Jul 07

TONY ORLANDO AND DAWN – “Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round The Old Oak Tree”

FT + Popular70 comments • 7,032 views

#329, 21 April 1973

Tony Orlando, banged up for unspecified badness, whiles away his time inside by fooling about with his organ (Bontempi if I’m not mistaken) and dreaming of the yellow ribbon his lady-love will hang out to show she’s waited for him. But when the day comes he finds – sorry to spoil the punchline – a hundred ribbons tied on! The sly old dog. It must be the moustache.

(Or are they all meant to be from the same woman?)

One of the minor philosophical problems of pop is this: why is one catchy song delightfully so and another infuriatingly so? Dawn make an important contribution to the debate by suggesting implicitly that the difference may well lie in the enthusiastic application of cheap bastard organ all over a track, deep-sixing any chance of emotional bite with a grinning rinky-dink flourish at the end of every bloody line. Tony Orlando being a self-satisfied goon obviously doesn’t help either. Obnoxious.



  1. 1
    Marcello Carlin on 20 Jul 2007 #

    And still with a score at least three times more than it deserves!

    “Tie A Yellow Ribbon”‘s catchiness has maybe less to do with the arrangement, such as it is, but of the pivotal nature of its times; the song rang true, or was made to ring true, for homecoming Vietnam vets, even though it’s about someone being released from jail (maybe for stalking the woman downstairs in his previous number one?) and the immediate profusion of cover versions from every tottering crooner and MoR rep reliable – Bing Crosby to Val Doonican and even to Donald Peers – all with the subtext that “hey, in this long-haired age they can still write songs the way they used to,” i.e. pre-rock. It was a reactionism (which is also one of my concerns with the danger of this being adopted by the GP mob. Sometimes tack is just tack) which blinkeredly denied the now.

    That having been said, the profusion of versions I heard from crooning Bontempi organ-wielding “entertainers” in Blackpool at the time suggests that the facility of the arrangement had its perks; note how something like the Specials’ “Do Nothing” with nearly the same instrumentation and a chord sequence at right angles to “Tie A Yellow Ribbon” exudes a different atmosphere and qualitative level altogether.

    Huge, orchestrated ballads as of old were not as common, or at least confined to Opportunity Knocks contestants; US number ones from Maureen McGovern and Vicki Lawrence did not register in Britain at all. So there was perhaps a cost-cutting, oil crisis-anticipating economy at work here, as well as a sense of solidarity (he’s just like us! We can identify with him! You never see Engelbert in Britain these days!) which stretches back to The War.

    This is the only number one common to both Britain and the States in 1973, and also the year’s biggest transatlantic seller – it was still on our Top 40 in early 1974 – by apparent virtue of standing against everything else that was happening in that year.

  2. 2
    Rosie on 20 Jul 2007 #

    The musical equivalent of polystyrene packing material. Next business please!

  3. 3
    Alan on 20 Jul 2007 #

    In my head the bounciness of the tune does feel a bit too relentlessly perky. i’ve always associated it with Save All Your Kisses for Me and the theme tune to Ask The Family.

  4. 4

    marcello sez pivot of the times, and that’s surely a lot of what this hit rode on — the sense of a divide in culture, on the back of the dragging-on war (and the moil of politics that came with this), in the aftermath of unprecedented cultural upheaval (“one morning after the 60s” is joan didion’s pinpoint-precise name to conjure the disjointed feeling) — but i think there’s actually a bigger unity between its content (and maybe its sound) with the expression of an attitude to this sense-of-pivot

    viz: that the years of turmoil have themselves been — for many record-buyers — a kind of exile or prison sentence, when the world was out of joint and made no sense and things were wrong: hurrah things are going to be as they were, and yes it IS sort of my fault (orlando as the voice of “proper pop”) that i got put away but i’m BACK BACK BACK, and well — enter tinny jauntiness — let’s have ourselves some non-weirdnik fun eh? and almost the thinness of the sound itself expresses the flimsiness and self-delusion of all of this, but the listener wants to delude themselves, bcz things HAVE been horrible (whosever fault it was)

