Medium photo Lulu JohnRoss 1500 crop

the #1 hit records on the pop charts 1967

THIS IS THE EIGHTH in a se­ries of ten ar­ti­cles listing and ad­dressing the #1 records of the year as they ap­peared on Cash Box mag­a­zine’s Top 100 chart from 1960 through 1969. It was orig­i­nally pub­lished as “Hey, There Georgy Girl, Penny Lane, And Ruby Tuesday!” on my pub­li­ca­tion Tell It Like It Was on Medium on July 27, 2019. The ar­ticle below is iden­tical to that one.

Please read “In­tro­duc­tion To The #1 Records On The Cash Box Pop Chart Of The 1960s” be­fore reading this ar­ticle. It will ex­plain the na­ture of this project, in­tro­duce you to the writers whose opin­ions follow, and will make every­thing easier to un­der­stand.

The opin­ions ex­pressed below are those of John Ross, Lew Shiner, and me. John is the talent be­hind the Round Place In The Middle web­site where he opines about rock & roll, western movies, and de­tec­tive novels. John is my fa­vorite writer writing about rock & roll. He is cur­rently working on his first novel.

Lew is one of the finest nov­el­ists in America. Since you’re reading his name here, start with his novel Glimpses, which com­bines time-travel with fan­tasy and the mi­lieu of ’60s rock music. Follow that with De­serted Cities Of The Heart (time-travel and psy­che­delic mush­rooms!) and then his latest, Out­side The Gates Of Heaven, which also takes place in the ’60s.

If you want to skim through this ar­ticle and skip around from record to record or com­ment to com­ment, that works and you’ll have fun. But this ar­ticle will make more sense if you read it from be­gin­ning to end.

One of the first things you will no­tice is that each of the ar­ti­cles opens with a cal­endar of events that re­flect the zeit­geist of the era. Hope­fully, these will give you some back­ground and some con­text in which the #1 records of that were made.

 

 

Cowsills 1967 1000 bw

FEATURED ARTIST: Having just turned 16, when I heard the Cowsills’ The Rain, The Park & Other Things on Top 40 radio in late 1967, I had to hate it! It was like a huge helping of some­thing too sugary that, after eating it all, you never wanted to eat any­thing sweet again. My opinion of the record didn’t change much until the last few years of the last cen­tury when Rich Rockford—Vancouver’s fa­vorite Charlie Manson lookalike—talked me into opening up my head and turned me on to the song’s de­lights in. Now it’s one of my fa­vorite sin­gles in a year full of records I can say the same thing about!

In the mem­o­ries of some of us who lived then, the group has a rep­u­ta­tion of having had a hugely suc­cessful ca­reer. But after reaching the top with The Rain, The Park & Other Things in 1967, they only made the Top 10 two more times: In­dian Lake in 1968 (which, fifty years later, sounds like some­thing Al Jar­dine might have con­cocted for a Beach Boys album in 1969–1972) and Hair in 1969 (which, fifty years later, sounds like some­thing that be­longs on a Broadway stage lam­pooning the Six­ties Coun­ter­cul­ture).

When the Cowsills ar­rived inn1967—one year after the pre-Fab Four (the con­de­scending nick­name given the Mon­kees at the time—they looked like yet an­other cyn­ical ploy of the record in­dustry to cap­i­talize on the pop­u­larity of rock groups by giving the pre-adolescents their own group. Had Kasenetz-Katz stuff not fol­lowed in 968, we would prob­ably use the term bub­blegum music to de­scribe the Cowsills.

Such was not the case: The Cowsills were a tal­ented group who hap­pened to be rather young (ex­cept for Mom) and, with little Susan, rather adorable. The lives of the var­ious sib­lings after their fif­teen min­utes of fame were the op­po­site of adorable. Family Band: The Cowsills Story is a doc­u­men­tary movie about the group and the family, nei­ther of which have the hap­piest of end­ings.

I wrote the above to call your at­ten­tion to a project of Billy Cowsills, the Blue Shadows. De­scribed by one Cana­dian scribe as “a group melts an edgy Mersey-like guitar sound with ex­acting vocal har­monies drawn of the early Everly and Louvin Brothers,” Billy him­self re­ferred to the quartet as “three veg­e­tar­ians and a junkie.” They lasted four years, pro­duced two al­bums, won a Juno Award for Best County Group or Duo, then dis­persed. If you haven’t heard of the Blue Shadows, stop right here and give a listen to the stun­ning De­liver Me.

 

1967

Jan­uary
The first Human Be-In took place in Golden Gate Park in San Fran­cisco.

Feb­ruary
The tele­vi­sion comedy/variety show The Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour débuted on CBS-TV in the United States.

March
An Easter Be-In was held at Cen­tral Park in New York with more than 10,000 par­tic­i­pants. The New York Times de­scribed them as “poets from the Bronx, dropouts from the East Vil­lage, in­te­rior dec­o­ra­tors from the East Side, teachers from the West Side, and teeny­bop­pers from Long Is­land [who] wore car­na­tion petals and paper stars and tiny mir­rors on fore­heads, paint around the mouth and cheeks, flow­ering bed­sheets, but­tons, and tights.”

April
Demon­stra­tions against the Vietnam War in New York City and San Fran­cisco or­ga­nized by the Na­tional Mo­bi­liza­tion Com­mittee to End the War in Vietnam drew hun­dreds of thou­sands of people.

May
Elvis Presley and Priscilla Beaulieu were (fi­nally) mar­ried in Las Vegas.

June
Dou­bleday Books pub­lished Harlan El­lison’s multi-author an­thology of orig­inal short sto­ries Dangerous Vi­sions.

July
The British Par­lia­ment de­crim­i­nal­ized ho­mo­sex­u­ality.

Au­gust
The first pulsar (“an en­tirely novel kind of star”) was dis­cov­ered.

Sep­tember
BBC Radio com­pletely re­struc­tured its pro­gram­ming, in­tro­ducing a new na­tional pop sta­tion, Radio 1, based on pi­rate sta­tion Radio London.

Oc­tober
Che Gue­vara was cap­tured in Bo­livia and ex­e­cuted.

No­vember
US Army Gen­eral William West­more­land boasted, “I am ab­solutely cer­tain that whereas in 1965 the enemy was win­ning, today he is cer­tainly losing.”

De­cember
Dr. Chris­tiaan Barnard per­formed the first suc­cessful human heart trans­plant in Cape Town, South Africa.

 


Medium 45 1966 Monkees ImABeliever 600

January 7–February 11

The Mon­kees
I’m A Be­liever
Col­gems 66-1002
(6 weeks)
This record spent two weeks at #1 on De­cember 24–December 31, 1966, for a total of eight weeks at the top. Refer to that date for more in­for­ma­tion.

 

Medium 45 1967 Seekers GeorgyGirl 600 1

February 18

The Seekers
Georgy Girl
Capitol 5756
(1 week)

The song Georgy Girl is heard at both the be­gin­ning and end of the movie Georgy Girl. Each of the ver­sions in the movie has dif­ferent lyrics, and both of those lyrics are dif­ferent from the single. “Georgy Girl” was nom­i­nated for an Academy Award for Best Orig­inal Song but lost to the theme song from the film Born Free.

Lew: 1967 was also the high point of Swinging London—clubs like the Scotch of St. James, the Bag O’ Nails, and the Ad Lib; the In­dica Gallery; clothing shops in Carnaby Street and King’s Road. The 1966 film Georgy Girl, star­ring Lynn Red­grave (Vanes­sa’s sister), was one at­tempt to cap­i­talize on this, and this single was the film’s theme song.

