Our 10 Classic Rock Songs That Your Parents Hated article presents a fun look back into all of our past experiences growing up in the 60s and 70s. If you were a kid born in the 1960s, then the chances were pretty good that your parents were of the World War II generation that grew up on the music of big bands, jazz singers, and early rock and roll that was all pretty safe lyrically with few exceptions. They were fans of Andy Williams, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennette, and maybe even Elvis Presley. This was not the Kiss or Grand Funk generation. Acts like Frank Zappa made their heads explode, just like our own teenage antics did as kids of the 60s, 70s, and even 80s. Here is a list of songs that raised their blood pressure all too often
# 10 – Tie Your Mother Down
We open up our 10 Classic Rock Songs That Your Parents Hated list with a legendary song by one of our favorite bands of all time. Of course, the band didn’t mean this literally (I don’t think so) yet my mom didn’t care. She hated this one.
The song featured on their fifth studio album, A Day at the Races, released in 1976. Written by the band’s lead guitarist, Brian May, the track was recorded at Sarm East, The Manor, and Wessex Sound studios in 1976. The album was co-produced by the band and Mike Stone, who had previously collaborated with Queen on A Night at the Opera. Musically, the song showcases May’s guitar prowess, John Deacon’s driving bass, Roger Taylor’s powerful drumming, and Freddie Mercury’s dynamic vocals.
Upon its release, “Tie Your Mother Down” received favorable reviews and became one of the band’s staple live numbers. Its relentless guitar riff and crowd-rousing chorus make it a classic rock mainstay, capturing the high-energy essence that Queen is renowned for. The song starts with an intricate guitar intro, which was part of a separate instrumental piece May had written while studying at Imperial College, London. It was then integrated into this track, thereby fueling the song with a killer opening that perfectly sets the stage for the rest of the song.
Commercially, the song was moderately successful. It was released as a single and reached No. 31 on the UK Singles Chart. Although not a major chart-topping hit, the song has become iconic in the rock genre and is a mainstay in both Queen’s live performances and classic rock radio playlists. A live version of the song, recorded with Guns N’ Roses, was released in 1993 and reached No. 1 on the Irish Singles Chart. “Tie Your Mother Down” encapsulates Queen’s ability to marry technical prowess with anthemic writing, and it remains an enduring favorite among fans and critics alike.
# 9 – Catholic Girls – Frank Zappa
Once again, this is another one that my mom hated, although it was probably hated more by the parents of young females than boys. I went to Catholic school in the 1960s and 70s, which was a nightmare. It has forever haunted me. When I saw the new Daryl Dixon Walking Dead TV show featured nuns, I almost could not watch it.
“Catholic Girls” is a song by the late legendary Frank Zappa, appearing on his 1979 album “Joe’s Garage Acts II & III.” The album is a rock opera released in two separate parts, with “Catholic Girls” featured in the third act. Recorded at Zappa’s own Utility Muffin Research Kitchen studio, the song was produced by Frank Zappa himself. The album features an ensemble cast of musicians, including Zappa on guitar and vocals, Vinnie Colaiuta on drums, Arthur Barrow on bass, and Peter Wolf on keyboards, among others.
The song is known for its satirical commentary on Catholic school education and the sexual repression associated with it. Zappa’s penchant for socio-political satire shines through in “Catholic Girls,” as he employs humor, wit, and irony to critique the institution’s perceived hypocrisies. Instrumentally, the song incorporates various musical elements characteristic of Zappa’s eclectic style, including complex rhythms and intricate guitar work. Zappa’s lyrical mastery is evident as he intertwines comedy and criticism seamlessly. Although the song can be controversial, it’s reflective of Zappa’s broader artistic goal to challenge societal norms and provoke thought.
In terms of commercial performance and critical reception, “Catholic Girls” was never released as a single and thus did not chart. However, the album “Joe’s Garage Acts II & III” was generally well-received and has since become a classic within Zappa’s extensive discography. Like much of Zappa’s work, the song has garnered a cult following and is often cited in discussions about his narrative and thematic ingenuity. Though not a mainstream hit, “Catholic Girls” remains a staple among Zappa aficionados and is one of the great Zaopa tunes that we all like to talk about. At least us Zappa fans.
