Dean Friedman's song "Ariel"

I was going to write a whole lengthy post about this in the (quickly-sinking) thread about “one hit wonders that are actually great songs,” but I want to make a whole thread for this song: Ariel by Dean Friedman. (Really great video, too!)

I don’t know how many people are familiar with this song. I know it because my parents used to play it all the time (on vinyl, no less.) I’m 22 and I’d guess that most of my peers haven’t heard it. But if you’re older, you might know it. If you grew up in the late 70s or early 80s you probably do.

Ben Folds has made a whole career as a quirky rock star by playing songs just like this one, and Dean Friedman had him beat by twenty years. I’d almost classify “Ariel” as some kind of very primitive form of indie rock, except that it’s totally unpretentious and completely honest.

The lyrics are just a straightforward description of a date with a pretty Jewish girl from “the other side of the Hudson,” but all the little details in it are what makes the song so great. “I had a gig at the American Legion Hall/It was a dance for the Volunteer Ambulance Corps/She was sitting in a corner against the wall/She would smile and I melted all over the floor” - I mean, how many songs from that time period were rocking quirkly rhymes like that one, name-dropping like Steely Dan but without any traces of hipster elitism.

And really - "I said “Hi”/she said “Yeah, I guess I am!” - that has got to be one of the most clever lines in a rock song, ever. When I was a kid, I did NOT get it at all. I wondered what the hell he meant. When I got older, and I figured it out, it quickly jumped to the top of my funniest lyrics of all time list.

I was born in New York (Glen Cove, to be exact…not quite “the city”) and although I have lived all my life here in Indiana and more or less adopted the lifestyle of the people here, I’ve visited New York enough times to know what it’s like, and this song just makes me think of it. Just like “Amoreena” at the beginning of Dog Day Afternoon.

Any other Dean Friedman fans? Anyone else who appreciates this underrated classic of a song?

As a bona fide Olde Pharte, I remember when it was released; I was in high school.

It’s in my MP3 collection, BTW.

Always one of my favorite novelty songs – catchy tune, quirky lyrics. I was amazed when I actually heard a local station play it about a year ago – I thought it held up well.

Since you like this song, another one-hit-wonder from that era I think you might like is Back When My Hair was Short by Gunhill Road.

Something about this song is, apparently, forgettable. I remember it when it was popular and I’d ask others about it, but nobody remembered it. Finally it came out on a Rhino compilation and when I played it for others, they were meh about it.

I always thought it was a great tune. Infectious hook, funny lyrics, what’s not to like?

What am I missing here? I used Argent’s link and there are videos associated with this saying, “Dean Friedman Get Well Soon Message” and “In Memory of Dean Friedman.” Went to Wikipedia…no indication he died. Googled news…nothing. :confused:

The natural heir to this song is Punk Rock Girl by The Dead Milkmen.

If you’re talking about this video, it’s obviously a memorial for a different guy named Dean Friedman. Who apparently really liked fishing. No relation to the singer.

Ah, ok, I didn’t look any further. I just thought, 'Is that why Argent is bringing up the song now? Did the guy suddenly die?"

Used to work for the guy back in the 90s. For InVideo systems. Remember Nick Arcade? The ending game? We did that.

I don’t think the song was a novelty song, but anyway the song sounds just like a Billy Joel song, and when this song came out in 1977, Joel, though he had hits before was really become a mega star, thus a song that sounded like Billy Joel but wasn’t him, didn’t have much of a chance

Thanks for the link! I didn’t even remember that song until I watched the video. I’m not a Friedman fan per se, but I think that was one sweet little tune.

Tenar (Class of '79.)

One of my favorite artists.

I saw Dean in concert last year on Long Island. Met him after the show, as well. One hell of a nice guy and quite the fun artist. Here’s me and Dean after the show.

Some of his earlier songs, such as Woman of Mine, Humor Me and Funny Papers will always be among my favorites. He performed Humor Me at my request, said he hadn’t sang that in 12 years, but he remembered it (ok, he muffed one line, but who’s counting) well enough to make me happy.

Look for some of his later songs, as well:

Fuck Buddies
I Miss Monica
Death to the Neighbors
I Never Really Liked You All That Much

See Dean’s website here. And if you ever get a chance to go see him in concert, don’t pass it up. He’s one hell of a songwriter.

I would just add that the one phrase were de-Semitized for popular radio consumption, at least in the Southeast. “She was a Jewish girl” became “She was a young girl.”

Also, some months after “Ariel,” there was a “Gorton’s of Gloucester” commercial that aired, and I swear that was either Dean Friedman singing the jingle. If not, a dead-on soundalike.

I loves me some “Ariel”!

I was in college when it came out, and it was a big favorite of the theatre-major crowd there.

My favorite part of the song: the last verse, when he sings, “We made love to bombs bursting in ai-ai-ai-airrrrrrrriel…”

Great stuff!

<Light bulb goes off>

I think you’re right. When I bought the CD, I listened and didn’t remember it having a “Jewish girl” in it and thought it was “young girl.” But my memory of it wasn’t so strong that I knew it was wrong and I shrugged. I’m pretty sure, now, that at some point back in the day, the irony of a Jewish girl singing Ave Maria would have made me remember it. So besides the Southeast, maybe it was also changed for the Midwest.

[weird tangent] I heard that Van Morrison’s “Brown-Eyed Girl” was originally “Brown-skinned girl,” but of course the interracial thing at the time was too hot to handle, so it was changed before recording.

Circa 1991, I found Best of Van Morrison CD at a Wally in Florida. I picked it up and listened to “Brown-Eyed Girl.”

The way I remember it (and have it on a 45 rpm):

Sometimes I’m overcome thinkin’ ‘bout
Makin’ love in the green grass behind the stadium with you

The way it is on this disc:

Sometimes I’m overcome thinkin’ ‘bout
Laughin’ and a-runnin’ hey hey behind the stadium with you

It’s totally cheesy and obvious, not sonically even a good splice. Now WTF? Did Wally put pressure on Polydor to do that? By 1991 was that really even necessary? :mad::smack::rolleyes::confused::eek:[/weird tangent]

I really used to love that song.

The chorus is really fun to sing, although I don’t think I can hit those notes now…


I love this song! I even used the “yes, I guess I am” line before.:o

What a neat tune! I’d never heard it before. If Springsteen hasn’t yet covered it in one of his live obscure cover moments, he certainly should. (Ya hear me, Bruce?)

I have a question about the video. Is that a young Kevin Tighe popping up as a dancer in one of those old clips? (Shows up at 2:35 in the YouTube video.)

(Tighe, if you don’t know, is a character actor whose first success was on the TV show Emergency. He made memorable appearances in Matewan and Eight Men Out, and is most recently notable for appearing as Locke’s father on Lost.)

Actually, I believe the line became: “Her name was Ariel…”

Haven’t heard the single version in so long, I’m going by memory here.