    (this makes it sound like i think it’s a GREAT WORK OF ART — expanallations of unity generally do — when i totally don’t; what i mean is, it chimed exactly with a sensibility at a particular time, not just in mode or “genre”, but in content and tone, and that sensibility was widespread, and understandable if wrongheaded, and the degree to which it was grabbed at tells its own story: i find it an inexpressibly sad song, bcz it daren’t go near what tom calls “unspecified badness”, it’s about the wan remains of unconditional loyalty, and its reveal has a kind of inexplicable dementia to it, where pathology is disguised as validation)

    yr pal, t.w.adorno b4 his first cup of coffee

  5. 5

    one more thing: i think the unanimity which which “three years in the slammer” became a metaphor with soldiers off at war speaks to a kind of anti-govt smallholder libertarianism — sullen and even reluctant in terms of expression, sort of stout-quiet-yeoman-KingMob-against-the-king — which is distinct from what we generally associate with the 60s uprisings

    while it overlapped and crossed-over in the 60s, it was by the mid-70s very much detaching itself, not least bcz the student left were already on the way to greater freedoms and powers, and this other much larger group was actually left further behind (and portrayed as ridiculous) — cf the final scene of EASY RIDER, and project that two decades up to the constituency for anti-clintonism

    (what i’m getting at is that the counter-counter-culture was not primarily the stuffily respectable and quiescent: in some ways it was more lawless, more chaotic, and more resentful) (ok we’re getting a bit far from dawn maybe, but i don’t think so, i’m just not explaining my feeling very clearly — *SHOUTS FOR MORE COFFEE*)

  6. 6

    this is americarmodism w/o the stats isn’t it — i shut up now

  7. 7
    Waldo on 20 Jul 2007 #

    Marcello beat me to the punch. There is not a doubt in my mind that Orlando found himself in the boob because he simply would not leave his downstairs neighbour alone, attempting to play away from his regular girlie, whom he now begs for mercy in this most crass of manners. Naturally she forgives the bugger. I truly detest this rubbish and it says everything that my Edwardian father loved it and demanded that we fucking bought it. He was particularly charmed by the ending when Tony sings “I’m coming home, um-hum!” Well, I was appalled.

    Please do not dwell on this one, Tom. People might start to get nasty.

  8. 8
    Marcello Carlin on 20 Jul 2007 #

    Man like Sinkah absolutely on the spot there, and makes it all the more frustrating that “Yesterday Once More” stopped at number two here since that seems the precisely confused, knowingly naive mirror to “Yellow Ribbon” – Karen listening to oldies on the radio, not quite understanding how or why the world SHE knew has (literally) gone to pot, trying to sound enthusiastic about the old sounds coming back, even if only via her head, but knowing deep down that it just cannot happen. It’s the best song about Watergate I know of, all the more so because they didn’t know they were writing it about Watergate. Twenty years on her ghost will turn into Ellen Burstyn in Requiem For A Dream.

    From a British perspective I would line this up (not necessarily in the context of a firing squad) with things like Singalongamax – and yes, Mr Bygraves was another “Yellow Ribbon” coveree – and it was the same dislodged post-war populace wanting things the way they used to be before all Those Hippies/Teddies/Immigrants/Terrorists/Trade Unions/Bloke Two Doors Down/Delete Where Applicable came and ruined everything they “believed” in.

    Another opportunity to talk about this in about five number ones’ time when we come to something which usually gets tossed in the same chicken basket as “Yellow Ribbon” but speaks to me in an odd but logical way which Orlando could never manage.

  9. 9
    Marcello Carlin on 20 Jul 2007 #

    Alan I fear you may have your Robert Robinson game shows mixed up here – I think you meant Call My Bluff, whose theme does have a relatable perkiness; Ask The Family’s theme was “Acka Raga” by John Mayer and Joe Harriott off Indo-Jazz Fusions!