# 8 – Smoking In The Boys Room
I was in eighth grade in 1974 when this song came out, and absolutely loved it. Eighth grade is visually the time when kids can really start getting in trouble, and let me tell you, millions of kids like myself did. This song didn’t help.
“Smoking in the Boys Room” was released by Brownsville Station. The song was recorded in 1973 and included on the band’s third studio album, “Yeah!” Produced by Doug Morris, the track was laid down at Mediasound Studios, New York City, over a period of two weeks in the summer of that year. Band members involved in the recording include Cub Koda (vocals, guitar), Michael Lutz (bass, backing vocals), Tony Driggins (bass, backing vocals), and Henry “H-Bomb” Weck (drums).
Musically, the song incorporates hard rock and blues elements, featuring a memorable guitar riff and catchy, rebellious lyrics about evading school rules to smoke in the boys’ bathroom. It’s a quintessential teenage rebellion anthem that struck a chord with many young listeners during the era. Cub Koda’s vocals are gritty and full of youthful angst, while the guitar work and rhythm section powerfully drive the song forward. It’s straightforward rock ‘n’ roll, but its impact is significant, capturing the mood and spirit of teenage life in the ’70s that I had experienced first hand.
The song was a commercial success, reaching No. 3 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart. It gained further popularity and longevity when it was covered by Mötley Crüe in 1985, making it one of the few songs to chart highly in two different decades.
# 7 – What’s He Building In There – Tom Waits
Whenever my father got in my car when I was in my twenties, I used to put Tom Waist on because I knew he hated his voice. My dad would look at me in astonishment as to how I could actually enjoy listening to someone like Tom Waits. He didn’t get it. Now, in my 60s, I do the same thing to my wife, who gives me the same look but is not as nice as my dad was about it. Just about every Tom Waits song fits into this category, but this is the one that seems to be the most hated.
“What’s He Building in There?” is a track from Tom Waits’ 1999 album “Mule Variations,” released by the ANTI record label. The album was produced by Waits himself, along with his longtime collaborator, Kathleen Brennan. Recorded at Prairie Sun Recording studios in Cotati, California, the song is a part of sessions that took place over a few months in 1998. Waits is the primary musician on this track, handling vocals and employing a variety of unconventional instruments, contributing to the song’s eerie, unsettling atmosphere.
The song is one of Waits’ most enigmatic and eerie offerings, a spoken-word piece set against a background of ominous soundscapes. Unlike typical songs, “What’s He Building in There?” doesn’t contain a chorus or verses in the traditional sense. Instead, Waits narrates the song, adopting the persona of a paranoid neighbor intrigued and disturbed by the mysterious activities of the man living next door. The sounds of clanging metal, scraping, and other industrial noises accompany the spoken words, creating a mood of tension and suspicion. This track encapsulates Waits’ talent for storytelling, painting vivid pictures using minimalist elements and using sound to build an almost cinematic scene in the listener’s mind.
While “Mule Variations” itself received considerable critical acclaim, winning a Grammy for Best Contemporary Folk Album, “What’s He Building in There?” became a standout track for its hauntingly compelling narrative and experimental nature. Though it didn’t chart in the mainstream sense, it became a favorite among fans and critics alike for its thematic depth and its unusual but evocative use of sound. The song is often cited in discussions of Waits’ talent for fusing storytelling with experimental music techniques, and it has been dissected and analyzed in various academic settings. It’s a piece that both intrigues and unsettles, emblematic of Waits’ ability to stretch the boundaries of what a song can be. To this day I use it all the time to make everyone that drives with me in my car a little nuts.
# 5 – Black Sabbath – Black Sabbath
We bring out the big guns at the halfway point on our 10 Classic Rock Songs That Your Parents Hated list. This one scared the soul out of everyone. Especially when Ozzy screamed, “God Help Me.” I used to turn it up really loud at that part.
