The Finch Formerly Known As Gold

10 February 2007

So my DJ told me

Did you ever try to sing along with a song despite the fact that you obviously didn't know all the words?

Certainly one of the all-time tongue-twisters in the land of karaoke is "Life Is a Rock (But the Radio Rolled Me)," a project of producer-songwriters Norman Dolph and Paul DiFranco that at first no one would even try to sing. Enter bubblegum veteran Joey Levine — you heard him mentioning love in his tummy once upon a time — who actually could deliver this seemingly-endless string of namechecks without going slowly (or quickly) insane.

The disc, issued under the nom de disque "Reunion," was an enormous hit (#8 in Billboard); the pseudonym was then promptly retired, inasmuch as there was no way on earth to come up with a followup. Nineteen seventy-four being way before the death of the radio star, there was no video.

And then:

I might also note that hardly anyone dared to remake this song — with the notable exception of the always-fearless Tracey Ullman, who did a creditable job on her 1984 LP You Broke My Heart in 17 Places, done for one of those "all the others" labels. (The Reunion original was on RCA.)

Posted at 9:45 AM to Tongue and Groove

That is fabulous.

God, I love the internet.

Posted by: Jennifer at 9:53 AM on 10 February 2007

Goodness, I hadn't thought of that song in 20 yrs. I once knew a girl who could sing (recite?) the entire song no matter how stoned & totally wasted she got.

And no it wasn't me.

Posted by: rita at 5:28 PM on 10 February 2007

I AM impressed. Truly and really impressed. Very nice video. I wrote that stuff 30 years ago and it still sounds funny. There are a lot of lines that got lopped out to get it to fit. my favorite being: "Eclipse! - He claps! - Umbra Number, Shadow knows but Orson Rosebud." (Probably just as well that it didn't make the cut.)

Oh and there's a Mickey Mouse version that runs from time to time on the Disney channel.

All best, and I enjoyed your video!
Norman Dolph

Posted by: Norman Okla at 1:23 PM on 11 February 2007

Actually, this isn't my video — a fellow named Adam, who wasn't even around when this song came out, did the heavy lifting — and there are a couple of others set to the same song, easy enough to find on YouTube.

While I've got your attention, Mr Dolph: Way back at the dawn of synths, you presided over an album called Switched-On Rock (Columbia CS 9921). I quoted some of your liner notes here upon the death of Bob Moog. One question remains unanswered, and I figure this is my best shot at it. Again, from those liner notes:

"[T]his record is virtually 100% Moog — only two instruments are live. One is the drum set; Moog drums are possible, but, in this stage of the art, sound kind of mechanical and ricky-tick ... we decided to preserve the firepower in the music by moving it along with real drums. Leon Rix joined us on drums ... very tasty. The second real sound we leave to the listener to spot. We defy him to do so, and welcome his guesses."

It is at this point where I admit that, even now, 37 years after the original release, I am stumped.

Posted by: CGHill at 1:45 PM on 11 February 2007

(Mr Dolph did in fact respond by email; I am sworn not to post the answer here.)

Posted by: CGHill at 2:12 PM on 11 February 2007