1970 Earth Day music v. the war

Everyday people, sing a simple song

Fifty years ago, in 1970, the country was experiencing racial tension, worrying about the environment, and fighting a far-off war. It’s so much different now.

Here were the #1 songs on the pop charts in 1970. I remember all of them and I own most. Some of my favorite tunes. RB=rhythm charts.

Bridge Over Troubled Water – Simon and Garfunkel. #1 for six weeks. Gold record. My second favorite S&G song.

I’ll Be There– Jackson Five. Or Jackson 5ive, if you prefer. #1 for five weeks; #1 for six weeks RB.

Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head – B.J Thomas. #1 for four weeks. Gold record. From the 1969 movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, which I saw in the cinema.

(They Long To Be) Close To You – Carpenters. #1 for four weeks. Gold record.

My Sweet Lord – George Harrison. #1 for four weeks, Gold record.

I Think I Love You – Partridge Family. #1 for three weeks. Gold record.

Ain’t No Mountain High Enough – Diana Ross. #1 for three weeks; #1 RB. This tune was used for some high school Black History assembly I was in, or so I seem to recall.

American Woman – The Guess Who. #1 for three weeks. Gold record. I kept the 1:15 album intro. One of Tricia Nixon’s favorite songs.

War – Edwin Starr. #1 for three weeks; #3 RB. The Temptations were the first to record this. “Motown head Berry Gordy didn’t want them associated with such a controversial song, so he had Starr record it and his version was released as a single. Starr didn’t have as big a fan base to offend.”

Mother Mary

Let It Be – The Beatles. #1 for two weeks. Double platinum record.

The Tears of a Clown – Smokey Robinson and the Miracles. #1 for two weeks; #1 for three weeks RB. “Just like Pagliacci.”

Mama Told Me Not To Come – Three Dog Night. #1 for two weeks. Gold record. A Randy Newman song.

ABC – The Jackson Five. #1 for two weeks; #1 for four weeks RB.

The Love You Save – Jackson Five. #1 for two weeks; #1 for six weeks RB. I always liked sing the Jermaine parts.

Thank You (Falletinme Be Mice Elf Agin) – Sly and the Family Stone. #1 for two weeks; #1 for five weeks RB. Gold record. I’m a sucker for a song that namechecks other songs by the group.

Everything Is Beautiful – Ray Stevens. #1 for two weeks. Gold record.

The Long and Winding Road – The Beatles. #1 for two weeks. Platinum record. the last Beatles single for a while.

Make It With You – Bread. Gold record.

I Want You Back – Jackson Five. #1 for four weeks RB. Platinum record.

Venus – The Shocking Blue. Gold record.

Cracklin’ Rosie – Neil Diamond. Platinum record.

Michael Jackson: erase performers?

Jackson 5.Diana Ross Presents.1969The ever-inquisitive Arthur asked about a recent post:
About your Rolf Harris song [Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport] – it raises a question: Are we under any obligation to erase performers or songs we once liked because it later turns out that they were either allegedly or actually terrible humans or allegedly or actually did terrible things, like Rolf?

I should note that I was totally oblivious to the charges against the singer. “Harris was convicted of 12 indecent assaults at London’s Southwark Crown Court in June 2014, one on an eight-year-old autograph hunter, two on girls in their early teens, and a catalogue of abuse against his daughter’s friend over 16 years.”

That’s mighty disturbing. Had I known that, I might have passed on that particular song for the list, not as a way of rewriting history but rather not wanting to be perceived as condoning pedophilia. Am I going to go back and delete that musical link? No, because I didn’t know at the time.

Arthur continues: After Leaving Neverland aired on TV here, radio stations announced they were banning Michael Jackson’s music (despite the fact that many of them never played it, anyway, because the music they played was completely different genres or eras). It seems to me that the three reactions are to join the mob, defy the mob and continue to like whoever it is, or to just keep quiet about liking whatever it is or whoever the person is—cowed into silence by the mob. What do you think?

Now you’ve really hit a nerve. I haven’t seen Finding Neverland, and I don’t know that I will. But I do not dismiss the allegations out of hand.

I was writing a post about what songs I would singing karaoke to, a post I haven’t had a chance to finish because of the lack of time. Clearly, though, the songs would include the early works of the Jackson Five. If I were to pick one, it’d be The Love You Save, but ABC and I Want You Back would also be appropriate.

In the day, I was right in Jermaine’s vocal range. Even now I’d join in with anything that Michael, and Jackie, who also hit some really high notes, weren’t singing. For The Love You Save, in addition to harmonies, I’d sing, e.g.:

Those other guys will put you down
As soon as they succeed!


