381. ‘D.I.V.O.R.C.E.’, by Billy Connolly

OK… We shouldn’t be surprised by any more of the curveballs that 1975 throws us, but still… OK. What have we here…?

D.I.V.O.R.C.E., by Billy Connolly (his 1st and only #1)

1 week, from 16th – 23rd November 1975

A spelling lesson from Scotland’s national comedian? A piss-take of a Tammy Wynette  classic? A genuinely funny novelty song atop the charts…?! All of the above! In the Wynette version, of course, she’s trying to hide the D.I.V.O.R.C.E from her little son by spelling it out, rather than saying it aloud.

Here, though, Billy Connolly tells the story of taking his dog to the vet. Our little dog, Is six years old, And he’s smart as any damn kid… Words like S.H.O.T., Or W.O.R.M., These are words that make him S.Q.U.I.R.M… His Q.U.A.R.A.N.T.I.N.E. starts today… (an all too prescient line for 2021.) All very amusing, but how do we get to the D-word? Well, the dog bites the vet, Billy argues with the wife, and that’s that… Now I’m going down the town tonight, To get a new B.I.R.D.…

I am smiling, I admit, because I’m enjoying a single so unashamedly Scottish at #1. It’s been quite the year for Scots topping the charts: Pilot, a couple from the Rollers, Rod Stewart (not actually Scottish, but we’ll take him) and now this. And, compared to some recent novelty hits – I’m looking at you Ray Stevens! – it’s genuinely quite funny. Plus, being Scottish, it’s possibly the rudest #1 single so far.

There are a few ‘damns’, and he spells out B.U.M. Oh yeah, and there’s the bit where his wife calls him an ‘effing C’ (though I can’t find a version in which that line’s not bleeped out.) By the end, Billy’s just waiting for his wife and his dug tae get hauled away. Oh I must admit, That dog is acting, Q.U.E.R. Queer… (not a typo, he genuinely misses an E, in order for it to scan.)

There’s a great clip of Connolly performing this on Top Of The Pops, in which he can’t stop giggling, presumably because he can’t believe that he has scored a best-seller with this nonsense. Ask most people today, though – they’d know who Billy Connolly is but I imagine they’d be surprised to learn he had a number one single under his belt. But, you know, he was a hot young comedian, Tammy Wynette was in vogue after her own chart-topper earlier in the year, and there was clearly an insatiable appetite for novelty singles in the mid-seventies.

Again, this is absent from Spotify, as so many recent hits are because, presumably, everyone’s forgotten that it exists. Hey ho. This is the penultimate #1 of 1975, our most eclectic year yet, and for the finale we’ll meet one of the weirdest chart-topping singles ever recorded. Except this is one I am sure you have heard a million, nay a billion, times…

12 thoughts on “381. ‘D.I.V.O.R.C.E.’, by Billy Connolly

  1. Billy was in his prime in 1975, totally at the top of his game and a joy on talk shows like Parkinson, but Oh My Word I grew to loathe this one on repeat plays for weeks on end! Funny once, but torture after 20 times! I much preferred the un-broadcastable other comic hit of 1975: Jasper Carrott’s Magic Roundabout. Plus he had a decent playable song that radio could play – Funky Moped (but half the sales were for the other side 🙂 )

    Oddly Billy used to be in a band, The Humblebums, with the creator of the greatest pop single ever made – Gerry Rafferty’s Baker Street was only just over 2 years away. Not biased at all there! 🙂

    1. That’s the problem with novelties. The bad ones are offensive from the get-go, and even the good ones go off quickly… I’m happy I came across this song, but am equally happy to never hear it again! (And I did not know that about Billy and Gerry Rafferty)

  2. OMG, I love Billy Connolly. I remember his “Pale Blue Scottish Person” routine. He is a scream. I’ve never heard this but, I thoroughly enjoyed it.

    I do love a smart ass with a sharp Scottish accent.

  3. Pingback: Recap: #361 – #390 – The UK Number Ones Blog

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