Neal: An­other ex­ample of how my prej­u­dices work against me: Georgy Girl was yet an­other record that I hated back then. Of course, it’s a fine pop record and I have come to enjoy it in my in­cip­ient dotage. But my decades-long hate af­fair with it has kept me from ever seeing the movie!

This de­spite the fact that it is, as Lew said, about Swinging London of the Swinging Six­ties. The cast alone should have drawn me to see it by now: Lynn Red­grave is Georgy and her suitors are James Mason and Alan Bates. I just or­dered it from the King County Li­brary and will have seen it long be­fore you read these words.

John: I’ll say this for it. I’ve never seen the movie, but hearing the song makes me feel like I have.

• Bill­board Top 100 #1: No
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: Yes (Au­gust 14, 1967)
• Ac­cu­mu­lated sales: 3,000,000
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: No
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: No

But do you like it?
John: ✮ ✮
Lew: ✮ ✮
Neal: ✮ ✮

 

Medium 45 1967 RollingStones RubyTuesday PS 600

Medium 45 1967 RollingStones RubyTuesday 600

February 25

The Rolling Stones
Ruby Tuesday
London 45-904
(2 weeks)

The Rolling Stones’ first single of the new year was Let’s Spend The Night To­gether / Ruby Tuesday. The fea­tured side was a great rocker but it was about ex­actly what the title im­plies and con­sid­ered too risqué for Amer­ican Top 40 radio and was un­of­fi­cially “banned.” (And I have linked the title to the video from the Ed Sul­livan Show, who “forced” the Stones to sing “let’s spend some time to­gether,” to which Mick does some ex­ag­ger­ated eye-rolling.)

For­tu­nately, the Stones had the good sense to in­clude an even stronger flip-side: Ruby Tuesday was not about sex but about a mys­te­rious, mer­cu­rial girl who “can’t be chained to a life where noth­ing’s gained or noth­ing’s lost.”

The radio sta­tions simply flipped the record and played the B-side in­stead of the A-side and the Stones had one of their biggest hits in the States! After one week at #1, Ruby Tuesday was bumped out of the top spot and then re­turned to #1 on March 11, 1967, for a total of two weeks at the top­per­most of the pop­per­most.

John: To quote my­self from a prior blog-post: “Keith wrote the lyrics about someone (a Show Biz kid named Linda Keith) for whom he had enough af­fec­tion to alert her Eng­lish actor dad when she was on the verge of dis­ap­pearing forever—into the un­der­belly of New York City and the arms of Jimi Hen­drix as it hap­pened.

A rescue op­er­a­tion was launched. She was saved. Whether it was written be­fore, during, or after, this is about the hope that she—and the thou­sands like her who were a new phe­nom­enon of the cul­ture that en­abled the Stones, and which they en­abled in turn—would be. That’s still what it’s about.”

• Bill­board Top 100 #1: Yes (1 week)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: Yes (May 1, 1967)
• Ac­cu­mu­lated sales: 3,000,000
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: No
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: Yes

But do you like it?
John: ✮ ✮
Lew: ✮ ✮
Neal: ✮ ✮

 

Medium 45 1967 Supremes LoveIsHere 600

March 4

The Supremes
Love Is Here And Now You’re Gone
Mo­town M-1103
(1 week)

I find Diana Ross’ vocal in­stru­ment to be rather lim­ited in range and its ability to convey many emo­tions. I nor­mally do not find her at­tempts to convey com­plex emo­tions be­liev­able. This is not to say she is not a good singer, but her light, breathy style sounds best to me when used in a sex-kittenish manner.

Love Is Here And Now You’re Gone has al­ways been one of my fa­vorite Supremes record­ings be­cause Ross’s vocal is so con­vincing. Un­for­tu­nately, Brian and Eddie Hol­land and La­mont Dozier sad­dled the record with the lame idea of in­cluding sev­eral spoken sec­tions which are not con­vincing at all. Oh, well.

John: I think it’s fair to say Neal and I part com­pany on the Supremes more than any other major ’60s act. Diana Ross’s mas­sive in­se­cu­ri­ties were the en­gine of their image and their music and clearly tapped into some­thing es­sen­tial that mil­lions re­sponded to in an un­stable age. She al­ways con­vinced me. That said, this is not one of my favorites—it suited their themes per­fectly, but somehow I’ve never rated it on a level with their very best.

Lew: I’m with John on this one, and on the Supremes in gen­eral, es­pe­cially the Holland-Dozier-Holland ma­te­rial.

Neal: John, Lew, all I said was Diana had lim­ited range, not that the Supremes were a lousy group. They were great but I often thought that Ross wasn’t the strongest singer and maybe Flo or Mary should have been given a shot at the lead. I am nei­ther orig­inal nor unique in that opinion.

• Bill­board Top 100 #1: Yes (1 week)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: No
• Ac­cu­mu­lated sales: Un­known
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: No
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: Yes

But do you like it?
John: ✮ ✮
Lew: ✮ ✮
Neal: ✮ ✮

 

Medium 45 1967 RollingStones RubyTuesday 600

March 11

The Rolling Stones
Ruby Tuesday
(1 week)
This record spent one week at #1 on Feb­ruary 25, 1967, for a total of two weeks at the top. Refer to that date for more in­for­ma­tion.

 

 

Medium 45 1967 Beatles PennyLane PS 600

Medium 45 1967 Beatles PennyLane 600

March 18–March 25

The Bea­tles
Penny Lane
Capitol 5810
(2 weeks)

In the UK, this was is­sued as part of a double-A-sided single: Penny Lane / Straw­berry Fields For­ever. It was the Fab Four’s first forays into psy­che­delia on the 45 rpm format. Where “Penny Lane” sounded like a lovely trip through the neigh­bor­hood while eight miles high, Straw­berry Fields For­ever could have been used as the theme music for a movie about Alice finding her way about Won­der­land.

Lew: Lennon’s Straw­berry Fields For­ever was written and recorded first, and Mc­Cart­ney’s Penny Lane was in some ways a de­lib­erate an­swer record to it.

John: A bril­liant, frag­mented ver­sion of child­hood that somehow co­heres in McCartney’s vocal. One of their very best—and, paired with Straw­berry Fields For­ever, a for­ever con­tender for the greatest two-sided single.

• Bill­board Top 100 #1: Yes (1 week)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: Yes (March 20, 1967)
• Ac­cu­mu­lated sales: 2,000,000
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: No
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: Yes

But do you like it?
John:
✮ ✮
Lew: ✮ ✮
Neal: ✮ ✮

 

Medium 45 1967 Turtles HappyTogether 600b

April 1–April 8

The Tur­tles
Happy To­gether
White Whale WW-244
(2 weeks)

Written by Garry Bonner and Alan Gordon, Happy To­gether was a bril­liant piece of sar­donic irony as it wasn’t about being ei­ther happy or being to­gether. It was about the poor singer imag­ining being to­gether hap­pily with the girl of his dreams. It was about un­re­quited love, which most of us have ex­pe­ri­enced. I know I have:

Imagine me and Nicole Kidman.

I do.

I think about her day and night.

It’s only right, to think about the girl I love.

I should call her up, in­vest a dime.

What’s the worst that could happen

Berni might find out and my cook would be goosed!

Lew: The song was written by Alan Gordon and Garry Bonner of New York band the Ma­gi­cians, whose biggest hit was An In­vi­ta­tion To Cry. The Tur­tles were one of my fa­vorite ’60s bands, and while they got most of their mileage from cover tunes, they could also write great orig­i­nals like Elenore.

