(Apollo 10 is home safely.)
May 24, 1969
It’s the day after Jimmy McHugh passed away at the age of 74. The name might not be immediately familiar to you, but you know his work: the songwriter composed hundreds of melodies performed in films from the 20s through the 40s. The musical Sugar Babies, released in 1979, featured a lot of his work. Singers from Sinatra to Aretha sang his songs.
Tomorrow, on the 25th, Midnight Cowboy will be released. The film, given an X-rating for adult content (in the years before X = porn), will go on to win the Best Picture Oscar. We’ll see music from it on the charts later in the year. On that same day actress Anne Heche (Wag the Dog) and TV personality Stacy London (What Not To Wear) are born.
On Monday the 26th, Apollo 10 will splash down, making a safe return to Earth after eight days in space. It’s, of course, the dress rehearsal for the next Apollo mission, which is only about seven weeks away.
On the charts: there’s a new #1 sng. “Get Back” – The Beatles, which debuted in the Top 40 a couple of weeks ago, has risen to the top and will be there for four more charts after this one.
What else is new this week?
“Don’t Let the Joneses Get You Down” – The Temptations (debuting at #43). We start off strong this week with a tune that just misses debuting in the 40. Oddly, this one won’t go a whole lot higher: it will spend just eight weeks on the chart and stall at #20. Perhaps people don’t like to be reminded of the futility of short-term material gain, or something like that.
“See” – The Rascals (#61). Here is a song that I recommend playing at a high level of volume. I also recommend that radio re-discover it, since it’s been a long time since I’ve heard it. It will eventually climb up to #27. It’s a little Dylanesque. (Bob Dylan turns 28 on this date, for what it’s worth.)
“So I Can Love You” – The Emotions (#75). Let’s get right to an “oh wow,” shall we? This is the first hit record for the group that will eventually hit the top of the charts in 1977 with “Best Of My Love.” This one squeaks in to the Top 40 at #39, and it should be heard a lot more than it is.
“Love Man” – Otis Redding (#77). Even posthumously, Otis Redding is at the top of his game. This is the last record that will chart for Otis, and it will climb just a few notches to #72.
“Love Me Tonight” – Tom Jones (#79). As if this chart wasn’t cool enough, it just got a hell of a lot cooler. This one will make it up to #13, and it’s another one that you just don’t hear enough. You can’t not tap a foot along with it or crack a smile.
“Color Him Father” – The Winstons (#80). I’ve covered this one here – it’s a truly fantastic record with what might be the most important B-side on this week’s chart.
“Medley: Can Sing a Rainbow/Love is Blue” – The Dells (#82). Oh, freakin wow. I haven’t thought about “I Can Sing a Rainbow” since we were made to sing it in grade school music class, and it sounded nothing this when we warbled it. You mix it with a painfully soulful version of “Love Is Blue,” and holy crap. Charles Barksdale‘s bass lines are on point. This just earned a place on my regular playlist. It will go on to become a #22 hit.
“Good Morning Starshine” – Oliver (#83) and “Good Morning Starshine” – Strawberry Alarm Clock (#87). The music from Hair continues to dominate the charts in 1969. Here we have a Tale of Two Versions. One will go on to become a #3 hit here (and #1 in Canada) and get the whole world singing “glippy glop gloopy” while launching its singer to brief stardom. The other will go no higher than #87, drop off the charts, and be the last single that the band charts. Why the difference? I think it’s the intros. The intro to Oliver gives a nice talkover for top 40 DJs to have fun with, while the beginning of the SAC record sounds like some sort of air raid. (I talked all about the beginning of the Oliver version and hitting various posts in this piece when Galt McDermot, the song’s composer, passed.)
“I Want To Take You Higher” – Sly & the Family Stone (#89). In music news: Sly Stone is getting about five million dollars in back royalties he was owed. It’s about time. This is the B-side of “Stand,” which debuted on April 12. While not necessarily one of my favorite S&tFS pieces, it’s still a solid record. It will make it up to #60.
“Let’s Dance” – Ola and the Janglers (#93). It’s the cover version that you didn’t know you needed. #92 is as high as it’s going to go, and that’s a good place for it. It’s the only American chart hit for this Swedish band.
“But It’s Alright” – J.J. Jackson (#96). This is a song that I always played loudly in the studio when it came up on my radio shows. It’s from 1966, but got re-released in 1969, and almost made it into the Top 40 a second time. It stalls at #45.
“Too Experienced” – Eddie Lovette (#97). The success of Desmond Dekker got people listening to other reggae singers. This only spends three weeks on the charts and hits #95, but it’s a catchy tune.
“Here We Go Again” – Nancy Sinatra (#98). This is the second-to-last charting single for Nancy. She’s gone full-on Country here, and it won’t result in sales, as the record spends two weeks on the chart and never gets higher than this.
“Memphis Underground” – Herbie Mann (#100). How about a fabulous instrumental groove to play us out? This one – despite being seven minutes long – makes it up to #44. When you think “yazz flute,” this is what you should be thinking of.