Tangent Sunset

The History of Conscious Music by Alex Cosper

The Softening of Harsh Words


Jim Croce, who was killed in a plane crash in 1973, put out a wealth of conceptual songs. "Bad Bad Leroy Brown" at the time was considered risque because it used the word "damn," which simply was not a word heard in pop music until then, although the freeform format didn't restrict such language as in "Bitch" by The Rolling Stones a few years earlier. But the point of the song wasn't the word "damn," it was the silly story about a guy having an affair with someone's wife. By contrast, most of Croce's other songs had a serious tone as in "I Got A Name," "Operator" and "I'll Have To Say I Love You In A Song." His most classic song was the dreamy waltz "Time In A Bottle," which became one of several songs of the decade to deal with the concept that time is both like a prison and the avenger in all human schemes. Another story song in 1973 that used the word "damn" and became a big hit was "Tie A Yellow Ribbon 'Round The Ole Oak Tree" by Tony Orlando & Dawn. But its rhythm and melody were so bouncy that the song inevitably bounced out of history and today finds itself even outside the oldies format. Bouncy pop sold quickly then faded quickly.


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