When the band broke up, lead singers Howard Kaylan and Mark Volman lost the right to use the Tur­tles name, or their own names, in per­for­mance, and so billed them­selves as Flo (Volman, short for “Phlores­cent Leech”) & Eddie.

John: A per­fect dis­til­la­tion of the year’s de­vel­oping chart-topping theme: Melan­choly. I could imagine some lad ded­i­cating it to Ruby Tuesday, in hopes she’d fi­nally un­der­stand her worth.

• Bill­board Top 100 #1: Yes (3 weeks)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: Yes (May 4, 1967)
• Ac­cu­mu­lated sales: Un­known
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: No
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: Yes

But do you like it?
John: ✮ ✮
Lew: ✮ ✮
Neal: ✮ ✮

 

Medium 45 1967 NancySinatra SomethinStupid 600

April 15

Nancy Sinatra & Frank Sinatra
Some­thin’ Stupid
Reprise 0561
(2 weeks)

Some­thin’ Stupid was written by Carson Parks, who recorded the orig­inal ver­sion with his wife Gaile Foote Parks as Carson & Gaile. At the same time that Parks was in­tro­ducing Frank Sinatra to this song, his brother of Van Dyke was in­tro­ducing Brian Wilson to dove-nested towers and colum­nated ruins domino.

After one week at #1, Some­thin’ Stupid was bumped out of the top spot and then re­turned to #1 on May 6, for one more week as the na­tion’s best-selling record for a total of two weeks at the top.

Lew: The title of this song is truth in ad­ver­tising.

Neal: Ahh, I find it a lik­able light­weight.

John: Too much Frank. I al­ways liked Nancy better.

• Bill­board Top 100 #1: Yes (4 weeks)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: Yes (April 19, 1967)
• Ac­cu­mu­lated sales: Un­known
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: No
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: No

But do you like it?
John:
Lew:
Neal: ✮ ✮

 

Medium 45 1967 Monkees ALittleBitMe 600

April 22–April 29

The Mon­kees
A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You
Col­gems 66-1004
(2 weeks)

Like every­body in the world—except, per­haps, writers and ed­i­tors who take their rock and pop too damn se­ri­ously (John has dubbed them the Crit-Illuminati, an ap­pel­la­tion that begs ex­pla­na­tion) (and I am on his case to write it for readers of Tell It Like It Was)—I loved the Mon­kees. My brother, sister, and I watched the show every week, usu­ally with our Fa­ther. It was the only thing re­sem­bling rock & roll that he liked (ex­cept Elvis Pres­ley’s FUN IN ACAPULCO album).

While I en­joyed Davy Jones on the show, I al­most al­ways found his singing wimpy. But they work per­fectly here! Written by Neil Di­a­mond, A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You is es­sen­tially a Davy Jones solo record as no other Monkee took part in the ses­sions. Backing vo­cals may be by Di­a­mond.

John: One of their best, which is saying a lot. If Neil Di­a­mond, who was fan­tastic in this pe­riod, was backing up Davy, he was backing a better singer.

• Bill­board Top 100 #1: No
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: Yes (March 8, 1967)
• Ac­cu­mu­lated sales: 3,000,000
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: No
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: No

But do you like it?
John: ✮ ✮
Lew:
Neal: ✮ ✮

 

Medium 45 1967 NancySinatra SomethinStupid 600

May 6

Nancy Sinatra & Frank Sinatra
Some­thin’ Stupid
(1 week)
This record spent one week at #1 on April 15, 1967, for a total of two weeks at the top. Refer to that date for more in­for­ma­tion.

 

Medium 45 1967 Supremes TheHappening 600

May 13

The Supremes
The Hap­pening
Mo­town M-1107
(1 week)

In the late ’50s, a “new” art form de­vel­oped: the “hap­pening.” These were staged events, often in public places, that com­bined “el­e­ments of dance, the­ater, music, po­etry, and vi­sual art to blur the bound­aries be­tween life and art and forge a path for new methods of artistic prac­tice. But for all their his­tor­ical sig­nif­i­cance, this genre of work re­mains elu­sive and ephemeral.” (Artsy)

For a few years, hap­pen­ings were the talk among New York art cir­cles who cared about such things. and they be­came pop­ular in the mid-1960s. It’s prob­ably not a co­in­ci­dence that Berry Gordy had his song­writers come up with a song ti­tled The Hap­pening. This is that song but it has nothing to do with avant-garde art; it is a con­vo­luted take on waking up to life when love takes a de­tour.

Or some­thing like that.

Lew: Most people date Mo­town’s psy­che­delic pe­riod from the Supremes’ Re­flec­tions later in ’67, but you can see the first ten­ta­tive steps to­ward ac­knowl­edging the coun­ter­cul­ture here. A “hap­pening” was a kind of a cross be­tween an art per­for­mance with au­di­ence par­tic­i­pa­tion and a spon­ta­neous erup­tion of cool­ness. Drugs were often in­volved.

Neal: Okay, now we have to write some­thing some­where about Mo­town’s psy­che­delic music, mostly Norman Whit­field’s songs and pro­duc­tions for the Temp­ta­tions. I will say this as a teaser: I didn’t know anyone back “then” who did acid who didn’t chuckle at the idea of lis­tening to Mo­town’s so-called “psy­che­delic al­bums.” I did know some trip­pers who got off on MAGGOT BRAIN, but that’s also an­other story.

John: My least fa­vorite Supremes’ record (let alone hit). This does not make me want to see the movie … and, by reaching #1, it has tainted every Supremes’ comp re­leased since. How this reached the top while Re­flec­tions, their greatest record, stalled at #2, is one of the mys­teries of the age—or else just a sign that things were about to go very, very wrong.

• Bill­board Top 100 #1: Yes (1 week)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: No
• Ac­cu­mu­lated sales: Un­known
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: No
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: Yes

But do you like it?
John:
Lew: ✮ ✮
Neal: ✮ ✮

 

Medium 45 1967 YoungRascals Groovin PS 600

Medium 45 1967 YoungRascals Groovin 600

May 20–May 27

The Young Ras­cals
Groovin’
At­lantic 45-2501
(3 weeks)

One of the loveliest record­ings of the decade, I hear Groovin’ as the singer and his girl bliss­fully high, walking around Cen­tral Park in New York in the summer, maybe even trip­ping down the streets of the city smiling at every­body they see.

After one week at #1, Groovin’ was bumped out of the top spot and then re­turned to #1 on June 24, 1967, for one more week as the na­tion’s best-selling record for a total of three weeks at the top.

John: Not only one of the greatest records of the decade and of the Ras­cals’ own mighty ca­reer, the in­spi­ra­tion for Smokey Robinson’s Cruisin’, one of the greatest of his even mightier ca­reer more than a decade later. That was how rock & roll—and America—used to work.

Lew: Smokey was once asked where he got his in­spi­ra­tion, and he said, “Other peo­ple’s songs.” I was shocked at first, but then I thought, of course you do. Every­body does. Smokey was just being more honest than most. Not my fa­vorite Ras­cals song (that would be Come On Up or Lonely Too Long or It’s A Beau­tiful Morning or half a dozen others) but still a great one.

