What’s At No. 100? (1-23-1971)

Here’s the Billboard Top Ten from January 23, 1971, forty-eight years ago today:

“Knock Three Times” by Dawn
“My Sweet Lord/Isn’t It A Pity” by George Harrison
“One Less Bell To Answer” by the 5th Dimension
“Lonely Days” by the Bee Gees
“Black Magic Woman” by Santana
“Stoney End” by Barbra Streisand
“Groove Me” by King Floyd
“Your Song” by Elton John
“Rose Garden” by Lynn Anderson
“It’s Impossible” by Perry Como

Back then, as a high school senior, I liked almost all of these, some more than others. My faves among them were those by George Harrison, the Bee Gees, Elton John and the 5th Dimension. Those all merited an increase in volume when they came on the radio (although I don’t recall hearing “Isn’t It A Pity” on the air very often if at all).

I also liked the Santana and the Streisand singles, and I liked “Groove Me,” even though I thought it was a little weird, what with the grunting and all. And then there was “Knock Three Times.” I wrote some years ago about the decision that the St. Cloud Tech administration made as school resumed in September 1970 to relabel the cold lunch room as the Multi-Purpose Room and to install a jukebox. As I noted:

That was a move that I think the authorities eventually regretted, certainly by the second time Dawn’s No. 1 hit “Knock Three Times” drew the attention of some student’s quarter . . . When Tony Orlando and his crew told us to “knock three times,” feet stomped on the floor and books slammed on the table. “Twice on the pipe” drew the same reaction.

So, I liked the anarchy the record spawned, and I knew it had a great hook (even before I knew the term “hook”), but for some reason, it was still a little off-putting, kind of like Tony Orlando’s mustache.

What about “Rose Garden”? Well, the record was okay, but I was confused by the fact that about the same time the record began getting airplay, my sister was reading a book titled I Never Promised You a Rose Garden. Was there a connection? Almost fifty years later, I don’t know. I have a vague memory of reading a piece in which songwriter Joe South refers to the book – a 1964 semi-autobiographical novel about a young woman’s struggle with mental illness – in connection with his song.

In that interview, did South acknowledge the book’s title as inspiration for a hook? Or maybe he said that the book’s existence is why the song title was changed. It was first recorded in 1967 by Billy Joe Royal as “I Never Promised You A Rose Garden” but most subsequent recordings, including South’s and Lynn Anderson’s – were released as simply “Rose Garden.” I don’t know.

That leaves “It’s Impossible,” a record that was just too sappy, even for a kid who loved easy listening.

So that was then. How about now? Well, ten of those eleven are in the iPod. The only one that’s not there is the Perry Como single, which means that off-putting or not, “Knock Three Times” still has a place at the table (more by reason of nostalgia than quality, I guess).

And, as usual, we’re going to drop to the very bottom of that long-ago Hot 100 and see what we find.

When we play this game, most of the time we get a single that’s just okay. We’ve gotten some dreck. And now and then, we find a gem. Today, happily, is one of the gem days as we come across the first single by the Allman Brothers Band to reach the Hot 100: the Dickey Betts-penned “Revival (Love Is Everywhere).” The record was in its third week in the Hot 100, having peaked at No. 92. It would be gone a week later.

Tags:

One Response to “What’s At No. 100? (1-23-1971)”

  1. Marie says:

    Once we entered the ’70s and the “singer-songwriter” era I became less enamoured of the music that I was hearing on the radio. From your list above, I particularly hated “Knock Three Times”. However, “My Sweet Lord/Isn’t It A Pity”, “One Less Bell To Answer”, “Lonely Days”, “Black Magic Woman”, “Groove Me”, and “Your Song” from Elton’s first album still met with the approval of these ears.

    😉

Leave a Reply