Sunday, October 6, 2013

When Popular Musicians Go Off The Rails, It's Time To Boogie

Every once in awhile, a musician, band or recording artist wants to get away from their comfort zone and try something different.
Karen Carpenter gets lost in space in 1977
as she gets totally weird in "Calling Occupants..."  

Often, it works. Sometimes, though, it turns into hilarity that's either genius or sick or both. Usually both.  Which I love.

I'll offer three examples from the 1970s and 1980s. that will make you cringe, laugh, and maybe hate me for getting these tunes into your head.

But I'm only doing this because I'm in a weird mood. Won't you join me?

Before we go on, please feel free to nominate any weird songs by somewhat normal artists that you want to add to this list.

The first piece of insanity I'll offier is the late, great  Karen Carpenter. She was a staple of early 1970s soft rock and love ballads. That's not a diss against her. She was awesome at it, she and brother Richard put out wonderful records and her voice was stunning.

Then stunningly, the Carpenters came out with this gem: Here's "Calling Occupants Of Interplanetary Craft," from 1977  Just see if you can get through the whole video without laughing or cringing yourself to death.

Richard Carpenter begins the segment as the World's Most Obnoxious Radio DJ, Karen Carpenter spends the video looking like a Scientology guru strung out on acid, and the space aliens who make guest appearances look like they want to flee this song, or bomb earth into dust to rid the universe of this laff riot:

The next example is a song I actually like: It's "Lawyers In Love" by Jackson Browne. He's the renowned king  of thoughtful takes on love and hate affairs, liberal political statements and a couple fun songs.

Part of the charm of "Lawyers In Love" is I don't really get it. I don't know if anybody gets it. Including Jackson Browne. But that's OK.

In this video, Jackson Browne sings the song in a bare apartment, watching seemingly in a trance as space aliens in the form of children land. (Why do all these weird songs involve space alients and people who appear to be on sedatives?)

Then we have him rowing a car across a harbor and lawyers gleefully marching on Moscow.  I still don't get it. But amaze yourself at this weirdness from Jackson Browne:

Finally, let's go to that 1970s and 1980s cultural scold Don Henley, who has a bad day as a teacher in "Johnny Can't Read."

I love the crude computers all the kids in the class have, and the fact that Johnny can't read seems to be the least of Johnny's problems. How much caffeine, coke and Valium did he take anyway?  And judging from the video, it looks like Henley could use some of the same substances.

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