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.
A couple of years ago, while playing around with the CD burning software here in the EITW studios, I put together a CD of tunes that have touched me deeply over the years, most of them love songs of one form or another. A good number of the twenty or so tunes on the CD can be attached in my memory to one specific woman or girl; some of them can’t. (The last two tunes on the CD belong to the Texas Gal: “Don’t Dream It’s Over” by Crowded House and “Into the Mystic” by Van Morrison. I’m not sure how I missed Darden Smith’s “Loving Arms.”)
One of the tunes on that CD that isn’t attached to a specific young lady is “I’m Gonna Make You Love Me” by Diana Ross & The Supremes and the Temptations, a No. 2 hit in early 1969 (No. 2 on the R&B chart as well). I was still some months away from being a devoted Top 40 listener, but I know I heard “I’m Gonna Make You Love Me” from radios around me often enough for the record to get inside me and certainly enough for me to wonder how it would feel to feel that way and to be so assured that the object of one’s affection could be won over.
The song was written in 1966 by Kenneth Gamble, Leon Huff and Jerry Ross, one of those things that Gamble and Huff came up with, as my pal jb says in a recent post at The Hits Just Keep On Comin’, “before they were Gamble and Huff.” The first to record the song, according to SecondHandSongs, was Dee Dee Warwick. Her version, released in late 1966, went to No. 88 on the Billboard Hot 100 and to No. 13 on the R&B chart.
Versions from 1967 by Jerry Butler and Madeline Bell also pre-dated the Supremes/Temptations version. Butler’s version did not chart; I don’t know that I’ve heard it although I may have it on one or more of the two hundred or so anthology LPs that have never been indexed. Bell’s version went to No. 26 on the pop chart and to No. 32 on the R&B chart. I like it better than Warwick’s but not nearly as well as I do the Supremes/Temptations’ cover, which is not surprising; it seems that the first version of a song we hear frequently is the version that stays with us.
SecondHandSongs lists twenty additional versions since the Supremes and the Temptations recorded their cover of the song; there are additional versions listed (and available) at Amazon and other emporia, I’m sure. The list at SHS includes some expected names: Gladys Knight & The Pips, the Chi-Lites in 1969, Candi Staton (with Dave Crawford) in 1978, B.J. Thomas, the Lettermen, Michael McDonald and Nancy Wilson, to name a few. There are some unfamiliar names, too: Shane Richie, Lucy Hale and Mica Paris are three of them. (I imagine I should perhaps know those names, but there’s too much music out there for even one seriously addicted man to hear.)
The song also attracted some of the easy listening crowd. An indifferent cover by Paul Mauriat showed up quickly this morning on YouTube, and a few pages back, there was a 1969 cover of the tune by Peter Nero. That one I liked quite a lot:
As 1968 approached its ending forty-two years ago today, I don’t think I was doing anything remarkable. I know that, six days earlier, I’d watched the Minnesota Vikings in their first playoff game ever (a 24-14 loss to the Baltimore Colts). And I imagine that, as we were all out of school for the week, Rick, Rob and I spent some time playing tabletop hockey in our basement.
We also probably spent an evening or two that week over at St. Cloud State’s Halenbeck Hall watching college basketball. In the late 1960s (and into the early 1970s, I think), St. Cloud State hosted a holiday tournament, the Granite City Classic. (The tournament name lives on, but for many years, it’s been an event for high school teams, not college.) One of the draws for the 1967 and 1968 tournaments, if my memory serves, was the play of a team from Hiram Scott College, a small and short-lived (1965-70) school based in Scottsbluff, Nebraska. The Scotts, if I recall correctly, ran and pressed; I do remember that they played with an athleticism rarely seen on the floor of Halenbeck Hall and I think they won the two tournaments they played in St. Cloud. And I recall Rick, Rob and I marveling at the Scotts’ style of play.
But beyond those admittedly vague memories of watching college ball and an assumption of playing hockey in the basement, nothing pops out of my memory of the last days of 1968.