  10. 10
    jeff w on 20 Jul 2007 #

    I was too young to understand the Vietnam metaphor at the time this was a hit. Up to a point I didn’t really get the lyric at all, not understanding that in the US, buses aren’t things that take you from village/suburb to market/town centre but long-distance Greyhound type services. Let alone the social and economic status that being forced to use a Greyhound bus to get oneself home implied.

    All I knew was that this song seemed to hang around at or near the top of the charts for far too long, a fly in the glam rock ointment. I didn’t hate it as such, only its ubiquity.

    The other association I have with this song is cheap package holidays. Marcello mentions Blackpool. By 1973, our family could afford to go for a week to Mallorca in the summer – and this song (and its follow up, “Say Has Anybody Seen My Sweet Gypsy Rose”) conjure up vivid memories of evening entertainment in the lounge areas of foreign hotels.

    Orlando as “self-satisfied goon” is a bit harsh btw. He was a trouper for whom success came late in the day, and he wasn’t going to waste his opportunity to milk every second of his time in the spotlight. An icon for all those struggling lounge singers in cheap hotels abroad, in fact.

  11. 11
    Marcello Carlin on 20 Jul 2007 #

    I must admit that I never quite grasped the subtext of Orlando’s subsequent “Who’s In The Strawberry Patch With Sally?”

  12. 12
    Alan on 20 Jul 2007 #

    good catch Marcello! i did mean Call My Bluff of course.

  13. 13
    Tom on 20 Jul 2007 #

    Thanx for the Ask The Family info too – I was mesmerised by that theme as a tiny, will track it down.

    Did someone else cover “Acka Raga”, the title sounds really familiar somehow?

  14. 14
    Marcello Carlin on 20 Jul 2007 #

    Shocking Blue certainly covered it round about “Venus” time. I have the feeling that there may have been some Big Beat-type remixes doing the rounds in the nineties. The original Indo-Jazz Fusions album is still available on CD and a total classic.

  15. 15
    Tom on 20 Jul 2007 #

    Shocking Blue! I thought so. I heard it when I was rustling up potential Dutch entries for the Pop World Cup – a futile task as the HATAZ dumped me from the competition because Twenty4Seven was TOO REAL for them :(

  16. 16
    Billy Smart on 20 Jul 2007 #

    Not even Tony Orlando himself thought much of the song. From the Guardian obituary of producer Hank Medress, 25 June, 2007;

    “With a new partner, Dave Appell, he formed Dawn, led by Tony Orlando. Their hits in the early 1970s included Candida, Knock Three Times and Tie a Yellow Ribbon, whose sentimentality so repelled Orlando that he at first refused to sing it. He was persuaded when Medress assured him: “If you record this song, you’ll work for the rest of your life.” The song sold several million copies and inspired the custom of using yellow ribbon to remember or welcome home prisoners of war, notably on the occasion of the return of US hostages from Iran in 1981.”

    The only tolerable version of this song that I know of comes from the 1973 Warwick LP ‘Stewpot’s Pop Party’, an attempt to create a 45 minute party for small children on disc. The slightly bewildered vocal inflections of ‘Sung by the Children’ almost make the song haunting and poigniant. ‘Almost’ meaning that they make you think about how it could be.

  17. 17
    Marcello Carlin on 20 Jul 2007 #

    Bill, are you seriously proposing that Stewpot’s Pop Party As Advertised On TV is the British Langley Schools Music Project?

  18. 18

    it’s funny because it’s true!

  19. 19
    Billy Smart on 20 Jul 2007 #

    It is certainly an album that you keep on coming back to, though it doesn’t have anything like the same sense of artistic integrity as the Langley Schools. For those of us who were children in the 70s, its extremely redolant of the sort of thing that adults thought we would like. There’s an additional pleasure in hearing familiar songs with sound effects of cheering children and the Stewpot theme interpolated.

    The moment when Stewpot asks “Alright children! Who here likes Gary Glitter?” is, once heard, never forgotten.

