Is there anything more lovely than the voices of little children in song? Most things, actually.
At World’s Worst World Headquarters, we did not bother looking up from our Super Sunday chili-making to listen to the Newtown kids sing before the game. We can’t think of a children’s chorus we like on a pop song except the one on “Another Brick in the Wall,” and we like them only because they’ve got a slightly ominous, Stephen King-style vibe, and we’re afraid they’ll murder us while we sleep.
Pink Floyd’s chorus of kids was a rarity in that it did not sweeten the song on which it was heard. Generally that’s the effect of kid voices on any pop record—to sugar the thing up, to inspire an “aw, ain’t that cute” response. The record we discuss today—which rose all the way to #2 on the Billboard Hot 100 40 years ago this summer—threatened to make the whole country diabetic.[youtube id=”CSyCb5_5mUs” width=”600″ height=”350″]
“Playground in My Mind” is by Clint Holmes, an Englishman who was on the verge of giving up professional singing when he met songwriter Paul Vance. Vance had written a handful of hit songs with his partner, Lee Pockriss, most famously “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini,” and he thought “Playground in My Mind” was perfect for Holmes. Or maybe he needed a guy to front for his nine-year-old son, who provided a second vocal with Holmes. Holmes suspected it was the latter: “It could have been almost anybody singing it,” he said. ‘It was not a career-making record.” Not for him, anyhow.
“Playground in My Mind” is well produced, and it got your attention on the radio back in ’73. It’s catchy. (So is the flu, and you probably don’t want that, either.) It’s also cutesy and sentimental. And if you don’t mind, I’d rather not hear a nine-year-old talk about all the babies he and his girlfriend are going to make someday.
“Playground in My Mind” was kept from the #1 spot in June 1973 by Paul McCartney’s “My Love,” which is plenty sugary on its own. Also in the top 10 at the same time: “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree” by Tony Orlando and Dawn. It was the 1970s. We couldn’t help ourselves.