Approaching 40: Afternoon delight

When we lived in New Jersey, we would often drive either to my grandpa’s gas station in the Bronx, or my grandparent’s house in Spring Valley, New York. In either case, the drive was about an hour from where we lived and while in the car, my parents would play the radio, so I got to hear whatever “hits” were being played at the time.

When I was about 4 years old, sometime in 1976, the Starland Vocal Band had a hit (and I think they might have even won a Grammy) for their song “Afternoon Delight.” Now, before you jump to conclusions, remember: I was four years old. I loved this song,whenever I heard it, but not for the obvious reasons. I thought the song was about fireworks.

Remember, it was 1976, the bicentennial of the United States, and there was a big to-do about the Fourth of July, the first one I remember distinctly. The chorus of the song goes, “Skyrockets in flight / afternoon delight.” Naturally, I thought the song was about fireworks and specifically, about the Fourth of July1. In fact, it was the Bicentennial that turned me on to the joy of fireworks. A year later, in 1977, I made the papers with my fireworks bravado:

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It wasn’t until many, many, many years later that I heard the song again and realized what it was really about. I probably sang the song when I was four. Wild horses couldn’t keep me from singing what I heard on the radio. If I didn’t know the words, I’d make them up. But I had no idea what I was singing, honest, I didn’t.

  1. I will admit here that I might not have been the most sophisticated four-year-old.


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