June 24, 2019
We love those emails! Send ‘em winging our way at email@example.com. I’ll reply next week.
Hi, welcome to the Best News You’ve Heard All Week, Episode Number 403. Our feature is brought to you in part this week by a generous grant from the Just Can’t Stop Talking Foundation. Their motto: ‘Our name speaks for itself.’ Hard to argue with that.
If I were to title this piece, I might call it ‘What a Difference a Year Makes.’ I was browsing through one of Joel Whitburn’s Record Research books (a must for anyone who likes pop or country music) and I was struck once again by the difference between the Top Ten in 1963 and the Top Ten one year later.
The Top Ten of ’64 needs no introduction. It was hugely British; The Beatles, Dave Clark Five, The Searchers, Petula Clark, The Animals, Manfred Mann and plenty more. Yes, there were Americans having hits, too, but a lot fewer than the previous year.
So, let’s look at some Top Tenners of ’63 in one-through-ten order:
1. Sugar Shack-Jimmy Gilmer and the Fireballs. Produced by Norman Petty, the guy who made Buddy Holly famous. Great, catchy song that you can still hear all the time. ‘Dominique’ by The Singing Nun made the top slot also.
2. Louie Louie- The Kingsmen. One of the great ‘bar band’ favorites of all time. If you were in a band in the ‘60s and you didn’t play this one about three times a night, you were in trouble.
3. You Can’t Sit Down- The Dovells. Never heard of this one? It’s a great, propulsive dance hit by one of Philadelphia’s finest. The title says it all. YouTube has it.
4. Heat Wave-Martha and the Vandellas. Motown magic by the ladies who would get even bigger when they did ‘Dancin’ in the Street’ in ’64.
5. Memphis- Lonnie Mack. Lonnie’s instrumental take on the Chuck Berry hit was a jukebox favorite. Instrumentals were very big before the British invasion, not so much after. The Chantay’s surf-sounding instrumental ‘Pipeline’ was hot also in ’63.
6. Two hits stand out in this slot: From a Jack To A King’ by Ned Miller, basically a country song; and ‘Those Lazy Hazy Crazy Days of Summer’ by Nat ‘King’ Cole, a cute confection by the former jazz pianist-turned-pop-singer. Talk about variety; the early ‘60s pop charts had it.
7. ‘Two Lovers’ by the Beatles’ favorite American ‘girl singer’ Mary Wells. Her crowning glory ‘My Guy’ hit Number 1 in ’64.
8. Another country song in this slot: ‘Still’ by the legendary hitmaker/songwriter Bill Anderson. The Miracles (Smokey Robinson did not get top billing just yet) also hit this level with ‘You Really Got a Hold On Me.’
9. The folk influence was still strong as Peter, Paul and Mary hit #9 with ‘Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright’ written by the soon-to-be REALLY big Bob Dylan. The Drifters attained this level also with the original version of ‘On Broadway.’
10. Four Seasons knockoff Randy and The Rainbows put ‘Denise’ into the top ten. ‘Walking the Dog’ by soul great Rufus Thomas and ‘Watermelon Man’ by Mongo Santamaria also rose to these lofty heights.
There are a lot more tunes in each slot, but I just wanted to show the incredible variety listeners (and dancers) enjoyed in the pre-British years. Oh, and the Beatles? Their first American hit (they had charted several already in Europe) ‘I Want To Hold Your Hand’ entered the American charts at #45 in January 1964. As the late great Sam Cooke song goes: ‘Change is Gonna Come.’
Hmmm, let’s look over your emails…
Wow, it took about ten minutes for Terry to check in on the insect question. Yes, it’s the cockroach. Been around since prehistoric times and probably will be for even longer. Mark guessed the ant. Great guess, and yeah, I agree, ants DO look prehistoric. Ever watch the 1954 sci fi movie ‘Them?’ BIG ants. Big ants in a bad mood.
Julie, you must have done some incredible research, or you know French pretty well. Or you play trombone. You got it right: the common office accessory, the humble paper clip, translates to ‘trombone’ in French.
So, that leaves three questions still hangin’ out there ‘on the line:’
The name of the singer who had a big hit in which he complains that his chair is not listening to him.
The VP candidate who did not do well with fishing lessons, even snagging his running mate’s shirt with an off-kilter cast. Embarrassing. Hint: This is pre-JFK era. Who was it?
The name of the GB street supposedly named after a ‘Madam.’ The street name was changed some years ago.
Let’s roll out two new ones: ‘The Bachelorette’ and similar shows are very hot today. What was the ‘pioneer show’ in this genre? It debuted in the ‘60s.
Back in 1962 a nifty new way to deliver music was invented by a bunch of guys in the Netherlands. What are we talking about?
As I was finishing this up, the outside temp was 56 degrees!! In the last week of June. Amazing. But I’m not complaining, because the sun is out after a long and wet (again) weekend. Things are looking up.
As usual, visit with us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll reply next Monday.
Have a great week!