Thursday, July 19, 2007


There are scads of songs that take turns occupying my Most Loathed Tune list, but the perennial chart-topper is Iron Butterfly's "Inna Gadda Da Vidda". Those readers who are my age and brave enough to admit having been driven within a inch of homicidal rage as a result of this aberration of hard rock can relate to the image of someone in a group of middle-aged rock and rollers trying to one-up (or down) each other with descriptions of the most hideous music they've had to endure, only to have someone in their giddy midst halt the proceedings with a grinning rendition of the ultimate Stupid Guitar Riff:Da-Da-DADA-da-da-DA!-DA!-DA!!!!! Rafters shook, babies cried, boyfriends broke up with girlfriends for no reason when the first distorted note squalled from whatever torn speaker was about to fill the room with the quintessential groan of bad fuzztone guitars and fat, lazy baselines simulating what has been called a soundtrack of a Monster Sewing Machine on a stitching rampage infamous Japanese coastal cities. Yes, the song is that bad. Bear in mind that the song was released when I was just getting into the thickest portion of my rock-as-art form obsession and wasn't in a mood to kid around or make exceptions to my criteria about what made for acceptable particulars in a smart band arrangement. It was as if the band had purloined a copy of my conceits and went out of their way to make a record a song contrary to the requirements just to ruin a long run of my day son the planet. Clubfooted riff, bong-fury drum solo, screech and scrape solos, plodding pace. This describes a large measure of what was being sold those days by many different bands, but Iron Butterfly held the distinction of being one of the most universally loathed bands in history, at least in my circles. No one I knew would cop to owning or liking the song --I only found IB fans when I ventured out of my own neighborhood in search of select drugs. What was irritating mostly about "Inna Gadda Da Vidda" was that it was a song so awful that drugs didn't improve the listening experience, or even make it tolerable. It was worse, in fact, the wrong soundtrack for the pursuit of bliss. It was my luck to find other ways to happiness, and better kinds of music in the transaction.


  1. el oh el. I LOVED that "song." I think I blew a set of speakers listening to that song.

    I realize in retrospect that it was crap, but now nostalgia grips me whenever I hear it on the radio, and I'm compelled to stop what I'm doing to take it all in.

    I read once that the song's original title was In the Garden of Eden, but that the singer was too drunk pronounce those simple words.

    I guess the other musicians were too drunk to play.

  2. I hated Iron Butterfly alright, but on the other hand I was a big fan of The MC5 and Blue Cheer. The MC5 have aged a little better, being claimed as being pioneers of punk rock, but Blue Cheer's reputation hasn't improved a bit; the are still considered speed freak goons who made noise,not music. I could argue against that assertion,but I'll only say that they remain a guilty pleasure. I love getting assaulted by that pulverizing atonal guitar.

  3. "In the garden of Eden." Tell me either of you are Simpsons fans.

    I'd say the joke validated the song's entire existence, but then it never had to be a moment for me.


  4. You are probably aware that IB bass player Jerry Penrod ended up driving a bus in San Diego. You may have been one of his passengers. He may have punched your transfer. Now THAT is heavy!

  5. Wishbone Ash. Think about it.

  6. Anonymous3:26 PM PDT

    This is what you get when you give a Rolling Stones classic some real vocal fire power. Thelma Huston's gospel-edged rendering lifts the song from the back alley , saloon slurring that made Jagger's original a masterpiece of bottle cap fatalism; Houston's sonic wail is transcendence over tough details. Jagger seems stylishly situated in his droogy ways. Houston is empowered by her survival and goes onto the next level, someplace other than the neighborhood that did her ill.

    Her accelerated interpretration aligns her in spirit with the John D.Loudermilk song "Tobacco Road" (and the same named Erskine Caldwell novel) , where the narrator has become stronger for the travils visited upon her (or him) , that they will leave the place of their birth and brutalized upbringing in order to make a fortune, and then return with a wrecking ball and a blow torch. Houston might not be that vindictive, but she does seem just as motivated as the protagonist in the Loudermilk song.

    The funny thing about 'Tobacco Road", though, is that best known versions, by the Nashville Teens and Edgar Winter's White Trash, undercut the emphatic rage of the lyrics. The Nashville Teens, from England, sound like a bunch of mumbling , pre--droogy proto slackers who radiate a slump shouldered uninterest in expressing their emotions, let alone articulating their desires of revenge . The Edgar Winter version highlights the band leader scat-screaming , weaving his histronic garble with the blues-bronchitis rasping of co-lead singer Jerry LaCroix; it's a drawn-out, in concert performance that is about as evocative as the typical drum solo by a third billed band at the Sports Arena during the Seventies.
    Perhaps there's an unreleased Thelma Houston version of the song locked in a vault that might yet make the light of day. It should be said here that I prefer Houston's version of "Jumpin' Jack Flash" to Aretha Franklin's version, recorded some years later. The dancer in this video, of course, are absurd and unfunky.

  7. No, I mean WISHBONE ASH. Think harder.

  8. Ruggsan Ruggs7:48 AM PST

    Richard Carpenter composed this song in anger after Vic Grelb fired Richard Carpenter and his accompaniast from Disneyland. They were fired for combing their hair "in the park". But it was also because they began performing currently popular songs as opposed to the fluffy "Sound of Music" tunes that Disneyland execs preferred. Years later when Mr. Grelb heard the song, he really liked it ! True story !


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