(Above: Smile now, kids, ’cause this ain’t gonna end well.)
December 6, 1969
There’s a big football game: #1 Texas plays #2 Arkansas in Fayetteville and wins 15-14. What’s more interesting is that not only is President Nixon at the game, but also future President George H.W. Bush.
The next night the animated Rankin-Bass Christmas special “Frosty the Snowman” makes its television premiere on CBS. Can I just say that this thing made me cry every year as a kid? I mean, who kills off the lovable hero in a cheerful holiday event?
The following Tuesday, December 9, Jakob Dylan is born to famous dad Bob and famous song subject Sara. (She’s the inspiration behind Side Four of Blonde on Blonde, which is famous enough for me.) Jakob will become famous on his own for his work with the Wallflowers, whose hit “One Headlight” should get its own post here one of these days.
On the charts: the new #1 song this week is “Na Na Hey Hey (Kiss Him Goodbye)” by Steam. It will stay there for twice as long as The Beatles held the post with “Come Together/Something,” which is all you need to know about record sales and popularity.
There’s a bunch more new records this week:
“Don’t Let Him Take Your Love From Me” – The Four Tops (debut at #71). We’re off to a solid start this week. I can’t recall the last time I heard this one on the radio, which is a damn shame. This one’s a “greatest miss,” landing at only #45.
“Wonderful World, Beautiful People” – Jimmy Cliff (#81). As I write this post we’re getting one of those “lake effect” snowfalls in West Michigan, where the damn snow just falls for hours with no hint of stopping. I clicked “play” on this track, and suddenly the snow cleared – at least in my mind. I’ll need to keep this handy all winter. This will go on to become a #25 hit.
“Winter World of Love” – Engelbert Humperdinck (#84). So much for summer. I seem to recall this one was in the rotation of “vocals” at KRVR/Davenport. Yeah, we rocked your pants off at that place. This is the biggest hit so far on the list, as this was a #16 record on your parents’ radio station.
“Lady-O” – The Turtles (#90). What a nice little record we have here. The music director in me decided after the first few notes that this wasn’t a hit, but I bet it turned up on more than one mixtape over the years. (My hunch was right: this made it to #78, spent four weeks, and disappeared.) It almost sounds like it could have fit on The Beatles’ White Album, doesn’t it?
“Look-Ka Py Py” – The Meters (#91). I can’t think of a good reason not to play this track with a little volume behind it. It’ll stop at #56, but was a #8 record at WJLB in Detroit. My first thought was “where have I heard this sample?” Yep – Cypress Hill.
“She Came In Through the Bathroom Window” – Joe Cocker (#94). Possibly unpopular opinion: This has been a staple of classic rock stations for years, and I can’t for the life of me understand why. Your mileage may vary, but I can just skip right past it. It’s a #30 record, making it a bigger hit than the Four Tops tune at the top that I’d rather hear again. Or, I’d rather hear the whole Abbey Road Side 2 medley it comes from.
“Arizona” – Mark Lindsay (#97). I think of everything that’s debuting this week, this one’s my favorite. This song just screams AM pop to me, and it’s fun when this one comes on in the car, and I’m driving alone, and can sing about Pancho and Cisco as loud as I want to without anyone offering critique. It will just make it into the Top 10 in early 1970.
“Let’s Work Together” – Wilbert Harrison (#98). Here’s your “oh wow.” Wilbert Harrison, he of “Kansas City” from 1959,
covers recorded this before Canned Heat but they got the release first. (Thanks to reader JP for the correction.) I don’t think I need to say anything else, except to add that this made #32 after the turn of the calendar.
“I Started Loving You Again” – Al Martino (#99). This strikes me like the old Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup ads: “You got Country in my MOR.” This Merle Haggard tune will make it to #86 and stop there.
“Camel Back” – A.B. Skhy (#100). Useless bit of trivia: every time my iPod reboots in the car, it defaults to “alphabetical by artist,” and this is the track that comes up first. Why isn’t it under S? It’s the name of the band, not a person. (Think “Jethro Tull.”) This is their one and only charting record, which spent one and only one week on the list at #100. It’s not a bad jam, and I’d kind of like to have it cued up when I walk into a classroom.