The 1970′s Story Song Manifesto

Every so often, I like to go to a therapist for a sanity tune-up. Having my mental oil changed assures me that there is no brain sludge built up that will cause me to suddenly and inexplicably stab a passing stranger and pan roast his toe knuckles for a snack.

The last therapist I had was a wonderful woman who mostly listened to me blather and on occasion, would utter some pearl of wisdom. Like this:

“I have to tell you… sometimes your thinking is kind of extreme and maudlin.”

After I stopped keening and rending my garments, I did what anyone would do when handed this mental report card: look for someone to blame.

Most would blame their parents, religion, environment, television, high fructose corn syrup.

I blame 1970’s Story Songs.

I came of age in the 70’s.  Those songs, those insidious lyrics about death, and teen pregnancy that led to death, and bloody morning-after death, and the public school bullying of half-Cherokee women, and how you could cause a black-out in the entire state of Georgia because you entrusted your soul to a backwoods Southern lawyer became a part of me.

Sometimes you don’t even realize what is taking root in the fertile ground of your psyche until much later. I mean, seriously, I think back and I was a really happy and hopeful kid. I remember a lot of joy and fun. Well, at least in the summer. Not so much in the winter.  Which makes me wonder if I had Seasonal In The Sun Affective Disorder. Or maybe my growing depression was because I learned far too early in life that any stars I could reach were just starfish on the beach.

I’ll be honest with you; I have never been mellow. Not once. Can you blame me? When girls were learning the truth at seventeen that love was meant for beauty queens?

And let’s not even talk about the fact that makin’ love was NOT just for fun because that kind of irresponsible sexual behavior not only left you all by yourself but could get you shot by your daddy even though you begged him “don’t” and you even said “please”.

But where could I go for solace? Every single state in the US was tainted. Chicago was dead, California was one big creepy hotel that you could never leave, Nebraska was haunted by Wildfire the ghost pony, Arizona had the suicidal Tallahatchie bridge, and Texas had Delta Dawn and all her flower-wearing, wandering-aimlessly-through-town-because-you-promised-to-marry-me-at-16-and-I’m-still-a-virgin-at-41 emotional baggage.

Man, oh, Mandy, this is a depressing article. I’m sorry if I’ve strummed your pain with my fingers.

But seriously, thanks a lot, 1970’s.

You killed me softly with your songs.


About Dusty

Shari is the co-author of the comedy, "Maybe Baby, It's You" (Dramatic Publishing, Inc.) and the editor of New Jersey Mommy Poppins. She is also the evil semi-genius behind the blog "Earth Mother just means I'm dusty". Shari lives with her four children (two human, two pug) and her bemused husband in the distant land of Hoboken.


  1. Peryl says:

    I love those songs!! Harry Chapin Carpenter, Carol King, Stevie Wonder, 70s Dylan, Carly Simon. I’m a serious throw back. And I totally want those leg warmers.

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    • Dusty says:

      I think I have your address, Peryl. I’ll knit you a pair.

    • MamaKaren says:

      hee, I think you mean “Harry Chapin,” and that you are mushing the dear, departed singer-songwriter in with the talented folk-country singer Mary-Chapin Carpenter. There is a good reason that Harry Chapin had an album entitled “Greatest Stories- Live,” though. The man could spin a musical tale like no one’s business.

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  2. Ann says:

    This post seriously kicks ass.

    Fucking Circle Game.

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  3. I hear you, girl. I was Alone Again (Naturally) or, in other words All By Myself. And the seasonal affective disorder was a problem, especially because Rainy Days and Mondays Get (got) me down.

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  4. IzzyMom says:

    Do you ever get sucked into the Time-Life Singers & Songwriters CD collection infomercial? I totally have once or twice or ten times.

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    • Dusty says:

      I have to admit, I really want to buy one of those, but I’m too embarrassed to actually have it in my house. It’s bad enough that I have every Celine Dion CD ever made, thanks to my husband’s mysterious obsession.

  5. CS says:

    Funny, funny stuff! I wonder what will happen to kids raised on 90′s grunge?

  6. I’m a ’70s story song junkie. (And I’ve also been called extreme and maudlin.) (Coincidence?)

    I promise you my ideal night in is sitting All by Myself in the dark listening to Jim Croce, the Carpenters, Barry Manilow, and Poco. How long? How long has this been going on?

    All of My Life.

    And then I moved into the ’80s and Phil Collins filled the story song hole for a brief time, but only so briefly.

    Because I still think of the ’70s. And I wonder: When Will I See You Again?

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    • Dusty says:

      Oh Deb. I think I love you. So what am I so afraid of? I’m afraid that I’m not sure of, a love there is no cure for.

      I’ll stop now.

    • MamaKaren says:

      “Because I still think of the ’70s. And I wonder: When Will I See You Again?”

      Well, there is a warm wind blowing the stars around, and I’d really love to see you tonight.

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  7. Dear Lord,I will never look at 70′s music the same again. Thank God I was too young and dumb to understand any of it. But I had it no easier, you know, coming to age during the time of the Big Hair bands:)LOL Rock on, mama!

