Friday, January 07, 2005

Friday Top Five: Primo Stash

Memory is not history. Things are never as neat and clean as we sometimes remember them. In reality, they were always messier--and even if you remember a particular period as messy, chances are it was even messier than you remember. So I present the following Top Five with a disclaimer: There was undoubtedly a great deal of garbage on the radio during the first week of January 1966--but at the top of the charts, it was all primo.

5. Over and Over/Dave Clark Five. This had spent Christmas week of 1965 at Number One, and was the biggest hit the DC5 ever had. Even in 1966, it must have seemed a little bit retro, and its chart success represents as good a point as any for marking the close of the first British Invasion.

4. Turn! Turn! Turn!/Byrds. This, too, had done time at Number One in December 1965 (and was Number 3 for the whole year, behind only "Satisfaction" and "Yesterday"--speaking of primo). I am convinced that 500 years from now, people will still want to hear these ancient words and those gloriously ringing guitars.

3. I Got You (I Feel Good)/James Brown. This tune has been so frequently anthologized, and it's been so frequently used and abused in movies and commercials, that it's hard for us to hear it as it was back in the day. Dave Marsh can still hear it, though: "James sings the song as if God had called him to earth for the primary purpose of personifying sexual ecstasy."

2. We Can Work It Out/Beatles. Beatles tunes credited to Lennon/McCartney were often written by one or the other. This one, however, was a true collaboration. Paul wrote the optimistic part ("we can work it out") and John wrote the more impatient bridge ("there's no time for fussing and fighting). True to their personalities, too.

1. The Sounds of Silence/Simon and Garfunkel. This is a reworked version of a song that appeared on S&G's Wednesday Morning 3 A.M. Producer Tom Wilson added electric guitar, bass, and drums, which turned a simple, folkish tune into a highly dramatic record. The resulting hit was sufficient to get Garfunkel to drop back out of Columbia University grad school, and to bring Simon home from England as a star. Neither one of them had known what Wilson was up to until after the record became a hit.

Well, OK. There was "The Men in My Little Girl's Life" by Mike Douglas and "When Liking Turns to Loving" by Ronnie Dove. But elsewhere in the Hot 100 you had the Beach Boys, Kinks, Miracles, "Five O'Clock World, "Day Tripper," "Uptight" by Stevie Wonder, and the list goes on. Not a bad way to start a year.


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