Music Throwback Saturday: Grazing in the Grass

Grazing in the Grass was a vocal hit for a Los Angeles group called The Friends of Distinction in 1969

Masekela, Makeba 1964
Masekela, Makeba 1964

When I was trying to explain to someone what song I was trying to identify – it turned out to be Soulful Strut by Young-Holt Unlimited – more than one person took my description (soulful, horn-driven) and came to the conclusion the song I was thinking of was Grazing in the Grass.

It was a reasonable guess.

As it happens, I COULD easily recall the instrumental track Grazing in the Grass by South African performer Hugh Masekela, which was #1 for two weeks on the pop charts, and #1 for four weeks on the soul charts in 1968. It is one of the few songs for which “more cowbell” is NOT necessary.

Masekela had been briefly (1964-1966) married to his countrywoman Miriam Makeba, who I familiar with from her performing with folksinger Harry Belafonte, including on an LP my father owned. She had an unlikely hit with Pata Pata (#12 pop, #7 soul) in 1967.

Masekela and Makeba performed together on Paul Simon’s 1987 Graceland tour throughout South Africa. Miriam Makeba died in 2008, but Hugh Masekela is still with us.

Grazing in the Grass, written by Philemon Hou, was also a vocal hit for a Los Angeles group called The Friends of Distinction, made up of Harry Elston, Jessica Cleaves, Barbara Jean Love, and the late Floyd Butler (d. 1990) in 1969, #3 pop, #5 soul. I can dig it. (All chart action referenced was from the U.S. Billboard charts.)

Listen to

Pata Pata – Miriam Makeba HERE or HERE

Grazing in the Grass – Hugh Masekela HERE or HERE

Grazing in the Grass – The Friends of Distinction HERE or HERE


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