This was Reddy's third major hit, and one of the more memorable ones. It seems to be about this oddball girl who can't face reality and may be going insane, yet no one is certain what it's about, and Reddy herself refuses to comment, saying that she enjoys hearing other listeners' interpretations. This particularly applies to the end of the song, where this local boy makes the moves on Angie and vanishes. It has an uncertainty similar to that of "Hotel California" by the Eagles.
Suggestion credit: Mike - Santa Barbara, CA
This was the first #1 hit written by future "Undercover Angel" singer Alan O'Day, who was inspired by a Beatles tune. He explained to Billboard magazine: "['Lady Madonna'] just killed me. I thought, well, I'm gonna write a song about somebody who's growing up with the radio playing in the background of their life, with this rock and roll time we live in... there are songs for all of our emotions, and the radio really speaks for us in a way that nothing else does."
O'Day explained that his heroine started out pretty boring until he started adding layers of weirdness to her character. "The weirder she got, the more interesting the song became," he explained.
He finished the song during a Palm Springs vacation with the help of a motel owner who gave him unbiased feedback about Angie's story. She even became protective over her when O'Day suggested he was going to put her through the wringer a little more. "No, she's been through enough," the woman said.
This song was originally offered to Cher, who had recorded O'Day's "Train of Thought" for her 1974 album, Dark Lady.
O'Day doesn't get why people are so confused by the song, but he won't explain it either. "I thought I spelled out what happened. It's a fantasy trip but it's real clear, and the very thing that made the song a hit was what happened to the guy in the song. I never intended it to be (a mystery)," he told Billboard. He did share a clue to Reddy's thoughts on the fate of Angie's visitor: "Helen Reddy said he turned into a soundwave."
In 1976, Fine Art Films released an animated-short version of "Angie Baby," directed by John Wilson (who was also the animator for the opening titles of Grease).
Bill from Los AngelesWeird story that ends up either Twilight Zone with the guy becoming a sound wave or Land of the Giants with the shrunken guy being caged in the radio. Creepy.
Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn December 22nd 1974 "Angie Baby" by Helen Reddy peaked at #1 (for 1 week) on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; it had entered the chart on October 13th and spent 17 weeks on the Top 100... On December 1st it also reached #1 (for 1 week) on Billboard's Adult Contemporary Tracks chart... It peaked at #3 in Canada, but in her native Australia is only reached #13... She had three #1 records on the Top 100, and all three included 'females' in the title; the other two were "I Am Woman" (for 1 week in 1972) and "Delta Dawn" (for 1 week in 1973)... Ms. Reddy celebrated her 72nd birthday two months ago on October 25th.
Saxguy from Los Angeles, CaPeople often ask, "What happened to the guy? Did he die?"
There IS NO actual guy, and therefore no one actually dies. Angie is a loner who constantly listens to the radio in her bedroom, increasing the volume on her favorite songs and dancing with fantasy lovers at will. In one particular fantasy, she has herself dancing with a boy who (in her mind) has spent time spying through her bedroom window before he gets up the courage one night to knock on the front door and offer to be her dance partner. Once a song comes on the radio that she won't dance to, she turns the volume back down as part of her routine, not needing anyone until the next danceable tune gets played.
Songwriter Alan O'Day devotes an entire verse to the effects on the boy when she does this, but those lines are nothing more than typical song development, utilizing multiple rhymes, sound-a-likes, and imagery. Since the boy isn't real, none of the effects described are actually happening, The line "toward the radio he's bound" describes his sudden awareness that the dancing has ended as quickly as it began, and that the radio is more important to Angie than he is. In Angie's mind, he vaporizes into nothing as quickly as he appeared. That's the way it is with all of her dance 'lovers.'
There are no actual newspaper headlines either. This is referring to the fact that she goes to her (alternative) school the next day, creating her own verbal 'headlines' by telling friends about a peeping Tom who 'came over' to dance with her 'while her parents were gone.' Since Angie has a reputation for making up wild, far-fetched stories, her school mates often play along by asking probing questions, just to see what she'll say. When they ask what happened to the boy, she says "he's dead," implying that she killed him when done with him, but without explicitly admitting it. "I'm like a black widow spider," she tells them, enforcing everyone's opinion that she's a nutcase with a vivid imagination who likes to toy with people's heads.
G. from Newport News, VaKasey Kassem described the song as about an unbalanced teen girl withdrawn to everything except the songs she hears on the radio. An intruder enters her house and tries to rape her but the radio somehow transforms him into a sound wave where he is absorbed by the speaker. Weird bit of fluff, especially for normally straight laced Helen Reddy!
Jez from London, United KingdomPerhaps the first US number one to deal directly with mental illness?
Bonnie from Canton, TxI grew up with this song, but didn't realize how truly creepy and haunting it was until I got older. If only I knew how to write a screenplay, because if I did, I'd love to write this into a horror movie.
Charles Hollingswort from Leeds, AlI think that in this song we find that "Angie Baby" isn't as "touched" as we were lead to believe:1.she knew how to deal with a Peeping Tom and a voyuer as in the line where he peeps in her room through window blinds watching her dance and sway to the music and 2.since he wanted to be with Angie,she captured him and put him in her radio so he could watch her all the time!
Denise from San Mateo, CaThe question is, did the boy die? Does she keep him as a secret lover (doubtful). Is he even real or a figment of her imagination?
Ekristheh from Halath, United StatesI used to think I was going to end up like a male Angie. The radio was definitely my best friend for many years. If so, at least I'd have women come out of my radio to keep me company!
Ron from Auburndale, FlOne of the creepiest songs I have ever heard. The music is dark and ominous, the lyrics are cryptic and tell a really spooky story. Love it!
Deren from Jackson, MsI heard this song on the radio for years and liked it but never REALLY listened to the lyrics. Then I got it on a '70's compilation CD and listened more closely. Geez, its creepy!
Ret from Bristol, United KingdomThis song scares the bejeezus out of me and always has. Brilliantly arranged and executed with the correct dose of menace. What an original concept, based on a true story.
Ds from Louisville, KyOriginally, the writer Alan O'Day loosely based on the character in the Beatles? "Lady Madonna". In order to make the character more interesting, he decided to make her abnormal, and he thought of a young next door neighbor girl he had known who had seemed "socially retarded." // The intent was to show that the Angie character had more power than the 'evil minded neighbor boy' or the listener expected; she literally shrank him down into her radio, where he remained as her slave whenever she desired him to come out.
Nicky from Auburn, AlFrom my thoughts on this song it's about a young girl who was believed to be insane, a guess would be she sings rock and roll songs all the time and acts as though the radio is her best friend. Apparently she's not all that insane because the radio really sucks souls into it. That explains the boy disappearing of course nobody really cared what Angie said, because she more than likely told them that he was in the radio. But it's just a thought.
Darrell from EugeneI once knew of a girl named Andria (but who was often called Angie) who went insane, took a Percocet overdose and died. I was her last significant other. RIP