    And its got a handy set of cut-out party invitations, that I still use photocopies of as a grown man.

  20. 20
    Marcello Carlin on 20 Jul 2007 #

    That moment may qualify as the most chilling in all of pop even before I’ve heard it!

  21. 21
    DV on 20 Jul 2007 #

    You are all rightwingers. I love this song. There aren’t enough good-timey tunes about people have been a bit naughty and gone to jail but still have someone at home who wuvs them and is looking forward to when they have paid their debt to society.

  22. 22
    Waldo on 21 Jul 2007 #

    The crime for which Orlando was banged up I can forgive. This song, I’m afraid I can’t.

  23. 23
    intothefireuk on 22 Jul 2007 #

    The plinky-plonk intro should tell you everthing you need to know about what you are about to endure. So a mediocre melodic setting for a cheesy lyric about an old lag who is expecting his old lady to have saved herself for him isn’t something I can really have any empathy with at all. The Vietnam angle makes at least some sense whereas the reasons why it stayed so long at the top and in the charts in the UK completely eludes me. Consider also that during its stay at the top there were also these tunes hanging around the charts :-
    Drive-in Saturday – Bowie
    20th Century Boy – Trex
    Hello Hello I’m Back Again – Glitter
    Pyjamarama – Roxy
    Love Train – Ojays
    Crazy – Mud
    Why Cant We Live Together – Thomas
    Feel The Need In Me – Detroit Ems
    Killing Me Softly – Flack
    Brother Louie – Hot Choc
    No More Mr Nice Guy – Alice
    God Gave Rock n Roll – Argent
    Hell Raiser – Sweet

    Although they may not be to everyones taste it beggars belief that so inane a tune as TAYRRTOOT can fend off this lot.

  24. 24
    Marcello Carlin on 23 Jul 2007 #

    See my post above (number 8) which I think sums up the reasons for its all-conquering success; it certainly did capture the wider market of people who didn’t actually buy records, or hadn’t done so for about a decade.

  25. 25
    Erithian on 23 Jul 2007 #

    And indeed of intothefireuk’s list, “Hello Hello I’m Back Again” and “Hell Raiser” were the two records held off at Number 2 by Dawn.

    I love Tom’s concept of the hundred yellow ribbons being from different women! A whole new aspect to the song. I also enjoyed, though it’s a little stretched, Marcello’s reading of “Yesterday Once More” as a post-Watergate song. Such a pity the Carpenters won’t be troubling us in this series.

    Yes, this was the era of “Singalongmax”, and just as rock’n’roll was being profitably revived, not least by the next Number 1, many of the “oldies” were having career revivals too – and the reason I can look back fondly on the likes of Perry Como and Andy Williams is that they were having quality hits in among yer Sweets and T Rexes, without the annoying tweeness of Dawn (that’s why I’ve retrieved Perry from my late mother’s record collection). Indeed the very first performer of a UK Number 1 single, Al Martino, had a sizeable hit with “Spanish Eyes” this year.

    Oddly enough I remember Stewpot reading out a request where a kid had meant to say “can you please play Gary Glitter” but instead wrote “can you please play with Gary Glitter” which again has a whole new overtone these days.

  26. 26
    Marcello Carlin on 23 Jul 2007 #


    Yes, the “Here In My Heart” man came back into the top five in ’73 with “Spanish Eyes” – originally recorded in 1969 and a very small hit then, but revived thanks to persistent Radio 2 play and the Johnny Fontaine factor – maybe Diddy David Hamilton didn’t want to find a horse’s head in his bed? ;-)

  27. 27
    Waldo on 23 Jul 2007 #

    Wasn’t Diddy David still at Radio One in 1973?

  28. 28
    Marcello Carlin on 23 Jul 2007 #

    You’re quite right, he was – it was very difficult to tell the two apart in those days, at least in the daytime. As I recall most of the music he played was re-recordings which the artists had to come into Broadcasting House to make for obscure Musicians’ Union/needletime reasons. Even Jimmy Young was still on Radio 1 until the autumn of ’73 I think. It would have been Wogan then.