• Bill­board Top 100 #1: Yes (4 weeks)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: Yes (June 13, 1967)
• Ac­cu­mu­lated sales: Un­known
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: No
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: Yes

But do you like it?
John: ✮ ✮
Lew: ✮ ✮
Neal: ✮ ✮

 

Medium 45 1967 Happenings IGotRhythm 600

June 3

The Hap­pen­ings
I Got Rhythm
B.T. Puppy 45-527
(1 week)

An­other record I hated back then but sounds pretty damn good in my old age! In fact, as an old fart, I can modify the lyrics and make this my song: “I have rhythm! I have music! I still have my girl! Who could ask for any­thing more?”

John: The Four Sea­sons crossed with the Gersh­wins. I’m sur­prised no­body thought of it be­fore. Catchy. I wasn’t sure I’d ever heard it be­fore, but pulling it up on YouTube I re­al­ized it was one of those oldies I never learned much about be­cause it didn’t quite grab me. It didn’t make me want to change the sta­tion, didn’t make me want to find the record.

With all this talk about psy­che­delia, I should men­tion that I can’t imagine any­thing fur­ther out than their cover of My Mammy, a Top 20 hit which is, uh, not played on oldies sta­tions.

• Bill­board Top 100 #1: No
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: No
• Ac­cu­mu­lated sales: Un­known
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: No
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: No

But do you like it?
John: ✮ ✮
Lew: ✮ ✮
Neal: ✮ ✮ ✮

 

Medium 45 1967 ArethaFranklin Respect 600

June 10–June 17

Aretha Franklin
Re­spect
At­lantic 45-2403
(2 weeks)

By 1966, Aretha Franklin been recording for more than ten years. During that time, she’d re­leased more than two-dozen sin­gles, only one of which reached the na­tional Top 40. With Co­lumbia, she had recorded every­thing under the Sun—except some real soul. Then she signed with At­lantic Records who put her in a funky little studio and let her cut loose.

Re­spect was her second single for At­lantic and the one that put her on the map. Written by Otis Red­ding, his ver­sion had been a Top 10 R&B hit in 1965. But since 1967, say “r-e-s-p-e-c-t” and everyone thinks A-r-e-t-h-a.

John: Well, Aretha’s first At­lantic single, I Never Loved A Man (The Way I Loved You) went Top 10 on both Bill­board and Cash Box, and #1 R&B so I don’t know about this putting her on the map. But it’s true Re­spect be­came her—and soul’s—defining an­them. It’s also true that a thou­sand spins haven’t broken its awe-inspiring spell. Nor will a thou­sand more.

• Bill­board Top 100 #1: Yes (2 weeks)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: Yes (June 1, 1967)
• Ac­cu­mu­lated sales: 2,000,000
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: Yes
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: Yes
• Grammy Award: Best Rhythm & Blues Recording 1967
• Grammy Award: Best Rhythm & Blues Solo Vocal Per­for­mance – Fe­male 1967

But do you like it?
John: ✮ ✮
Lew: ✮ ✮
Neal: ✮ ✮

 

Medium 45 1967 YoungRascals Groovin 600

June 24

The Young Ras­cals
Groovin’
(1 week)
This record spent two weeks at #1 on May 20–May 27, 1967, for a total of three weeks at the top. Refer to that date for more in­for­ma­tion.

 

Medium 45 1967 Association Windy 600

July 1–July 8

The As­so­ci­a­tion
Windy
Warner Brothers 7041
(3 weeks)

After a rel­a­tively dis­ap­pointing second album and its at­ten­dant sin­gles, Windy was the As­so­ci­a­tion’s second #1 record. They reached the Top 10 with two more sides but by the end of 1968, they were has-beens on AM radio Top 40.

There are a handful of records from this time that are now lumped into the sun­shine pop genre (a term that I find ridicu­lous) that are simply great records that don’t have the harder sound or edge we as­so­ciate with most rock music. Windy is one such record.

There are a number of records from this time that dealt obliquely with the psy­che­delic ex­pe­ri­ence and are often not rec­og­nized as such by many fans and even his­to­rians. Windy is one such record.

While it is wise to as­sume little, it is not un­wise to as­sume that pop songs of the ’60s that men­tion cer­tain words (such as “high” and “stoned”) are making ref­er­ence to the smoking of mar­i­juana and its ef­fects on most human be­ings.

Sim­i­larly, any song using the word “trip” or “trip­ping” is sus­pect: that is, one can as­sume the pos­si­bility that the song­writer wanted lis­teners to make some con­nec­tion with LSD and the psy­che­delic ex­pe­ri­ence.

So, take the lyrics to this song at face value and the song is about a girl named Windy who stum­bles around the streets of the city, smiling at every­body she sees. After enough falls and enough bruised el­bows and knees, the smiling must have been stoic at best. 

In­stead, con­sider the lyrics being about a girl named Windy who does lots of acid and is there­fore al­ways trip­ping down the streets of the city. And if you’ve ever done any trip­ping, you know that smiling at every­body you see comes nat­u­rally! Handing out rain­bows and flying above the clouds isn’t that dif­fi­cult, ei­ther.

After one week at #1, Windy was bumped out of the top spot and then re­turned to #1 on July 22, 1967, for one more week as the na­tion’s best-selling record for a total of three weeks at the top.

Lew: The As­so­ci­a­tion’s first big hit, Along Comes Mary, didn’t get played in Dallas be­cause some­body de­cided “Mary” was “Mary Jane” (a.k.a mar­i­juana) and they didn’t want to en­danger our youth by sug­gesting that any­thing good could come of this. So the first I heard from them was Cherish, in 1966, which I loved.

Windy, though it sounded at first like a song about flat­u­lence, charmed me anyway. The As­so­ci­a­tion had more singers than they knew what to do with, in­tri­cate har­monies, and backing by the ever-astonishing Wrecking Crew (Hal Blaine et al.).

What’s not to love?

John: One of the great har­mony groups from harmony’s golden age. I had a brief rock snob phase in my early twen­ties where I at­tempted to dis­miss things like this. Mer­ci­fully, it didn’t take. Un­like Ruby Tuesday, Windy didn’t need saving. I keep hoping I’ll spot her in the park someday.

Neal: Lew, as one old fart to an­other, how many people our age do you think re­member this song as being about a girl named Wendy?

Warner Brothers did not seek im­me­diate RIAA cer­ti­fi­ca­tion for an of­fi­cial Gold Record Award for Windy. This was rec­ti­fied on July 14, 1976, when it re­ceived a Gold Record Award for 1,000,000 sales and a Plat­inum Record Award for 2,000,000 sales.

• Bill­board Top 100 #1: Yes (4 weeks)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: No
• Ac­cu­mu­lated sales: Un­known
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: No
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: No

But do you like it?
John: ✮ ✮
Lew: ✮ ✮
Neal: ✮ ✮

 

Medium 45 1967 FarnkieValli CantTakeMyEyes blue 600

July 15

Frankie Valli
Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You
Philips 40446
(2 weeks)

Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You was the fourth single that Philips is­sued as a Frankie Valli solo record. It was the first of his solo records to crack the Top 40. On Bill­board, it peaked at #2, but on Cash Box it was #1 for two weeks. It reached the top for a week, then was nudged out of the top spot by the As­so­ci­a­tion and then came back for a second week as the na­tion’s #1 record.

From 1962 through 1965, I pretty much hated the Four Sea­sons, mainly be­cause I found Frankie Val­li’s falsetto shrill and worse, un­nec­es­sary. Un­like Smokey Robinson, Valli seemed to use it as a kind of shrill nov­elty factor in the group’s record­ings.

Someone must have agreed with me as the group’s first new record in 1966 was Working My Way Back To You, a record so good that I started to like the Sea­sons! And Frankie’s falsetto was under control—from this point for­ward, Valli seemed con­tent merely to be a truly fine singer in­stead of a nov­elty act.

The group fol­lowed with more good records in 1966, no­tably Opus 17 (Don’t You Worry ‘Bout Me) and I’ve Got You Under My Skin. I started to change my opinion about Frankie and the guys. Then came Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You and any doubts I had about my new-found ap­pre­ci­a­tion for a group I bragged about hating a year be­fore were gone.

After one week at #1, Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You was bumped out of the top spot and then re­turned to #1 on July 29, 1967, for one more week as the na­tion’s best-selling record for a total of two weeks at the top.

Lew: In one of my rare dis­agree­ments with Neal, I liked Frankie Valli all along. I dig falsetto singing and loved nutty songs like Liar, Liar by the Cast­aways. How­ever, even I couldn’t go the dis­tance to nov­elty records like the Four Sea­sons’ ver­sion of Dy­lan’s Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right which the group re­leased under the pseu­donym The Wonder Who? in 1965.

Neal: Oh, Lawdy Lawdy Miss Clawdy, I had for­gotten about The Wonder Who? In 1965, I thought it sounded like the Chip­munks ex­cept Alvin had a cold.

John: I stand second to no one in my love for Frankie Valli’s music. And, going by its promi­nence in the Broadway smash Jersey Boys, based on the lives of Valli and the Four Sea­sons, it’s prob­ably his and song­writer Bob Gaudio’s fa­vorite of their record­ings. For me, it’s grown a bit over the years, but it’s never going to be my fa­vorite. With some re­gret, I’m forced to rate it good, not great.

Neal: The orig­inal recording was used to fine ef­fect in the 1997 movie Con­spiracy Theory. I won’t say any more, just in case you haven’t seen it.

• Bill­board Top 100 #1: No
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: Yes (Sep­tember 13, 1967)
• Ac­cu­mu­lated sales: Un­known
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: No
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: No

But do you like it?
John: ✮ ✮
Lew: ✮ ✮
Neal: ✮ ✮

 

Medium 45 1967 Association Windy 600

July 22

The As­so­ci­a­tion
Windy
(1 week)
This record spent two weeks at #1 on July 1–July 8, 1967, for a total of three weeks at the top. Refer to that date for more in­for­ma­tion.

 

Medium 45 1967 FarnkieValli CantTakeMyEyes blue 600

July 29

Frankie Valli
Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You
(1 week)
This record spent one week at #1 on June 15, 1967, for a total of two weeks at the top. Refer to that date for more in­for­ma­tion.

 

Medium 45 1967 Doors LightMyFire 600

August 5

The Doors
Light My Fire
Elektra EK-45615
(1 week)

The Doors’ first single had been the propul­sive Break On Through (To The Other Side). Re­leased in early Jan­uary 1967, nei­ther AM radio pro­gram­mers nor 45 rpm record buyers were ready for Jim Mor­rison ad­vising lis­teners to try some of the re­cently il­le­gal­ized LSD. It was a great bloody record that went un­heard by most of us until we bought the album.

By the Summer of ’67, every­body was ready for Mor­rison’s in­vi­ta­tion to light his fire. Al­though seeming to be a rather bla­tant bit of erotica, Light My Fire was the hardest tab of psy­che­delia to top the Amer­ican charts.

In fact, un­less you want to count Jumpin’ Jack Flash (1968) as psy­che­delic, there never was a hard rock psych single to reach #1 again: all the other trippy tracks to top the charts were as much pop as rock. (Refer to All You Need Is Love below.)

So let’s call this the Greatest #1 Psych Single of All Time.

Lew: It’s hard to de­scribe what it was like to hear this song on the radio in the summer of 1967, blasting down the road with the radio maxed out and all the win­dows open, the sense of reck­less­ness it in­spired, that breath­less pause be­fore Dens­more’s snare drum crack that leads into the final coda, the pas­sion and longing in Mor­rison’s voice, the knowl­edge that if Mor­rison was a madman who ter­ri­fied adults, he was our madman, one of us.

This is one of two songs this year that spawned en­tirely dif­ferent cover ver­sions that rival the great­ness of the orig­i­nals. (The other being The Letter; see the Sep­tember 23, 1967, entry.) In the case of this song, Jose Fe­li­ciano would find the au­tumnal sad­ness in Light My Fire and get his first major US hit in the fall of 1968.

John: I first heard this in the 45 edit, which was what oldies sta­tions and my record player were spin­ning in the late ’70s. It was propul­sive and ir­re­sistible. Not too long after I en­coun­tered the long ver­sion, with all the noodling in the middle. It took me years to get used to it … but I can hear how it might have been mind-expanding in ’67.

It’s pos­sible no chart-topping record has ever in­spired two ver­sions as rad­i­cally in­spired as Jose Felicano’s and Al Green’s, which lit­er­ally sounds like it’s going to com­bust what­ever de­vice is playing it.

Neal: A long time ago, I read a clever ar­ticle stating that the Baby Boomer gen­er­a­tion en­joyed a baby boom of their own in the year or so fol­lowing the re­lease of the Doors’ first album, with an un­count­able number of ba­bies con­ceived while cou­ples were trying to light each oth­er’s fire.

• Bill­board Top 100 #1: Yes (3 weeks)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: Yes (Sep­tember 28, 1967)
• Ac­cu­mu­lated sales: Un­known
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: Yes
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: Yes

But do you like it?
John: ✮ ✮
Lew: ✮ ✮
Neal: ✮ ✮

 

Medium 45 1967 Beatles AllYouNeedIsLove PS WC 600

Medium 45 1967 Beatles AllYouNeedIsLove 600

August 12–August 19

The Bea­tles
All You Need Is Love
Capitol 5964
(2 weeks)

All You Need Is Love is the type of psychedelically-related pop song that did have a big im­pact on the charts in 1967-1968 that I men­tioned in my com­ments about Light My Fire (above). Re­lated in the sense that peace and love and un­der­standing were pro­moted by people who reg­u­larly turned on, tuned in, and dropped out, along with the far-out ef­fects in the in­stru­mental track.

In an at­tempt to send out to the world some good good good vi­bra­tions, the Bea­tles per­formed this song live on a tele­vi­sion on May 25, 1967. Spe­cial guests Jane Asher, Pattie Boyd, Eric Clapton, Mar­i­anne Faithful, Mick Jagger, Keith Moon, Graham Nash, and Keith Richards can be seen and heard singing along be­hind the band.

My second fa­vorite ver­sion of this song is the John Tra­volta’s punch-drunk ver­sion in the 1996 movie Michael.

John: This is one of those songs where a Beatle (in this case John) sounds like he knows some­thing you don’t. Then, at some point, you re­alize he doesn’t. But, by then, he’s got your money. When Lennon went solo, he pulled this off a lot.

In­stant Karma, Give Peace A Chance, and, of course, the ul­ti­mate rook, Imagine, where—his own nine-figure for­tune secure—he asked us to imagine no pos­ses­sions. Quite a gift for melody, though, and he does make you think a bit.

• Bill­board Top 100 #1: Yes (1 week)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: Yes (Sep­tember 11, 1967)
• Ac­cu­mu­lated sales: 3,000,000
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: No
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: Yes

But do you like it?
John: ✮ ✮
Lew: ✮ ✮
Neal: ✮ ✮

 

Medium 45 1967 BobbieGentry OdeToBillyJoe 600

August 26–September 16

Bobbie Gentry
Ode To Billy Joe
Capitol 5950
(4 weeks)

Bobby Gen­try’s un­adorned, plain-spoken country ballad Ode To Billie Joe spent four weeks at #1 and had people around the country won­dering what the singer and Billy Joe McAl­lister threw off the Tal­la­hatchie Bridge and why did Billy Joe follow shortly after.

An­other record I hated at the time it was a hit but when I listen to it now I wonder what I was like back then to hate it so back then.

Lew: And I loved it. What a sto­ry­teller Gentry is. The en­tire song is made up of care­fully ob­served, evoca­tive de­tails and spot-on di­alog that cir­cles around but never calls at­ten­tion to the dev­as­tating heart­break at the center of it—appropriately be­cause the nar­rator can’t speak of her love.

On top of that, it’s got a great melody, a killer arrange­ment, and Gen­try’s sultry voice teases and aches and never re­veals more than a hint of her real feel­ings. A mas­ter­piece.

Gentry her­self is as much a mys­tery as to what the nar­rator and Billy Joe threw off the Tal­la­hatchie Bridge. In 1978, after re­peated fail­ures to get an­other big hit, she ap­par­ently de­cided she was done. She made two more TV ap­pear­ances, in ’78 and ’81, but oth­er­wise has van­ished from the public eye.

John: This makes every other record from this or any era sound silly by com­par­ison. My sister left the 45 when she moved out for the last time after my brother-in-law got back from Vietnam. I started playing it a year or two later when I was about 10 years old. I played it over and over, trying to get at the song’s un­solv­able mys­tery.

Fi­nally, I asked my mother—the kind of mom who had no problem with her son playing a record ten times in a row—what they threw off that bridge. She as­sured me no­body knew. I as­sumed it must be one of those se­crets so dark even some­body as scrupu­lously honest as my mother had to lie about it. Turned out, even Bobbie Gentry has never said, though she did say that wasn’t what the song was re­ally about.

• Bill­board Top 100 #1: Yes (4 weeks)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: Yes (Sep­tember 11, 1967)
• Ac­cu­mu­lated sales: Un­known
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: No
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: No
• Grammy Award: Best Vocal Per­for­mance – Fe­male 1967
• Grammy Award: Best New Artist 1967
• Grammy Award: Best Con­tem­po­rary Fe­male Vocal Per­for­mance – Fe­male 1967
• Grammy Award: Best Arrange­ment Ac­com­pa­nying Vocalist(s) or Instrumentalist(s)

But do you like it?
John: ✮ ✮
Lew: ✮ ✮
Neal: ✮ ✮

 

Medium 45 1967 BoxTops TheLetter 600

September 23

The Box Tops
The Letter
Mala 565
(3 weeks)

The Box Tops’ spent three weeks at #1 with The Letter, a record so crude it sounded like it was in­tended as a swipe at psy­che­delia and the Summer of Love. Per­son­ally, I never un­der­stood the at­trac­tion of this record to con­sumers and this song to other artists (the Beach Boys ver­sion is too lame to dis­cuss, but Joe Cock­er’s ver­sion is too good to ig­nore).

It was never one of the records I hated, just one that didn’t reach me at all. Oddly, un­like the ones I hated that reach me now, the charm of this one still eludes me.

Lew: My bass player in col­lege knew Alex Chilton (the cre­ative fire be­hind the Box Tops, who would later in­vent power pop with Big Star). Ac­cording to him, Chilton recorded the song in Mem­phis with studio mu­si­cians and was to­tally sur­prised when it be­came a hit. He had to teach it to his band so he could tour be­hind the song, only to find they couldn’t play it.

Echoing Neal’s praise for the 1970 Joe Cocker cover ver­sion, with in­can­des­cent piano playing from Leon Rus­sell.

• Bill­board Top 100 #1: Yes (4 weeks)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: Yes (Sep­tember 25, 1967)
• Ac­cu­mu­lated sales: 4,000,000
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: Yes
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: No

But do you like it?
John: ✮ ✮
Lew: ✮ ✮
Neal:

 

Medium 45 1967 Association NeverMyLove 600

October 14

The As­so­ci­a­tion
Never My Love
Warner Brothers 7074
(1 week)

Never My Love was written by brothers Donald and Richard Ad­drisi (who recorded as the Ad­drisi Brothers) and is best known by the As­so­ci­a­tion’s hit ver­sion. It is per­haps the quin­tes­sen­tial wed­ding song of the decade: “How can you think love will end when I’ve asked you to spend your whole life with me?” no doubt sums up the in­ten­tions of vir­tu­ally every person who mar­ries for love—despite the fact that it’s not going to happen for about 90% of them. Oh, well.

The As­so­ci­a­tion’s ver­sion is a gor­geous recording, one of this peren­ni­ally under-appreciated group’s finest mo­ments. It was pulled from their am­bi­tious third album, INSIGHT OUT, which they hoped would es­tab­lish them with the se­rious rock and pop LP-buyers. It didn’t, but any album that fea­tures Never My Love and Windy is an album worth hearing!

In 1999, the music pub­lishing rights or­ga­ni­za­tion Broad­cast Music In­cor­po­rated (BMI) an­nounced that Never My Love was the second most-played song on radio and tele­vi­sion of the 20th cen­tury, beat out by You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’.

John: An­other great record that is all about the har­monies and the arrange­ment, two things the ’60s should be re­mem­bered for.

Neal: Warner Brothers did not seek im­me­diate RIAA cer­ti­fi­ca­tion for an of­fi­cial Gold Record Award for Never My Love. This was rec­ti­fied on No­vember 27, 1976, when it re­ceived a Gold Record Award for 1,000,000 sales and a Plat­inum Record Award for 2,000,000 sales.

• Bill­board Top 100 #1: No
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: No
• Ac­cu­mu­lated sales: Un­known
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: No
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: No

But do you like it?
John: ✮ ✮
Lew: ✮ ✮
Neal: ✮ ✮

 

Medium 45 1967 Lulu ToSirWithLove 600

October 21–November 4

Lulu
To Sir With Love
Epic 5-10187
(3 weeks)

Lulu had her first UK Top 10 hit in 1964, but she never caught on with Amer­ican au­di­ences. Ten she was tapped to record the theme song for a British movie about racism in British schools. To Sir With Love was the type of old-fashioned plea that would have sounded at home by a fe­male solo singer in the ’50s or even from a girl group ear­lier in the ’60s.

To Sir With Love was Lu­lu’s first big Amer­ican hit, spending three weeks at #1. Oddly, while it was the biggest selling record of her ca­reer, it wasn’t even re­leased as a single in Eng­land.

Lew: My first pro­fes­sional gig ever, my high school band played a birthday party for a friend’s little sister. We played all the garage stuff, Gloria and Louie Louie, we played some Bea­tles and Byrds, we played Cream and Hen­drix.

And when it was all over, one of the kids we’d played for came up and asked if we could play To Sir With Love. Our guitar player would have stran­gled her, but he was too busy having an apoplectic fit on the floor.

Neal: On this record, Lulu makes ex­ces­sive use of a tech­nique known as melisma: “a pas­sage of mul­tiple notes sung to one syl­lable of text, as in Gre­go­rian chant” (Free Dic­tio­nary). I don’t much like most melis­matic singing, hence I don’t much like this record (nor many records by Aaron Neville or Robin Gibb).

John: NPR’s Terry Gross once asked Al Green why he had cov­ered this song. Her tone was one of wonder mixed with con­tempt. Green’s an­swer was this: “Be­cause I heard it … and it was beau­tiful!” Be­tween Lew’s guitar player and Al Green, I’ll take Al Green, in part be­cause Lulu was such a fan­tastic singer even he didn’t beat her.

Neal: The movie To Sir With Love ad­dressed var­ious so­cial is­sues (no­tably racism and poverty) in public schools in Eng­land. As such, it was an im­por­tant movie, es­pe­cially for the times. The movie was pro­duced and di­rected by James Clavell from his own screen­play which was based on E.R. Braith­waite’s 1959 novel which was based on the au­thor’s ex­pe­ri­ence as a teacher.

Clavell is the au­thor of my two fa­vorite novels ever, Shogun and Tai-Pan. Whichever one I am rereading is my number one fa­vorite novel ever at that time. His other novels—King Rat, Gai-Jin, Noble House, and Whirl­wind—are all tied for third place.

• Bill­board Top 100 #1: Yes (5 weeks)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: Yes (No­vember 2, 1967)
• Ac­cu­mu­lated sales: 3,000,000
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: No
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: No

But do you like it?
John: ✮ ✮
Lew:
Neal:

 

Medium 45 1967 SamDave SoulMan 600

November 11

Sam & Dave
Soul Man
Stax 45-231
(1 week)

Sam Moore and Dave Prater’s Soul Man was the first record for the now leg­endary Stax Records to make it to the top of the pop charts. It was pro­duced by Isaac Hayes and fea­tures Booker T’s MGs. For many people, this is one of the de­fin­i­tive soul records of the ’60s.

All over the in­ternet, the third verse is spelled out as “I was brought up on a side street. I learned how to love be­fore I could eat. I was ed­u­cated from good stock. When I start loving, I just can’t stop.” But that is an error: the third line is, “I was ed­u­cated at wood­stock.”

Ac­cording to Dave Prater, “The word de­noted a school that was out in the forest some­where and they couldn’t come up with the name for the school. Trees were cut down, the school was made, and they called it [a] wood­stock.”

John: This is prob­ably as good a place as any to men­tion the oddity of white rock critics, from that day to this, es­tab­lishing their street cred by positing a false premise of “Stax or Mo­town?” and then re­li­ably pre­fer­ring Stax (by which they usu­ally mean the en­tire spec­trum of At­lantic la­bels in New York, Mem­phis, and Muscle Shoals). It’s a silly ar­gu­ment. But if you wanted to make a case for Stax, this would be a good place to start.

• Bill­board Top 100 #1: No
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: Yes (No­vember 22, 1967)
• Ac­cu­mu­lated sales: Un­known
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: Yes
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: Yes
• Grammy Award: Best Rhythm & Blues Group Per­for­mance – Vocal or In­stru­mental 1967

But do you like it?
John: ✮ ✮
Lew: ✮ ✮
Neal: ✮ ✮

 

Medium 45 1967 StrawberryAlarmClock IncenseAndPeppermints 600

November 18

The Straw­berry Alarm Clock
In­cense And Pep­per­mints
Uni 55018
(1 week)

The basic music track was written by group mem­bers Mark Weitz and Ed King, but the lyrics and melody were written by John Gilbert, who was as­sisting an­other Uni band, The Rainy Daze. None of the Straw­berry Alarm Clock mem­bers could pull off the lead vo­cals, so 16-year-old Greg Mun­ford took the lead.

The lyrics are a mean­ing­less jumble of phrases but do manage to slip two-thirds of Tim­othy Leary’s best-known sug­ges­tion when Mun­ford sings “Turn on, tune in, turn your eyes around” in the second verse.

Lew: I hereby issue a chal­lenge to our readers. If anyone can tell me what the real lyrics are where it sounds like the lead singer says, “Oc­ca­sions, far out ‘sua­sions bruzzle your mind,” I will ac­knowl­edge him or her on this web­site. De­spite the in­com­pre­hen­si­bility of the lyrics, I loved this morsel of psy­che­delic pop, too slick for a garage band, too hokey for the pros.

John: Like a lot of other records from the ’60s, I first heard this as a snippet on one of those K-Tel or Ronco com­mer­cials for oldies pack­ages in the late ’70s. Sounded in­triguing so I bought the 45. I then spent years chasing “real” psy­che­delia, hoping to come across some­thing, any­thing, as mind-bending as In­cense And Pep­per­mints. No such luck. And if anyone tells me the lyrics I’ll put out a con­tract on their life.

• Bill­board Top 100 #1: Yes (1 week)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: Yes (De­cember 19, 1967)
• Ac­cu­mu­lated sales: Un­known
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: No
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: No

But do you like it?
John: ✮ ✮
Lew: ✮ ✮
Neal:

 

Medium 45 1967 Cowsills TheRainThePark PS 600

Medium 45 1967 Cowsills TheRainThePark 600

November 25

The Cowsills
The Rain, The Park & Other Things
MGM K-13810
(1 week)

I hated this back then: more kiddie group pop. Well, I’ve come full circle on this one and now con­sider it one of the great sin­gles of 1967. (Ad­mit­tedly a year filled with great sin­gles, some of which ac­tu­ally got Top 40 air-play.)

But I am un­cer­tain as to who or even what the “flower girl” in the song is. Based on the lyrics, she could be a hippie-chick, the man­i­fes­ta­tion of which was still a fairly new phe­nom­enon in most of the country in 1967.

Or she could be a straight (you know, “normal”) girl who just hap­pened to have some flowers in her hair that day.

Or she could be a hal­lu­ci­na­tion, just a dream to the singer.

John: In ad­di­tion to the great vo­cals, it’s the mys­tery Neal men­tions that sells the song. The Cowsills got shafted by his­tory. Their bru­tally abu­sive fa­ther mis­man­aged them into the ground (among other things he got them kicked out of an un­prece­dented ten-week run on The Ed Sul­livan Show by acting the jackass during their first ap­pear­ance), fi­nally causing a breakup in the early ’70s, at which point the Jack­sons, Os­monds, and Par­tridge Family (who were based di­rectly on the Cowsills) stepped in and reaped the re­wards.

• Bill­board Top 100 #1: No
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: Yes (De­cember 19, 1967)
• Ac­cu­mu­lated sales: Un­known
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: No
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: No

But do you like it?
John: ✮ ✮
Lew: ✮ ✮
Neal: ✮ ✮

 

Medium 45 1967 Monkees DaydreamBeliever PS WC 600

Medium 45 1967 Monkees DaydreamBeliever 600

December 2–December 23

The Mon­kees
Day­dream Be­liever
Col­gems 66-1012
(4 weeks)

Pure pop for little girls, what Davy was best at.

Lew: The song was written by John Stewart, a latter-day member of the Kingston Trio, who would go on to a sub­stan­tial solo ca­reer. I was never a Davy Jones fan, and find Stew­art’s ver­sion on his album THE LONESOME PICKER RIDES AGAIN to be su­pe­rior.

John: Stewart’s ver­sion is per­sonal. It sounds like it hap­pened to a real guy, maybe even him. Davy Jones and the Mon­kees’ ver­sion is an­themic. It sounds like it hap­pened to a gen­er­a­tion of people who didn’t know what hit them, which it did. That’s how I heard it when THE MONKEES’ GREATEST HITS album be­came a fix­ture on my record player in the late ’70s and that’s how I hear it now.

Plus, ses­sion man Eddie Hoh’s drum­ming, subtle as a spring shower, kicks me in the gut every time!

