(Above: This ad ran 11/22/1969. Would you buy it?)
November 22, 1969
It’s the day after ARPANET becomes permanent. ARPANET is the computer connection between UCLA and Stanford that effectively becomes what we today call “the Internet.” That same day, baseball star Ken Griffey, Jr. is born. The 22nd sees Michigan end Ohio State’s winning streak, taking the game in Ann Arbor by a score of 24-12.
The following Monday (11/24) the Apollo 12 capsule splashes down in the Pacific Ocean after successful completion of the second lunar landing. As with Apollo 11, the astronauts will spend a few days in quarantine before all the parades start. That same day 1st Lieutenant William Calley is court-martialed on 109 counts of murder in collection with the massacre at My Lai in Vietnam. (Our friends at the Vietnam War Project, who collect related records, remind us of this one from C Company.)
On the charts: it’s the third and final week at #1 for “Wedding Bell Blues” by the Fifth Dimension. An eclectic bunch of songs hits the charts for the first time as well:
“Early In the Morning” – Vanity Fare (#77). A two-hit wonder, this is the first one. It’ll make it up to #12, only to be followed by “Hitchin’ A Ride,” a bigger hit, in the Spring of 1970. I think I’ve played this on every decent Oldies station I’ve ever worked on.
“Sunday Morning” – Oliver (#78). This one might have stumped you. It’s actually Oliver Swofford’s third Top 40 hit. Sure, everyone remembers “Good Morning Starshine” and “Jean,” but this one ends up at #35. It’s the last time he hits it biggish, with subsequent singles failing to make a dent.
“La La La (If I Had You)” – Bobby Sherman (#80). This earworm will be in your head for hours, and I apologize for that. Imagine how Top 40 listeners felt as it made its way to the #9 position early in 1970 and, as such, was played about every forty minutes or so.
“I’ll Hold Out My Hand” – The Clique (#86). Here’s the first “oh wow” of the week. I haven’t heard this one in many years. It’s technically not a hit, stalling at #45, but what a neat little record this is. (Of course, my favorite record by them, “Superman,” was never a single and didn’t catch much attention until R.E.M. did a remake in 1986.)
“Walkin’ In the Rain” – Jay and the Americans (#89). This is the remake I never needed. What’s criminal is that this went to #19, making it a bigger hit by four notches than the Ronettes’ original (and far superior) version. I’ll stick with that one, thanks.
“Whole Lotta Love” – Led Zeppelin (#91). Here it is: the Top 40 debut of a band that you never for a second thought of as a singles band. This track, from Led Zeppelin 2, will eventually hit #4 and become the biggest charting single in the band’s history. It probably makes my Top Ten Zep list, but I’m not sure it hits my top five. Hmm – this may be its own post. To get me in the mood, let me think about where I rank Muddy Waters’ “You Need Love.”
“Fancy” – Bobbie Gentry (#94). Here’s one I could listen to on repeat. Sure, Dusty Springfield’s “Son Of a Preacher Man” gets all the Oldies airplay, but why not throw this one in once in a while? This will go on to be a #31 hit, garnering higher airplay in several cities, like Columbus and Dayton, Ohio; Louisville, Kentucky; Fresno, California; and Tulsa, Oklahoma – all cities where it charted at #1 on local station surveys.
“It’s a Funky Thing – Right On” – Herbie Mann (#95). Nothing not to like here. In fact, as the winter grayness descends on West Michigan, I’m gonna play this again and see if I can’t warm it up like summer. This should sound familiar: remember “Memphis Underground” from May 24? Same record, but with some goofing around and making vocals. It’ll spend two weeks on the chart and stay right here, but it’s kind of fun.
“Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You” – Nancy Wilson (#98). Here’s the other “oh wow” – this is the remake that I didn’t know that I needed. Nancy gets help from Cannonball Adderley on this one, which will only slide up to #52. This makes it to #5 on KSOL in San Francisco, California.
“Happy” – Paul Anka (#99). It’s the Seventies Sound of Paul Anka. This one won’t do much on the charts, stopping at #86, but it’s not a remake of some Fifties thing. This points us towards what’s to come from Anka in the ’70s, including a string of five Top 20 hits.
“Blistered” – Johnny Cash (#100). How many weeks in a row have we had new Johnny Cash now? Three. This one’s the flip side of “See Ruby Fall,” which was the first in the sequence on the 8th. It’s also a damned fine piece of music. It’ll hit #50 on the pop charts, but this is a #1 record on WCOP in Boston, which flipped to Country music from Top 40 in 1968.