We’re gonna play some games with numbers and then dig around in my sweet spot again today, looking for a tune good for a Saturday morning. We’ll look at the Billboard Hot 100 that was in effect on January 24 during the years from 1969 through 1973, checking out which records were at No. 24. And from those five records, we’ll select one for today’s feature. (We’ll also – as we tend to do – check out which record was at No. 1, just for fun.)
As we start our little trip in a Hot 100 from 1969, we get some advice for the ladies from Tammy Wynette: “Stand By Your Man” sits at No. 24, heading up to No. 19 in the Hot 100, as well as to No. 11 on what is now called the Adult Contemporary chart and to a three-week stay at No. 1 on the country chart. I’ve referred to Wynette’s record only once before in eight years of blogging, when I told the tale of inadvertently stopping for a brew in what my friends and I quickly realized was a Viennese bordello where “Stand By Your Man” and Ricky Nelson’s “Hello Mary Lou” were the only records in English on the jukebox. That experience doesn’t mean I won’t choose the record as today’s feature, but it doesn’t earn it any bonus points, either. Sitting at No. 1 at the time was “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” by Marvin Gaye.
Heading to 1970, we find a Hot 100 released on January 24, forty-five years ago today, and sitting in spot No. 24 was “Ain’t It Funky Now (Part 1)” by James Brown. I doubt if I’ve ever heard the instrumental jam until this morning: The record never made it to KDWB’s “6+30 Survey” back in 1970, from what I can see at Oldiesloon this morning; it’s not in the digital files here; and it’s not one of the thirty tracks included on the James Brown anthology in the vinyl stacks. One can argue, I guess, that I have not paid James Brown enough attention, and that’s possible. In any case, “Ain’t It Funky Now (Part 1)” went no higher in the Hot 100 while peaking at No. 3 on the R&B chart. Sitting at No. 1 forty-five years ago today was “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head” by B.J. Thomas.
As the final weeks of my last January in high school rolled by in 1971, the No. 24 record on the Hot 100 was the double-sided “I Really Don’t Want To Know/There Goes My Everything” by Elvis Presley. I don’t remember hearing either of the sides on the radio back then although I know the B-side now, and I know I’ve heard the A-side at least once before this morning. Both tracks are from the 1971 album Elvis Country (I’m 10,000 Years Old), which made its way to the vinyl stacks here in 1998 and has been pretty much ignored since. The single went to No. 21 on the Hot 100, to No. 2 on the AC chart and to No. 22 on the country chart. (Elvis was the fifth performer to chart with “I Really Don’t Want To Know.” The others were Tommy Edwards in 1960, Solomon Burke in 1962, Esther Phillips in 1963 and Ronnie Dove in 1966.) Sitting at No. 1 during the fourth week of January 1971 was Dawn’s “Knock Three Times.”
And we move from records that don’t matter much to one that makes me cringe. Parked at No. 24 during the fourth week of January 1972 was David Cassidy’s remake of the Association’s “Cherish.” Never mind the emotional importance of the original record in my life: On musical merits alone – performance and production – Cassidy’s version of the tune was weak, a judgment I reaffirm whenever the record pops up on the Seventies Channel of our cable TV system. But that didn’t matter to the listening and/or record buying public back in 1972: Cassidy’s “Cherish” went to No. 9 on the Hot 100 and to No. 1 on the AC chart. Sitting atop the chart that week for the second of an eventual four weeks was Don McLean’s “American Pie.”
Nor does the fourth week in January 1973 bring us much joy, as the No. 24 record that week was Albert Hammond’s “It Never Rains In Southern California,” which I’ve targeted here before for what I’ve always heard as an awkward second line: “Didn’t think before decided what to do.” Then again, I have to admit that I’ve not paid any attention to the record while hearing it on a decent set of speakers. The single is in the vinyl stacks on a K-Tel compilation to which I likely gave short shrift when I played it after buying it in the autumn of 1988, and giving it a closer listening this morning, I’m willing to think that Hammond is actually singing “before decidin’ what to do.” And with that little bit of disdain out of the way, I’m willing to say that Hammond’s record, which went to No. 5 (No. 2, AC), is a decent record. The No. 1 record during that week in 1973 was Carly Simon’s “He’s So Vain.”
So there we have five candidates, none of which utterly thrill me. But given my likely mishearing of the Albert Hammond lyric for more than forty years, I really have no choice but to make Hammond’s “It Never Rains In Southern California” this week’s Saturday Single.*
*The single label of the Hammond record as shown at Discogs has a running time of 3:12, but we all know how that can go. “It Never Rains” was also the title track for Hammond’s 1973 album, where it clocked 3:55, so the above video is likely the album track (with the correct lyric, I should note with a red face).