May 8, 2018
There was, perhaps, a no more musically sappy era than the 1970’s. Well, the late 50’s and early 60’s come close saved only, perhaps, by the emergence of the Beatles. But we’ve covered them.
No, today, you’re going to be subjected to what is, in my opinion, one of the worst songs ever but I have a story which – for those who understand the link to May 8th – is oddly appropriate.
First of all the event for May 8th which prompts this week’s musings: Happy Birthday to Toni Tenille who is 78 today! She was, for those who have been trying to forget, one half of the duo Captain and Tenille, famous for such 70’s sap as Love Will Keep Us Together and Do That To Me One More Time.
It was a different song, however, which was just downright weird and creepy and which no one can figure out why the duo recorded it (or the band America for that matter). That song: Muskrat Love.
According to the Infallible Wikipedia:
“Captain & Tennille recorded ‘Muskrat Love’ for their 1976 album release Song of Joy. According to Toni Tennille, who comprised Captain & Tennille with her husband Daryl Dragon, the duo had added the song to their nightclub set list a few years earlier after hearing the America single on their car radio: ‘I said to Daryl: ‘Did you hear that? I swear they’re singing about muskrats.’ I had to know what the lyrics were so the next day we went out and found the sheet music. I said to Daryl: ‘This song is hysterical; why don’t we add it to our club-act?’ And [the audience] went nuts for it.’ Being short one track for Song of Joy, Captain & Tennille made an impromptu decision to record ‘Muskrat Love’, including the synthesizer generated sound effects that Dragon had created for the song’s performance in their nightclub act, these sound effects meant to evoke the imagined sound of muskrats mating: the eventual 7″ single version of Captain & Tennille’s ‘Muskrat Love’ would feature an ‘endless loop’ of these sound effects created by having the song’s end run into the locked groove of the 45.”
To appreciate the creepiness of the song, I strongly encourage EVERYONE to watch the video linked below. By today’s standards for videos it’s a bit like watching a fourth graders class project.
Now on to the story of how this song re-emerged into my personal world a few years back. It was a Sunday in late January and I had arisen around 7 a.m. just as the sun was starting to rise. My kitchen window looked out to our backyard and a trio of bird feeders. I noticed movement under one of the feeders and determined that a pair of raccoons was eating breakfast, courtesy of me. I watched for a minute then decided to chase them off. They trundled away, headed towards the neighbor’s yard to the east.
I didn’t think much more about it and the day proceeded in the usual manner; a short time later both teenagers were up as was the hubby and we were doing weekend things. I was working on a sewing project most of the day and, because it was a dry day, my son (who was about 18 at the time) was out working in the yard and garden.
Around noon he waved at me from outside (my sewing room at the time was our dining room and the windows looked to the east) and pointed to a large maple tree which straddled the property line between us and the neighbor. I looked up to where he was pointing and there were the two raccoons asleep on separate branches some 30 to 40 feet above the ground. The presence of the nocturnal omnivores was observed by all in the house and then everyone continued on with their activities.
Every once in awhile I would look out the window to check and see if the raccoons were still there. Late in the afternoon, as the daylight began to fade, I looked again and burst out laughing. The raccoons were no longer asleep. Instead they were sharing a single branch, engaging in their own Muskrat Love moment, 40 feet above the ground.
Of course I pointed this out to the members of the household and began singing the song for my kids. I was rewarded with the half dumbfounded, half disgusted look which only teenagers seem to be able to master. Then I asked if either of them were familiar with the song. They were not.
It was then I realized I had failed in providing them with an important cultural reference and made a beeline for the internet. A few moments later we gathered round and watched the video. I don’t think my daughter (Age 15 at the time) – who declared it was ‘just wrong’ – has ever forgiven me. After all, that video is NOT something you can ‘unsee.’
Well, I certainly cannot ‘unsee’ what those two raccoons were doing that day either…
So in honor of Toni Tenille’s birthday AND the Eighth of May, enjoy a little Muskrat Love:
And, of course, a link on how the song came to exist: