Wednesday, August 4, 2010


Jeez, what a bizarre song. I mean, really. Such is my fascination that I've played this song 18 times before driving up the play count as I wrote this post. “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree” was the #1 song by Tony Orlando for four weeks in 1973. Though the practice of wearing yellow ribbons carried greater weight by women in wartime to announce their intent to wait for their soldier significant others to return home from fighting, the song's title requests a convict's old lover to give him a sign that he's still wanted at home upon release from jail. The song is exactly what you'd expect from a hit song by Tony Orlando & Dawn in 1973, the kind of song you'd laugh at if your teenage self went through your parents' record collection from their bell-bottomed phase.

But that version isn't what's on my ipod. It's the Aton version, courtesy of the awesome Home-Schooled: The ABCs of Kid Soul from the infinitely valuable Numero Group label. Like the other songs on this compilation, Aton is a pre-teen, post-Jackson 5 soul group who were ambitious enough to lay this song to record but not really good enough to do much else. But this cover is such an oddly hyper-sexualized version, with the crooning ad-libbing and the chants of “Yellow!” in the background that it makes one wonder what the hell the thinking was behind choosing this song. In retrospect, they were probably trying to capitalize on the Orlando version, which wasn't too far removed from its popularity at the time it was recorded. But between singing about a subject matter derivative of three different adult topics (sex, war, and jail), I can't decide if the choice is dementedly brilliant or just plain dementedly demented. Hear for yourself, and let me know if you don't end up listening to it several times just to wrap your head around the wtf factor of it all.

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