I’M THE FIRST TO admit it, sometimes I make the oddest observations while listening to my records. As most of you probably know by now, I’ve been playing my big record collection in reverse chronological order for the last couple of years, and now I’m in 1975. I’m fond of pinpointing the cultural phenom of the year in song: Cocaine records were big in 1977. In 1976 it was all about CB. 1972 had its spacemen and adultery, and ’71 brought us hot pants hits. Well, 1975 has a theme as well, and you’re hearing it here first: fandango.
It began dawning on me the other day when I heard “fandango” in an obscure Janis Ian song, “When the Party’s Over,” which opens Between the Lines (1975). I thought to myself, “Didn’t I just play another record that said ‘fandango’?” It might have been “Bohemian Rhapsody” (1975), or it might have been something else. I wasn’t about to replay all those 1975 records to see if I had missed a fandango song, but I nonetheless felt like I was on to something.
“Neal’s Fandango” appears on the Doobie Brothers’ Stampede (1975). It doesn’t say the word “fandango” in it, but still. And to top it all off, there’s the famous ZZ Top album Fandango! that came out the same year. I’m sure there are others I’m forgetting, but even if there aren’t, doesn’t 5 fandangos in one year of pop music seem like an awful lot?
I’ve been trying to figure out if there was something going on in the culture that caused this rash of fandangos, but haven’t come up with a clue. Any ideas? Was there a fandango scene in Jaws? Did Gabe Kaplan teach the Sweathogs about fandangos in Welcome Back, Kotter? You can find almost anything on the Internet these days, but sometimes what you’re looking for just isn’t there. This is one of those times.
My guess is that all these recording artists got together at some drunken party after the 1974 Grammys and decided to do this just for fun, to see if anybody would notice. Well, I noticed.
There had been fandango mentions earlier, but very few and far-between, Procol Harum’s brilliant “A Whiter Shade of Pale” (1967) being the most famous. Interestingly enough, that song and Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” were cited by the BBC as the 2 most-played songs in the UK over the past 75 years (as of 2009). The 2 songs were also jointly named Best British Pop Single 1952–1977 at the Brit Awards, according to Wikipedia. Both say “fandango.” Coincidence? I swear, sometimes this stuff is downright eerie.