One Hit Wonders, 1973 Edition, by Rich Paschall

It is time for another fiftieth-anniversary party and to be honest, there are not a lot of musical acts on the bill. When I looked at the list of 1973 one-hit wonders I wondered where they all were. Very few jumped off the page and asked to be invited. In fact, I had to play a lot of them just to try and remember how they went. If playing them did not bring back any memories, then we had to send them across the pond for King Charles’s coronation party. He might remember some of them. He is certainly old enough.

One is by a TV star. Another is from the soundtrack of a well-known movie. Of course, there is a novelty song. Many one-hit wonders are after all unique in some way, and many of these are too.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

We have to start with an honorable mention for “Monster Mash.” This was a one-hit wonder for the third time. It originally hit the charts in 1962. Then it was there again in 1970. In 1973 it finished at number 38 on the Billboard Hot 100 for the year.  It was not done. It hit the charts again in 2021 but did not finish in the top 100 for the year. That is really making the most of one novelty song.

When the Committee on One Hit Wonders finally convened, we did not stay in session long. It was a struggle to come up with a Top Ten, but after a few brownies and chocolate chip cookies, we settled on the following and went out for coffee:

10. Dead Skunk, Loudon Wainwright III. Loudon has been around a long time and is still performing. This was the only song that ever charted for an artist known for comedy songs. He is the father of Rufus Wainwright.
09. Dueling Banjos, Eric Weissberg and Steve Mandell. If you saw the 1972 film Deliverance, you know this song. Weissberg and Mandell arranged and played the song on the soundtrack. They are not the actors you see in the film. The song was based on “Feudin’ Banjos” written in 1954. Click on the title for the Weissberg and Mandell version. For the fun of it, let’s go with these two well-known banjo players:

08. Armed and Extremely Dangerous, First Choice. Yes, disco is trying to sneak its way in the door. This is the beat that will take over the airwaves in the next few years.
07. Brother Louie, Stories. This song hit number 1 on the US charts. It was a cover of a song by Hot Chocolate released earlier in the year.
06. Walk on the Wild Side, Lou Reed. We know what you are thinking. Prolific recording artist Lou Reed must have had other hits. This is the only one to hit the Top 40.

05. The Night The Lights Went Out in Georgia, Vicki Lawrence. A star on the Carol Brunett show, Lawrence went on to star on the spin-off Mama’s Family. Click the title for the radio version or see this 1995 performance below:

04. Hocus Pocus, Focus. This hard rock song by a Dutch rock group hit the charts in 1973 but they could not sustain the success with their odd style. Some of this music was used in a 2020 Nike ad campaign. Click the title for the single or watch this Midnight Special performance:

03. Right Place WrongTime, Dr. John. He had already been around a while when Dr. John (Malcolm John Rebennack Jr.) hit the charts with this funky New Orleans-infused R&B entry. He was still bringing it in 2012 with the following performance or you can click the title for the single version.

02. My Maria, BW Stevenson. The song was written by Daniel Moore, but Stevenson finished it with an additional verse. It hit the Top Ten. Brooks & Dunn had a number 1 hit with it in 1996 and won a Grammy for their performance.

01. Wildflower, Skylark. This was the only song to chart in the US for the short-lived Canadian group. David Foster on the piano would ultimately become a record producer and music executive.

Click on any song title to go to YouTube to hear the song.

See also: “Yesterday Once More,” My Top 20, 1973 Edition, SERENDIPITY, March 19. 2023.
Those Were The Days,” One Hit Wonders, 1972 Edition, SERENDIPITY, November 27, 2022.

Categories: Entertainment, Music, Rich Paschall, You Tube

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8 replies

  1. Those are some good ones.
    A few go on to decent careers.
    But most just fade away.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dueling Banjos, loved the music, hated the film.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. focus, performing hocus focus, was the first live concert that I ever attended )

    Liked by 1 person

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