Saturday Single No. 601

I was rummaging around this morning at the Airheads Radio Survey Archive, looking at surveys from the Twin Cities’ KDWB and trying to figure out as well as I could when it was in 1969 that I really started paying attention to the station and thus, to the Top 40.

Well, it wasn’t this week. The station’s 6+30 survey for July 21, 1969, has too many records tucked into it that were not familiar to me at the time and even a few that weren’t immediately familiar to me this morning, forty-nine years after the fact. So I made a few stops at YouTube.

I cued up “Medicine Man” by the Buchanan Brothers, and when the group – which was actually Terry Cashman, Gene Pistilli and Tommy West – got to the chorus, I recognized the record, which was pretty darn catchy, if unmarketable today. It was sitting at No. 36, the very bottom of the station’s survey, having peaked at No. 14 a few weeks earlier. That was better than the record did nationally, as Joel Whitburn’s Top Pop Singles shows it as peaking at No. 22.

Next, I went in search of the Rascals’ “See,” which was sitting at No. 33 at KDWB that week. I have no recollection of the record at all. From what I can tell, the record peaked at No. 8 at the station a few weeks earlier, which meant some pretty hefty airplay, and that tells me that I hadn’t yet moved the radio by mid-July. “See” went to No. 27 in the Billboard Hot 100.

Then I moved to the third of the unremembered records on that long-ago 6+30. Bobby Vinton’s “The Days of Sand and Shovels” was sitting at No. 13, up two spots from the week before. Having listened to it, I can say without reservation that I’ve never heard the record before, nor have I ever heard the song before. I can also say it’s pretty dreadful. KDWB’s listeners must have caught on to that, as the record dropped out of the 6+30 the next week. Nationally, it peaked at No. 34, the only version of the song – which I think was first recorded in 1968 by Carl Dobkins, Jr. – to hit the Billboard Hot 100. (Vinton’s version went to No. 11 on the magazine’s Easy Listening chart.)

Just to round things out, two versions of the tune have shown up on the magazine’s country chart. Waylon Jennings’ cover went to No. 20 in 1969, and Ned Stuckey took the tune to No. 26 in 1978. There are other covers out there, but none that charted.

How bad was the song? Check out the lyrics:

When I noticed her the first time
I was outside running barefoot in the rain
She lived in the house next door
Her nose was pressed against the window pane
When I looked at her, she smiled
And showed a place where two teeth used to be
And I heard her ask her mom if she
Could come outside and play with me

But soon the days of sand and shovels
Gave way to the mysteries of life
And I noticed she was changing and I
Looked at her through different eyes
We became as one and knew a love
Without beginning or an end
And every day I lived with her
Was like a new day dawning once again

And I’ve loved her since every doll was Shirley Temple
Soda pop was still a nickel
Jam was on her fingertips
Milk was circled on her lips

After many years our love fell silent
And at night I heard her cry
And when she left me in the fall, I knew
That it would be our last goodbye
I was man enough to give her
Everything she needed for a while
But searching for a perfect love
I found that I could not give her a child

Now she lives a quiet life
And is the mother of a little girl
Every time I pass her house
My thoughts go back into another world
Because I see her little girl
Her nose is pressed against the window pane
She thinks I’m a lonely man
Who wants to come inside out of the rain

And I’ve loved her since every doll was Shirley Temple
Soda pop was still a nickel
Jam was on her fingertips
Milk was circled on her lips

Boy, that’s not quite to the level of Bobby Goldsboro’s “Honey,” but it’s damn close. And the anachronistic reference to Shirley Temple dolls bothers me. Shirley Temple and the dolls modeled after her were part of the 1930s and maybe, 1940s. Same with soda pop being a nickel. I don’t get what era this is supposed to be.

Anyway, sometimes you have to share the cheese. So here’s Bobby Vinton’s “The Days of Sand and Shovels” from 1969, today’s Saturday Single.

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