  29. 29
    Waldo on 23 Jul 2007 #

    I used to have a Radio One book at about this time. Some of the photos were glorious. The funniest was one of D.D Hamilton sitting at his turntable at a Radio One Roadshow with two lucious nubiles on either side of him decked out in Radio One t-shirts. The girls were lovely but couldn’t have looked less out of place sat next to that hobbit, who was ludicrously sporting something approaching a Sly Stone hair-do. That was 1973 for you.

    As for Ed Stewart, even his show’s name “Junior Choice” sounds a bit humpty these days. What with “Morning Town Ride”, “Mooorrrnnning!!” and “Hello, Darling!” things certainly boded ill with or without Paul Gadd references. And those bloody mice running around that Dutch windmill and Mitch Murray howling away at “Down Came the Rain”… I can recall the day of the 1973 Wimbledon Mens Final and Stewart having a rant as the partipants were both from Eastern Europe, a Soviet and a Czech. This allowed Ed to say something on the lines of this was “The Iron Curtain Final” and that nobody cared. I was always rather mystified by that one.

  30. 30
    Marcello Carlin on 23 Jul 2007 #

    Sounds about right for top Tory DJ Stewpot; wasn’t ’73 the year all the top tennis players boycotted Wimbledon because of money disputes? No doubt that gave rise to throaty ranting on Stewpot’s part about bloody striking miners and they’re all Commies but then Roger “Neither The Queen Nor The Duran Duran One” Taylor made the ’73 semi-final so obviously Britain Was Great Again.

  31. 31
    Waldo on 23 Jul 2007 #

    1973 was indeed the year of the Mens boycott at Wimbledon. But the reason for it was not money but political. A guy from Yugoslavia called Nikki Pilic had been suspended by his country’s association (Commies indeed!) for not turning up for Davis Cup tie for his country. This meant that Pilic’s entry for Wimbledon that year could not be accepted. At about this time, the ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals) had ben formed by former Wimbledon Champion Jack Kramer. It was in effect a players’ union. The ATP appealed to the Yugoslav association (in reality, their government) to rescind the suspension. This, not surprisingly, was ignored. Kramer thus instructed his members to withdraw their own Wimbledon entries in solidarity with Pilic. The All England Club was, alas, piggy in the middle and merely the victim of circumstance but the boycott went ahead, descimating the Mens draw completely. Just about all the top players stayed away, This in hindsight might have been what Ed Stewart was saying, as both the Soviet and Czech governments instructed their players not to strike (funny, that). So indeed did the Romanian regime, who ordered Ilie Nastase to play Wimbledon and he was promply seeded first. Roger “Neither The Queen Nor The Duran Duran One” did indeed make the semi-final as a patriot or a scab, depending on your political bent. Here he was brought down by the eventual winner Jan Kodes.

  32. 32
    Brian on 23 Jul 2007 #

    I live in Kingston, Ontario, Canada and it’s also home to a huge military base. Canada is , right now, along with the Brits very involved in military movements in Afganistan. We’ve had about 60 troops killed.

    As a show of support there are bumper stickers, shaped like a yellow ribbon that shows that we ” Support Our Troops “. I don’t know if the yellow ribbon was a symbol of support/safe return before the song was a hit, but it still used as such.

  33. 33
    Pete Baran on 23 Jul 2007 #

    The song “She Wore A Yellow Ribbon”, from the John Ford film – er – She Wore A Yellow Ribbon suggests the practice is considerably older: at least 1949 when the film came out, and probably 1870’s or so when the film is set.

    Its a terrific movie, with John Wayne taking “one last job” before retirement and being over-run by womenfolk.

  34. 34
    wwolfe on 23 Jul 2007 #

    The insanely insistent message of that rinky dink organ intro is that there are no problems anywhere in the world and everything works out for the best – or at least it would if only all those troublemakers would agree to share the Big Lie along with those of us humming this song. Delusion and resentment: the hallmarks of American politics for the last quarter-century.

