Certain years and seasons will always grip me and fascinate me, some for the life I was living at the time, some for the music I was hearing, and some for both. One of my most potent musical seasons, as I’ve noted before, was the autumn of 1969, when I was a new Top 40 listener. As the music came from the RCA radio in my room (and from other sources), I was frequently amazed at how clearly those records spoke to me about my life.
So when I look at the Billboard Hot 100 from September 27, 1969, forty-five years ago today, I see a lot of records that were loud portions of the soundtrack of my life during that autumn when I was sixteen. The Top Ten forty-five years ago today was:
“Sugar, Sugar” by the Archies
“Green River” by Creedence Clearwater Revival
“Honky Tonk Women” by the Rolling Stones
“Easy To Be Hard” by Three Dog Night
“Little Woman” by Bobby Sherman
“Can’t Get Next To You” by the Temptations
“Jean” by Oliver
“I’ll Never Fall In Love Again” by Tom Jones
“Hot Fun In The Summertime” by Sly & The Family Stone
“Oh, What A Night” by the Dells.
Eight of those are vibrant memories from that time. (I probably heard the singles by Tom Jones and the Dells but evidently not enough for them to imprint themselves as vital songs.) They aren’t the most potent records from that season, but they all say “Autumn of ’69” when they pop up on the radio or on the RealPlayer.
Some of the more significant records from that time do show up a little farther down that Hot 100: “Get Together” by the Youngbloods is at No. 13, “Hurts So Bad” by the Lettermen was next at No. 14, and Bob Dylan’s “Lay, Lady, Lay” sat at No. 20. Even more to the point, the Grass Roots spoke for me with “I’d Wait A Million Years” at No. 25, and right next door at No. 26, Lou Christie spoke even louder with one of the most potent singles of any season of my life, “I’m Gonna Make You Mine.”
And yet, sprinkled in between and all around those significant singles are records that I either gave little attention or perhaps never even heard at the time. Despite the vast quantity of music I’ve listened to over the years, I think it’s likely that those unnoticed and unheard records outnumber by a large ratio the ones I know well and the ones that matter most to me.
So I’m rarely surprised when I find something I’d either pretty much ignored or not been aware of during that long ago season or any other season. I was, however, startled this morning to find in that Hot 100 from September 27, 1969, a previously ignored record that is a cover of a song that I collect nearly obsessively: A version of The Band’s “The Weight” by the pairing of Diana Ross & The Supremes with the Temptations was sitting at No. 48 forty-five years ago today.
Pulled from Together, the second collaborative studio album by the two groups, “The Weight” would move up two more notches before peaking at No. 46, and it’s today’s Saturday Single.