April 12, 1969
Wales wins the Five Nations crown. That’s rugby union, of course – they beat England, Scotland, and Ireland to win the triple crown and drew with France. Two days later the St. Louis Cardinals play the Montreal Expos in the first MLB game held outside the United States. (I used the photo last week, but it was too good not to share early.) On April 15th the White House will see over four thousand members of the Daughters of the American Revolution visit after being invited by Mrs. Nixon. It’s the largest crowd in one day in the building since Andrew Jackson opened it to the public – who trashed the place – following his inaugural in 1829.
On April 16, you get warned to stay six feet away from your television set, if it’s a color model. This is following tests that reveal enhanced levels of radiation coming from color sets. I was always taught this as a kid and never knew why. Oh, and don’t go by the back of the set while it’s on.
There’s a new #1 song this week, and it’s going to stay there awhile. “Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In (The Flesh Failures)” by the Fifth Dimension climbs to the top, and it will stay there for six weeks.
What else is new this week? Plenty.
“The Boxer” – Simon & Garfunkel (debuts at #51). Among the LPs I spirited from my parents’ collection were their three S&G LPs: Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme, Bookends, and Bridge Over Troubled Water. I spent weeks digging in old record stores until I found Wednesday Morning, 3 AM and Sounds of Silence to round out the set. So, I’ve been a fan for a long time. This is a song that usually causes me to sit quietly and listen all the way through, soaking in Hal Blaine’s echoed drums that he played in an elevator shaft to simulate explosions. Sometimes, though, I’ll start singing at the 2:53 mark. You know the verse. This will make it all the way to #7.
“Love (Can Make You Happy)” – Mercy (72). Years ago I bought the Dork-a-Pellas collection for my radio shows. (Old DJs know what they are. Between them and the LA Air Force records, you could do a show.) There’s a parody of this on there as a jingle that goes “Love can make you vomit,” and it’s what I hear every time this song plays. Too bad, since it’s still a nice record. Mercy is a rare breed: a one-hit wonder that hit #2.
“Happy Heart” – Andy Williams (75). This, and “Happy Heart” – Petula Clark (84) are the same song, both debuting this week. Confused? Well, Nick DeCaro was first, with an instrumental version that charted on the Easy Listening chart in March. In other words, you have THREE versions getting airplay in various places in April of 1969. Today? You get none. So, who wins? Andy hits #22 on the pop charts and #2 on the Adult chart. Pet stalls at #62, and Nick DeCaro gets relegated to something I spun when I was the night slammer at KRVR in 1989.
“Buying a Book” – Joe Tex (78). Man, after that last trifecta, I needed this as a sorbet. Here’s your “oh, wow.” It should have made the Top 40 by a longshot, but didn’t, stopping at #47.
“Stand!” – Sly & the Family Stone (80). I think this is the only song I can think of with the word “midget” in it that you might hear on the radio anymore. (“Bridget the Midget” has largely been relegated to the back of the racks, I think.) I have always loved this record. Back when I lived in Macomb, we had a party one night and Sly and the Family Stone’s Greatest Hits was the only LP we played all evening, and no one complained – not even when I insisted on repeating “Everybody Is a Star” multiple times at the end of the night. This only goes to #22, which is too bad.
“Seattle” – Perry Como (82). The comeback of Perry Como started at Christmas 1968, when RCA re-released 1950’s “There Is No Christmas (Like a Home Christmas).” This ends up in the Top 40, buoyed by the song’s use in the TV show Here Come the Brides. (Technically, Bobby Sherman’s version never charted, but I prefer it.)
“The River Is Wide” – Grass Roots (87). This makes it to #31, making it a bigger hit than the 1967 original version by The Forum, which only made #45. I will always, in every comparison, side with the original, which sounds fantastic coming out of one small speaker on an old radio. The Forum were also cuter. The remake lacks that I-don’t-know-what-it-is that causes the hair on the back of your neck to stand up. The original has it.
“Breakfast in Bed” – Dusty Springfield (91). The older I get, the more I appreciate the depth of Dusty Springfield’s catalog. This is a track off of From Dusty in Memphis, which also gave us “Son Of a Preacher Man,” which I am pretty sure you have heard before. This is the B-side of “Don’t Forget About Me,” which first appeared on the March 1 chart. It’ll stall right here at #91, which is too bad.
“Any Day Now” – Percy Sledge (92). I know I keep bitching about all of the remakes of classics on these charts. I’ll allow this one, though, because, well, oh, wow. Nothing against Chuck Jackson’s 1962 original – this is pretty true to it – but Percy owns this rendition like he wrote it himself and is feeling the pain as he sings. (Actually, Burt Bachrach wrote it, which you may have guessed from hearing the Chuck Jackson arrangement.) This stalls at #86 and is the last we hear from Sledge until 1974.
“Cissy Strut” – The Meters (93). We talked about this band back on February 8. They’re back again with another great instrumental track. This one goes on to be their biggest hit, landing at #23. Get funky.
“It’s a Groovy World!” – The Unifics (98). This only makes it to #97, and I can’t help but think that DJs who dropped the needle on it thought the record was defective and didn’t listen any further. The first ten seconds are a little confusing.
“I Can’t Do Enough” – The Dells (99). This is the flip side of “Hallways of My Mind” from March 8. That one was the stronger side, but this is still solid, yet only spends two weeks on the chart: one here, one at #98, and then gone.
“Singing My Song” – Tammy Wynette (100). The followup to “Stand By Your Man,” released late in 1968, didn’t do nearly as well. It’ll stall at #75 on the pop chart, but do considerably better on the Country charts.