Special Sub-Topic: The Top Hits of 1970 - Part 1
|The song that ranked number one for 1970 with 1624 points spent four weeks at the top of the charts but earned its ranking largely due to its longevity in the Hot 100 - 22 weeks. Here's your lyrical clue.
"So I just did me some talkin' to the sun
And I said I didn't like the way he got things done
Sleepin' on the job"
The song was prominently featured in a 1969 movie and won the Oscar for Best Song that year. Can you name the movie?|
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. The song, of course, was "Raindrops Keep Fallin' On My Head". B.J. Thomas sang it for the movie and when it was so well received, he returned to the studio to re-record it for release as a single in October 1969. It flew up the charts and became the first Number One song of the decade on January 3, 1970.
Originally, the song's composers, Burt Bacharach and Hal David, wanted Bob Dylan to do the song with Ray Stevens as their second choice. Both declined and through the intervention of Dionne Warwick, a favored vocalist of their compositions, Thomas, a Scepter Records colleague, was given an audition. The director of the movie was George Roy Hill and he was sceptical that Thomas was the right choice for the assignment. When the session for the movie recording was scheduled, Thomas was ailing with the flu and laryngitis. Hill had him sing so many takes that by the end of the session Thomas was barely croaking out the song and that's exactly the sound Hill was looking for in the movie. It became the biggest hit ever for both Thomas and the composing team of Bacharach/David.
|The Jackson 5 made a remarkable debut in 1970... their first four releases all hit Number One! Their biggest hit and the one that achieved a number two ranking for the year was considerably different from the other three in style. Knowing that and with this brief snippet of lyric, can you identify which song it was?
"You and I must make a pact
We must bring salvation back"|
I'll Be There. The Jackson 5 was the only recording act in the 20th Century whose first four releases became chart toppers. Chronologically, here are those four hits and how they finished in the year-end rankings. "I Want You Back" was their first hit reaching Number One on Jan. 31 for one week. With 1229 points, it wound up the year ranked sixth. "ABC" was their second Number One. It peaked on April 25, stayed on top for two weeks and with 1040 points ranked 18th. That was followed by "The Love You Save", ranked 19th with 1009 points. It also had a two week turn at the top of the charts beginning June 27. Their last Number One for the year and the subject of this question was "I'll Be There". Starting on October 17, it had a five week run at Number One and with 1514 points, achieved its second place ranking for the year.
The first three hits were high tempo, designed to appeal to their core group of fans - their age peers - teenagers and pre-teens. "I'll Be There" was a ballad and probably owed its success by appealing to a wider, older group of listeners. Berry Gordon, Motown's head honcho, assembled a group of writer's dubbed "The Corporation" and together they wrote all of the Jackson 5's early hits and promoted the group tirelessly. However, it wasn't long before the Jackson's resented Gordy's influence and agitated for more creative control over their output. This ultimately led to the family leaving Motown in the middle of the decade. Regardless, they never would have another Number One hit as a group and with various members pursuing solo careers, most notably Michael and Jermaine, the group formally disbanded in 1989.
|"Sail on silver girl, sail on by
Your time has come to shine
All your dreams are on their way
See how they shine"
These lyrics are from the song ranked number three for 1970 with 1501 points. It was Number One for six weeks and had it maintained its position within the Hot 100 for more than 14 weeks, it might have secured the necessary points to finish the year at number one. Can you name this classic? |
Bridge Over Troubled Water. When I'm asked what my favorite song of all-time is, this song is it. The hopeful lyrics, the beautiful melody line, the wonderful and powerful orchestration and Garfunkel's masterful vocalization render, to me, the perfect package. The song has become an anthem for those enduring tough times believing that better days are ahead. Simon has averred that this was his masterpiece and I concur. Upon completion of the similarly titled album (also my all-time favorite, as fresh to listen to today as it was 35+ years ago), the duo decided to take a hiatus from recording which sadly turned out to be a permanent split as they each followed their separate ambitions. But what a swan song!
|The hit ranked fourth for 1970 with 1395 points largely achieved its success due to its appeal to pubescent listeners. It topped the charts for three weeks during its 19 week run on the Billboard charts. Here's how the song begins.
