February 28, 1970
The bigger events of the week both happened a few days ago. On February 26th National Public Radio was incorporated; we don’t celebrate its 50th anniversary, however, until April 21, 1971 as that’s the day it went on the air. It’s also the same day that The Beatles’ Hey Jude LP went on sale worldwide. The song, of course, was a huge hit in 1968, but was never included on an album until now. Paired along with a slew of other songs mostly not available before, the LP makes it to #2 on the charts.
We could argue that February 25th is more significant, at least in some circles. That’s the day that Sesame Street aired a bit with Ernie in the bathtub singing a tune called “Rubber Duckie.” We should save some of the fanfare for August, however, when the single charts and becomes a hit.
It is worth a mention that on the 28th itself Marie Dionne Houle passed away at the age of 35. She was one of the Dionne quintuplets, the five babies who were media sensations after their birth in 1934. (Two of the quints, Annette and Cecile, are still alive as of this writing.)
On the charts: there’s a new #1 song this week, and it’s a big one. It’s the huge debut from just three weeks ago, “Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Simon & Garfunkel. It will stay in the #1 position for six weeks, the longest such reign of the year.
Other songs making their chart debuts this week:
“Celebrate” – Three Dog Night (debut at #48). This one doesn’t require a whole lot of explanation, since you’ve probably heard it somewhere within the past week or so. I was surprised to see that this only made it up to #15, ranking it behind a great number of songs that Oldies radio doesn’t play nearly as often.
“Spirit In the Sky” – Norman Greenbaum (#64). The debut single went all the way to #3 and stayed there for three weeks, stuck in Simon and Garfunkel’s shadow. The follow-up, which we’ll learn of later this year, missed the Top 40, and after three singles we never heard from Greenbaum again. This ranked near the top of requested tunes from my days in radio and got new life with a younger audience through Guardians of the Galaxy.
“Instant Karma (We All Shine On)” – John Ono Lennon (#65). Man, there are some big debuts this week, aren’t there? This record also gets stuck at #3 for three weeks just like the one above. It’s also one that you’ve likely heard in the last week or so, since I’d argue that it’s more popular now than then. Your mileage may vary, of course.
“Stir It Up and Serve It” – Tommy Roe (#83). Tommy always did a little bit better in the Midwest, and this one is no exception. This one peaks at #50 nationally, but it’s almost Top Twenty on WLS/Chicago. WRIG in Wausau, Wisconsin bumps it all the way up to #7, and it charts well in Kalamazoo and St. Louis as well.
“To the Other Woman (I’m the Other Woman)” – Doris Duke (#84). This is the only record to cross over to the Pop charts for Duke, who hit #50 with this one. It gets a lot of airplay on WDAS/Philadelphia, where it’s a #3 record, and WWRL/New York, where it’s #4. The rest of mid-America doesn’t nibble, however.
“You’re the One (Part 2)” – Little Sister (#86). Sly Stone did the production work on this one, which made it up to #22. It’s the second part that is the charting single; the full version (parts 1 and 2) clock in just under six minutes, but it’s the one I’ve chosen to link to here.
“Long Lonesome Highway” – Michael Parks (#88). I wrote about this record here when Parks passed away in 2017. This hits #20, and remains the only record to chart under his name.
“The Ghetto” – Donnie Hathaway (#91; re-entry). This first charted on January 17, and it will only move a few more notches higher than this before fading off the charts.
“Rock Island Line” – Johnny Cash (#93). All I can say about this is that Stan Freberg didn’t dare make fun of it. Cash’s version only spent this week on the charts, but it’s worth the listen all the same.
“Silly, Silly Fool” – Dusty Springfield (#95). OK, this approaches the “oh wow” category, largely because it’s a fun record that I can’t say I remember hearing. That’s probably because it stalled out at #76. It’s also significant because it’s Dusty’s last chart appearance until late 1987, when the Pet Shop Boys include her on “What Have I Done to Deserve This?“, which at #2 becomes the highest charting record in her career and underscores that the process is often not fair.
“Love, Peace and Happiness” – Chambers Brothers (#96). This is the only week that this one spends on the charts and represents the last time they hit the Hot 100. That didn’t stop me from playing it at a pretty decent volume, though, as it’s a pretty decent record.
“Can’t Help Falling In Love” – Andy Williams (#97). Remember that scene in Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story when Dewey gets his own TV show in the 70s and they disco-fy his hits? This is what this feels like, although we’re way too early for that to be happening. Maybe Andy Williams was a trendsetter. Either way, I’ll go slow Elvis version > fast Elvis version > this thing. It stops at #88 and disappears after three weeks.
“Tennessee Bird Walk” – Jack Blanchard and Misty Morgan (#98). I will apologize in advance for putting this one in your head, because it’s going to stay there for a while. Chirp, chirp. It’ll make it to #23 on the Pop chart but spend two weeks at the top of the Country charts. I vaguely recall throwing this in on my morning show at WLLI in Joliet during a feature I called “Schlocktober,” but it’s a bit of a blur.
“Message From a Black Man” – The Whatnauts (#99). Now here’s one I’m guessing that you haven’t heard in forever if at all. This spends two weeks at #99 before fading off of the chart. If you’re guessing that it didn’t get much airplay on the AM pop stations, you’d be correct. It doesn’t turn up in many places; our friends at ARSA, who keep track of such things on their website, only show it on surveys for WWRL in New York, WDAS in Philadelphia, and – for one week – WKND in Windsor, Connecticut.
“Sparkle and Shine” – The Clique (#100). Bubblegum for all my friends! This is the only week for this one to appear on the charts, and it’s the last hurrah for the band that gave us “Sugar on Sunday” in the summer of ’69. (They gave us “Superman,” too, later covered by R.E.M., which I appreciate more.) This record turns up on a slew of stations, though, including WSRF in Fort Lauderdale, Florida where it’s a #7 hit.