10 shaggy, soulful one-hit wonders from 1973

A MeTV star and a funky piece of movie music proved to be pop smashes.

In 1973, Roberta Flack was killing us softly with her song, while Tony Orlando & Dawn were tying a yellow ribbon 'round the old oak tree. It was a big, transitional year for pop music, as both the Rolling Stones and Carly Simon topped the charts with anti-love songs, "Angie" and "You're So Vain."

Meanwhile, glam, hard rock, funk and disco were all coming to a boil. The hit songs of that year perfectly matched the wood panelling, macrame and shag carpeting of the era. These songs were warm, earthy and a little fuzzy. 

Oh, and a certain MeTV star scored one of the biggest hits of the year. Keep your ears peeled for these gems when you're listening to MeTV Music or MeTV FM.

1. Vicki Lawrence "The Night the Lights Went Out in Georgia"

Obviously, the term "one-hit wonder" hardly defines an entertainer's career — it's more of a technicality. Take Vicki Lawrence, for example. It feels weird to lump the television star together with, say, Starland Vocal Band and Lipps, Inc., but "Georgia" was her only tune to crack the Top 40. In fact, it cruised to No. 1. Carol Burnett herself presented the 24-year-old Carol Burnett Show star with her gold record certification in the final episode of season six. Listening to this funky country gem four decades later, it's strange to think of that voice coming from Mama Harper.

Image: Discogs

2. Hurricane Smith "Oh Babe, What Would You Say?"

Norman "Hurricane" Smith earned an altogether different nickname when working as a recording engineer on early Beatles albums. John Lennon called the steady studio presence "Normal." The behind-the-scenes music biz pro first tried to sell a tune to Lennon, who turned it down. Instead, he released the demo as a solo debut. This song, his second single, proved to be a surprising hit in America, reaching No. 1 on the Cash Box pop charts and No. 3 on Billboard.

Image: Discogs

3. Deodato - "Also Sprach Zarathustra (2001)"

In many of these songs, you can hear the beginnings of disco. In this funky fusion extravaganza by Brazilian composer Eumir Deodato, you can literally hear the evolution of jazz into disco. All while cashing in on the classical piece by Richard Strauss famously featured in the hit film 2001: A Space Odyssey. Random fact: Deodato is the father-in-law of Stephen Baldwin.

Image: Discogs

4. Sylvia - "Pillow Talk"

Again, it's a bit weird to label Sylvia Robinson a one-hit wonder when she would eventually start Sugar Hill Records, which gave the world both "Rapper's Delight" and "The Message," groundbreaking hip-hop cuts. This sexy groove was written for Al Green, who turned it down, as he thought it was too risqué.

Image: Discogs

5. Brighter Side of Darkness - "Love Jones"

This Chicago R&B group would crack the Top 20 with its gold soul hit. The track proved to be so popular, it was parodied by Cheech and Chong, whose spoof "Basketball Jones" actually managed to chart one slot higher.

Image: Discogs

6. Timmy Thomas - "Why Can't We Live Together"

With its primitve drum machine, this groovy, lo-fi classic nudged soul music towards its electronic future. Of course, anyone who has listened to Top 40 radio in the last two years will immediately recognize the rhythm from Drake's "Hotline Bling," which essentially lifts the entire track.

Image: Discogs

7. Eric Weissberg and Steve Mandell ‎– "Dueling Banjos"

One of the most disturbing films of the 1970s — and one of its most disturbing scenes — would lead to a massive folky hit. This instrumental is immediately recognizable, even if most do not recall Ronny Cox playing it with a hillbilly boy in the Georgia wilderness.

Image: Discogs

8. Stories - "Brother Louie"

British funk group Hot Chocolate originally cut this classic tune. New York quartet Stories covered it a few months later, finding great success with their homage. The American version rocketed to No. 1 with a rougher, rockier, Rod Stewartier feel.

Image: Discogs

9. B. W. Stevenson - "My Maria"

The "B.W." stood for "Buckwheat." This shaggy country singer cracked the pop Top 10 with "My Maria," and hung around in the Top 40 for a dozen weeks. The following year, Stevenson performed for the pilot episode of Austin City Limits. Unfortunately, the recording was too poor and the episode was scrapped.

Image: Discogs

10. Skylark - "Wildflower"

Straight out of Vancouver, British Columbia, Skylark fit right in with the soft rock and Southern boogie of the era. Well, Southern Canada. Oddly, they never say "Wildflower" in the lyrics. The ballad broke into the Top 10. Years later, both Tupac and Kanye would sample it.

Image: Discogs


There are many more where that came from. Revisit more of pop music's past. Check out of lists of one-hit wonders from 1971, 1974, 1975, 1976, 1977, 1978 and 1979.

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