Perhaps the Billboard Top Ten from December 28, 1968 – forty-two years ago today – will help:
“I Heard It Through The Grapevine” by Marvin Gaye
“For Once In My Life” by Stevie Wonder
“Love Child” by Diana Ross & The Supremes
“Wichita Lineman” by Glen Campbell
“Stormy” by the Classics IV featuring Dennis Yost
“Abraham, Martin and John” by Dion
“I’m Gonna Make You Love Me”
by Diana Ross & The Supremes & The Temptations
“Who’s Making Love” by Johnnie Taylor
“I Love How You Love Me” by Bobby Vinton
“Cloud Nine” by the Temptations
With the exception of the Vinton tune, that’s one hell of a Top Ten. There’s lots of Motown and a dash of Southern R&B; a couple of ballads, one written by Jimmy Webb; and the peak of Dion’s amazing career. This would be a great hour of radio.
And, as I looked at this Top Ten last evening, I realized that it holds the second third record that I’ll file under Jukebox Regrets. I have no idea how I managed to put together more than two hundred favorite records and not include “I’m Gonna Make You Love Me.” As I’ve noted before, I wasn’t actively listening to radio a lot in those days, but the Supremes and Temptations, like a number of other groups and performers, were inescapable. A soundtrack kid knew their tunes simply by breathing the same air as did his contemporaries. And “I’m Gonna Make You Love Me” spoke to the budding romantic in me. I think I even attached the song’s pledge to a specific young lady, even though I had as much chance of keeping that pledge as I did of playing basketball for Hiram Scott College.
In any event, the record, which had leaped from No. 17 to No. 7 in the past week and was on its way to No. 2, probably should have been in the Ultimate Jukebox I put together this past year:
And, as always, there were some interesting sounds further on down in the Hot 100.
At No. 29, we find the Magic Lanterns and “Shame, Shame.” The Lanterns were from Warrrington, England, and “Shame, Shame,” which would go no higher than No. 29, was their only Top 40 hit. Three other records by the group made the Billboard Hot 100, including “One Night Stand,” which went to No. 74 in 1971 (and which I believe I wrote about a few years ago).
From No. 29, we drop quite a ways further in the Hot 100, coming to rest at No. 67, where we find the last Hot 100 hit during the 1960s for Eric Burdon & The Animals. “White Houses” might not have been a great record, but it carried among its virtues, of course, Burdon’s amazing voice. The record went no higher than No. 67 and was the last of nineteen Hot 100 hits for the band in its original run; a 1983 reunion of the group – billed simply as the Animals – resulted in “The Night,” which went to No. 48.
From No. 67, we’ll drop deeper yet and spend the last half of today’s exploration in the nether regions of the Billboard chart. At No. 97, we find a trio from Memphis called the Goodees with their teenage romance drama, “Condition Red.” The single owes a great deal to the Shangri-Las’ 1964 epic “Leader of the Pack,” but whatever the Goodees – or more likely, their production team – got from listening to the Shangri-Las, the wittiness didn’t come along with it. The record, the trio’s only hit, peaked at No. 46.
During his nearly fifteen-year career, until his death at age thirty-seven in 1973, Bobby Darin put forty-eight singles into the Hot 100 and charted as well with a couple of EPs. And given the stylistic changes in Darin’s music during the last six or so of those years, one wonders if record companies – his singles in the last seven years of his life were on Atlantic, Direction and Motown – had any idea what to do with him. As All-Music Guide says: “There’s been considerable discussion about whether Bobby Darin should be classified as a rock & roll singer, a Vegas hipster cat, an interpreter of popular standards, or even a folk-rocker. He was all of these and none of these.” In 1968, Darin released Born Walden Robert Cassotto, a rock album laced, says AMG, with psychedelic touches. It didn’t do well. But a single from the album, “Long Line Rider,” got some attention, making it to No. 79. Forty-two years ago today, “Long Line Rider” was in the second week of its climb, sitting at No. 110 in the Hot 100’s Bubbling Under section. I couldn’t find a video of the single, but I found a clip of Darin performing the tune on the February 20, 1969, episode of The Dean Martin Show.
Finally, near the very bottom of the Billboard chart for December 28, 1968, we find The Fun and Games, which Joel Whitburn’s Top Pop Singles describes as a bubblegum pop band from Houston, Texas. The group’s lone hit, “The Grooviest Girl In The World,” was bubbling under at No. 119, up eight places from the week before and on its way to No. 78.
And that’s it for today. Odd, Pop and I will be back here Thursday, and I think we’ll take a look at some of our favorite listens from the first decade of the twenty-first century.