Archive for the ‘1969’ Category

Saturday Single No. 671

Saturday, December 28th, 2019

So if I had taken the time during the last weekend of 1969 – smack in the middle of a two-week break from school – to turn on my old RCA radio, what would I have heard?

Well, here’s the top fifteen from the survey that the Twin Cities’ KDWB would release on December 29, 1969, the last Monday of the year, a date that come tomorrow morning will be fifty years in the past:

“Leaving On A Jet Plane” by Peter, Paul & Mary
“Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head” by B.J. Thomas
“Someday We’ll Be Together” by Diana Ross & The Supremes
“Fortunate Son/Down On The Corner” by Creedence Clearwater Revival
“Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye” by Steam
“Cherry Hill Park” by Billy Joe Royal
“Holly Holy” by Neil Diamond
“Heaven Knows” by the Grass Roots
“La La La (If I Had You)” by Bobby Sherman
“Eli’s Coming” by Three Dog Night
“Take A Letter Maria” by R. B. Greaves
“Yester-me, Yester-you, Yesterday” by Stevie Wonder
“Come Together/Something” by the Beatles
“Evil Woman Don’t Play Your Games With Me” by Crow
“Jam Up Jelly Tight” by Tommy Roe

That’s actually seventeen, of course, given the two double-sided singles, and man, what a great way to end the year! Well, that’s with the exception of the Tommy Roe single, which I never much cared for (although it does have a place on the digital shelves here while the Bobby Sherman single is the only one of those seventeen records that is absent).

Seeing the Supremes’ record in the list reminds me of a moment now thirty years in the past, when 1989 was turning into 1990. I was living in Anoka, Minnesota, just northwest of Minneapolis. A ladyfriend and I had gone through a series of rapid changes in 1989 – a “now we’re good, now we’re not” kind of thing – and sometime around New Year’s Day, after another exasperating conversation, I got into my car to run an errand just across the Mississippi River in the city of Champlin. As I started my car, I played with the idea that the first record I heard on the oldies station would give me a guide to that relationship and 1990.

The next record was, of course, “Someday We’ll Be Together.” That amused and pleased me. Twelve months, three moves and some adventures with pesticide later, I was living alone in Columbia, Missouri, and I concluded that radiomancy was inaccurate. But at least it was hopeful. The first record on the oldies station could have been “Timothy” by the Buoys.

Beyond that, KDWB’s top seventeen at the end of the year when I discovered Top 40 radio brings back the sense of that long-ago time. None of those records spoke to my main personal concern at the time, which was how to turn the friendly attentions of a violin player in the high school orchestra into something more than friendship, but reading that list of titles and performers still reminds me viscerally how my life felt as 1969 was heading rapidly toward 1970.

And, of course, as a nearly life-long practitioner of nostalgia and curator of memories, most of those records are still part of my life today. How much so?

Well, fourteen of those seventeen are among the 3,900-some tracks in the iPod, meaning they’re part of my day-to-day listening. The ones that are absent are those by Bobby Sherman and Tommy Roe (which does not surprise me) and by B.J. Thomas, which kind of does.

And I wonder, as I often do, how much of me still lives in that long-ago time, a time when I was gawky, awkward, pretty much clueless about a lot of things, and artless about many as well. Maybe more than is healthy, though I am far more present in my life these days than I was, say, twenty years ago. But I’m still fairly clueless about a lot of things, sometimes still artless, and sometimes still awkward. I am, however, likely too rotund to be very gawky.

As Paul Simon wrote in one of his versions of “The Boxer,” after “changes upon changes, we are more or less the same.” And I’m never sure if that should be depressing or reassuring.

So what do we listen to from among those records on the last Saturday of the year? Well, a quick search through the archives here tells me – almost unbelievably – that we’ve never featured “Someday We’ll Be Together” in this space.

I recall a discussion of the record, but that came in the comments on a post that featured a record by Johnny Bristol, with a commenter noting that it’s Bristol who supplies the male portion of the call-and-response interplay at the end of the record.

So the record – which probably should have been in my long-ago Ultimate Jukebox but wasn’t – has never been featured here. That neglect ends today, as “Someday We’ll Be Together” by Diana Ross & The Supremes* becomes what I would guess will be the last entry in my Jukebox Regrets and becomes as well the final Saturday Single for 2019.

*Yes, I know that the other female voices on the record may not actually have been members of the Supremes, but we’re going to let that concern go this morning.

‘She’s Lost The Sun . . .’

Thursday, December 12th, 2019

When I explored the Billboard Easy Listening chart from fifty years ago in a post here last week, many of the top fifteen records that I highlighted were among those I was hearing on the Top 40 at the time. That’s not surprising, of course. Crossover between the two charts was common. (I don’t know if that’s the case today. My interest in the Top 40 fades somewhere between twenty and thirty years ago. I’m old.)

One of the records on that Easy Listening chart from 1969 that caught my eye as I wrote was the Guess Who’s “Undun.” It was one of my two or three favorite records from the Canadian group during my high school days, topped only, I’d guess, by “No Time” (which did end up on my long-ago Ultimate Jukebox). And until it showed up on that long-ago Easy Listening chart last week, it hadn’t crossed my mind for a while. Nor had the larger catalog of the Guess Who. (Even though about ten of the group’s singles are in my iPod, they evidently don’t pop up often enough that I take notice.)

So I spent some time the other day checking the digital shelves for Guess Who material and ripping and sorting the 2003 two-CD Anthology released by RCA/BMG Heritage. I suppose I should just pop the CDs into the car’s player the next few times I head out on errands or drop them into the large stereo set that sits not far from my desk here in the EITW studios. But I just listened to a few of the resulting mp3s, “Undun” included.

“Undun” was, according to the listings in Joel Whitburn’s Top Pop Singles, the B-side of “Laughing,” which entered the Hot 100 in July of 1969 and peaked at No. 10. “Undun” followed its A-side into the Hot 100 in mid-October and was in the chart for ten weeks, reaching No. 22. On the Easy Listening chart, it peaked at No. 15, which is where it was in the fifty-year-old chart explored here last week. (It was the only record the Guess Who ever got into the Easy Listening chart.)

And in the Twin Cities, it looks like the record peaked at No. 22 on KDWB, where I got a good share of my Top 40 fix. So I let some memories wash over me as I listened to it the other day; the autumn of 1969 was a pretty good time.

And then I wondered about real easy listening versions of the song, recordings from folks like Ferrante & Teicher or Ray Conniff. Well, those folks didn’t record the tune, according to the information from Second Hand Songs, but I did find a version of the tune that scratched my easy listening itch: Hugo Montenegro included a cover of “Undun” on his 1970 album Colours Of Love.

‘Just Like The Wind Will . . .’

Tuesday, December 10th, 2019

We got about six inches of snow here yesterday morning, and this morning, the temperature is eight degrees below zero. Winter is here, and the weather reminded me of youthful fun at Riverside Park on the East Side, a large space wedged between Kilian Boulevard and Riverside Drive. The park has one of St. Cloud’s best sliding hills, a place that came to mind when I wrote this post in January 2009. I’ve revised it just a bit.

There are, as I’ve discussed before, many songs that take me back to a specific time and place, or remind me of a specific person, or both. That’s true, I’d guess, for anyone who loves music: some records trigger memories. Among such recordings for me are Pink Floyd’s “Us And Them,” which sets me down in the lounge of a youth hostel in Denmark; Orleans’ “Dance With Me,” which puts me in the 1975 version of Atwood Center at St. Cloud State; and Enya’s “Orinoco Flow,” which tugs me back to my duplex in Minot, North Dakota, on a winter’s night.

There are, I’m certain, hundreds of such songs, and every once in a while, one of them pops up on the radio, the stereo, the RealPlayer, or the iPod, and it triggers one of those long-ago associations for a moment or two. One happened when I was driving to the grocery store the other day.

I was listening, once again, to Kool 108 in the Twin Cities. The station, as it does every year, had played holiday music from Thanksgiving through Christmas. Even if one loves holiday music – and as I’ve noted here, I generally don’t – that’s way too much of a good thing. So I was hungry for oldies on the car radio this week, hungry enough that I even listened to “Help Me, Rhonda” all the way through instead of pushing the button for another station. And I’m glad I hung in there with the Beach Boys, for the following song took me back:

Holly holy eyes, dream of only me
Where I am, what I am, what I believe in
Holly holy
Holly holy dream, wanting only you
And she comes, and I run just like the wind will
Holly holy

Sing a song
Sing a song of songs . . .

It was early 1970, and Rick and I were at the sledding hill at Riverside Park, no more than a mile from our homes. We had a couple of new saucer sleds and were testing them out on the long hill, enjoying the times we wiped out as much as we enjoyed those times we made it upright to the bottom of the hill.

It was a cloudy Sunday, and the light that penetrated the cloud cover was fading; evening was approaching as we hauled ourselves up the hill for the last time that day. And as we got to the top of the hill, from somewhere came the sound of a radio for just a few seconds: Neil Diamond’s “Holly Holy.”

I’m not sure where the sound came from. In the parking lot at the top of the hill, a car with its radio on might have had a door open for just a moment, perhaps to admit tired sledders about to head home. That seems likely. But however it happened, we both heard the song as we went up the hill.

“Good song,” I said. It was okay, said Rick, not one of his favorites.

And almost thirty-nine years later, as I drove to the store, the strains of “Holly Holy” put me back there again: On that long hill in Riverside Park, cheeks red, glasses splashed with snowflakes, feet cold inside my boots, taking the first steps on the way to home and hot chocolate.

It’s now been fifty years since “Holly Holy” was on the charts. It slipped into the Billboard Hot 100 in November 1969, and by mid-December, it was at No. 13, heading to No. 6 (and to No. 5 on the magazine’s Easy Listening chart).

And next month, it will have been fifty years since Rick and I trudged up the hill and caught just a snippet of the Neil Diamond record. I don’t know that we ever went sledding at Riverside again, but I’ve heard “Holly Holy” many times since (five times in the past year on the iPod alone, according to the device’s stats), and it remains one of my favorite Diamond records ever, another reminder that the music of 1969-70 – my junior year in high school – was one of the richest musical veins I’ve ever mined.

Saturday Single No. 668

Saturday, December 7th, 2019

So what were the easy listening stations playing fifty years ago this week? Here are the top fifteen from the chart now called Adult Contemporary that were listed by Billboard in its December 6, 1969, edition, fifty years ago yesterday.

“Leaving On A Jet Plane” by Peter, Paul & Mary
“Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head” by B.J. Thomas
“Try A Little Kindness” by Glen Campbell
“And When I Die” by Blood, Sweat & Tears
“A Woman’s Way” by Andy Williams
“Smile A Little Smile For Me” by the Flying Machine
“Make Your Own Kind Of Music” by Mama Cass Elliot
“Wedding Bell Blues” by the 5th Dimension
“Midnight Cowboy” by Ferrante & Teicher
“Early In The Morning” by Vanity Fare
“Love Will Find A Way” by Jackie DeShannon
“A Brand New Me” by Dusty Springfield
“I Guess The Lord Must Be In New York City” by Nilsson
“Goin’ Out Of My Head” by Frank Sinatra
“Undun” by the Guess Who

Nearly all familiar, as I would have guessed. Of that fifteen, there are only two that don’t immediately play on the turntable in my head: the Andy Williams and Frank Sinatra singles. I know “Goin’ Out Of My Head,” of course, but Sinatra’s take on it seems almost sleepy, with none of the urgency I hear in the original version of the song by Little Anthony & The Imperials (No. 6 in the Hot 100 in 1964) or even in the most successful cover of the tune, which was part of a medley by the Lettermen (No. 7 in 1968). When you’re less urgent than the Lettermen . . .

As to Williams’ “A Woman’s Way,” I don’t recall it at all, and my reaction to it this morning was “Wow!” Consider:

Oh, the measure of her man
Is in a woman’s eyes
She can make him something special
If she tries

From the moment she that she gives herself
Her life is not the same
It’s a woman’s way to live
So she proudly takes his name

For a woman’s life is empty
Until she finds her man
It’s a woman’s way to give all that she can

Different times.

A third record from that top fifteen that caught my eye this morning was Glen Campbell’s “Try A Little Kindness.” A couple months ago, the speaker at our Unitarian-Universalist Fellowship talked about the importance of kindness, and for once, the four of us that make up the musicans’ group were on topic, offering the Sunday morning gathering our version of the tune, written by Bobby Austin and Curt Sapaugh.

I thought briefly about making that our Saturday Single, but a quick check told me that it showed up here the week Campbell passed on in 2017, so we’ll search elsewhere. And none of the other records in that easy listening top fifteen, as much as I love many of them, call to me this morning. So we’re going to play Games With Numbers and turn today’s date – 12/7/19 – into 38 and see what’s at No. 38 in that fifty-year-old Easy Listening chart.

And we come across Bossa Rio, a Latin group from Brazil that placed two records in the Easy Listening chart in 1969 and 1970, with neither of them finding their ways into the Hot 100. The latter of the two, “With Your Love Now,” went to No. 15 during the summer of 1970. The earlier record, the one we’re interested in today, peaked at No 22 during an eight-week run on the chart that started in 1969 and continued into 1970.

The group sounds – perhaps inevitably – like Sérgio Mendes & Brasil 66. But that’s a nice sound on a Saturday morning. Here’s Bossa Rio’s take on the Beatles’ “Blackbird.”

What’s At No. 100? (December 1969)

Monday, December 2nd, 2019

We’re back after a week filled with snow, a holiday and more snow. We probably got eleven or so inches of snow here, though the official count for the city showed less. And the two storms were sandwiched around Thanksgiving; we made our customary trip to Maple Grove, fifty miles away, and celebrated with my sister, her husband and their son.

And all we’re going to accomplish in this corner today is a brief post looking back again at the late autumn of 1969, checking out the Billboard Hot 100 from around this time during that season, looking at the Top Ten and then dropping down to the bottom of the chart.

The Top Ten fifty years ago this week was:

“Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye” by Steam
“Leaving On A Jet Plane” by Peter, Paul & Mary
“Come Together/Something” by the Beatles
“Take A Letter Maria” by R.B. Greaves
“Down On The Corner/Fortunate Son” by Creedence Clearwater Revival
“And When I Die” by Blood, Sweat & Tears
“Wedding Bell Blues” by the 5th Dimension
“Yester-Me, Yester-You, Yesterday” by Stevie Wonder
“Some Day We’ll Be Together” by the Supremes
“Eli’s Coming” by Three Dog Night

Well, wow. That’s fifty minutes of living in a country long gone but still present. I’ve probably written, sometimes at length, about all twelve of those records singly – certainly about most of them – but seeing them stacked like 45s in sequence leaves me, well, wordless. I remember how I felt back then – the only record from that time that would make this stack more potent would be Lou Christie’s “I’m Gonna Make You Mine”* – but trying to put that into words this morning is a task I cannot accomplish.

And that’s a reminder that back then – fifty years ago – a lot of my life ran through music, mostly through the radio but increasingly through LPs and cassettes as well: I had the Beatles’ two singles and the Blood, Sweat & Tears record on tapes and the 5th Dimension single on an LP. I was listening to the same music as my peers, and that was new to me. The autumn of my junior year was, in most ways, a fine time.

And as if I need confirmation that those records mattered to me and still do, every one of those twelve singles has a place among the 3,900 or so tracks in the iPod.

But what of our other business today? What do we find lurking on the lowest rung of the Hot 100 from fifty years ago this week? We find a rarity, a record that spent one week at No. 100 and then went away forever: “Camel Back” by a group called A.B. Skhy. And as it happens, we’ve dabbled in this Hot 100 before, about six years ago. Here’s what I wrote about A.B. Skhy and “Camel Back” then:

In Top Pop Singles, Joel Whitburn notes that the group came from San Francisco, but the notes at the video I found this morning indicate a significant Wisconsin background for the group, and Wikipedia in fact says that the group began in Milwaukee during the late 1960s as New Blues. Once in California and playing as A. B. Skhy, the original lineup – along with a seven-piece horn section, according to William Ruhlmann of All Music Guide – recorded one self-titled album for MGM and released the one single, which was written by the group’s keyboard player, Howard Wales. (After some personnel changes, the group recorded and released a second album in 1970.)

That was six years ago, and that’s long enough for the record to have a second listen here. Here’s “Camel Back” by A.B. Skhy:

*It turns out that Christie’s record had left the Hot 100 after the November 8 chart.

Saturday Single No. 667

Saturday, November 23rd, 2019

Let’s take a look at the top ten LPs in the Billboard 200 during this week in 1969, fifty years ago:

Abbey Road by the Beatles
Led Zeppelin II
Green River by Creedence Clearwater Revival
Tom Jones Live in Las Vegas
Puzzle People by the Temptations
Crosby, Stills & Nash
Blood, Sweat & Tears
Johnny Cash at San Quentin
Santana
I Got Dem Ol’ Kozmic Blues Again Mama! by Janis Joplin

At the time the chart came out – on November 29, 1969 – three of those albums were in the house on Kilian Boulevard. I had the Beatles and BST on cassette and the Johnny Cash album on LP. I was far more in tune with current trends than I had ever been (even though that didn’t take much movement).

These days, I can do without the Tom Jones, I never really liked the Kozmic Blues album, and I never had the Temptations’ album (getting along with anthologies of their singles instead). The other seven, I like just fine, and they all showed up eventually – along with the Joplin – in the vinyl stacks and on the digital shelves. Four of them – the Beatles, CSN, BST and Cash – are also on the CD shelves here.

Singles from at least eight of those albums – all except the Jones and the Joplin – were coming out of my radio speakers that autumn, and I liked most of them. (I still care very little for CCR’s “Down On The Corner.”) Still new to Top 40 listening, one of the singles from that group of albums startled me the first time I heard it, and I was also startled on second and third hearings to realize that I liked it.

And just that little bit of memory is enough this morning to make Led Zeppelin’s “Whole Lotta Love” today’s Saturday Single.

The Moody Blues in 1969, No. 2

Wednesday, October 30th, 2019

As was noted the last time we talked about the Moody Blues in the context of their two 1969 albums (a discussion found here), I noted a couple of tracks that I thought missed the mark on To Our Childrens Childrens Children and promised to do the same for the other album from that year, On The Threshold Of A Dream.

Well, as I listen to Threshold, I’m reminded of a discussion I’ve seen or heard many times over the years, most recently among the members of a Facebook group devoted to music of the 1970s: An artist or group releases its debut album to acclaim, having spent at least a couple years putting together the material, and is then expected to produce another album in a very short time, resulting in a less-than-stellar effort. I think, to an extent, the same thing happened with Threshold, sandwiched as it was between 1968’s In Search Of The Lost Chord and To Our Childrens Childrens Children, released later in 1969: The work on Threshold kind of pales in comparison to the albums that bracket it.

Now, as I noted when I discussed it (here), I wasn’t all that impressed with Lost Chord when I first heard it in 1972, and it’s still not high on my list. But I’ve come to realize in the last few months of heavy Moody Blues listening that at least the songs on Lost Chord, though flawed, are interesting. The songs on To Our Childrens Childrens Children are generally interesting, though – as I noted in that post a little more than a week ago – I have a few quibbles with some of them.

But the songs on the album between those two albums – On The Threshold Of A Dream – are for the most part dull. They’re competently arranged and played, but as I ran the album through the CD player a few times and then played individual tracks sitting at my desk, I found myself less and less interested in the album. Nothing on what was Side One in the LP configuration grabs hold of me positively, and only the first track on what was Side Two does so: “Never Comes The Day,” which I find one of the group’s best efforts ever.

After “Never Comes The Day,” another few tracks meander by until we get to “The Dream,” which does commands my attention because it’s another one of those spoken word tracks the Moodies liked to throw out in the early years:

When the white eagle of the North is flying overhead
The browns, reds and golds of autumn lie in the gutter, dead.
Remember then, that summer birds with wings of fire flaying
Came to witness spring’s new hope, born of leaves decaying.
Just as new life will come from death, love will come at leisure.
Love of love, love of life and giving without measure
Gives in return a wondrous yearn of a promise almost seen.
Live hand-in-hand and together we’ll stand on the threshold of a dream.

Heavy, man.

The album closes with “Have You Heard (Part One),” “The Voyage” and “Have You Heard (Part Two),” all of which ends with about a minute of not quite white noise slowly fading into silence. And I imagine that all of it seemed quite astounding and deep in a college dorm room in 1969. Or maybe it sounded mostly silly and pretentious then, too.

A lot of folks were listening to the two 1969 albums: On The Threshold Of A Dream spent 136 weeks on the Billboard 200, peaking at No. 20 , and To Our Childrens Childrens Children was on the chart for forty-four weeks, peaking at No. 14. But only one single from the two albums charted: “Never Comes The Day” lurked near the bottom of the magazine’s Hot 100 for four weeks, peaking at No. 91. I’d say it deserved better.

I gave In Search Of The Lost Chord a letter grade when I discussed it (a C-), so I suppose I had better keep doing that as I wander through the rest of the Moody Blues’ catalog. On The Threshold Of A Dream earns a C- as well, and To Our Childrens Childrens Children gets a C, mostly because it has better songs (and because, having learned in the last week that the album was a response/tribute to the Apollo 11 moon landing, I now hear its introductory track as a little less ludicrous).

Here’s “Never Comes The Day,” the best track on either of the two 1969 albums (though “Gypsy” from To Our Childrens Childrens Children comes close).

Note: I’m bothered by the missing apostrophes in the title of To Our Childrens Childrens Children, but the title – as ill-advised as it might be – is the title.

No. 50 Fifty Years Ago

Friday, October 25th, 2019

It’s time for another game of Symmetry, and today, we’ll go back to the last week of October in 1969 during my first autumn as a dedicated Top 40 listener. We’ll take a look at the top of the chart and then drop down to No. 50.

The top five records in the Billboard Hot 100 released fifty years ago today were:

“I Can’t Get Next To You” by the Temptations
“Hot Fun In The Summertime” by Sly & The Family Stone
“Sugar, Sugar” by the Archies
“Jean” by Oliver
“Suspicious Minds” by Elvis Presley

As most top fives from that season would be, that’s a nice eighteen or so minutes of music. I don’t recall the Temptations’ single getting as much airplay as a No. 1 record would get. And it turns out the record is absent from all the autumn 1969 surveys from the Twin Cities’ KDWB that are offered at the Airheads Radio Survey Archive. And that leaves me wondering how many No. 1 singles over the years failed to reach the station’s survey. Can’t be many.

As to the other four, I recall hearing all of them often and liking them all. My favorite among them is “Suspicious Minds,” which I think is the best post-1950s single Elvis ever released, maybe the best ever. (I’m not going to wade into it today.) And four of the five – all except “Sugar, Sugar” – are among the 3,900 or so on my iPod, meaning they’re still among my current listening.

But how about our other business? What was sitting at No. 50 fifty years ago today? Well, it’s not in the iPod, and it’s not one I recall. It’s “Time Machine” from Grand Funk Railroad, the first Hot 100 hit from the band from Flint, Michigan. It would rise two more spots and peak at No. 48. The band’s first Top 40 hit would be “Closer To Home (I’m Your Captain),” which went to No. 22 in 1970, and the trio would hit No. 1 in September 1973 with “We’re An American Band” and in May 1974 with “The Loco-Motion.”

Here’s “Time Machine.”

The Moody Blues in 1969, No. 1

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2019

As I’ve noted in earlier posts – without actually saying so, I imagine – I came late to the Moody Blues (as is true of most pop-rock music), only beginning to listen to them in the early 1970s. The first of their albums that I was aware of at the time of its release was 1971’s Every Good Boy Deserves Favour, and the first Moodies album I acquired close to the time of its release was 1972’s Seventh Sojourn.

So I missed the band’s deepest forays into what I call “hippie mysticism,” which is my stereotypical shorthand for the ethos that led college students and others of their age during the very late 1960s and very early 1970s to utter murmurs of admiration for the deep ideas they garnered from the LPs on their turntables. That’s caricature, of course, but I heard enough folks around me during my first two years of college (during the early 1970s) telling me how deep the Moody Blues’ albums were, how filled with insights each song was, to wonder if I was missing something.

The sources of those murmurs and assessments were four albums: In Search Of The Lost Chord from 1968, On The Threshold Of A Dream and To Our Childrens Childrens Children, both from 1969, and A Question Of Balance from 1970. The first of those four was discussed her not quite two weeks ago, and we’ll take on A Question Of Balance in the near future. This week, we’re going to briefly tackle the middle pair of those four albums.

Why briefly? First of all, I know those two albums less well than most of the rest of the group’s catalog. I missed them when they came out, and they were the last two of the Moody Blues’ original releases to find their ways to the vinyl shelves, arriving there during the summer of 1998. (I played both once and placed them on the shelves, probably vowing to get back to them, a vow unkept until this year.) And they were among the last CDs to arrive here on the North Side during this summer’s spree.

And briefly, too, because – being far removed from the late 1960s and also being a far more critical listener than I was then – I don’t find the two albums to be much more than collections of mostly pleasant and occasionally impressive songs. Both, seemingly, were considered “concept albums” when they were released, but I’m not sure what the topics under discussion were. Maybe that means I’m just shallow. Maybe it means that I need to listen to the two albums over and over and over. Or maybe it means that the two albums are just collections of (generally) good songs with a couple of tricks used that seem to set the tables and the bind the things together.

Both start with silly introductions: To Our Childrens Childrens Children starts with a track called “Higher and Higher” that gives us a crescendo of instruments and voices starting from nothing and truly going higher and higher for ninety seconds until the band kicks in underneath a spoken verse:

Blasting, billowing, bursting forth
With the power of ten billion butterfly sneezes
Man with his flaming pyre
Has conquered the wayward breezes

Climbing to tranquility
Far above the cloud
Conceiving the heavens
Clear of misty shroud

Maybe it was far out in 1969, as we said back then. (Yeah, I called things “far out” for about two weeks.) But it seems lame now (and probably did back then to those less impressionable). But however much it limps, it’s a far better start than the conversation between an unformed youth and a computer that starts On The Threshold Of A Dream. “In The Beginning,” as the conversation is called, is just silly and painful to listen to.

Both of those introductions kind of sour the modern listener on both albums, I think (having listened to both entire albums about four times each in the last couple months). Using the “skip” button on a CD player at the beginning of each album gives that modern listener a much better experience.

There are still some misses: The two-part “Eyes Of A Child” and the split “I’d Never Thought I’d Live To Be A Hundred/Million” on Children would each have been served better, I think, as single tracks. And “Candle Of Life” on the same album offers majestic music accompanied by lyrics that had to have seemed trite even at the moment they came out of John Lodge’s pen:

Something you can’t hide
Says you’re lonely
Hidden deep inside
Of you only
It’s there for you to see
Take a look and be
Burn slowly, the Candle of Life

Something there outside
Says we’re only
In the hands of time
Falling slowly
It’s there for us to know
With love that we can go
Burn slowly, the Candle of Life

So love everybody and make them your friends
So love everybody and make them your friends

But the music is lovely. So listen to “Candle Of Life” and stop back here later in the week when we’ll look at a few missteps from On The Threshold Of A Dream and note a few tracks on both albums that I think rise above their general qualities.

Saturday Single No. 662

Saturday, October 12th, 2019

All right, it’s time for some Games With Numbers. We’re going to take today’s date – 10-12-19 – and turn that into 41, and then we’re going to check out the records at No. 41 on few Billboard Hot 100s from this week over the years to find a tune to feature this morning. Since we’re fifty years out from 1969 – a year favored greatly here – we’ll head to October of that year and then move five years away in both directions for a couple of other years as targets: 1964 and 1974.

As we generally do when we play these games, we’ll check out the No. 1 and No. 2 records from those weeks along the way.

We’ll start in 1964. The record sitting at No. 41 in a chart released fifty-five years ago this week was “I Like It,” the fourth charting record for the Merseyside group of Gerry & The Pacemakers.

Two of the group’s singles had reached the Billboard Top Ten earlier in the year: “Don’t Let The Sun Catch You Crying” had gone to No. 4 during the first weeks of summer, and “How Do You Do It” had reached No. 9 during the first week of September. Oddly, the same week that “How Do You Do It” (b/w “You’ll Never Walk Alone”) entered the Hot 100, so did the group’s “I’m The One,” which had “How Do You Do It” as its B-side.

That seems strange, and I’ll need someone wiser than I in the ways of record companies to explain. In any case, “I’m The One” stiffed at No. 82, leaving “I Like It” as the follow-up to that odd set of releases. Actually a re-release of a 1963 single that did not chart, “I Like It” went to No. 17.

It’s an okay record, but then, the only thing I ever loved by Gerry & The Pacemakers was “Ferry Cross The Mersey,” which I heard a fair amount at home in early 1965 because my sister bought the record. So “I Like It” seems a little pale to me.

Sitting at No. 1 and No. 2 in the Hot 100 released October 10, 1964 were, respectively, “Oh, Pretty Woman” by Roy Orbison and “Do Wah Diddy Diddy” by Manfred Mann.

Five years later, the record at No. 41 was one that I’ve written about before: “Don’t It Make You Want To Go Home” by Joe South. In a meditation on how music reflects the desire to return to a better time and/or place, I wrote:

Joe South’s 1969 lament, “Don’t It Make You Want To Go Home,” mourned the changes brought to his home place – and by extension, the entire south – by the so-called progress of that decade, which replaced orchards with offices and meadows with malls (and the orchards and meadows continue to disappear to this day, of course, not just in the south but all across the country).

The era during which Joe South sang – those volatile years from, say, 1965 to 1975 – was one of displacement for a lot of folks. Many of those who were displaced, of course, had not one bit of use for rock or soul or any of their relatives; they instead found their solace in gospel music or in the country stylings of Buck Owens and Merle Haggard and their contemporaries. But the sense of longing wasn’t limited by genre. It’s not an accident that one of the better singles of the Beatles, the best group of the time – or any time, for that matter – told us all to get back to where we once belonged. We all wanted to go home.

Oddly enough, for a record of such subtle power during a time of confusing change, “Don’t It Make You Want To Go Home” did not make the Top 40. It peaked right where it sat fifty years ago yesterday, at No. 41.

Parked at No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, during that week were “Sugar, Sugar” by the Archies and “Jean” by Oliver.

Five years after that, at October 1974 hit the one-third point, the record at No. 41 was a profession of faith and a prayer for endurance that crossed over from the country chart and provided its singer with her only pop hit. Marilyn Sellars (who turns out to have been born in the college town of Northfield, Minnesota) put a couple of records into the Country Top 40 in the mid-1970s.

The one we’re concerned with today is “One Day At A Time,” which, forty-five years ago today, was a week past its pop peak at No. 37. Written by Marijohn Wilkin and Kris Kristofferson, “One Day At A Time” peaked on the country chart at No. 19. For the record, Sellars’ other country hit, a plaint of lost love titled “He’s Everywhere,” went to No. 39 in early 1975.

Sitting at No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, during this week in 1974 were “I Honestly Love You” by Olivia Newton-John and “Nothing From Nothing” by Billy Preston.

So, given those three to consider, there’s not much question about which direction we’ll go this morning. Almost by default, Joe South’s “Don’t It Make You Want To Go Home” is today’s Saturday Single.