    For this reason – and because I heard it ten times a day back when I listened to the radio during most of my waking hours – this was my all-time most hated single for about two decades. It was finally eclipsed by Whitney Houston’s “Deutschland Uber Alles” version of “I Will Always Love You.” But at a deep level, I’ll always loathe you, Tony.

    By the way, he and Dawn snagged a long-running prime time variety show out of this song. And he managed to cut a truly blasphemous version of the Impression’s “He Will Break Your Heart,” as well (re-titled “He Don’t Love You”).

  35. 35
    Lena on 23 Jul 2007 #

    I watched that variety show for a while, but the Sonny and Cher show was better. I’m happy he didn’t like this song. I can only assume that all those people who voted for Nixon but never admitted it publicly also bought this single.

  36. 36
    Marcello Carlin on 24 Jul 2007 #

    Much thanks to Waldo for putting the record straight about ’73 men’s Wimbledon, and indeed, oh the irony; still, even Stewpot on strikers was Noam Chomsky in comparison with Blackburn whom I clearly recall saying, with regard to power cuts etc., that striking electricians should be electrocuted. Charming.

    Mercifully the Tony Orlando and Dawn variety show never made it to British screens, or if it did I was lucky enough to miss it…although we did get the Donny and Marie Show for years on end…

    Apropos “Support Our Troops,” I wonder whether Brian has heard that song about the woman with the United States Marines sticker on the bumper of her SUV? Can’t remember title/artist details offhand but it is on one of the Poptimism CDs and is truly remarkable in an open-mouthed WTF kind of way.

  37. 37
    Marcello Carlin on 24 Jul 2007 #

    In fact minimal research shows said song to be “Bumper Of My SUV” by one Chely Wright.

  38. 38
    Tom on 24 Jul 2007 #

    Yes, and you get to do that research BECAUSE YOU’RE FREE.

    We actually played that at Poptimism! We meant to just play the first verse and chorus but then the next CD didnt work so we had to play the whole thing. Now THERE’S a guilty pleasure, if you like.

  39. 39
    Erithian on 24 Jul 2007 #

    Purely by coincidence, the paper I was reading this morning featured that photo of Kenny Everett urging a Tory rally to bomb Russia and kick Michael Foot’s stick away…

    And wasn’t Adrian Juste a bit of a Tory on the quiet?

  40. 40
    Marcello Carlin on 24 Jul 2007 #

    On the loud, more like; he did promotional tapes for the Tories during the Major ’92 election campaign.

    The chart progress of Everett’s hilarious “Snot Rap” (a sample from its rich seam of humour: “Do you think we’ll get on Top Of The Pops?” “Why not? You’ve been on top of everyone else”) is invigorating; before the Tory conference it was 56-27-10-9, the week after it was 13-26-45-67. Overall, not a great career move.

  41. 41
    Brian on 24 Jul 2007 #

    RE “Bumper Of My SUV” by one Chely Wright.

    I think I heard it late one night being beamed across Lake Ontario from upper New York State ( only 20 K from here ) , where there is , you guessed it, a large US military base. I also think that it made the rounds on the country charts.

    I can’t can’t put stickers on my car for fear that the weight will tear my bumper off …..

    And for what it is worth , there is a back-lash against these ” Support Our Troops ” stickers in a couple of Canadian cities as they are starting to appear on “public” vehicles such as garbage trucks, hydro vans and fire engines etc. The ” left ” thinks that the placement of these stickers indicates unanimous support for the “war’.

    I guess it’s not enough to have people give their lives for freedom but we also want un-opinionated garbage collection, too.

  42. 42
    Lena on 24 Jul 2007 #

    One artist’s reaction to those stickers:


  43. 43
    Waldo on 24 Jul 2007 #

    People! – You really have to understand that supporting a political party that you yourself do not support is a right and not a crime. Would such a right disappear under a government of your own prefered political colouring? Ask yourselves that.

