(Above: If I could get to my records, this photo would be bigger.)
September 6, 1969
It’s the day before Princeton University will break with tradition and let women attend classes there. The school existed as all-male for the first 233 years of its existence, predating the Declaration of Independence by forty years. That same day Senator Everett McKinley Dirksen, a Republican from Illinois, passed away at the age of 73. That’s of note to readers of this blog not just for the politics as Dirksen had a hit record. His recitation of the poem “Gallant Men” peaked at #29 in 1967, and in charting the record surpassed Walter Brennan as the oldest person to put a single on the charts. (Gordon Sinclair will beat them both in 1974.)
That following Wednesday – September 10th – baseball’s New York Mets seized control of first place in the National League’s Eastern division from the Chicago Cubs. Four weeks ago the Cubs held a nine-and-a-half game lead
On the charts: it’s the third week at #1 for The Rolling Stones and “Honky Tonk Women.” Here’s what else is making its debut this week:
“Carry Me Back” – The Rascals (debut at #70). The top debut this week is a solid one. It’ll only make it to #26, which might be why you rarely hear it on your neighborhood Oldies station anymore.
“Armstrong” – John Stewart (#75). There’s a lot of “oh wow” on the chart this week, and here’s your first one. John Stewart, formerly of the Kingston Trio, goes solo and gets timely just weeks after the Moon landing. It’s a pretty record, but it’ll only nudge up one more place on the chart. Stewart won’t be back on the charts until he hits it huge with “Gold” in 1979, which I mentioned here.
“We Gotta All Get Together” – Paul Revere & the Raiders (#80). I like PR&tR, and yet this one’s a bit of a miss for me. If you told me this was used in the Brady Bunch a few years later, I’d believe it. (Maybe that’s what the kids were going for?) Your mileage may certainly vary. This one misses the Top 40, stopping halfway up at #50.
“Mah Na Mah Na” – Sweden Heaven and Hell Soundtrack (#81). Credit where it’s due: Piero Umiliani is the actual performer of this track. One of my favorite media history class moments was a few years ago when I explained to kids that a song they loved from The Muppet Show got its start in soft-core porn. (I had the movie clip, which isn’t racy as much as confusing out of context.) Actually, I prefer the original usage in Sesame Street, which was from November of 1969. The disapproving head shakes get me every time. (I can riff on Sesame Street for long periods of time. That guy in the bit is named Bip Bipadotta.) It’ll only make it to #55, but find me a person over 30 that can’t sing it.
“Something In the Air” – Thunderclap Newman (#82). Here’s one that I can’t hear enough. Also see Tom Petty’s fantastic cover from his live album. This just squeaks in to the top part of the charts, ending up at #37.
“Sausalito (Is the Place To Go)” – Ohio Express (#86). I’ve dogged on this band before, but I’m not going to do that here. Is it bubble-gummy? Sure. It’s also damned enjoyable. It also goes no higher than this on the chart. The singer on this track is Graham Gouldman, who you’ll know more for his work with 10cc.
“Runnin’ Blue” – The Doors (#89). You may not recognize it from the title, but you’ll know it as soon as you hear it. From The Soft Parade, it peaks at #64. (Nice Dylan nod in the middle.)
“Make Believe” – Wind (#90). Here’s another “oh wow” for you. This will only make it to #28, but the singer – a guy named Tony Orlando – will do some more songs coming up in the 70s that you’ll be much more familiar with. This is a fantastic record. My first exposure to it was Joan Jett & the Blackhearts’ version contained on the Bad Reputation LP, which I had in high school. This makes it all the way to #28 nationally, but regionally it’s huge: #1 in Sioux Falls, SD, #2 in Wilmington, DE, and #3 in Orlando, Florida, coincidentally.
“Moonlight Sonata” – Henry Mancini (#91). I’ll never, never not listen to this piece all the way to the end. I didn’t buy much classical music in my youth, but an LP version of this was among the first pieces I had. The Mancini treatment is more poppy, as you’d expect, but still works despite feeling a little rushed. This only charts for four weeks and ends up at #87.
“Macarthur Park” – Waylon Jennings and the Kimberleys (#93). Whoa. We’re way into the woods here. This plays a lot more like the original Richard Harris than the outlaw you might expect. It’ll only spend two weeks on this chart and stay right here at #93, but it picks up a Grammy nod on the Country side.
“Baby It’s You” – Smith (#94). Ordinarily, I go for the originals – except here I’ll pick the remake. Sure, the Shirelles did it well, the Beatles did it, but this is the version I think of in my head when I think of this record. It’ll go on to become a #5 hit on the power of Gayle McCormick’s vocal.
“Luna Trip” – Dickie Goodman (#95). Walter Funkite is back. Sure, we had Vik Venus’ version plugging the Buddah releases back in June with “Moonflight.” This one’s funnier and less contrived, even with the moon-man schtick in it. Bonus points for working in the Charles Randolph Greane Sounde. I guess Vik got the last laugh: this one stays right here at #95.
“Slum Baby” – Booker T. & the M.G.s (#98). You can’t go wrong with Booker T. Jones. Ever. I don’t care that it only nudges up to #88 – this is a jam, and I will play it loudly.
“Life and Death in G and A” – Abaco Dream (#99). One final oh-wow for you. I’m not musically literate in that I can’t tell whether or not the song is in the key of G or A. (It is.) This is awfully funky for Herb Alpert’s record label. That could be because this is basically The Family Stone Without Sly. It’ll go up to #74.
A programming note: You no doubt notice that this blog has been on hiatus for the past month or so. This is due to our latest house move; my wife and I have been slowly remodeling a lakefront home in Allegan, Michigan, and even more slowly moving our things into it. These moves are easier when a) you are younger and don’t hurt your knees going up and down the steps with boxes of records, b) you do them all at once and just sort of rip the Band-Aid off instead of peel it, and c) you don’t try to do it at the beginning of the academic year with new students, new preps, new duties, etc. I hit the perfect storm of business, and missed quite a bit.
Over the next few weeks I will catch up the missing August 1969 entries for those who have enjoyed this series. I’ve got a few other things kicking around in my head to write about as well. To be entirely honest, though, I’m writing this watching an osprey hunt for its dinner in the lake, and, well, some non-screen time isn’t a bad thing, either. But I appreciate all the traffic that’s still passed through here in the last month, and want you to know that there’s plenty more songs to sing.