(Above: a magazine that eludes my collection.)
October 25, 1969
Earlier in the week “Beat Generation” fixture Jack Kerouac is laid to rest in Lowell, Massachusetts. Kerouac died in the early morning hours of the 21st as the result of longtime alcohol abuse. Years later the band 10,000 Maniacs will sing to him and self-aware college radio disc jockeys will play it.
It’s also the day after Paul McCartney makes his first public appearance following weeks of the “Paul is dead” rumor swirling around. The rumor started over the radio; several folks take credit for starting it, but the bullseye seems to usually fall on the Detroit/Ann Arbor, Michigan area. Paul paraphrases Mark Twain and says that “the rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated,” but people still keep scouring album covers for clues, playing albums backwards, and ruining needles in the process.
Television personality Samantha Bee was born on the 25th, making her fifty years old as well.
The following Monday the island nations of Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Saint Christopher and Nevis, Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines all gain their independence from Great Britain after 300 years of colonial rule.
On the charts: it’s the second and final week at #1 for “I Can’t Get Next To You” by the Temptations. There’s a bunch of great ones making their debuts this week.
“Eli’s Coming” – Three Dog Night (debuts at #61). The inseparable memory I now have of this song comes from the TV series Sports Night from the early 2000s where it figures prominently in an episode. “Eli’s comin'” became a euphemism for management meddling and likely job loss. In the end days of WRLL in Chicago it wasn’t uncommon for Ron Smith or me to drop the phrase in conversation with the other when the mood seemed like the corporate powers-that-be were about to do something stupid. (We weren’t guessing; it was every few days, so you just needed to wait and see.) The song ends up at #10 and is still great, but I always have an urge to clean my office when I hear it.
“Leaving On a Jet Plane” – Peter, Paul & Mary (#76). This song, written by John Denver (who also recorded it), will end up as a #1 record. It was also the last record I played when my first full-time radio job crapped out, and I wrote about that here.
“Roosevelt and Ira Lee (Night of the Mossacin)” – Tony Joe White (#85). Here’s an “oh wow” for you. It’s the effective follow-up to “Polk Salad Annie” which charted July 5. We get the story about a couple of guys roaming around in the night hungry looking for bullfrogs and chickens to snack on. What’s not to like? This just misses the Top 40, landing at #44 and keeping TJW technically a one-hit wonder. This record hit #7 in Toledo, Ohio.
“I Still Believe in Tomorrow” – John & Anna Ryder (#86). This would sound terrific coming out of a jingle, and then you’d likely lose interest after a few seconds. It’s the only record that this British pair put on the American charts, and it stalls out at #70.
“Down On the Corner” – Creedence Clearwater Revival (#87). One of the many hits for CCR in 1969, and the flip side will appear listed with it next week – so we’ll save that. I don’t have much to add about this title but instead have a sudden urge to drop by a nearby Walgreens. Unlike most CCR singles, this one doesn’t make it to the #2 spot but instead stops at #3.
“Evil Woman Don’t Play Your Games With Me” – Crow (#88). This is one I recall from my days in high school listening to Bob Stroud do his Rock and Roll Roots show on WLUP on the weekends. It makes it to #19, but you typically don’t find it on the radio anymore. Somewhere I have a mixtape of 45s I recorded in the late 80s that features it. Playback of this record requires some volume.
“Wonderful” – Blackwell (#89). Here’s a neat bit of psych-pop that went no higher than this slot on the charts. The band hailed from Houston and this represents the only single they charted. Surprisingly, it only made #18 in Houston but was a #8 single on WHFM in Rochester, NY.
“These Eyes” – Jr. Walker & the All-Stars (#91). I like the Guess Who version (which charted on April 5), and I love this record. It goes on to hit #16 on the charts, but damned if I can recall the last time I heard it on the radio.
“She’s Got Love” – Thomas and Richard Frost (#92). Here’s one I don’t think you can release today – “she’s got love, but she’s a tease and I want some” isn’t necessarily going ot fly. Then again, I’ve heard worse. It’s a catchy record, if nothing else. It’s the only chart release for these guys, and it will climb just a few notches up to #83.
“Friendship Train” – Gladys Knight & the Pips (#93). Now we get downright soulful. This train will take you to #17 on the charts and put a tap in your toes while it does. (Of course, in a few years they have a later train that goes a little further.)
“Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down” – Ray Stevens (#94). Most of what Ray’s known for falls into the comedy genre. He makes the big pivot to serious music in 1970 when “Everything is Beautiful” hits the top of the charts, but this cover of the Kris Kristofferson record predates that. It’ll make it up to #81 and is a fairly decent version. (The rest of the LP has some interesting choices on it. “Hair?”)
“Jingo – Santana (#97). Today’s the day we first see Santana on the pop charts. This first attempt will only make it up to 56, but there will be plenty more to follow. This one is worth the listen just for the percussion. It’s a #2 record in Sacramento, California and hits #4 in San Francisco.
“One Woman” – Johnny Rivers (#98). This one spends four weeks on the charts and only climbs to #89. It seems better suited for adult radio than the pop charts (I’m thinking Bobby Goldsboro here). Rivers won’t climb back into the Top 40 until early 1973 with a cover of a Huey “Piano” Smith record that you are more likely to know.