  44. 44
    Marcello Carlin on 24 Jul 2007 #

    I wouldn’t mind if the Right disappeared full stop; we’d all be a lot better off.

  45. 45
    Waldo on 24 Jul 2007 #

    The Right wouldn’t!!!

  46. 46
    Marcello Carlin on 24 Jul 2007 #


  47. 47
    Waldo on 24 Jul 2007 #

    Yes, of course you do, Marcello. Just as long as you yourself accept the right of the Right NOT to not have the Right!

  48. 48
    Waldo on 24 Jul 2007 #

    Aha, Marcello! I noticed you edited your last message, which was: “Have I the right not to have the Right?” My reply is above.

    I think a question we could both agree on would be “Shall we nick Tony Orlando again?”

  49. 49
    Marcello Carlin on 24 Jul 2007 #

    I felt that the attempted symmetry with my parallel Top 100 Songs comments (viz. “compiled” and “list”) lacked a certain chetif.

    Is this the apposite moment to introduce the 82 million Germans or shall I leave that to my great personal mate Godwin Slaw?

  50. 50
    Marcello Carlin on 24 Jul 2007 #

    As regards Mr Orlando, we must leave the final verdict to all-seeing, omniscient Judge Dale…what does he make of “Tie A Yellow Ribbon”?

    “Good record.”

    That’s that settled, then.

  51. 51
    Waldo on 24 Jul 2007 #

    I know what you mean: “The whole damn bus is cheering!”

  52. 52
    Snif on 25 Jul 2007 #

    I seem to recall reading the “original” account of the story behind the song in a Reader’s Digest not long before it came out – perhaps the writer of said tune saw the same article and was inspired to hit-dom…?

  53. 53
    My name is Kenny on 25 Jul 2007 #

    If you haven’t checked it out yet, go check out the Asylum Street Spankers’ take on the song, “Stick Magnetic Ribbons on Your SUV.”

  54. 54
    My name is Kenny on 25 Jul 2007 #

    It’s on Youtube.

  55. 55
    Marcus Floater on 31 Jul 2007 #

    Apparently the song’s lyrics were a rip-off of an article published in the early 70s. The author sued, but lost, when the songwriters demonstrated that it was on old folk story that predated the article – although if you read the article it’s pretty clear that it is the ur source. Article here:


  56. 56
    tracerhand on 31 Jul 2007 #

    A friend in Tennessee has two things on the back of his truck: the magnetic yellow ribbon saying “Support Our Troops” and a bumper sticker saying “Republicans are scum”.

    Great comments.

  57. 57
    Erithian on 3 Aug 2007 #

    I was going to say something to the effect that there is no contradiction between supporting the troops – in the sense of hoping they do a professional job and get home in one piece – and opposing the leaders who sent them there, but that it’s a tricky concept to get across in a bumper sticker. Mind you, the two you quote seem to do the job nicely.

  58. 58
    Marcello Carlin on 3 Aug 2007 #

    Currently reading Drabble’s The Ice Age and I note that “Tie A Yellow Ribbon” comes up on the car radio at a crucial moment and initiates a nervous breakdown in one of the lead female characters. Hardly surprising.

  59. 59
    old hippie on 22 Aug 2007 #

    I was researching the history of “Tie a Yellow Ribbon” when I came across this chat site. I am dating myself here; but I remember when this song came out the first time. We even studied it in grade 11. The timing with the end of the Viet Nam War (er — Police Action- the returning troops did not get the government support of actual war veterans) is correct. One thing that you are all missing is the timing of the prioson term. Correct me is I am wrong, but wasn’t the penalty for draft dodging 3 years? The stint over in the Nam was just 2. So — apart from the history of ribbons being worn to remember a loved one far away – the YELLOW ribbon started out as a symbol of support for returning draft dodgers. That aspect seems to have been conveniently forgotten.

