No. 50 Fifty Years Ago

We’re playing Symmetry today, checking out the Billboard Hot 100 from this week in 1970. We’ll look at the top five and then see what was hanging on the hook at No. 50 fifty years ago.

Here’s the top five from the Hot 100 as of November 21, 1970:

“I Think I Love You” by the Partridge Family
“We’ve Only Just Begun” by the Carpenters
“I’ll Be There” by the Jackson 5
“The Tears Of A Clown” by Smokey Robinson & The Miracles
“Fire & Rain” by James Taylor

I don’t think I was particularly thrilled by that set of five records fifty years ago, as my senior year of high school was sliding by. I noted earlier this week that at the time I thought “I Think I Love You” was a little too poppy but that I admire its craft now.

One of the best things about the records we love is that they connect with us emotionally, tie in somehow to what we’re feeling at the time they come along. Over the fifty years that I’ve been seriously listening to and thinking about music, there are no doubt hundreds of records with which I’ve connected emotionally.

None of these five are among those hundreds of records.

They’re fine records all, but not one of them has ever meant anything to me. (There is that one fleeting memory of hearing the Partridge Family record during a long-ago date, but that’s it.) Even James Taylor’s classic, ushering in (kind of, sort of, maybe) the era of the singer-songwriter (a genre I loved then and still love) has no emotional resonance for me.

I would guess it’s one of the few times that would happen during the years of my so-called sweet spot, running from the late summer of 1969 to the late autumn of 1975. Four of the five – all except “I’ll Be There” – are in the iPod and thus are a part of my day-to-day listening, but the prospect of deleting them would bring no distress (except, and this make sense, a slight bit of regret at losing “I Think I Love You”).

But what do we find when we get to our other business this morning? What was at No. 50 during the third week of November 1970?

We find the record that in a very few weeks would become Neil Young’s first Top 40 hit: “Only Love Can Break Your Heart.” Pulled from the stellar album After The Gold Rush, the record had been No. 60 a week earlier and would rise to No. 33. It’s a good record. (For what it matters, it’s not in the iPod either, though maybe it should be.)

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One Response to “No. 50 Fifty Years Ago”

  1. David says:

    My #1 favorite album. So much so that, when the anesthesiologist last month asked me what music I liked (to sing for her & test when the drip was kicking in) Neil Young was my choice & this was the song. It was a blissful few minutes & I knew all the words! What an album. After the Gold Rush, Southern Man, (air guitar showdown anyone?) Tell Me Why, Till the Morning Comes, Don’t Let It Bring You Down, When You Dance I Can Really Love & the all too short, Cripple Creek Ferry.

    Long time lurker here & always amazed at your total recall of your earlier years. Thanks for all the hard work.

    A couple years ago I took a long weekend to Minneapolis for the State Fair & while driving around there it was, St. Cloud. Never thought I’d be in the nabe but what a hoot for this Manhattan boy.

    P.S. 30,000 songs in my iPod Classic, but it’s never enough, is it? Be well and stay safe.

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