[3 minute read]
The topic for Food 4 Thought Friday for week #114 is Nightmares/Dreams and this song, which made a big impression on me when I was younger, is an ideal one to feature. I am participating in the September Song Project so all my posts this month feature pop songs which are on my digital playlist.
As a young girl listening to the words of this unusual song, I was both fascinated and thrilled. Anything which mentioned the taboos of sex or lovers I stored away eagerly like a squirrel’s precious haul of nuts in autumn. I listened to this avidly on my own transistor radio – a recent birthday present.
It mentions mental health – referring to Angie as a special lady. A girl without friends who is taken out of school for being too disruptive. ‘Touched’ is a non-PC phrase, but back in that decade it was a term for mild insanity without any intent to cause offence.
I liked how Angie is described as living through and/or losing herself in the songs on her radio as if they were a portal to another world. That’s also how pop music felt to me back then. With older siblings I was more tuned into the rock/pop music culture than my school friends, although I knew nothing of the love and heartbreak which many songs depicted.
This song has a narrative so, as I listened, I saw it like a drama with a supernatural /fantasy element. A neighbourhood boy who’s been spying on her breaks into her room to ‘dance’ with Angie. He is quickly disoriented and disabled by the volume of the music from her radio and the spell it seems to weave. When she turns the radio dial lower, he feels himself shrinking until he disappears. Like a pulp-horror novel, the boy is never seen again, leaving the rest of the neighbourhood to wonder where he’s gone. Angie still encounters him however, referring to him as her lover, but nobody believes the accounts of a ‘special’ girl who lives in a ‘world of make-believe’.
What I didn’t really understand (back then) was just how terrible the reality of a delinquent pubescent boy breaking into a particularly vulnerable girl’s bedroom could have been. I sensed there was a threat, a menace to his actions but was mostly hazy on the danger or consequences. What I enjoyed was Angie getting the upper hand and turning the tables on the boy’s original evil intent. She wields the power and traps him into servitude to her. It’s as if he becomes a genie in the magic lamp (her radio).
The storyline is like an episode of Tales of the Unexpected by Roald Dahl. If you haven’t heard the song before I hope you’ll listen and see for yourself. Let me know if you like it or share your interpretation of the fantasy lyrics.
Angie Baby – performed by Helen Reddy (YouTube)