1. “Bonzo Goes to Bitburg” by the Ramones
One of the more controversial songs from the American punk band, this particular track was written in response to the Bitburg controversy of 1985. The Ramones offer up their response to the political move of Ronald Regan to visit a military cemetery where many former Nazi soldiers were buried. Regan had gone on a campaign to pay tribute to the victims of Nazism, but this particular visit was received by many as a slap in the face of that campaign and those victims. The Ramones took to writing an emotionally charged song about the visit. The song, interestingly enough, isn’t a condemnation of Regan, but rather a confession of confusion and frustration. So, Joey sings: Bonzo goes to Bitburg/then goes out for a cup of tea/As I watched it on TV/somehow it really bothered me.
2. “Saturday in the Park” by Chicago
This is one of the band’s greatest songs of all time! As a single it was certified Gold. The song is a real development from life experience. Songwriter Robert Lamm has noted that he wrote the song after watching old footage he had taken of people in Central Park, in New York. The footage inspired him to write on the ideas of peace and love and enjoying one another’s presence. The song is still a hit, with beautiful descriptions of simple fun set to catchy sounds.
3. “9 to 5” by Dolly Parton
This is probably the only time you will ever see a Dolly Parton song on my playlist, but in all fairness this is a great song. I happened to hear it afresh this week and it got stuck in my head for days. The song was originally written for an 80s movie by the same name (featuring, alongside dolly, Jane Fonda and Lilly Tomlin). The song itself won two Grammys and an Academy Award. Furthermore, the song became something of an anthem for the average office worker. It has held its place as an iconic American song for many years, finding its way into numerous films even still today.
4. “Wrong is Wrong” by Hangnail
The Christian punk band from early 200s was often a bit direct in its moralizing, this song is perhaps case and point.
“When do we draw the line?
To say wrong is wrong and nothing’s in between
When did they take the line, away?
‘Cause wrong is wrong and nothing’s in between
The band has echoes of the old school Christian punk band Altar Boys and for that I always had a soft spot for them. The song is a bit lyrically infantile but it does have a good positive message set to some fun pop-punk sounds.