Energy Crisis '74
The record is a satire of the 1973 energy crisis in the United States, and was moderately successful; it peaked at #33 on the Billboard Hot 100 and became the first Top 40 hit for Goodman as a solo artist (Goodman's other records throughout the 1960s had mostly fallen just short of the top 40 and his 1950s works were all collaborations). The record is structured as a series of interviews with various public and political figures of the day with regard to the energy crisis. Questions were asked by an interviewer (Goodman), and their "responses" were snippets of various hit records of the day. The record ends with Goodman saying, "we have just run out of en-er-gyyyyy" as his speech slows to a halt, as if the turntable playing the record had just been shut off.
The intended B-side of the record was an instrumental called "Ruthie's Theme", named for a friend's daughter. (Goodman often placed such throwaways on the backs of his 45s, and in fact had already used "Ruthie's Theme" on the B-side of his version of "The Purple People Eater", released the previous year.) However, the record plant sent Goodman a number of discs that had only a few seconds of "Energy Crisis '74" ("Hello, we're..."), followed by two minutes of silence. Rather than throw them away or demand a refund, Goodman gave the botched recording the name "The Mistake" and had the plant cut the proper version of "Energy Crisis '74" onto the flip side, making "The Mistake" perhaps the most unlikely B-side ever to grace a hit record. (Later pressings correctly featured "Ruthie's Theme" on the flip.)
Goodman would return to this topic with "Energy Crisis '79" five years later, but it was not a hit.
Portions of Goodman's dialogue would later be used on his son Jon Goodman's recording "Economy Crisis" in 2008.
Many big hits of the day (including from three of the four ex-Beatles) were sampled on the record:
- "Leave Me Alone (Ruby Red Dress)" by Helen Reddy
- "Smokin' in the Boys Room" by Brownsville Station
- "Living for the City" by Stevie Wonder
- "Helen Wheels" by Paul McCartney and Wings
- "Mind Games" by John Lennon
- "The Joker" by Steve Miller Band
- "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" by Elton John
- "Hello It's Me" by Todd Rundgren
- "You're Sixteen" by Ringo Starr
- "The Most Beautiful Girl" by Charlie Rich
- "Top of the World" by The Carpenters
Presumably for music rights reasons, "Energy Crisis '74" was heavily edited on Goodman's "Greatest Fables" compilation, released in 1997. Fake re-recorded snippets were used for all but two of the above tracks (except "Smokin' in the Boys Room" and "Living for the City"), with the segments for "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" and "Top of the World" completely removed.