    Old Hippie

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    DUTCH WAGENBACH on 21 Sep 2007 #

    I loved TIE A YELLOW RIBBON when it came out in 1973 and still do. It sounds as though it was written thiry years earlier but is none the worse for it. It’s an excellent tune to jitterbug to. But here’s a confession for you. Kidderminster Harriers Football Team re-wrote the lyrics earlier this year as “Tie a Big Red Ribbon Round the New Wembley” Go to http://www.bbc.co.uk/hereford & worcester to hear it. Brilliant! Living within sight of the Wembley arch I like the Kidderminster Harriers lyrics even more than I do the originals. Perhaps we should now have a custom of tying big red ribbons round new stadiums whenever they open.

  61. 61
    DUTCH WAGENBACH on 22 Sep 2007 #

    Old Hippie – interesting comment. But if memory serves me correctly, wasn’t the guy in the lyrics (the original Irwin Levine and Larry Brown lyrics, not Kidderminster Harriers’ ones by the way!) put away for some form of theft, not draft-dodging? “Now I’ve got to know what is and isn’t mine” goes the second line of the lyrics. According to other sources I’ve resarched, the lyrics were inspired by a guy from White Oak, Georgia who was put away for three years for passing dud cheques, which is a form of theft. On his release, he asked his wife to tie a yellow ribbon (surprise surprise) round the single oak tree on the village green to show that she still loved him. But perhaps I’m splitting hairs. The point is that, regardless of the authors’ intentions, TIE A YELLOW RIBBON became an enduring anthem to homecoming from any form of incarceration, whether brought on by criminal acts or otherwise. And it endures to this day, 34 years after its original release. Just think, football was effectively incarcerated in the doldrums whilst the new Wembley stadium was being built, so when it came home to the spanking new stadium (after years of delay to the project, not to mention running over budget) the Kidderminster Harriers’ rewrite was very timely. Certainly a better anthem than FOOTBALL’S COMING HOME.

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    richard thompson on 27 May 2008 #

    remember Pans People dancing to it and then during it’s time at no 1 there was a film of Dawn singing it on a bus then they sang it live on the 500th edition.

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    Billy Smart on 28 May 2008 #

    That’s the Top Of The Pops transmitted on October 4th 1973. Also in the studio along with Dawn were; CCS, Bryan Ferry, Cliff Richard, Lynsey De Paul, The Sweet, David Cassidy, The Tremeloes (eh?), The Simon Park Orchestra and The Who – quite a line-up! It was presented by Jimmy Saville, Tony Blackburn, Noel Edmunds and Kenny Everett. This one is supposed to exist!

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    DJ Punctum on 28 May 2008 #

    Ah, the seldom-acknowledged “go glam” period of the Trems’ history. If the Who were on they would have been doing “5.15” and hence this is the famous moment when they threw a hissy fit which I think is fairly freely available on YouTube.

  65. 65
    DJ Punctum on 28 May 2008 #

    Here, for instance.

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    Lena on 19 Mar 2013 #

    The Osmonds are coming, the Osmonds are coming: http://musicsoundsbetterwithtwo.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/osmondmania-little-jimmy-tweedle-dee.html Thanks for reading and retweeting, everybody!

  67. 67
    Lena on 2 Apr 2013 #

    The whole darn bus is going to the drive-in: http://musicsoundsbetterwithtwo.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/postmodern-love-david-bowie-drive-in.html Thanks for reading, everyone!

  68. 68
    Lena on 23 Apr 2013 #

    It’s getting hot in here: http://musicsoundsbetterwithtwo.blogspot.co.uk/2013/04/ka-boom-sweet-hell-raiser.html Thanks for reading, tout le monde!

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    lonepilgrim on 18 Jul 2019 #

    Late to this thread – I know it’s corny but I’ve always had a soft spot for this song. Unlike Green Green Grass of Home or I’ve Gotta Get a Message to You the protagonist has a happy ending.

  70. 70

    This is pretty bloody awful, even for the time, and it influenced the worst song of all time, but at least the central riff was also used by Modest Mouse for all-time stomping banging indie disco banger Float On.

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