Which 1971 song is actually about a criminal? 9



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‘Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree’ was a smash hit in 1971 for popular pop group, Dawn featuring Tony Orlando.

Reaching number one for seven weeks in Australia and 10 weeks in New Zealand,  the song was ranked by Billboard as the 37th biggest song of all time.

This number one told the story of a man serving a three year prison sentence, asking his beloved to give him a sign if she still wants him in her life. He asks her to let him know by tying a yellow ribbon around the old oak tree that sits in front of their house, so that he can see it when the bus drives past. In the 1970’s, a yellow ribbon symbolised the absence of a love one in a civilian’s life.


Have you always been a fan of this song? What was your favourite single from the early 1970s?

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  1. Well, there you go, because I knew it signified returning from war, always thought it was to do with Vietnam – useless information!

  2. I actually really lik this song, I always thought it was a song about a soldier asking his love to let him know if she would wait for him by placing a yellow ribbon around the old oak tree.
    When I lived in USA from 2002 – 2011 I noticed many yellow ribbons wrapped around trees in the yards to indicate that this household had a family member away in the military. This actually made me recall that song and thus, reinforcing what I believed of its the meaning.
    My favourite song from the ’70’s from the musical Jesus Christ Superstar…”I don’t know how to love him”.

  3. Listen closely to the lyrics of Tie A Yellow Ribbon, and it will be clear that they are based on the thoughts of a convict returning home.
    It was a hit for Tony Orlando & Dawn, but also recorded by Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin.
    There were two sequel tracks, both recorded by Connie Francis – Should I Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round The Old Oak Tree, and
    The Answer To Tie A Yellow Ribbon.
    There were previous songs relating to convicts. One which comes to mind is The Prisoner’s Song, which dates to the 1920s, but was recorded in the 1960s by Reg Lindsay; also, The Green Green Grass of Home, which was a hit for Tom Jones, although there were versions by Johnny Cash, Porter Wagoner, Roger Miller, Tex Morton, Dean Martin and Frankie Laine.

  4. I always believed the references to having done his time and soon being free were references to the compulsory military service (conscription).

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