Posts Tagged ‘Players’

One Chart Dig: December 17, 1966

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

Every once in a while, digging around in music that’s unfamiliar brings you right into the lives of the folks who’ve loved that same music.

Bubbling deep under the Billboard Hot 100 forty-eight years ago today – December 17, 1966 – was a slender record titled “I’m Glad I Waited” from a Chicago R&B vocal group called the Players. It sat at No. 130 in the second of its two weeks under the Hot 100 (it went to No. 32 on the R&B chart), with the lyric carrying the story of a soldier come back from Vietnam and talking to his girlfriend, who’s waited for him to return. (The song’s title is from the girlfriend’s perspective, but the tale is told from that of the returning soldier – “I’m so glad you waited” – which I find kind of odd, but never mind.)

It’s actually kind of an answer record, as the Players had released “He’ll Be Back” a few months earlier in 1966. That one bubbled under for three weeks, peaking at No. 107 (No. 24, R&B). Both records are sweet R&B, and being from 1966, a couple years before popular opposition to the Vietnam War began to grow, reflect nothing more than the heartache of separation and the sweet relief of return. And as such, neither record was more to me than a pretty record.

Then I started looking at the comments underneath “I’m Glad I Waited” at YouTube and found pieces of other folks’ lives left there. (I’ve done a minor amount of editing on these.)

A commenter called scottybroker wrote: “This song reflects how it was for me. I returned from Phang Rang, Vietnam. Unfortunately, my girl Yvonne had found someone else. In hindsight, she did me a favor. I found a faithful, godly woman. After 36 years, seven kids, my eighteen hospitalizations and extended hospitalization with amputation of right leg due to Agent Orange and subsequent return to work . . . We go strong, up and down but together.”

MsClassof1969 replied: “What a wonderful story. You guys were truly blessed. Sadly, the story doesn’t always end up happy. He came home from Nam in 1969. I had waited, but things didn’t work out for us. He married four times, none of them me, yet I stood by him and picked up the pieces every time one of them broke his heart. I needed him when my dad was terminal. He wasn’t there for me. He married wife No. 4. He became ill and died. I found out too late, and he never knew how much I still loved him.”

Iris Ramos then replied: “I know what you mean, but I was never there to pick up the pieces, unfortunately. He is still alive, and I did get a chance to talk to him for a minute. He was going to call me back, and [I] still have not heard from him. I want at least to let him know I’ve always loved him. I think he is married or living with someone. I don’t know how to go about this.”

And MegaGoldenleaf, who served at the 29th Evacuation Hospital in 1968-69, wrote: “At times, I thought I’d never return. Damn, we lost a lot of brothers.” And he added in another comment, “I’m an old school original gangster. Went to the war memorial. Eyes watered, knees buckled, and I broke down!”

So the record unlocks the tales, and there are more tales out there than I think we can ever imagine.