May 3, 1969
It’s the day after the Queen Elizabeth II made its maiden voyage, setting sail from Southampton with something new for navigation: a system that uses Navy satellites called a “global positioning system.” It can pinpoint the location of the boat within 100 feet.
Several musical birthdays are celebrated this week: Frankie Valli of the Four Seasons turns 35 today, while Engelbert Humperdinck turned 33 and Lesley Gore turned 23 yesterday.
Tomorrow the Montreal Canadiens will win the Stanley Cup, defeating the St. Louis Blues in a four-game sweep. The Blues still have yet to win the Cup, and I am fine with that. Basketball is ending, too: on Monday the 5th the Boston Celtics will knock off the Los Angeles Lakers 108-106 in an exciting Game Seven. Next week the ABA championship will go to the Oakland Oaks, who defeat the Indiana Pacers.
On the charts – the #1 song remains “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In (The Flesh Failures)” by the Fifth Dimension. It’s the fourth consecutive week at the top for this one.
There’s lots of great new music making its debut this week as well.
“Where’s the Playground Susie” – Glen Campbell (debuts at #59). The highest debut of the week is one you just don’t hear on your local Oldies station anymore. It’s not exactly a happy number, but they all can’t have happy endings, right? This ends up being a #26 hit.
“Every Day With You Girl” – Classics IV (#74) This is listed on the chart as “Everyday Without You.” They’ll get it right in later iterations. Compared to the three other hits the band has put on the charts at this point, it’s an underachiever, but still makes it just inside the Top 20. It’s also the last Top 40 hit the band will have until “What Am I Crying For,” which I completely forgot about, squeaks in at #39 in 1972.
“Proud Mary” – Solomon Burke (#77). Let’s get to an “oh, wow” right away, shall we? This will fall just short of the Top 40, landing at #45, which is a damned shame. Then again, if you have to rank this, Creedence, and Ike and Tina, it might still come in third.
“Lodi” (#78) and “Bad Moon Rising” (#80) – Creedence Clearwater Revival. Speaking of Creedence, they have a new record this week as well. Both sides make the chart this week, and it’s a case of the B-side debuting higher than the A-side. “Bad Moon Rising” will make it up to #2, because CCR never had a #1 hit. It will also inspire countless bar bands to perform “There’s a Bathroom On the Right” at their gigs for years. “Lodi” will stall at #52 and spend only four weeks on the chart, but it’s still a fantastic record.
“In the Ghetto” – Elvis Presley (#79). The Elvis comeback continues. Buoyed by the comeback special that aired at the end of 1968, he’s back in the studio and turning out some new product. This one, with his fantastic cover of “Any Day Now” on the flip side, will climb all the way to #3. It also makes the Glen Campbell record above positively uplifting by comparison.
“Medicine Man” – Buchanan Brothers (#83). Here we have a bit of an interesting story. The Buchanan Brothers were really Terry Cashman and Tommy West, who were really Dennis Minogue and Thomas Picardo, respectively. This represents the biggest hit that they managed, landing at #22. As Cashman and West they released the terrific “American City Suite” which made #27 despite being over seven minutes long. So, what are they more famous for? They produced all of the records that Jim Croce released, accounting for two #1’s and five Top Tens in total. Oh, and in 1981, Cashman became “The Baseball Balladeer,” releasing a tune called “Willie, Mickey and the Duke (Talkin’ Baseball)” that was customized for almost every MLB club.
“One” – Three Dog Night (#84). Have I mentioned yet that there’s some fantastic stuff debuting this week? You certainly know this one, as it ended up at #5. I’m noticing that for as great as these songs are, there’s not much getting all the way to the top. That’s largely because several tunes will clog the top spot in 1969. Sixteen top the chart, but of those only three last for one week in the position.
“Pretty World” – Sergio Mendes and Brasil ’66 (#85). This one’s a personal “oh, wow.” Back when we were teenage (and just past-teenage) dorks, SM&B66 made for cruising music. I ended up landing on their greatest hits collection shortly thereafter and landed on this song, which I find to be a piece of pop perfection. It’ll only make it to #62, but it’s still on my iPod, and is the sort of thing that, when played in the darkest middle of a Michigan winter, gives hope.
“With Pen In Hand” – Vikki Carr (#89). Here’s one for the parents. Bobby Goldsboro wrote this one, which almost makes signing the divorce documents sound pleasant. This actually makes it up to #35, and I’d trade it for Sergio Mendes every day of the week.
“Marley Purt Drive” – Jose Feliciano (#96). Man, even the obscure stuff on this chart is solid. This is a Bee Gees composition that Feliciano adapted. It only makes it to #70, which seems far lower than it should have been.
“I Could Never Lie To You” – New Colony Six (#97). If you’re not from Chicago, you might think of The New Colony Six as a one-or-two-hit wonder. “Things I’d Like To Say,” their biggest hit, was still on the charts at the start of ’69. Legendary Chicago Top 40 station WLS charted thirteen singles by the boys from St. Patrick’s High School, including this one, which made it to #7. Nationally, it only makes #50. Either way, it’s a damned pretty record.
“The Windmills Of Your Mind” – Dusty Springfield (#99). The Thomas Crown Affair is big at the box office, and this song from the film ends up going to #31. It’s also included on the album From Dusty in Memphis, which you should probably own. It’s worth noting that this isn’t the version used in the film; that’s from Noel Harrison, and it didn’t chart. (Worry not: Noel did chart two records more than his father.)
“I Want To Love You Baby” – Peggy Scott & Jo Jo Benson (#100). One last “oh wow” before we exit this chart. The fact that this only made it to #81 is highway robbery. This will be the last record the two chart; Peggy hits as a solo artist in 1997 with “Bill.”