No. 52 Fifty-Two Years Ago

It’s time for a game of Symmetry. Today, we’ll head into the last third of November 1969, when I was still learning about Top 40 radio, and check out which record was sitting at No. 52 fifty-two years ago this week.

We’ll be looking at the Billboard Hot 100 from the November 22, 1969, edition, but before we head to the middle portions of the chart, we’ll take a look at the Top Ten:

“Wedding Bell Blues” by the 5th Dimension
“Take A Letter Maria” by R.B. Greaves
“Something” by the Beatles
“And When I Die” by Blood, Sweat & Tears
“Smile A Little Smile For Me” by the Flying Machine
“Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye” by Steam
“Come Together” by the Beatles
“Yester-me, Yester-You, Yesterday” by Stevie Wonder
“Suspicious Minds” by Elvis Presley
“I Can’t Get Next To You” by the Temptations

Wow. After that harvest, I kept scrolling down the Hot 100, wondering when I’d find a record that I didn’t care for or at least was unsure about. Down past Smith’s “Baby It’s You.” Past “Sugar, Sugar.” Past “Eli’s Coming.” Past “Tracy” and “Holly Holy.” And then I hit No. 30, Dionne Warwick’s cover of “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling,” which I don’t recall.

I don’t think I’ve ever before come across a chart where I know well and truly like all of the top twenty and then the next nine as well. Well, I was sixteen during that long-ago season, and my old RCA – Grampa’s old radio – was one of my best friends.

As it happened, I had three of those top ten singles at home: “Wedding Bell Blues” was on the Age of Aquarius LP I obtained in late October or early November, and I had a cassette of Abbey Road, covering the two Beatles tracks.

As effusive as I am about that Top Ten, it’s worth checking to see it any of them have come along with me over the last fifty-two years. And as I suspected, every one of those ten is in my iPod and thus a part of my day-to-day listening. That’s not surprising, given that – between this site and the archives site – there are only two years to which I’ve paid more attention than 1969. Again, unsurprisingly, they’re 1970 and 1971.

So, I can only conclude that I’m held hostage by the music of my youth.

But let’s dip just a little bit deeper into that Hot 100 from November 22, 1969, and see which record was sitting in our Symmetry spot, No. 52. And we come across a record from a group that I never gave much attention: “Time Machine” by Grand Funk Railroad. I knew more about the group in the mid-1970s, what with “Bad Time” and “We’re An American Band,” but I was never really interested, not even during the days of vinyl madness in the 1990s: I’ve never owned any of the group’s albums.

And I doubt that I heard “Time Machine” on either KDWB from the Cities or WJON down across the tracks: The record spent eleven weeks in the Hot 100, peaking only at No. 48. Would I have liked it if I’d heard it? Maybe. I don’t care for the intro, but the body of the record has a decent groove.

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