One Chart Dig, August 1969

I’ve told the tale before: It was about this time of year in 1969 when I pulled the RCA radio that had been my grandfather’s from a shelf in the basement, took it up to my room and tuned it, most likely, to KDWB, the only Twin Cities Top 40 station that we could get in St. Cloud. After several years of ignoring pop music – though I heard it all around me – it was time to listen, and to learn.

Why then? I’ve addressed that question here at least once and thought about it many more times, and I’m still uncertain. Part of it was hearing the radio in the football locker room and wanting to fit in there. But part of it was just that the time was right, and I can’t explain that except to say that I was at a point where I needed something musically that I wasn’t getting from Al Hirt and John Barry and the rest of my regular listening.

So what did I hear that day or maybe that evening, when I would have tuned the radio to WJON just across the tracks or to Chicago’s WLS? Well, here’s the Billboard Top Ten from this week in 1969, forty-five years ago:

“Honky Tonk Women” by the Rolling Stones
“A Boy Named Sue” by Johnny Cash
“Crystal Blue Persuasion” by Tommy James & The Shondells
“Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond
“In The Year 2525 (Exordium & Terminus)” by Zager & Evans
“Put A Little Love In Your Heart” by Jackie DeShannon
“Green River” by Creedence Clearwater Revival
“Polk Salad Annie” by Tony Joe White
“Get Together” by the Youngbloods
“Laughing” by the Guess Who

That’s a hell of a Top Ten although I know many folks might want to edit out the Zager & Evans single. And as I scan the Billboard Hot 100 for August 23, 1969, I know nearly all of the Top 40 and most of the Hot 100. It’s when we drop below No. 100 and get into the Bubbling Under section of the chart that things become much less familiar. There were twenty-eight records listed in that week’s Bubbling Under section, and only one of them made it into the Top 40: “Sugar On Sunday” by the Clique, which went to No. 22. So what else was down there?

Well, I’m going to throw one onto the table today and probably deal out four more bubblers tomorrow.

Earlier in 1969, Henry Mancini had topped the Hot 100 for two weeks (and the Adult Contemporary chart for eight weeks) with the “Love Theme From Romeo & Juliet,” his sixth Top 40 hit. The follow-up was Mancini’s abridged version of Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata:

The record made it only to No. 87, which I think is too bad. I like it a lot, as it scratches my itch for easy listening while at the same time reminding me of the many times I tried to play the Moonlight Sonata (and I may try the piece again; my book of Beethoven sonatas is on the shelf on the other side of the room). Mancini would get back to the Top 40 in early 1971, when “Theme From Love Story” would go to No. 13.

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