The way they talk about you
They’ll turn your name to dirt, oh!

Am I going to stop singing along with Jermaine because of something that Michael reportedly did? Nah. For that matter, will I cease playing Michael Jackson’s Off the Wall album, which I believe is better than Thriller? Absolutely not.

If I were DJing a wedding – unlikely, but I did so once – would I play J5 or MJ? I don’t think so, but only out of an overabundance of caution about offending others.

But where would it stop? I could name any number of musicians who were/are schmucks, and who are on the radio daily right now. Where the line is from which one can erase performers – an ahistoric action I’m most uncomfortable with – I just don’t know.

What if Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” had been recorded in the thirties? Wayne Brady and Scott Bradlee’s Postmodern Jukebox answer that musical question

J is for the Jackson 5ive

When the group moved from Motown to Columbia/Epic, Jermaine stayed at Motown, largely because he was married to Motown boss Berry Gordy’s daughter Hazel for a time. Little brother Randy replaced him as the group became The Jacksons.

L-R: Tito, Marlon, Michael, Jackie, Jermaine
L-R: Tito, Marlon, Michael, Jackie, Jermaine

My sister Leslie, who’s a little younger than I, had each of the first four non-Christmas LPs of the Jackson Five (or Jackson 5ive, as Motown sometimes cutely designated the group). I wanted to write them off as a silly piece of “bubblegum soul”. The problem with that was twofold:
1) I rather liked many of the songs, and
2) I discovered that my vocal range was quite compatible with Jermaine, who had the second lead on many of the songs (Tito sang low harmonies, Jackie high harmonies, and Marlon somewhere in the middle)

Oh, there was a third thing:
3) that preteen Michael was pretty darn good

The first album had I Want You Back [LISTEN], a #1 hit in 1970, but also Who’s Lovin’ You [LISTEN], a cover of a Smokey Robinson song that, when I listened to it, I thought, “How old IS this guy?” He was an old soul.

The second album included both ABC [LISTEN], the title song, and The Love You Save [LISTEN], both of which went to #1 for two weeks in 1970. The imaginatively titled Third Album contained I’ll Be There [LISTEN], #1 for FIVE weeks in 1970. I was always a sucker for Maybe Tomorrow [LISTEN], the title song from the fourth album, which only went to #20 in 1971. They had other hits, most notably Dancing Machine [LISTEN], #2 in 1974.

I won’t necessarily admit to having watched their animated series, which is now available on DVD.

When the group moved from Motown to Columbia/Epic, Jermaine stayed at Motown, largely because he was married to Motown boss Berry Gordy’s daughter Hazel for a time. Little brother Randy replaced him as the group became The Jacksons. Their first hit was Enjoy Yourself [LISTEN], #6 in 1977.

Michael, who had done some solo work even with Motown, had some subsequent massive albums on his own, with Off the Wall, and Thriller. But the brothers, including Jermaine, got together for the 1984 Victory album and tour. Michael, of course, went on with his own career arc.

The group never broke up officially, but they haven’t recorded an album since 1989, though Tito, Jackie, Jermaine, and Marlon did appear in some bizarre reality show back in 2009, which ended up including their reactions to brother Michael’s death.


ABC Wednesday – Round 14

Guilty pleasure music QUESTION

Ah — Beach Boys harmony.

Some people, rightly, do not believe in the notion of “guilty pleasure” regarding one’s taste in movies, TV, music and the like. I use the phrase more as it’s understood as something the cool kids don’t watch/listen to.

Links included.

Could It Be Magic – Barry Manilow. First it was the piano intro (and outro) that was a direct, and apparently unconscious, steal of Chopin’s Prelude No. 20 in C Minor. But eventually I got sucked into the whole strings, especally as the strings build at about the three-minute mark.

I Haven’t Got Time For The Pain – Carly Simon. But especially the strings at the end. BTW, Lesley Gore – yes, THAT Lesley Gore – does her own version, pretty good, but without that great ending.

Wishing You Were Here – Chicago. It’s not the whole song; I find Peter Cetera’s vocals on the bridge occasionally grating. But it is that lovely Beach Boys harmony from Al Jardine, Carl Wilson, and Dennis Wilson that has always moved me.

Rosanna-Toto. You that part, “Not quite a year…”? Well, I love that bit. More than that, I love singing along in harmony vocal. If I think about it, there are a number of songs I enjoy specifically on that basis.

ABC-Jackson 5 When they first came out, they were considered “bubblegum soul”, and no song epitomized that more than this abecedarian tune. Thing is, I could always sing all the parts that Tito and especially Jermaine (second lead on most tunes) performed, so I always had a soft spot for the early J5,.

What are YOUR musical guilty pleasures?

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