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Friday, December 30, 2016

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO....Part 1: The 60's

I enjoy creating postings of music.  Baroque?  Check out my Pachelbel.  Two years ago, his Canon in D made #10 in my all-time list of favorites.   #1?  Wakare No Isochidori, the only song written by a local Hawaii person to then become a hit in Japan.  I once collected Japanese music from post World War II.  I've given everything away.  My next time I go through this exercise I will add something from the disco years, for those were memorable days when I travelled throughout Asia in the 80's.

Today, I look at the decade of the '60's, and, particularly, what happened to those who performed the #1 hit of the year.   This was a huge transition period for me, as I graduated from Stanford, got married, spent some time in the U.S. Army, and went on to live in Baton Rouge.  I used Billboard and almost can't believe that some of these songs were deemed the best:

  • 1960:  Percy Faith, Theme from A Summer Place:  Percy Faith died forty years ago.  He had other popular recordings, including Delicado (1952) and The Song from Moulin Rouge (1952, vocal by Felicia Saunders).   Summer Place won Record of the Year in the 1961 Grammy awards, and the movie with Troy Donahue and Sandra Dee got decent scores from Rotten Tomatoes (83/71).
  • 1964:  The Beatles, I Want to Hold Your Hand.  George Harrison passed away 15 years ago and it has been almost 36 years since John Lennon's assassination.  Paul McCartney is a "Sir", and his Yesterday has been recorded by 2.200 artists.  He and Ringo performed together at the Grammy Awards this year.
  • 1965:  Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs, Wooly Bully (the long Vietnam version).  Never reached #1 in any week, but was #1 for the year.  WB was here and there banned because the presentation was  hard to understand.  If you listen closely, the song is about his cat.  A whole host of films has used this song.  Their Lil' Red Riding Hood did well the following year.  Frontman Sam is Mexican-American, and he still makes concert appearances. 
  • 1966:  S/Sgt Barry Sadler, Ballad of the Green Berets.  Sadler was born three months after me, but passed away 27 years ago.  He was a Green Beret serving in Vietnam when he was seriously injured.  While recuperating, he co-wrote the song with Robin Moore, who published the book, The Green Berets.  The movie with John Wayne featured this song.  The lyrics were written in honor of Green Beret James Gabriel, Jr., the first native Hawaiian to die in Vietnam.  The tune itself is borrowed from an Irish folk song, The Butcher Boy.  Sadler went on to live a troublesome life, for he shot and killed a songwriter named Lee Emerson Bellamy, for which he spent only 30 days in a county workhouse.  He moved to Guatemala City in the mi-80's, and the details are mixed, but in 1988 he either shot himself or was assassinated.
  • 1967:  Lulu, To Sir with Love.  Lulu Kennedy-Cairns is a Scottish singer and actress who was in the film of the same name with Sidney Poitier.  They say the ending with Lulu singing was rather mawkish, but it'll bring tears to your eyes.    Go on that song. Two years later she won the Eurovision Song Contest, performing Boom Bang-a-Bang.  Lulu appeared this year in the film Absolutely Fabulous.
  • 1968:  The Beatles, Hey Jude.  The song is Billboard's 10th biggest of all time, with Rolling Stone ranking it #8 on the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.  Appropriately enough, #1 was Bob Dylan's Like a Rolling Stone, even though it never made it to #1 at any time the year Wooly Bully was at the top.  Dylan won a Nobel Prize this year, too.  Hey Jude was originally written by Paul McCartney as Hey Jules to comfort John Lennon's son Julian (right), for his parent's were divorcing because of Yoko Ono.  The song was the Beatles' longest-playing single (just over 6 minutes) as #1 and also spent the longest time at the top of any of their singles.  If you listen really closely at the 2:58 mark, the phrase "-ucking hell" is uttered, and to this day it is debatable if  this came from Lennon or McCartney.  Here is the 45 version lasting 6 minutes 27 seconds.  The backing was provided by a 36-piece orchestra.
Not sure when Part 2 will come, but do I go to the 50's or 70's?  The problem with the 50's is that almost everyone is dead.


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