Angie Baby

Album: Free And Easy (1974)
Charted: 5 1
Play Video

Songfacts®:

  • "Angie Baby" was Helen Reddy's third #1 hit in America (following "I Am Woman" and "Delta Dawn") and one of her 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 refused to comment, saying she enjoyed 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 the Beatles tune Lady Madonna. He explained to Billboard magazine: "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).

Comments: 23

  • Muse-icle from UsaI was 9 when this song hit the radio,
    and it haunted me. I didn't know much about life, back then, but I got the impression something terrible had happened to Angie, and she had had a mental break down, which was why her father was so protective of her -- even if he was clueless how to really help her. I thought the boy at the end was a hint of what had happened to her, and that his appearance was a bad memory in the form of a hallucination. The movie 'The Virgin Suicides' is reminiscent of this song, to me.
    Fathers worry about their daughters, as they gain more and more independence, and often don't know how to truly prepare them for and protect them from what they might encounter. This song calls to mind a girl whose early experiences prevented her from successfully gaining that independence.
  • Grant from SydneyI heard this song today in the supermarket and I had to leave because it described my daughters mental illness to a tee. Helen Reddy is a true bard who did songs from scenes in crowded life.
  • Rob Y from S. Illinois.I heard this song a few times back in the 70s but didn't pay much attention to the lyrics. After reading them while listening to the tune, it does sound like a mystical type tune. I picture it a young girl who is a loner & as it sounds has a mental condition. That could be why she was taken out of school. Where it says the boy next door comes in her room after seeing her through her widow blinds, it appears he wasn't invited & because of her condition she immediately started picking up items in her room & went berserk on him until his life was no more. Maybe her father was gone when it happened. But she was smart enough to drag his body where no one would think to find him. Kind of a creepy song.
  • Tim from Pa.The boy becomes consumed by the sound waves of the radio.Thats how he he disappears never to be found again.
  • Gaz from EnglandI was watching a music video channel & they had an hour or so devoted to "Love Songs" & then played this song, is it really a love song? My opinion is no.
  • Byrd Huot from Berlin, Nh1975 was a great year of my then 17 year old days. 1975 had an array of great tunes, and angie baby really became etched In my mind like no other. Kinda bone chilling melody that made me feel every child with a social or physical problem should obtain their own special powers. Not my all time #1 tune of my life, but it's certainly ranked right up there. I think at one time or another, we all lived in a world of fantsy. The video is kinda cool also. RIP Helen.
  • Wendyroselady from Erie Pa UsaI just watched "I Am Woman", which I thought was awesome. It made me re-listen to "Angie Baby" and I have a theory about the song. I think that Angie killed the boy next door that came creeping and disposed of his body in such a way that it will never be found. You get that info from the line "It seems to pull him off the ground. towards the radio he's bound, never to be found." And the next lines "The headlines read that a boy disappeared, now everyone thinks he died." NOW I think that she did kill him and dispose of the body BUT she kept a memento, something that would be identified as the boy's. Angie listens to the radio removes her memento and drifts into that fantasy world of hers were her "secret lover keeps her satisfied." The line 'it's so nice to be insane, no one asks you to explain, the radio by your side, Angie Baby." implies that her radio is key to her and also key to what happened to the boy. Should anyone ever take a close look at her radio and find here memento well lots of questions. It is similar to the way serial killers keeps mementos so that they can relive the fantasy the item gives them. Anyway that is my thoughts, probably from watching to many crime dramas lol.
  • Anthony from New York, NyIt’s apparent to me that Angie was a witch. Simplistic explanation you may say but the right one. How else was she able to do what she did? The latter part of this song alludes to the fact that Angie isn’t what she seems. She had more knowledge & power than she let on & I believe that was witchcraft. Say what you will the radio didn’t do that by itself. Whats funny is when the lyrics say that “A boy enters with evil on his mind”. LOL! Well we all know that this boy wanted to......well you know but I don’t consider that evil. Not necessarily gentlemanly but I don’t think what he was there for was rape, just to take advantage of a ditzy girl as those 2 things ARE different you know. The same thing men have been doing for eons. He was a neighbor boy as the song says, it would’ve been stupid to have done something when he was just next door & the cops could’ve nabbed him. No I just think he was a Romeo who wanted to get into her pants, nothing more but I”m sure that’s up for debate. But again I believe this song & what the young mans fate was, was due to some witchcraft on Angie’s part.
  • 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
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Holly Knight ("The Best," "Love Is A Battlefield")

Holly Knight ("The Best," "Love Is A Battlefield")Songwriter Interviews

Holly Knight talks about some of the hit songs she wrote, including "The Warrior," "Never" and "The Best," and explains some songwriting philosophy, including how to think of a bridge.

Brenda Russell

Brenda RussellSongwriter Interviews

Brenda talks about the inspiration that drove her to write hit songs like "Get Here" and "Piano in the Dark," and why a lack of formal music training can be a songwriter's best asset.

Mike Love of The Beach Boys

Mike Love of The Beach BoysSongwriter Interviews

The lead singer/lyricist of The Beach Boys talks about coming up with the words for "Good Vibrations," "Fun, Fun, Fun," "Kokomo" and other classic songs.

Songs Discussed in Movies

Songs Discussed in MoviesSong Writing

Bridesmaids, Reservoir Dogs, Willy Wonka - just a few of the flicks where characters discuss specific songs, sometimes as a prelude to murder.

Danny Kortchmar

Danny KortchmarSongwriter Interviews

Danny played guitar on Sweet Baby James, Tapestry, and Running On Empty. He also co-wrote many hit songs, including "Dirty Laundry," "Sunset Grill" and "Tender Is The Night."

Tim McIlrath of Rise Against

Tim McIlrath of Rise AgainstSongwriter Interviews

Rise Against frontman Tim McIlrath explains the meanings behind some of their biggest songs and names the sci-fi books that have influenced him.