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  8. Hysterical!!!! I recall a single digit birthday where my dad played DJ for Musical Chairs. His kid appropriate choice song: Rod Stewart – “If you want my body” and then it was probably followed up by Meatloaf “Paradise by the Dashboard Light”.

    Kid appropriate – um no! But pretty progressive if you ask me, as I think I’ve seen the same on Toddlers and Tiaras.

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  9. Alexandra says:


    You just get better and better.

    This one: laughing out loud, and snorting enough to wake up the house.

    Oh, mandy, oh son of a preacher man, oh my cherokee people.

    THis was DELICIOUS.

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  10. … cause it worries me to say, that I never felt this wayyyy…
    believe me, you really don’t have to worry, I always want to make you hap-py, but if you say to go away, I will…
    but I think better still, I’d better stay around and love you…
    First song I ever electively learned all the words to. On Partridge Family Sound Magazine, if memory serves. Oh, man. And wait: did you say you love Bowie? I remember seeing Ziggy Stardust at the 8th Street Cinema. Oh, I miss my records.

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  11. Hee! Totally. You are a GENIUS, Shari. PS Is it really wrong to stab passing strangers and pan roast their toe-knuckles? Cuz now I’m feeling a little bad about myself…

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  12. MamaKaren says:

    Shari, you are indeed one of my people.

    Arizona is actually safe, unless you are talking about the girl who needs to cut off her Indian braids and take off her hobo shoes and rainbow shades. The Tallahatchie Bridge is in Mississippi.

    I blame 70s songs for my affinity for ramblin’ boys who won’t settle down (I’ve always been happy where I am, no need to move to Boston or Houston or LA). I also make sure to never leave my cake out in the rain, since it took so long to bake it and I’ll never have the recipe again.

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    • Dusty says:

      Mama Karen! You have rescued Arizona for me and I thank you for that. Do you live there? Because I have miles saved up. What’s your guest room like? Will there be fresh flowers? On my way.

      • MamaKaren says:

        No, I don’t live in Arizona, I just know that Billie Joe took his header off a Delta-adjacent bridge. You can come visit Maryland if you want, but it’s probably not nearly as appealing as Arizona. You’d have to sleep in one of the kid’s rooms, but I have a good wine collection for the evenings, a good coffee selection for the mornings, and a good stereo for playing my “Hitching a Ride” compilation CD.

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  13. Megan says:

    Those songs? Are awesome. They don’t write ‘em like that anymore. Which is probably a good thing.

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  14. MamaKaren says:

    You know you have to add Indiana to your “stay away” states. I cannot resist a song that includes the lyrics “If a man ever needed killin’, he did.”

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  15. katbron says:

    I love this! I too came of age in the 70′s and if a picture paints a thousand words then why can’t I paint you clearly set the stage for the rest of my life;) And as for Wildfire, Michael Martin Murphy’s song is still a mystery – even to him!

  16. Sandra says:

    I’ll never listen to the Doobie Brothers the same way again. And here I thought “Listen to the Music” was meant to mellow and soothe, but now that I think about it, it probably has some hidden heathen meaning. Damn you 70s!
    (Awesome post! You’re a fabulous writer!)

  17. Hellraisin says:

    Save some money on the therapist and self-medicate with “Good Times” by Chic. You’ll feel much better. “Clams on the half-shell and roller skates… ROLLER SKATES!” STAT!

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  18. And boys will be boys, better let them have their toys!

  19. All this knocking three times on my ceiling is getting to me.
    My husband shivers when I sing along with the muzak at the grocery store- all my fav songs from the era of feathered bangs. No one here as dared mention the Monkees, because, I know, this dates me and really, they were early 70′s. But I have been a daydream believer my whole life, just because of Davey and his brown eyes. Never a homecoming queen though.
    Dusty, were you?

  20. Amy says:

    Oh yes, yes. Songs in the 1970s had a story, a plot line worthy of a screenplay every three minutes. Now it’s three minutes on how someone likes to whip her hair. Those were the good old days.

  21. Anna Lefler says:

    Basically, my entire life plays out quite accurately in “The Wreck of Edmund Fitzgerald.”

    Explains a lot, don’t it?

    Awesome post!



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  22. I can imagine we could all keep each other up for hours laughing on this thread. Since the mention of the Edmund Fitzgerald has arisen, I will have to floss to some rap music just to get that droning ballad out of my head. Even though I am from ‘that big lake they call Gitcheegumee’ and I sang along with HC live from the football stadium freshman year.
    Where is my daughter’s iPod?
    G’night all.

  23. What with plaid being so popular now too.
    G’night Dusty. xo

  24. Kir says:

    swoon, swoon, I knew we were bloggy soulmates…the 70′s were my early years (I was born in 1970) but those songs today are my favorites, whenever Time Life tries to hock me those SINGERS/SONGWRITERS box sets, I literally pant. Yearning for my youth and all the innocence and angst of it. ;)

    congrats on your first post here!!!!!

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  25. LOL – so funny and true. I grew-up listening to my mother’s collection of Helen Reddy, The Beatles, Mack Davis and the Carpenters. Thank god she also frequently listening to the soundtrack to Hair so I could trip out when I was four. That was all kinds of awesome.

    Know what else is awesome – seeing you HERE! So many of my favorite people are Aiming Low these days. I love it. xo

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