Right around 1975 or so, this was a minor hit. Top twenty or so.
Like most hit songs, there’s nothing to it, really. If you quizzed fans of the song, and asked them to tell you the lyrics, they’d be able to sing-song the “hook,” you ain’t you ain’t you ain’t got no lover, which doesn’t sound like Shakespeare to my ear, and the three-word title, but the rest is basically unintelligible, and unintelligent, if you look it up. It’s the sort of song you could sing anything in if you were covering it, and no one would notice it. But pop songs aren’t often worth studying overmuch. It was raucous fun, and any four people could bang it out in the garage if you got the notion.
Of course Dwight and his friends got the idea of banging things out in their Tulsa garage by seeing A Hard Day’s Night, and figgering, “How hard can this be?” This song made it to the charts out of nowhere, while the band was trying to get famous doing something else, and then they started paying attention to it again, and the something else never materialized.
It’s not hard to have a hit song, really. It’s almost impossible to have a hit song, but it’s not hard. There is no way to tell what the public will like, or even what they’re willing to have shoved in their ear. Payola got bad songs played on the radio back in the day, but it wasn’t a slam-dunk way to make things popular. The record companies just tried everything to see what worked, and were satisfied with one million-seller out of a thousand tries. It wasn’t that difficult to get thrown at the wall thirty years ago. Deuced difficult to stick, though. I’m not sure exactly what alchemy is used now, although fake Twitter followers and bot-driven YouTube views seem to have supplanted having members of the band and their families calling the radio stations non-stop and requesting their own songs with a hankie over the receiver to disguise their voice. Time marches on.
This song was about the first thing Dwight Twilley ever did, and it’s the only thing that might even merit a trivia question about him. You could perhaps tease a second trivia question about the drummer and female singer in the video. They’re castaway Cowsills. You can hear the drummer playing and singing on other recordings that made the charts, too; that’s him on Tommy Tutone’s Jenny (867-5309), another one-hit wonder in the same guitar/bass/drums vein.
The rock and roll machine has always been the musical version of The Million Monkey Theorem. It explains probability theory by positing that if a monkey hits keys at random on a typewriter keyboard for an infinite amount of time, it will almost surely type a given text, such as the complete works of William Shakespeare, eventually.
So I offer the Dwight Twilley Theorem to you, my readers. Here goes:
If an infinite number of garage bands are formed after watching a Beatles movie, and they hit notes at random on Telecasters and sing doggerel for an infinite amount of time, they’ll eventually get Casey Kasem to utter their name on AM radio after midnight on Sunday, even if their bass player doesn’t know what to do with his hands.
The corollary to this theorem is: Only the music store and Yoko Ono will end up with any money.