LISTEN TO The Circle Game by Joni Mitchell
Joni Mitchell, a Canadian singer-songwriter, ended her 1970 Ladies of the Canyon album with this oft-covered tune. In fact, Tom Rush had already put it on his 1968 album named after this song. Here’s a 1967 version from Joni. Buffy Sainte-Marie had a minor hit with the song as well.
LISTEN TO Happiness Runs by Donovan
Donovan was one of those 1960s singers that some critics pegged as “the next Bob Dylan”, which is always an unfair comparison. Here’s the Scottish singer on the Smothers Brothers singing Lalena, then Happiness Runs (at 3:50) in 1968. I remember watching it at the time and loving it. The song at the end is, according to one source, Unknown Song, featuring Jennifer Warnes.
Happiness runs in a circular motion
Thought is like a little boat upon the sea.
Everybody is a part of everything anyway,
You can have everything if you let yourself be.
LISTEN TO Windmills of Your Mind by Alison Moyet
English pop singer Alison Moyet is one of several artists to perform this song by Michel Legrand and Alan and Marilyn Bergman, “from the 1968 film The Thomas Crown Affair. Noel Harrison performed the song for the film score. It won the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1969.” The most famous version was by the late English pop/soul crooner Dusty Springfield, but there have been many others, including Petula Clark, Vanilla Fudge (!), Neil Diamond and Sting.
Like a circle in a spiral
Like a wheel within a wheel
Never ending or beginning
On an ever-spinning reel.
American soul singer and keyboardist Billy Preston was a child prodigy and played with musicians such as Ray Charles and Sam Cooke. He befriended the Beatles and later became the first person to get a credit on a Beatles single. He was signed to the Beatles’ Apple Records, but his real success came when he moved to A&M Records and had four Top 10 hits, including this #1. Unfortunately, Billy died in 2006, at the age of 59.
Will the Circle Be Unbroken is a 100+ year old song, which I most associate with legendary country music artists the Carter Family. It has been often covered, notably by Johnny Cash, who married into the Carter family when he wed June; and the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, whose album of the same name “brings the longhaired West Coast band together with some of Nashville’s greatest artists.”
LISTEN TO Red Rubber Ball by The Cyrkle
Finally, a bit of a cheat. The Cyrkle was a Pennsylvania band, managed by Beatles’ manager Brian Epstein, and named by John Lennon. This was their biggest hit, as it went to #2 in 1966, written by Paul Simon.