Friday, December 09, 2005

One Day in Your Life

December 9, 1968, was a Monday. Computer scientist Doug Engelbart gave the first public demonstration of windows, hyperlinks, and the mouse. Olympic champion and professional wrestler Kurt Angle was born. PBS affiliate KRNE in Merriman, Nebraska, went on the air. Joe Namath was on the cover of Sports Illustrated. And when you turned the radio on, you were likely to hear some of these, chosen at random from the Cash Box magazine chart for that week:

5. "Stormy"/Classics IV. (climbing) Few performers in any era can boast three singles as elegant as "Traces," "Spooky," and "Stormy"--which is my favorite of the three.

13. "I Heard it Through the Grapevine"/Marvin Gaye. (climbing)
Blasting up the charts and headed for Number One, "Grapevine" was critic Dave Marsh's pick as the Number One single of all time a few years ago. But if you asked most regular people (non-critics) to rank the great Motown singles, I'll bet this wouldn't top the list--because it varied so much from the Motown template of the 1960s.

20. "Quick Joey Small (Run Joey Run)"/Kasenetz-Katz Singing Orchestral Circus. (peak)
The most demented bubblegum record ever recorded, and largely beyond my powers of description. I can say this: Even though bubblegum is often thought to be squeaky-clean and wholesome, dope was clearly involved in the creation of this record.

40. "Going Up the Country"/Canned Heat. (climbing)
One of the most seriously heavy blues-n-boogie bands ever to plug in, Canned Heat is all light-n-happy here.

41. "Cycles"/Frank Sinatra. (climbing) Sinatra's voice is so familiar that we often don't realize that it's one of the most impressive musical instruments an American artist has ever possessed. By the late 60s, he was using it to sing about the disappointments of middle age--and on this tune, the determination to cope with them.

49. "Hooked on a Feeling"/B.J. Thomas. (climbing) Do not confuse this version of "Hooked on a Feeling" with the 1974 "ooga-chucka" version. This version is as much a snapshot of its moment in history as Blue Swede's version was going to be of its moment in history.

72. "Stand by Your Man"/Tammy Wynette. (climbing) If I were to pick my own list of the five greatest singles in country music history, this would be on it. It contains probably the greatest hook in country music history--that three-note steel guitar thing in the refrain after Tammy sings the words "stand by your man."

77. "Worst That Could Happen"/Brooklyn Bridge. (debut) Home of another magnificent hook, copping a phrase from the Wedding March just before the final fadeout begins.

87. "I Put a Spell on You"/Creedence Clearwater Revival. (climbing) In which John Fogerty puts on his best howl, and makes everybody forget the original by Screamin' Jay Hawkins, who had a pretty good howl himself.

88. "Everyday People"/Sly and the Family Stone. (debut)
Some folks dig "Dance to the Music," other go for "Stand," a few take "Family Affair"--but this is my favorite Sly song, which hides a quintessentially 60s social message in a record that sings like a nursery rhyme and rocks like crazy.


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