, that there are some things so awful that they defy the senses, especially in the area of music. Some songs are so amazingly appalling that you actually get a kick out of listening to them, for the sake of pure amusement.

Get a group of friends (or even enemies) together in a room and ask them to give their opinion on the worst songs they’ve ever heard and you will get quite a lively dialogue going. Discuss it in a public place, for instance, with folks you are getting together with for lunch, etc., and you may get some unsolicited opinions from those at nearby tables who jump into the conversation.

My criteria for any song deserving to be called “bad” is that it must have one or more of the following components: It is badly sung; The lyrics are trite and ridiculous; It’s so sappy that it has absolutely no redeeming musical value; It’s bad enough to cause you physical and mental distress.

These are ten of the worst offenders:


I remember having to listen to this song when I was in elementary school and cringing every time it came on the radio. There was something so irritatingly sugary about it that you felt the urge to jump over a cliff whenever you heard it. The fact that your parents liked this song was enough to make you hate it even more.

Sung by Bobby Goldboro, who went on to sing other dreadful songs like “Watchin’ Scotty Grow” and “See the Funny Clown,” you can be certain that most “worst songs” lists include “Honey.”

Look, I admit to being a fairly sentimental person, but “Honey” was too sappy, even for me.

“Little Green Apples” (1969)

Okay, people like to slam me for liking Barry Manilow, but O.C. Smith actually makes Barry seem like a heavy metal rocker, in comparison, with this song. Even now, years later, they play a lushly-orchestrated strings version of this corny song on Easy Listening stations.

“Little Green Apples” won a Grammy that year, believe it or not, but you must remember that this was during the height of the 60’s drug culture and the people that voted were liable to have been on just about anything at the time.

“Muskrat Love” (1976)

This will give you some idea of why The Captain and Tennille’s musical career had a short shelf life.

Why they thought that the intimate goings-on between two icky rodents was a great idea for a song, we may never know.

In the background are the sounds of what I guess is supposed to be the little critters indulging in “muskrat nookie”, as Toni Tennille sings saccharine-sweet lyrics and melody.

I always remember seeing The Captain and Tennille on television variety shows when they performed this song. She always had a toothy, blinding smile and he always wore that dumb hat and dressed like Thurston Howell the 3rd out on his yacht for the day. I do recall that the Captain never spoke.

With this song in mind, one can only assume that he must have been highly sedated in order to be willing to have anything to do with the “Muskrat Love” song.

“Feelings” (1973)

Destined to eventually be sung in cheap cocktail lounges to depressed drunkards, “Feelings” was recorded by Morris Albert.

This musical saga of heartbreak rode the crest to popularity for awhile, until people turned on it, after having been forced to listen to it way too many times. You can almost close your eyes right now and picture some guy with a bad toupee and wearing a red, crushed velvet jacket and wide-lapel shirt unbuttoned down to reveal bear-like chest hair, as he warbles this tune into a mike.

“Feelings” was a karaoke song before there was karaoke.

“Tie A Yellow Ribbon ‘Round the Old Oak Tree” (1973)

How can a man have two black background singers and still manage to sound this bad?

There are other songs by Tony Orlando and Dawn I could name, as well, like “Say, Has Anybody Seen My Sweet Gypsy Rose?” and “Candida,” but they do not match the vacuous quality of “Tie A Yellow Ribbon ‘Round the Old Oak Tree.” It stands in a league all by itself.

Okay, I know that people often tie yellow ribbons around tress for missing loved ones, which is a wonderful thing to do, but that doesn’t mean this song is a good one.

Songs can be wholesome without being “shmarmy”.

“Shake Your Booty”(1976)

Yes, disco is dead, but I can’t seem to get this vile KC and the Sunshine Band song out of my brain, probably due to a recent infomercial featuring KC, in which he is attempting to sell a collection of disco “classics,” which include his own ghastly musical contributions.

Remember those brass and rhythm instrumentalists who, like members of a deranged marching band, used to stand behind him and accompany him during performances?

Here’s hoping that this is a genre that will never, ever be revitalized.

“Sometimes When We Touch” (1977)

This is meant to be a sensitive-type song, a tribute to a woman some guy loves so much that it hurts, as indicated by the catches in Dan Hill’s voice as he sings this. It only succeeds, however, in making him sound as if he sang this while constipated and I know a lot of men, in particular, who despise this song.

Romance is good, but “Sometimes When We Touch” is waaaay too intense, with lyrics even Hallmark would reject.

“Take A Letter, Maria” (1974)

Where did they come up with the concept of some of these songs??

In “Take A Letter, Maria,” A.C. Greaves tells his secretary to take down his dictation for a letter telling his unfaithful wife that he is ditching her to start a brand new life.

Two questions always plagued me.

Why couldn’t he have been a real man and gone and confronted his wife himself, without dragging poor Maria into the whole mess? …And would Maria have gotten fired if she refused to take down his dictation and told him to put that writing pad where the sun don’t shine?

This song had wimpy lyrics, an irritating melody and tacky instrumental accompaniment, all the things that make it a viable candidate for this list.

“Tiptoe Through the Tulips” (1968)

Today’s kids know nothing about this cultural freak of the late 1960’s, but he had a one hit wonder-“Tiptoe Through the Tulips”- in which he sang an old, recycled song from the 1920’s, accompanying himself on the ukulele and singing in a shaky falsetto.

Yes, it was as bad as it sounds. I guess he garnered so much interest then by the fact that he was just so bizarre.

Tiny Tim was a guest on several popular talk shows of the day and even got married to his girlfriend “Miss Vicki” on “The Tonight Show.” Millions of viewers tuned in to see the event.

After his 15 minutes of fame ran out, he made some attempts to resurrect his career, but to no avail. Tiny Tim’s life was actually pretty sad after that, so I guess “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” is the only thing resembling a legacy that he left behind, which is a little heartrending.

“You Light Up My Life” (1977)

Debby Boone is a good singer and, for awhile, this song was popular, but then they just kept singing it …and singing it …and singing it … until everybody was ready to scream.

They sang it at so many weddings I attended that it was only out of respect for the various brides and grooms that I didn’t get up and run out of the church building.

Then some churches changed “You Light Up My Life” into a sort of modern religious anthem and people got up and sang it as the morning solo. There was nowhere you could hide from this song, until, mercifully, they sang it less and less and today’s young people probably have never heard it at all.

Debby Boone has done a lot of good work, particularly in the Christian music field, but it’s a shame that this is the only song most people identify her with.

There Could Be So Many Other Bad Songs On This List …

These are but a few of the musical monstrosities that could be compiled here, but I have restricted it to a list of just ten songs for this article.

Don’t worry, I will be writing a second article, listing other loathsome songs of this era.

Believe me, there’s a lot to choose from!

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