By 1974, Helen Reddy had conquered America. She had a handful of Top 40 songs including the feminist anthem, I Am Woman. She was hosting the Midnight Special on TV as well as the Helen Reddy Show. And of course she was kicking out the Vegas jams with her lounge pop hits. It was easy to forget she was Australian – the first one to hit #1 and be a major talent in the US. And then came Angie Baby.
Written by Alan ‘Undercover Angel’ O’Day, it shot up to the top of the charts in December of 1974 and was the 2nd #1 that year with Angie in the title. I wonder if the producers of the TV show, Angie, in 1979 had Helen or the Stones to thank. It was also an odd choice for Helen, someone who preferred singing the glitzy showtune pop. Angie Baby was mellow and spooky, not a let’s-bring-the-room-down ballad, but I’m-gonna-freak-you-out slow jam. It kind of plays like any of the morose Lifetime movies combined with Without A Trace. Naturally as a kid I loved it.
It also has the get-out-of-my house-the-partys-over appeal whenever I need to send people home. Seriously. Get this song. Put it on and really get into it. Folks will be jumping out of windows to get out figuring you’re gonna chop them up when the song’s over. Why? It’s in the Joe Wissert production and the melancholy way Helen sings these lyrics:
You live your life in the songs you hear On the rock and roll radio
And when a young girl doesn’t have any friends
That’s a really nice place to go
Alright I get that. Alienated youth, finding solace in music.
Folks hoping you’d turn out cool
But they had to take you outta school
You’re a little touched you know, Angie Baby
Ok, does Angie ride the short bus? Or is she setting fire alarms off? Or is she playing tic-tac-toe on her arm with a piece of glass? And no, I don’t know who touched her…
Lovers appear in your room each night
And they whirl you across the floor
But they always seem to fade away
When your daddy taps on your door
I’ll assume this is her fantasy. But how old is Angie that these guys are already ‘lovers’? That seems a little creepy to me.
Angie girl, are you all right. Tell the radio good-night
All alone once more, Angie Baby
Angie Baby, you’re a special lady
Living in a world of make-believe
Well now I know where Janis Ian got the idea of At Seventeen. Except that Janis was depressed and whiny, not crazy… I think.
Stopping at her house is a neighbor boy with evil on his mind
‘Cause he’s been peeking in Angie’s room
At night through her window blind
Now this is coming off as a creepy masterbatory fantasy written by some sleazy old dude.
I see your folks have gone away
Would you dance with me today
I’ll show you how to have a good time, Angie Baby
Don’t let him in, Angie! Where are the parents? They should be taking care of this mentally handicapped kid. I bet Hustler did a whole video series based off this concept.
When he walks in her room,
He feels confused like he’s walked into a play
He walks in? From the window? Now I’m confused and there’s not a stage in sight.
And the music’s so loud it spins him around
‘Til his soul has lost its way
So some horny kid gets let into the house and then the bedroom of an unsupervised child, and the music starts getting him confused? I assume that this is the song that was playing.
And as she turns the volume down
He’s getting smaller with the sound
It seems to pull him off the ground
Toward the radio he’s bound never to be found
This just went from a low-grade soft porn movie to a Sid & Marty Krofft cartoon.
The headlines read that a boy disappeared
and everyone thinks he died
‘Cept a crazy girl with a secret lover
Who keeps her satisfied
Wait a minute…this is real? A real boy died? It was reported in the papers? So this girl has sex slave in her bedroom closet or locked up in a trunk by her bed? That’s when this song goes from being weird to sick. Imagine if it was a crazy boy with a peeping girl…And Helen sings this song the same way she sings You & Me Against The World. Did she realize what she was saying?
It’s so nice to be insane
No one asks you to explain
Radio by your side, Angie Baby
These are my favorite lines of the song and I think of them each time I watch a presidential nominee debate.
Listen, if you dare, and make your conclusions: