With gas heading north of three bucks a gallon, let's take a stroll down memory lane to those bad old days of 1973 and 1979, when an entire generation of Americans was raised while waiting on line for gasoline. Eventually, the situation grew so dire that a batch of novelty songs came out about it, which I am going to share with you here, whether you like it or not:
Diana Gardiner - President Nixon, Don't Ration My Gas (MP3)
Despite Diana's pleas, the US did implement a form of rationing in 1973, using the last digit of a car's license plate to determine if gas could be purchased on an odd- or even-numbered day of the month. The restrictions remained in place until 1976, although they were largely ignored after mid-1974.
Bobby B. Baker - Take Your Oil and Shove It (MP3)
A musical response to David Allen Coe's Take This Job and Shove It, using the Iranian Revolution and Hostage Crisis and the subsequent second energy crisis in 1979 as the backdrop.
Bobby Butler - Cheaper Crude Or No More Food (MP3)
A song of economic retribution written by Brent Burns in 1979, this song was supposedly the only song ever played on the Paul Harvey show, selling hundreds of thousands of copies within a few days. Today, the specter of $1.50 per gallon of gas seems so... quaint.
Newark Boys Choir - N-R-G (MP3)
Using a solar-powered wah wah pedal, the Newark Boys Choir take President Carter's cardigan sweater and "moral equivalent of war" speech to heart in 1979, urging people to make incremental sacrifices around the house to save energy.
Sam Church, Jr. - Black Gold (MP3)
Sam uses the partial meltdown of Three Mile Island in 1979 to declare that coal is God's favorite alternative energy source. (Gotta love that opening "Evacuate" chorus.)
Tiny Tim - Tiptoe To The Gas Pumps (MP3)
A fairly pathetic attempt at generating record sales by riding the coattails of the 1979 energy crisis. This single is perhaps the most damaging legacy of the second energy crisis.
Skoodle Dum Doo and Sheffield - Gas Ration Blues (MP3)
No musical tribute to energy crises would be complete without a nod to the rationing that accompanied World War Two. While food was rationed first, by December of 1942, most people were restricted to three gallons a week and a national speed limit of 35 miles per hour was implemented. The purpose of gas rationing was not to save gas, but to conserve rubber, as Gracie Allen and Eddie Cantor describe in this 1942 comedy routine: [streaming realaudio file]
Wendy Mae Chambers' Car Horn Organ - Star Spangled Banner (MP3)
Ms. Chambers wraps up the spirit of America in this 1982 single.
Abner Jay - The Backbone, Part One (32 meg MP3)
Abner dwells on the 1973 gas crisis only at the beginning of this lengthy love ode to the mule, a true alternative energy source and the real backbone of America. More info on Abner Jay and this track on Brian's post here.
Byron MacGregor - Americans (MP3)
The text of Americans was written by Canadian newspaper columnist Gordon Sinclair and re-recorded by CKLW announcer Byron McGregor. It hit number four on the billboard 100 in January, 1974. While this doesn't address the 1973 gas crisis specifically, it captures the general malaise and frustration of that era and was one of the songs played to death as people waited on interminable gas lines in 1973 and 1974. (From The Happy Listener's Guide to Mind Control, Volume One)