Saturday, December 03, 2011

One of my favorite goofy songs

This is a song from 1977 called "Ariel" by Dean Friedman.  It hung around the charts for five months and reached as high as #26 on Billboard.  It has the distinction of being the only top 40 song in history that mentions Paramus, New Jersey. For that alone it should have its own wing in the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame. 

There was also some controversy when the record label wanted to remove the words "Jewish girl" from the lyrics, worried that its inclusion would hurt sales.  I imagine other executives of the label wanted "Paramus" removed as well.  I mean, there must be a reason it's never mentioned in any other Top 40 hit.  Anyway, level heads and threats from the Jewish Defense League won out. 

All that aside, I find it an infectious song with clever lyrics.  Fun social commentary AND you can dance to it. 

24 comments:

Paul Duca said...

Mine too...although you might ponder, Ken, the whole idea of a Jewish girl who likes to sing "Ave Maria"'



WV: devalet--what people do who are so cheap they park their cars themselves

gottacook said...

This is a track I'd never heard until I started listening to Great Big Radio - thanks for recommending that site. (However, I was familiar with Friedman's " 'Well, Well,' Said the Rocking Chair" since the time it appeared, around the same year as "Ariel.")

The Milner Coupe said...

This was fairly popular in Hawaii at the time. Has a nice Andrew Gold/Henry Gross vibe to it. I don't think I've heard it since then. Thanks.

erniecanuk said...

I have a Friday question for you, Ken. I just read about a Spanish remake of Cheers; the same set and many of the same characters and storylines with adjustments for cultural diferences. Have you seen any reworks of your shows? Do the original creators and writers benefit? Financially, I mean.

John said...

Still prefer Freddy (Boom Boom) Cannon's "Palisades Park" as my favorite Northern New Jersey-themed goofy song. Also gets bonus goofy style points for its authorship by Chuck Barris.

VP81955 said...

Still prefer Freddy (Boom Boom) Cannon's "Palisades Park" as my favorite Northern New Jersey-themed goofy song. Also gets bonus goofy style points for its authorship by Chuck Barris.

Actually, Barris was inspired by the Los Angeles-area amusement park of the same name (but don't tell that to anyone on the east coast!).

Speaking of New York, I believe "Ariel" is the only Top 40 song I know of with a reference to the city's legendary Pacifica radio station, WBAI. (1930s actress Karen Morley, an activist on the left, regularly spoke on that station and others in the chain until not long before her death in 2003.)

Craig said...

This song and "Undercover Angel" by Alan O'Day (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G-xRMw0NyW0) are filed right next to each other in my memory, I guess because they were both 1977 silly songs. Thanks for reminding me of them both.

estiv said...

Nice touch when the last syllable of "Bombs bursting in air" becomes the first syllable of "Ariel."

YEKIMI said...

I LOVE this song! I played the crap out of it when it came out. I still have the 45 lurking around somewhere even though I have it on CD now. Another great tune was "Georgia Porcupine" by George Fischoff, sort of a rockabilly instrumental. Sadly, it only made it as high as #94 on the Billboard chart back in 1974. I think it didn't go any higher because the beginning of the song was made to sound like a staticy, scratchy record. George Fischoff wrote the music for "98.6" by Keith & "Lazy Day" by Spanky & Our Gang.

jcs said...

When I read the post I thought about Tom Lehrer's song "Wernher von Braun". Witty, sarcastic and still making a point after several decades.

pumpkinhead said...

Thanks. It made my wife, Ariel, smile.

pumpkinhead said...

Also, I think it's amusing that there was a controversy over the Jewish reference but not the "high" reference.

Tombo said...

There's a year's worth of Tweets in that song.

Kirk said...

I was 15 in 1977 and listening to a lot of Top 40 and I still don't remember this song. Anyway, it does have clever lyrics. I wonder if it's not meant as a parody of that era's pop music. The tune is mainstream but the subject matter's not.

Mike Barer said...

While it was playing, I was looking for a "like" button. I guess I spend too much time on social media.

Kevin In Choconut Center said...

As God is my witness, I just played this song on my internet broadcast last week. Glad to see some other people out there remember it.

jbryant said...

Wow, hadn't heard that in ages. The verse melody and some of the lyrical content is in the vein of the stuff Billy Joel was doing around that time or a bit later.

Anonymous said...

oh man, I grew up in Ridgewood, right next to Paramus! dano danosongs

Lou H. said...

Also in 1977, Billy Joel's "Movin' Out" had the line "Who needs a house out in Hackensack?"

A good year in song for Bergen County.

Michael Hagerty, Founder/Editor of TireKicker said...

I played the hell out of this when it was new. Of course, that was KUKI, Ukiah, so we may have sold all of 3 copies for Dean.

Nice guy. I met him at the party Lifesong Records threw for him and the album that has "Ariel" on it at the Top of the Mark (Mark Hopkins Hotel), San Francisco.

God bless him, he's still at it: http://deanfriedman.com/

Cathy S. said...

I loved this song. I was 13 that summer. I haven't heard this in years. Thanks Ken!

UkraineNotWeak said...

Thanks, Ken. I remember this song from when I was 14 and have thought of it off and on over the years. "Annette Funicello and some guy going steady." Love it.

Mitchy said...

I love Dean Friedman. Ariel was a decent hit in the UK, but I think people remember him more for "Lucky Stars" here. He still tours, just finished a UK tour. Nice guy. :)

Brian Wolman said...

As I recall, the LP track had Jewish Girl, while the single 45 did not. I remember this as best as I can. It's been a while.