"I'm sleeping and right in the middle of a good dream
Like all at once I wake up
From something that keeps knocking at my brain
Before I go insane
I hold my pillow to my head
And spring up in my bed"
Do you know it?|
I Think I Love You. This song was featured on TV's "The Partridge Family" starring David Cassidy and Shirley Jones. The show ran from 1970 to 1974 and was ostensibly based on the real life Cowsill family, a late 1960s recording act. Throughout the show's run, the Partridges released several songs to promote it but this was by far the most successful of those efforts. Even the most ardent of music aficionados would be hard pressed to name another of the six Partridge Family songs that made top 40 on the Billboard charts from 1970 to 1973.
|"On the day that you were born
The angels got together
And decided to create a dream come true
So they sprinkled moon dust in your hair of gold
And starlight in your eyes of blue."
Ranking fifth for the year with 1368 points based on four weeks at Number One and 17 weeks in the Hot 100 was a lovely arrangement of a Bacharach/David composition that has remained a pop standard ever since. Which song is it?|
(They Long To Be) Close To You. This was the first big hit for The Carpenters initiating a long stream of adult oriented, pop hits they contributed to the charts throughout the first half of the decade. In fact, their follow-up release, "We've Only Just Begun" was another immense hit ranking eighth for the year with 1156 points despite never reaching Number One. Herb Alpert was instrumental in signing them to his record label, A&M, and I believe it was he who suggested that Karen had the purest singing voice he had ever heard - that she never sang a false note. The duo's fortunes waned in the latter part of the 1970s largely due to physical problems. Richard battled, and eventually overcame, a bout of addiction to pain killers while Karen's affliction of anorexia nervosa has been well documented. She succumbed to the disease in 1983 at the age of 32 after heart failure directly attributable to her condition. Since then, Richard has kept busy in production work.
|Careful scrutiny of the lyrical clue should enable you to identify the hit that settled into the number seven position of 1970 year end rankings. It garnered 1157 points based on 16 weeks on the charts, two of them at Number One.
"Just like Pagliacci did
I try to keep my sadness hid
Smiling in the public eye
But in a lonely room I cry"|
Tears Of A Clown. The reference in the lyrical clue to the clown Pagliacci in Leoncavallo's opera "I Pagliacci" gives the answer away to the alert and knowledgeable. In the opera, Pagliacci makes his audience laugh at his antics while underneath he's weeping for the loss of his wife who has betrayed him.
This would be the only Number One hit that Smokey Robinson would have in his career as a performer both as a solo act or, as in this instance, with The Miracles. The song itself has a curious history. It was originally recorded in 1966 and released on an album in 1967. For some reason, Motown eventually released it as a single early in 1970... in the U.K.! When it went Number One there, it was then released in North America. Now regarded as a quintessential Motown song and one of the best the company ever produced, it's peculiar that its road to the top was so circuitous.
|"When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me
Speaking words of wisdom"
What song was this? It ranked ninth for 1970 with 1143 points following 14 weeks on the chart, two of them at Number One.|
Let It Be. The penultimate Number One song for The Beatles, it was followed two months later by their last Number One, "The Long And Winding Road" which could only reach a ranking of 57 for the year despite being Number One for two weeks.
McCartney wrote this song after he had a dream in which his mother, named Mary, did indeed give him "words of wisdom" that were comforting during a particularly stressful period in his life. Apparently, Lennon hated the song, particularly the religious overtones which pervade the whole piece. To make his point, he insisted that the song be followed on the album by "Maggie Mae", a ditty about a Liverpudlian prostitute. With such rancor, it's no wonder the group would soon break up. Ironically, this song reached Number One the very week the Beatles announced that they were no more.
|The hit ranked number ten for 1970 charted for 14 weeks, three of them at Number One scoring 1141 points in the process. Its title is one word. The singer asks "What is it good for?" and follows with the answer "Absolutely nothing!". What is that one word?|
War. The song was written by the prolific Norman Whitfield, a Motown institution. It originally appeared on a Temptations album and Motown was inundated by "peaceniks" with requests to release the song as a single as part of their anti-Vietnam war protests. Berry Gordon was reluctant to associate The Temptations with such a volatile political movement, at least beyond their album version, so a newcomer to the label, Edwin Starr, was recruited to release the single. Motown rarely made mistakes and this was no exception.
