A history of "Afternoon Delight," the "dirtiest song ever to top the Billboard Hot 100"

Rob Tannenbaum has a thoroughly good time writing about the history of the Starland Vocal Band's 1976 soft rock ballad "Afternoon Delight" in his GQ essay, "Skyrockets In Flight: The Strange Story of the Dirtiest Number One Ever."

"Afternoon Delight" is cheerful and sprightly. It smells like soap and sounds like a bonfire singalong at Christian summer camp. And it's the pinnacle of AM Gold, which is part of what makes it so deviously wonderful. If AC/DC or Prince had sung the chorus – "Rubbin' sticks and stones together makes the sparks ignite" – you'd have known immediately it was about sex. Under the cover of sunshine, "Afternoon Delight" snuck a pro-screwing song onto the charts. It's like opening a box of Cracker Jack and finding a cock ring.

Nothing is more American than a song that presents itself with an innocent facade, but at heart is as horny as a ram in springtime.

Two of the members of Starland Vocal Band, Bill and Taffy Danoff, worked with John Denver as backup singers and songwriters (they co-wrote "Take Me Home, Country Roads"). Here they are on a John Denver BBC special performing a song with a terrific kazoo solo by Taffy: