‘I Can Take Or Leave It . . .’

Here are the top ten easy listening records from fifty years ago this week, as noted in the July 18, 1970, edition of Billboard:

“(They Long To Be) Close To You” by the Carpenters
“My Marie” by Engelbert Humperdinck
“A Song Of Joy” by Miguel Rios
“I Just Can’t Help Believing” by B.J. Thomas
“One Day Of Your Life” by Andy Williams
“She Cried” by the Lettermen
“Que Sera Sera (Whatever Will Be Will Be)” by Mary Hopkin
“Overture From Tommy” by the Assembled Multitude
“Make It With You” by Bread
“Song From M*A*S*H” by Al DeLory

I have no memory of four singles in that Top Ten. I know, of course, the song “Que Sera Sera,” but I don’t recall Hopkin’s version. “My Marie” is a blank to me. As I write, I’m thinking I might know “One Day Of Your Life,” maybe from a commercial. And “She Cried” rings faint bells although I do not know if I am recalling the version by the Lettermen. It’s time to go to YouTube.

I like “My Marie,” the tale of a husband off to do something risky to get his family out of poverty – “But if I’m not back there with you/By the time the sun goes down/Take the train, change your name/And get the children out of town” – but it’s still unfamiliar.

Still unfamiliar, too, are the singles by Hopkin and Williams. As to “She Cried,” the Lettermen’s version might be the one I recall. I took a listen to the 1962 version by Jay & The Americans, but that’s not one I remember.

Five of the other six in that top ten are records I recall from working at the 1970 state trap shoot on the gun range out southeast of St. Cloud. (I told the tale of that job long ago; you can find it here.) And all five of those – the singles by Rios, Thomas, the Carpenter, the Assembled Multitude and Bread – are among my current listening in the iPod. And the last of those ten to be accounted for – Al DeLory’s “Song From M*A*S*H” – will be in the iPod before the sun sets today.

DeLory’s version of the theme from the 1970 film M*A*S*H – the television series went on air in 1972 – seems to be the only version of the tune that’s charted. (I might have missed some, but I’ve checked under “Song From M*A*S*H,” “Theme From M*A*S*H,” and “Suicide Is Painless,” which is the actual title of the tune composed by the recently departed Johnny Mandel and Mike Altman.) It peaked at No. 7 on the easy listening chart and got to No. 70 on the Hot 100.

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