All four of Starr's hits occurred during the late 1960s and early 1970s although not through lack of trying. From 1972 to 1979, he released several songs but none charted higher than the low 60s on the Billboard charts. Finally, he relocated to England in the mid-1980s and performed on the cabaret circuit there until his death of a heart attack in 2003.
|With 1139 points and ranked 11th for 1970 was the song entitled "Someday We'll Be Together". What was noteworthy about this hit?|
it was the last Number One hit for Diana Ross & The Supremes. Although the song was listed as being performed by "Diana Ross and the Supremes", the only member of the group to attend the recording session was Diana Ross. The back up group consisted of session singers from the Motown stable and the song's composer, Johnny Bristol. At this time, Diana was most anxious to embark on her solo career but still owed Motown one more song on her contract as part of "The Supremes". To fulfill those terms, she recorded this song as noted without Mary Wilson and Cindy Birdsong (who had replaced Flo Ballard in 1967) and went on her merry way. It would serve to be a point of bitterness between Diana and her former colleagues for many years thereafter.
One point of clarification. Many might know that this song actually was the final Number One hit of the 1960s, reaching that lofty position on December 27, 1969. However, it accumulated more ranking points in 1970 than it did in 1969. Hence, for ranking purposes, it was included as part of the roster of hits for 1970. It is somewhat ironic that 1970 would serve to be the year that three major recording acts who were such a big part of the music scene in the 1960s broke up - The Supremes, Simon and Garfunkel and The Beatles. Indeed, the times they were a-changin'!
|"I wait in the darkness of my lonely room
Filled with sadness, filled with gloom
That you'll walk back through that door
And love me like you tried before"
These lyrics are found in the song ranked 12th for 1970. Only peaking at Number Three on the Billboard charts, it hung around on the Hot 100 for four months accumulating 1128 points in the process. Despite the rather gloomy tone of the lyric, it was an up-tempo dance number that for all the world sounded like something The Supremes might have recorded but the singer was a relatively obscure artist who would only have two other top 40 hits in her career. What was this hit?|
Band Of Gold. The singer was Freda Payne and the allusion to The Supremes in the question was quite apt. Her sister was Scherrie Payne who was lead singer for that group from 1973 until the "original" remnants of the group disbanded four years later. As for Freda, she has remained active in the entertainment industry issuing periodic albums and as an actress on TV and in the movies.
|Ranking number 13 for 1970 with 1120 points was a three week Number One chart topper. Let's see if you can identify it from this lyrical segment.
"Don't come hangin' around my door
Don't wanna see your face no more
I don't need your war machines
I don't need your ghetto scenes
Coloured lights can hypnotize
Sparkle someone else's eyes"|
American Woman. Although The Guess Who were a major musical force in their native Canada for several years prior to the release of this song, this hit established their presence in the U.S. despite a handful of top 40 hits in 1969. So, just when it seemed that stardom was assured, their major creative influence, Randy Bachman, left the group tired of the raunchy lifestyle the band was leading and fostered by the group's talented lead singer, Burton Cummings. Numerous personnel changes followed, the group lost its impetus and disbanded by the middle of the decade. Meanwhile, Bachman formed Bachman-Turner Overdrive (ssometimes known simply as BTO) and they went on to have significant chart success in 1973-74.
In the middle of the 1990s, now firmly entrenched in middle age, Bachman and Cummings resolved their differences and most of the original group reunited for special events and the occasional tour, almost always in their native country, where they are regarded as icons, especially among the baby-boomers who grew up with their music.
|An odd song with curious lyrics written by Randy Newman forged its way to a number 16 ranking for 1970 following a 15 week chart run, two of them at Number One. Here's a sample of the lyric.
"The radio is blastin', someone's knockin' at the door
I'm lookin' at my girlfriend - she's passed out on the floor
I seen so many things I ain't never seen before
Don't know what it is - I don't wanna see no more"
What song have we here?|
Mama Told Me (Not To Come). The song was performed by Three Dog Night and it would ultimately be their second biggest hit ever, only topped by the following year's "Joy To The World".
Newman had been writing and performing songs for several years by this point but it was this creation that put him on the map as a lyricist. It's speculated that this particular song was a critical account of some of the wild Hollywood parties he attended rife with drugs and booze. He, in turn, was often chastised by the public and music reviewers who didn't quite pick up on his style of satire. Remember the uproar over his little ditty regarding mankind's intolerance and bigotry in "Short People"? In recent years he's been busy writing scores for movies and had been nominated on 15 occasions for Oscars before finally winning the award in 2001 for his song "If I Didn't Have You" from "Monster's, Inc.".
