One notable absence from the WKNR Music Guide is Tommy James’ monster hit, “I Think We’re Alone Now“. Keener didn’t play it because Mrs. Knorr was uncomfortable with the lyrics.
She wasn’t alone. The song, written by Ritchie Cordell, author of some of the Shondell’s most successful hits, was witheld from the airwaves at a number of radio stations across the country. Although it’s pretty tame by today’s standards, “Too suggestive” was the common complaint in 1967.
But “I Think We’re Alone Now” did find it’s way to Keener. In Reverse. Late one evening, producer Bo Gentry was experimenting with a tape recorder and played the song backwards. He liked what he heard, and so did the band. Cordell wrote some lyrics and before we knew it, “Mirage” was at number eleven on Keener the week of May 1st 1967.
Ritchie Cordell went on to produce bubble gum hits for Crazy Elephant an 1910 Fruit Gum Company. He had a ten year hiatus from the music business before returning to produce Joan Jett’s “I Love Rock and Roll” album.
He’s one of the few song writers to have one number one follow another. That was the province of the Beatles until Billy Idol’s version of “Mony Mony” replaced Tiffany’s cover of “I Think We’re Alone Now” in 1987.
Hear the Shondells sing “Mirage”, along with it’s inspiration, played backwards here.