Don’t want to read this? Listen to the Blogcast version instead.
Here’s how it goes, people. Captain & Tennille are fantastic. That’s right, I typed it and I meant it. During their run in popular culture, they racked up a total of eight Top 20 songs in a matter of five years. They even had a number one hit while disco was dying and new wave was taking over.
The point is a vast majority of people loved them and then suddenly — as if they had uttered the N-word at a stand-up club — they were no longer cool. Granted, they had just signed to Casablanca Records which was world renowned for their disco and not much else, but, for God’s sake, Toni Tennille sang on some of the hippest and most admired albums in the 70’s including several Beach Boys album, several Elton John albums (you can actually hear her on “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me”) and Pink Floyd’s The Wall. That’s right, Pink Floyd loved her voice so much they had her sing on The Wall. THE WALL! How much hipper do you want her to be?
Recently one of the boys in Monkey’s Uncle picked up my copy of C&T’s Ultimate Collection, showed it to another one and snickered. If they had only known it contained one of my favorite C&T stories. The time Toni showed up at one of Pink Floyd’s Wall tour concerts in Los Angeles:
There was a 15-year-old boy sitting in front of me who recognized me. He turned around and snottily said, “What are YOU doing here?” So I told him I sang on the album. He ran off to find a friend who brought the LP to the show, and looked at the back to see if my name was really on there. A few minutes later, he came back and apologetically said, “Can I have your autograph?”
BOO-YAH! In your faces, posers! Oh, you know who you are. You are the ones that called radio stations begging them to play “Muskrat Love”, smuggled the 45 under your coat to the cash register, hid it under your mattress when you weren’t listening to it and stood there mouth agape when your parents walked in on your dancing and singing atonally, “And they whirl and they twirl and they tango/Singin’ and jingin’ a jango/Floatin’ like the heavens above/Looks like muskrat love.”
However, the joke is on you. C&T did “Muskrat Love” as a joke to begin with when they added it to their live set when all they were was a club act. They had heard America do the song. Yes, the “Sister Golden Hair” group did the song before C&T. They only threw it on Song Of Joy because they had room for one more song. A&M wasn’t going to release a third single at all until radio stations started to call the record company begging them for a single. It then became their third biggest hit after “Love Will Keep Us Together” and “Do That To Me One More Time”. Yet, millions of people claim that they hate the song and don’t understand why it was a big hit.
Why be a hypocrite just to ‘look’ cool? Huh? It’s okay to love Captain & Tennille. They put out some fantastic, catchy and enjoyable pop music. In fact, I double-dog-dare-you to listen to the first few seconds of “Love Will Keep Us Together” and NOT be happy. C’mon. I bet you can’t do it. And if you can, I’d suggest seeing your doctor about Paxil. And just try to tell me that the ‘WHOO’ 35 seconds into their remake of “Shop Around” isn’t one of the most pure, unabashedly happy and energetic ‘whoo’s’ in rock history. And don’t deny that the keyboards and keyboard sound effects The Captain uses on “Muskrat Love” opened the door to the 80’s new-wave, electronic pop. That’s right, I’m saying The Captain was responsible for all the synthesizers in the 80’s.
Alright, that last statement may be a little over the top, but I’m positive his extensive use of keyboards in pop music did inspire those who were only playing around with a piece of equipment that at the time wasn’t considered a true musical instrument.
Yet here I sit coming out of the proverbial C&T closet when, truth be told, I actually never hid my membership in their fandom. I was the teenager that made my friends listen to mixes that included Linda Ronstadt, the Carpenters and, of course, Daryl Dragon and Toni Tennille — the duo who turned into my first fanatic following, The Captain & Tennille. Now it’s your turn. Come out. There’s no constitutional amendment saying Music Artist = One Man + One Woman, but listening to some of the great songs C&T put together, you almost wish Marilyn Musgrave will slip that clause into one of her hate bills.
I said ‘almost’!
Listening to: I’m On My Way – Captain & Tennille
Hear the podcast version of this post here.