February 7, 1970
It’s the fiftieth anniversary of an errant golf ball. Pro golfer Doug Sanders gets beaned by a shot from Vice President Spiro Agnew at the Bob Hope Desert Classic. They were playing in the same foursome, which makes it all the more strange.
The next day, two celebrities are born: basketball star Alonzo Mourning and actress Stephanie Courtney. You know one for sure; the latter, you know as “Flo,” the spokeswoman for Progressive Insurance.
Later in the week, on February 11, Japan becomes the fourth nation in the world to put a satellite into orbit. You knew the U.S. and the U.S.S.R., but did you have France at #3?
On the charts: the new #1 song this week is “Venus” by the Shocking Blue. It’s only in that position for this week, so we will get a new one next week. Other songs making their first appearance on the charts:
“Bridge Over Troubled Water” – Simon & Garfunkel (debut at #49). Songs on the early charts in 1970 typically debut pretty low. This one is not only almost in the 40, it will move VERY quickly. It’ll go up 36 places next week and be in the Top Ten by its third week on the charts. There’s not much I need to add about this tune, other than to say that I’ll always listen to it all the way through, including the “sail on silver bird” part that really doesn’t fit.
“Do the Funky Chicken” – Rufus Thomas (#62). I’m thinking that this would make a fantastic ringtone, and may have to re-program my phone accordingly. This ends up as a #28 hit on the pop charts, but I can’t honestly remember the last time I heard it on the radio.
“Never Had a Dream Come True” – Stevie Wonder (#67). I’ll mark this one as an “oh wow.” To me, it sounds like the bridge between Stevie’s poppy 60s records and his more soulful 70s sound. Much like the last record, it ends up in about the same place (a peak of #26) and I never hear it on the radio anywhere.
“House of the Rising Sun” – Frijid Pink (#73). This is one of those records that a lot of people love, but I never really got. It’s another fast mover, eventually hitting #7. Your mileage, of course, may vary.
“Good Guys Only Win in the Movies” – Mel and Tim (#74). Oh wow, indeed. Trust me – get past the initial sound effects (they worked on “Backfield in Motion,” they don’t here) and you get a fantastic record. This one just misses the 40, stopping at #45. It’s a #4 hit in Birmingham, Alabama on WSGN and also does well in St. Louis and San Antonio.
“Easy Come, Easy Go” – Bobby Sherman (#75). Bobbymania continues. This will go on to become the third straight Top Ten record for Sherman, landing at #9. He’s still got a couple more hits left this year as the wave continues. This one – I hate to admit – doesn’t bother me enough to get up and turn off. (Actually, it probably sounds great coming out of the right jingle.)
“Shilo” – Neil Diamond (#82). This record was first released in 1969, but this is the hit release. That’s something we can argue about: it only gets up to #24, which puts it in the same category as, oh, the Rufus Thomas and Stevie Wonder records above. The difference is that we hear THIS one all the time on Oldies radio and never get the others.
“Why Should I Cry” – The Gentrys (#83). Now we’re getting to some fun. Conventional wisdom holds that The Gentrys are a one-hit wonder, hitting #5 with “Keep On Dancing” in 1965 and never getting into the Top 40 again. Regionally, however, you can find some great tunes, and this is one of those. WHBQ in Memphis – the band’s hometown – played this as a #5 song. It also makes it to the Top Ten in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
“My Elusive Dreams” – Bobby Vinton (#86). I’m trying to imagine a radio station that would play this and Frijid Pink in the same sweep. This will only make it up to #46 on the pop chart, but on Adult Contemporary radio it’s a #7 hit. Your parents (or their parents) probably bought it.
“Come and Get It” – Badfinger (#92). I only have two questions: 1) Did I hear you say that there must be a catch? 2) Will you walk away from a fool and his money? If you answered the second one by shouting “SUNNNNN-neeee…,” you’re the type of person I’m probably hanging around with. This debut record for the band, from the soundtrack of the film The Magic Christian, goes on to be a #7 hit. (And yes, Paul wrote it.)
“Can’t Help Falling In Love” – Al Martino (#93). In which Martino covers Elvis by doing a sort of impression of him. This will stall out at #51, but it makes it to #5 on the Adult charts. (The Elvis version, which was a #2 hit, spent six weeks atop the Adult chart itself.)
“She’s Ready” – Spiral Starecase Featuring Pat Upton (#95). This one is one that I’d play with some extra volume. It peaks at #72 and ends up the last charting record for the band (clearly the “featuring” didn’t make a difference). But it’s a fun bit of pop that still, at least to my ear, sounds fantastic.
“1984” – Spirit (#96). We’re now more that twice as far from 1984 as 1984 was from this record when it came out. To me this still sounds fresh, largely from a lack of airplay. Spirit had several great tunes, but this one has all but disappeared. It’ll only make it to #69; then again, Spirit wasn’t what you’d call a singles band. (One of my favorites by them, “Nature’s Way,” never charted at all.)
“Jesus Is Just Alright” – The Byrds (#97). You are likely more familiar with the Doobie Brothers remake. This is the only week that this will spend on the chart, as compared to the Doobies’ version peaking at #35.
“The Bells” – The Originals (#98). Another fantastic record. This will go on to hit #12 and represent the last big hit for the band.
“Call Me/Son of a Preacher Man” – Aretha Franklin (#99). And, down here, at the bottom of the chart, is a thing of wonder. The A-side is a lovely bit of soul, while the B-side puts a whole new spin on a song you’re no doubt familiar with. I love the Dusty version, but this one brought a smile. Technically, “Call Me” is the only hit, making it to #13. After two weeks Billboard will stop listing this as a two-sided record, and that’s that.