(Above: A song that almost didn’t make it into a movie.)
June 21, 1969
It’s the longest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. That doesn’t keep people in the UK from watching television: the documentary Royal Family, about – you guessed it! – is watched by an estimated 30 million people. A shorter version will air on CBS in the fall,and not be seen again for almost fifty years.
On Sunday, June 22, actress and singer Judy Garland is found dead at the age of 47 at her home in London, purportedly of an overdose of sleeping pills. Garland released 52 singles, and that was just before 1950. Countless other compilation LPs of her live shows exist as well. That same day the Cuyahoga River catches fire near Cleveland, Ohio. Technically, an oil slick caused by industrial waste caught fire, but it’s more catchy to report that the river is on fire. The following day Justice Warren Burger is sworn is as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court; retiring justice Earl Warren administers the oath. He remains on the Court until 1986.
On the charts: it’s the last week at #1 for the Beatles’ “Get Back.” Expect something decidedly mellower next week. Making debuts:
“In the Year 2525 (Exordium and Terminus)” – Zager and Evans (debut at #72). Denny Zager and Rick Evans of Omaha, Nebraska put exactly one record on the charts, and it was a monster. Released around the Midwest in 1968 and then picked up by RCA Victor records, the timing was right for this one as we reached closer into space and the future loomed large. It will go on to spend six weeks at the top of charts, and remain at the top of a list I call “#1 Songs I Don’t Particularly Care For, But Someone Else Must Have.”
“Doggone Right” – Smokey Robinson & the Miracles (#76). Now we’re getting somewhere. This is a great song that you just don’t hear nearly often enough. It will only make it to #32 on the pop charts but do better in Black radio. Also watch for the B-side to chart at the end of summer.
“Moments To Remember” – The Vogues (#84). It seems as though it’s the law that there has to be at least one remake trotted out each week, and here you go. It remains reasonably true to the Four Lads’ 1955 original. This will fall short of the Top 40, stopping at #47.
“The Prophecy of Daniel and John the Divine (Six-Six-Six)” – The Cowsills (#85). Hey, they put down the milk for a minute. In which America’s clean-cut kids delve into something a little more complicated. Technically, this is the follow-up of March’s “Hair,” which made #2. This will not. It stops at #75. They’ll hit the charts one more time later this year, and then that will be that.
“I’d Rather Be an Old Man’s Sweetheart (Than a Young Man’s Fool)” – Candi Staton (#88). Here’s a genuine “oh wow” that would sound terrific blasting out a single speaker in the dash on a hot summer day. That is, if you were lucky enough to have a station near you playing it. In Fort Lauderdale, FL, this makes it to #4, and gets airplay across the south (and Detroit, for that matter). This is the debut record for Candi, who will go on to put ten records in the Hot 100 and two in the Forty. To me, it’s got an Otis Redding version of “Hard to Handle” groove to it.
“The Feeling Is Right” – Clarence Carter (#89). You usually can’t go wrong with a Clarence Carter record, and this one is no exception. Unfortunately, this one only manages to make it up to #65. His next record in the fall will do better, but the big hit that you know him for won’t hit until 1970. (And no, not “Strokin’, which never charted.)
“Girl You’re Too Young” – Archie Bell & the Drells (#90). Ordinarily, I’m all about Archie. (Did you know that they’re from Houston, Texas? Or that they can sing just as good as they walk?”) This one falls a little flat for me – it actually feels more like a Rascals record to me. That might be why it only climbs to #59. As it turns out, though, they’ll not place anything this high on the chart again despite five more tries.
“Baby, Don’t Be Looking In My Mind” – Joe Simon (#96). We don’t talk enough about Joe Simon. This is his second of four charted singles in 1969. In total, he hits the Top 100 thirty-one times. So why don’t we hear more from him? If you’re lucky, you have a deep-cuts oldies station playing “The Chokin’ Kind,” his last hit from March of ’69. The others? Good luck. This one’s a decent record that I wouldn’t turn off, but it won’t climb any higher than #72.
“And She’s Mine” – Spanky & Our Gang (#97). If I had to describe what I think of when I think of “the pop sound of the late 60s,” I point to 1968’s “Like To Get To Know You” by Spanky and Our Gang (and I do love the LP version of that). This is from the follow-up LP called Anything You Choose, which was also their previous single. Spanky’s relegated to backups on it, but it’s still a pretty record. Chart-wise, this is it – one week at #97. It’s also it for the band, as this is the last single they put on the list.
“Pinch Me (Baby, Convince Me)” – Ohio Express (#99). I think I’ve said this before: if you like one song by this band, you’ll like ’em all. I immediately started singing “Chewy Chewy” over the intro, thinking I had the wrong record; no mistake. This one doesn’t get any higher than #99, so I’m guessing that unless you’re a huge fan of the band you haven’t heard it in about fifty years or so. That’s not Joey Levine on vocals; he’s gone on to other work by this point, and in a few years we’ll be trying to rap a bunch of artists along with him on WCFL.
“Feeling Alright” – Joe Cocker (#100). Timing is everything. In 1969 this only makes it to #69. Later in the summer Cocker will perform at Woodstock, and then start churning out the hits. This will see re-release in 1972, and peak at #33 at that time. (Bit of trivia: that’s Brenda Holloway on the backup vocal; she had a #13 hit in 1964 with “Every Little Bit Hurts,” which I prefer to this record. Your mileage may vary.)