The songs ranked 14 and 15 were were "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" by Diana Ross, and "Make It With You" by Bread.
|Ranked 17th for 1970 was "Get Ready" by Rare Earth while those ranked 18th and 19th were hits for The Jackson Five. Number 20 for 1970 was a Number Three hit that spent a couple of months securely in the top 10. Identify it from this lyrical clue.
"That's where you're gonna go when you die
When you die and they lay you to rest
You're gonna go to the place that's the best"|
Spirit In The Sky. This would be Norman Greenbaum's only top 40 hit, follow-up releases peaking at Number 46 and 93. Earlier, in the mid 1960s, he formed a psychedelic jug band in California called Dr. West's Medicine Show and Junk Band that managed one minor Number 52 hit entitled, wait for it, "The Eggplant That Ate Chicago"! What can I say? Greenbaum decided to engage in more lucrative activities after this hit managing his own dairy farm. He has returned to the music business, however, managing other artists and promoting concerts in California. "Spirit In The Sky" briefly returned to the charts peaking at Number 69 in 1986 as recorded by the British "glam-band" Doctor And The Medics.
|"Just take my hand and I'll lead ya
I promise that life will be sweeter
'Cause it said so in my dreams"
These three lines, part of the chorus, were repeated three times in a catchy little number that ultimately ranked 21st for 1970. It marked the chart debut, peak position at Number Three, for a group that became a mainstay on the pop music scene for most of the decade. What was the song's title?|
Candida. The performing artist was listed as Dawn, but in actuality, the singers who would become Dawn never sang on the record. Confusing? I'll explain. When Tony Orlando recorded the song for the Bell label, he was actually under contract as the manager of a music publishing company owned by a rival record label. Clearly, it wouldn't be good form to have his name on the record label so the pseudonym of "Dawn" was cooked up to imply that a group was the recording artist, not Orlando with session back-up vocalists. Mind you, those "back-up" vocalists were not entirely unknown at the time. Ellie Greenwich and Toni Wine were members of the Archies that recorded "Sugar Sugar" in 1969. They also backed Orlando up on Dawn's follow-up release, "Knock Three Times" that topped the charts for three weeks in 1971. By then, it was clear that a legitimate "Dawn" entity had to be formed for touring purposes and neither Greenwich nor Wine were interested in the gig. Telma Hopkins and Joyce Vincent filled the breach and have been "Dawn" ever since.
For all intents and purposes, the group disbanded in 1977 when Orlando quasi-retired from show business for "personal reasons". Vincent resumed her career as a session vocalist while Hopkins turned to acting and appeared in such TV fare as "Gimme A Break", "Family Matters" and "Bosom Buddies". In the early 1990s, Orlando returned to the business by opening up a music theatre in Branson, MO. Tony Orlando, Joyce Vincent Wilson with her sister Pam Vincent taking over Telma's spot, reunited and now perform regularly at this venue.
|This song wound up ranked number 22 for 1970 capturing 998 points largely based on its 14 week presence in the top 40, eight of those in the top 10. This smooth, melodic ballad peaked at Number Three. Decipher the correct answer from this lyrical clue.
"I've seen sunny days that I thought would never end
I've seen lonely times when I could not find a friend
But I always thought that I'd see you again" |
Fire And Rain. James Taylor was 22 years old at this time and by then he had faced more adversity than most people would endure in a lifetime. This song was autobiographical in nature and dealt with the death of his girlfriend in the first verse including the lines noted in the lyrical clue, his ongoing struggles with depression and drug addiction in the second verse, while the final verse expresses an optimistic perspective that better days were in the offing.
This song essentially marked a turning point in popular music. This was the first significant solo hit by a poet/singer. Hits performed by solo acts prior to this were almost always written by other parties while original creations performed by the songwriter were done so as part of a group, i.e. The Beatles, Rolling Stones, The Doors, etc. About the only exception I could find to this rule was "At Seventeen" written and performed by Janis Ian in 1967 but it wasn't quite the smash that this one was. Similarly, Neil Diamond had recorded some of his own material in the late 1960s but they were simple pop songs and didn't have the personal attachments that "Fire And Rain" expressed. So, I contend that it was this song that set the stage for such artists as Carol King, Elton John, John Denver, Carly Simon, Billy Joel, and countless others to write and perform their own compositions.
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