It’s the last new chart for February. What’s going on 50 years ago today?
February 22, 1969
Today marks the 50th anniversary of the launch of the final stage of the Tet Offensive. It will last until June 8 and figure prominently in President Nixon’s decision to take the war into Cambodia. On Monday the 24th, the U.S. Supreme Court will issue a ruling in Tinker v. Des Moines, a case that I teach in my communication law class. It’s a case involving the free speech rights of students; writing for the majority, Justice Abe Fortas famously said that students “do not shed their Constitutional rights… at the schoolhouse gate.” (I got to meet Mary Beth Tinker at a college media conference some years ago.) Also on Monday, the U.S. will launch the Mariner 6 probe to Mars. It will get there, or at least in the area, by July 31.
What’s going on in music? The #1 song in the country remains “Everyday People” by Sly and the Family Stone. It’s in its second week at the top.
There’s not as many new to the charts this week, but there’s some good ones:
“The Weight” – Aretha Franklin (debuting at #52). The highest debut of the week is a solid record. Duane Allman is the slide guitar player, and we should toss props to him as well. This will just make it into the Top 20.
“Somebody Loves You” – The Delfonics (80). A pleasant song, if a little formulaic. It’s pretty much a cross between “La La Means I Love You” and “Didn’t I Blow Your Mind This Time.” This is technically a B-side; “Ready Or Not Here I Come” is the #35 hit on the flip, while this one stops at #72.
“Soul Experience” – Iron Butterfly (81). I realized I sounded a little “get off my lawn” last week in talking about psychedelic rock. This one’s not too bad. The second effort from the guys who gave you “In-a-Gadda-Da-Vida” probably should have risen higher than #75, where it will stall out.
“Apricot Brandy” – Rhinoceros (82). A nice bit of instrumental rock from what is technically a no-hit wonder. This was their only release to chart, and it climbed up to #46 before falling back down the list.
“The Letter” – The Arbors (83). Go Blue, they said. Two sets of brothers who started singing together while students at the University of Michigan took the Box Tops’ #1 hit and made it mellow. This will be their biggest hit, making it to #20. It’s three years after the release of “A Symphony for Susan,” so they didn’t give up after their first effort.
“Am I The Same Girl” – Barbara Acklin (84). I thought that this was a great song when I wrote about it a few months ago, and I’ll stand by that.
“Tear Drop City” – Monkees (87). This should sound like “Last Train to Clarksville” to you. They were recorded at the same time in 1966, but this doesn’t see its release until three years later. Timing is everything: while “Clarksville” was a huge hit, this one only gets to #56.
“Back Door Man” – Derek (90). Do not confuse this with the Doors. If you want to confuse it with a number of other songs, that’s fine – I think of “Birds of a Feather” by Paul Revere and the Raiders (which isn’t out until 1971) crossed with the chorus to the “Fat Albert” theme (which isn’t out yet either), but that’s how my mind works.
“Long Green” – The Fireballs (91). This is a bit of a throwback; it was first done by the Kingsmen in 1964 and has a “Louie Louie” vibe in the verse. It’s also a bit of a throwback since Jimmy Gilmer and the Fireballs were making hits six years earlier – although “Bottle of Wine” peaked in 1968.
“I Do Love You” – Billy Stewart (98). Here’s your “oh wow.” If you only know Stewart from “Summertime,” you’re missing out. He actually recorded this in 1965 before “Summertime” came out. It made it to #26 then; this re-release will only make #94. I also haven’t heard this in far, far too long.
“These Are Not My People” – Johnny Rivers (99). This is the in-between period for Rivers – in-between “Summer Rain” (1968) and “Rockin’ Pneumonia” (1973) he didn’t dent the Top 40. This one, written by Joe South, only hits #55.
“Brother Love’s Traveling Salvation Show” – Neil Diamond (100). You know this one, and there’s nothing I can add to it. If I sat in the studio of an Oldies station, I played this at least a hundred times on it.