(SNN) - You think the oldie-but-goodie “Afternoon Delight” is about sex, don’t you? Sure you do. The singers look squeaky clean, the musical arrangement is pure innocence, but the lyrics tell another story. No doubt about it, the topic is the joy of sneaking off for a nooner, cleaned up enough for 1970’s pop radio. Hearing it may make you wonder what specific incident inspired a song about daylight sex. Yeah, well it’s not what you think. At all. And I can prove it.
The song was originally a hit by an American quartet called Starland Vocal Band. It became a number one single in the United States and Canada in 1976 and remains a staple of oldies radio almost 40 years later. It has been featured in several movies and TV programs, including “Glee,” The Simpsons,” and “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy”
Earlier this month, it was performed on “Saturday Night Live” by a nonet consisting of boy band One Direction and the stars of “Anchorman II: The Legend Continues.” That movie opens December 20th.
“Afternoon Delight” was written by Bill Danoff. He and his then wife, Taffy Nivert, were well known around Washington, DC, then as the folk duo “Fat City.” When a feature reporter was assigned to write a liquor-tasting piece for “The Washingtonian” Magazine, he invited Bill and Taffy and other tasters to a DC hangout called “Clyde’s” to grade the hooch. The duo was on rock n’ roll time and showed up after everyone else had finished.
The booze was re-fetched, Bill and Taffy tasted, and the scores were toted up.
The duo then revealed some news. They had formed Starland Vocal Band with two other DC folkies; signed a new record deal, and were busy writing new songs.
Bill then pointed at a “Clyde’s” hors d'oeuvres menu, listing snacks served only from early afternoon through cocktail hour at the restaurant.
“I wrote our first single based on this,” he said.
“You wrote a song about clam dip?” he was asked.
Bill pointed to the menu cover. On it were just two words:
Bill and Taffy then gave an a Capella version of the tune. “It’s much better with musicians and four part harmonies,” Bill said when they concluded.
“Well I‘m relieved to know it’s not about shrimp cocktail and cheese balls,” the reporter said.
In truth, the rendition did nothing to convince him it would be a hit. When he heard them sing it live in concert he changed his mind. Amazing what a great production, perfect harmonies, and a pedal steel guitar hook can add.
And you may be ahead of me by now, but I was the reporter. Only trouble is, every time I hear “Afternoon Delight” I have an insatiable lust for cheese and crackers.
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