# 4 – “Helter Skelter” – The Beatles
For the most part, my parents liked the Beatles. Of course, pretty much everyone loved the Beatles, but for the generation who grew up listening to Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett in the 1950s. songs of The Beatles were pretty much accepted because those artists covered Beatles songs in the 60s. However, while Tony Bennett covered a song like “Something,” you didn’t hear him singing “Helter Skelter.” I know my parents had no idea what the Beatles were singing about when they sang that song because of how loud and intense the music was. They simply could not stand it when I turned that one up really loud.
# 3 – Sex Pistols – Anarchy In The UK
As much as my parents thought songs like the Beatles’ “Helter Skelter,” were a little too much, the Sex Pistols took it to a whole entirely new level of frustration for them. They were ten years older and much less tolerant of music like this.
Anarchy in the U.K.” is one of the most seminal tracks in the history of punk rock, serving as the debut single for the British band the Sex Pistols. Released on November 26, 1976, the song was produced by Chris Thomas and Bill Price. The recording took place at Wessex Sound Studios in London. The lineup for the song featured Johnny Rotten on vocals, Steve Jones on guitar and bass, Paul Cook on drums, and although Glen Matlock was the band’s bassist at the time, he did not perform on the recording.
The song was a call to arms for disaffected youth, capturing the zeitgeist of social unrest in the U.K. during the mid-’70s. Johnny Rotten’s snarling vocals and the band’s aggressive musicianship provided a perfect backdrop for the song’s anarchic message. “Anarchy in the U.K.” broke many of the prevailing rules of mainstream music at the time, with its politically charged lyrics, brash instrumentation, and overall rebellious ethos. The song became an anthem for the punk rock movement, inspiring countless bands and serving as a template for the genre. The single reached number thirty eight on the U.K. Singles Chart, but its impact went far beyond its chart position, setting the stage for the punk rock explosion that would follow.
Critical commentary on “Anarchy in the U.K.” has been overwhelmingly positive over the years, citing it as a turning point in rock history. The song is important both musically and culturally; it tapped into a burgeoning youth movement that was tired of the status quo and eager for change. It encapsulated a moment where music, politics, and social dissatisfaction converged into a perfect storm.
# 2 – Teenage Lobotomy
In many ways, similar to the Sex Pistols, the music of the Ramones reigned very close to enemy number one in my house for my parents. They hated the sound of the band. What really got to them was the chants, “Hey ho, let’s go,” or choruses like the one that fueled this fantastic song.
“Teenage Lobotomy” is a track from The Ramones’ third studio album, “Rocket to Russia,” released on November 4, 1977. The album was produced by Tommy Ramone and Tony Bongiovi and was recorded at Media Sound Studios in New York City. The song features Joey Ramone on vocals, Johnny Ramone on guitar, Dee Dee Ramone on bass, and Tommy Ramone on drums. One of the shorter tracks on the album, clocking in at just over two minutes, “Teenage Lobotomy,” encapsulates the Ramones’ trademark style—short, fast, and direct, with catchy hooks and a unique blend of humor and darkness.
Musically, the song is a quintessential example of the Ramones’ approach to punk rock: simplistic yet utterly captivating. The lyrics humorously tackle the concept of a lobotomy, metaphorically conveying the teenage feeling of confusion and emptiness. Although the song did not chart, its raw energy and encapsulation of teenage angst make it a fan favorite and a staple in the Ramones’ live performances. The guitar riffs and the rhythm section are tightly knit, providing the backdrop for Joey Ramone’s distinct vocal delivery.
# 1 – You’re Breaking My Heart
I wonder how many kids got into real trouble by blaring this song off their turntable. When my parents tricked me off, I would always blast this one from my room, which usually resulted in even more trouble for myself. Hey, that’s rock and roll.
“You’re Breaking My Heart” is a song from Harry Nilsson’s seventh studio album, “Son of Schmilsson,” released in 1972. The album was recorded at Trident Studios, Island Studios,and Apple Studios in London, and RCA Studios in Los Angeles between February and May 1972. Richard Perry produced the album, marking their second collaboration following the success of “Nilsson Schmilsson.” Musicians involved in the recording include Harry Nilsson on vocals and piano, Peter Frampton on guitar, Klaus Voormann on bass, and Ringo Starr (credited as Richie Snare) on drums.
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