Jul 07

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

FT + Popular71 comments • 7,466 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.



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  1. 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.

  2. 62
    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.

  3. 63
    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!

  4. 64
    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.

  5. 65
    DJ Punctum on 28 May 2008 #

    Here, for instance.

  6. 66
    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!

  7. 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!

  8. 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!

  9. 69
    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.

  10. 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.

  11. 71
    Gareth Parker on 30 May 2021 #

    I think I could stretch to a 4/10 here.

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