Ring Starr – NO-NO Song

This is my contribution to Song Lyric Sunday for Jim Adams’s blog. This week’s prompt…No/Yes.

From his 1974 album, Goodnight Vienna, The song peaked at #3 on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart on April 5, 1975.

From Sonfacts

This was written by country music star Hoyt Axton and bass player David Jackson. The song takes a humorous look at someone who is constantly offered drugs and alcohol (marijuana from Columbia, cocaine from Majorca, moonshine from Nashville…) and keeps turning them down.

Axton struggled with drug abuse early in his career and was poking fun at himself in the song. Axton, who also wrote the Three Dog Night hit “Joy To The World,” had a talent for writing whimsical pop songs with a country flavor.

Ringo sings this with more than a hint of irony, as he was far from sober at the time. In interviews, he would cheekily refer to it as “an anti-drug song,” which it is, as the singer describes the consequences of his addictions (waking up on the floor). Ringo was not interested in giving up his habits at the time, but in 1988 he entered rehab with his wife, Barbara. He later described his years of addiction as being a very lonely time.

In a 2007 Time magazine interview, Ringo was asked about his most memorable guest artists in the studio. His reply: “Hoyt Axton was one of them on the Ringo album. We were doing ‘No No Song’ with the biggest spliff and a large bottle of Jack Daniel’s.”

At the very end of this song, Ringo very quietly speaks some dialogue in a drunken slur, which is made even less intelligible because different words are spoken in each channel. On the right channel, he says something like “I’ll just have another drink, have you got any brandy?” and on left, “Just put mine in the boot.”

This was first released in America as a double-sided single with “Snookeroo.” Ringo and his record company didn’t think radio stations would play “No No Song” because of the drug references, but they did, pushing the song to #3 and giving Ringo his seventh Top 10 hit Stateside. Unsurprisingly, the flip side, a song celebrating snooker, was largely ignored.

In the UK, “No No Song” wasn’t released as a single for fear that it would get banned. In 1976, it was used as the B-side of “Oh My My.”

Hoyt Axton released his own version of the song in 1975 after it became a hit for Ringo. His rendition was issued as a single and included on his album Southbound. The stoner comedians Cheech & Chong make an appearance on Axton’s version.

NO-NO Song

A lady that I know just came from Columbia
She smiled because I did not understand
Then she held out some marijuana, ha ha
She said it was the best in all the land

And I said
No, no, no, no, I don’t smoke it no more
I’m tired of waking up on the floor
No, thank you, please, it only makes me sneeze
Then it makes it hard to find the door

A woman that I know just came from Majorca, Spain
She smiled because I did not understand
Then she held out a ten pound bag of cocaine
She said it was the finest in all the land

And I said
“No, no, no, no, I don’t (sniff) it no more
I’m tired of waking up on the floor
No, thank you, please, it only makes me sneeze
And then it makes it hard to find the door”

A man I know just came from Nashville, Tennessee
He smiled because I did not understand
Then he held out some moonshine whiskey, oh ho
He said it was the best in all the land

And I said
No, no, no, no, I don’t drink it no more
I’m tired of waking up on the floor
No, thank you, please, it only makes me sneeze
And then it makes it hard to find the door

10 thoughts on “Ring Starr – NO-NO Song

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