Letter: Bad music to my ears

Thanks to Todd Hartley for starting a conversation that’s long overdue: The worst song of all time (May 27, Commentary, The Aspen Times).

I started scribbling down my own worst-song list during breakfast at the Red Rock Diner before I was finished reading Hartley’s thought-provoking column.

My preliminary list started with “Tie a Yellow Ribbon,” by Tony Orlando and Dawn, quickly moved on to anything from Grand Funk Railroad and Blood Rock, then in short order anything from Bobby Sherman and David Cassidy followed by “Who Wants to Buy This Diamond Ring” (“She took it off her finger now, it doesn’t mean a thing”), by Gary Lewis and the Playboys.

Then it hit me like the crash of a Zildjian cymbal: “Young Girl,” by Gary Puckett and the Union Gap (1968). The timeless lyrics that never should have been penned in the first place include: “Young girl, get out of my mind. My love for you is way out of line. Better run, girl. You’re much too young, girl.”

Aside from the improbable scenario (beautiful and sexy jail bait meets older man with more self-control that any man has ever shown), Puckett’s overtheatric vocals sounded like the guy who sang the theme song for “Mighty Mouse.”

But wait — it gets worse.

Hardly any cars came equipped with an FM radio in 1968 and certainly none from the 1955 Chevy era that dominated the drive-ins. All we teenagers did in 1968 was drive around after school and on weekends and listen to AM radio. Many, if not most, AM stations of that era played the No. 1 song at least once an hour with the No. 2 song not far behind, and “Young Girl” reached No. 2 on the Billboard charts. Trying to count the number of times “Young Girl” was played on the radio back then would be like trying to count the grains of sand on Annette Funicello’s bikini bottom (although back then, I wouldn’t have minded giving it a try).

Anyway, we fairly hip teenagers back then — who were into Cream, Buffalo Springfield, the Doors, Jefferson Airplane, the Byrds, the Yardbirds, the Beatles, Stones, Animals, Dylan and a few other good bands — were continually assaulted by teeth-grinding tunes from the likes of Puckett, to the point we wanted to rip the radio out of the dashboard, speed over to the offending AM radio station and hurl it through their glass doors.

So, there you go. Worst song ever: “Young Girl,” by Gary Puckett.

Runners-up: “Woman, Woman” and “Lady Willpower,” by Mr. Puckett.

Lynn Duane Burton