• Bill­board Top 100 #1: Yes (4 weeks)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: Yes (No­vember 14, 1967)
• Ac­cu­mu­lated sales: 3,000,000
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: No
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: No

But do you like it?
John: ✮ ✮
Lew: ✮ ✮
Neal:

 

Medium 45 1967 Beatles HelloGoodbye PS WC a 600

Medium 45 1967 Beatles HelloGoodbye 600

December 30

The Bea­tles
Hello Goodbye
Capitol 2056
(1 week)

A typ­ical Paul Mc­Cartney record from the era: nice melody, catchy hook, clean pro­duc­tion, de­void of in­tel­lec­tual con­tent. Sort of dessert without dinner.

The flip-side was an­other matter en­tirely: John Lennon’s I Am The Walrus is psy­che­delic gob­bledy­gook: clever phrases flow into non­sense phrases, all joined to­gether with the re­frain, “I’m crying” and the chorus, “I am the egg man. They are the egg men. I am the walrus. Goo-goo-goo-joob.”

Or is the walrus bab­bling, in which case it should be written as, “I am the egg man. They are the egg men. I am the walrus: ‘Goo-goo-goo-joob’.”

Along with being the last #1 record of 1967, Hello Goodbye was also the first #1 of 1968, spending the week of Jan­uary 6, 1968, as the na­tion’s best-selling record for a total of two weeks at the top.

John: I used to love this. Then for a while, I very point­edly didn’t love it. The last time I lis­tened to it on the Blue Album I liked it again. Lennon later bitched about Paul get­ting the A-sides as time went on. The B-side of this one was I Am The Walrus. This was one time he had a point be­cause forty years of lis­tening to I Am The Walrus has con­vinced me that John Lennon did know things we don’t.

Lew: I’m fond of this one. One of Paul’s better tunes. And Ringo’s drum­ming is re­ally pow­erful, one of the high­lights of the song.

Neal: If John had changed the second word to a tran­si­tive verb and ti­tled the song “I Yam The Walrus,” then thou­sands of trip­pers could have spent thou­sands of hours won­dering how does one yam a walrus!

• Bill­board Top 100 #1: Yes (3 weeks)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: Yes (De­cember 15, 1967)
• Ac­cu­mu­lated sales: Un­known
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: No
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: Yes

But do you like it?
John: ✮ ✮
Lew: ✮ ✮
Neal: ✮ ✮

The Mon­kees’ ‘I’m a Be­liever’ was the biggest hit of 1967. Find out about the other big hits of the year here! Click To Tweet

 Medium photo Lulu JohnRoss 1000

FEATURED ARTIST: Marie Mc­Donald McLaughlin Lawrie adopted the stage name Lulu and fronted a band called the Luvvers. In 1964, she be­came a sen­sa­tion in the U.K. with her sousing ren­di­tion of the Isley Brothers’ Shout. In 1967, she had an im­por­tant acting role in To Sir With Love, a drama about so­cial and racial is­sues in British schools. She also per­formed the theme song from the movie, which topped most Amer­ican charts in late 1967 (see Oc­tober 21–November 4 below).

“She had more than a little to do with To Sir With Love be­coming a smash, though. It was one of the best-sung records of the greatest era for vocal music we’re likely to know. One might have thought [her pro­ducer Mickie] Most would know what to do from there — namely run off a se­ries of quality hit sin­gles, as he had done for Herman’s Her­mits, Donovan, and the An­i­mals pre­vi­ously.

In­stead, he steered her to­ward ever more banal ma­te­rial, fi­nally cli­maxing with the al­ready world-famous Lulu win­ning the Eu­ro­vi­sion Song con­test for 1969 with Boom Bang-A-Bang, which the singer her­self has occasionally—and with some justification—referred to as pos­sibly the worst song ever written.

Un­like most of the re­ally good records she and Most had made to­gether, it was a sub­stan­tial hit, at least in Eng­land and Eu­rope.

The dis­con­nect be­tween quality and suc­cess guar­an­teed a lot of sleep­less nights, crying jags, and the ab­solute cer­tainty that she would not renew her con­tract with Most when it ended a few months after the Eu­ro­vi­sion win.”

The para­graphs above were taken from “When Lulu Went South” by John Ross. The bulk of that ar­ticle ad­dresses Lulu’s brief stay with Atco Records from 1969 into 1972. John sums her up aptly: “Lulu is a bit of an odd duck his­tor­i­cally: a re­spected singer who isn’t quite revered; a com­mer­cial singer whose hits are strung out here and there over a couple of decades; a fine live per­former who was al­ways in the mo­ment but rarely on top of it.”

Year-end observations

Twenty-five records reached #1 on the Cash Box Top 100 chart in 1967. Here is the break­down of #1 records based on how many weeks they spent at the top of the chart:

8 weeks: 0
7 weeks: o
6 weeks: 1
5 weeks: 0
4 weeks: 2
3 weeks: 4
2 weeks: 8
1 week: 10

As 1967 was the year of the Mon­terey In­ter­na­tional Pop Fes­tival and the Summer of Love, it is usu­ally con­sid­ered the quin­tes­sen­tial year for psy­che­delia. But you would never know that by the records that topped the Top 100.

Of the twenty-five records to reach #1, only a few can be even re­motely as­so­ci­ated with acid, “flower-power,” or even the nascent coun­ter­cul­ture. I have noted these records at the end of this ar­ticle.

All in all, 1967 was the Year of the Pre-Fab Four, as three Mon­kees’ hits held the #1 spot for twelve weeks. Their nearest com­peti­tors were the Bea­tles, who held the top spot for a mere five weeks.

The Fab Four were also the only other artist to have three #1 records in ‘67.

Gold Record Awards

Of the twenty-five records that reached #1, Joseph Mur­rells lists twenty-five of them as million-sellers. Record com­pa­nies sought cer­ti­fi­ca­tion from the RIAA for of­fi­cial Gold Record Awards for nine­teen sin­gles.

RIAA cer­ti­fi­ca­tion rate: 80%

Shuffling around the top of the chart

One of the oddest things about 1967 was that five dif­ferent records had their stay at the top of the chart in­ter­rupted by an­other record reaching #1 then falling back.

• The Rolling Stones’ “Ruby Tuesday” was #1 for one week (Feb­ruary 25) fol­lowed by the Supremes’ “Love Is Here and Now You’re Gone” for one week (March 4) and then re­turning to the top spot for one more week (March 11).

• Nancy and Frank Sinatra’s “Some­thin’ Stupid” was #1 for one week (April 15) fol­lowed by the Mon­kees’ “A Little Bit Me, a Little Bit You” for two weeks (April 22 and 29) and then re­turning to the top spot for one more week (May 6).

• The Young Ras­cals’ “Groovin’” was #1 for two weeks (May 20-27) fol­lowed by the Hap­pen­ings’ “I Got Rhythm” for one week (June 3) and then Aretha Franklin’s “Re­spect” for two weeks (June 10 and 17) be­fore “Groovin’” re­turned to the top spot for one more week (June 24).

• The Association’s “Windy” was #1 for two weeks (July 1 and 8), then Frankie Valli’s “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” snuck in for one week (July 15), then “Windy” re­turned to the top spot for one more week (July 22), fol­lowed by the re­turn of “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” to #1 for an­other week (July 29).

The Summer of Love

While 1967 is often thought of as the Year of Psy­che­delia, only five records that topped the chart that can be taken se­ri­ously as being con­nected to psy­che­delia. The Bea­tles had three: “Penny Lane,” “All You Need Is Love,” and “Hello Goodbye.” Even these can be ar­gued to be con­nected with psy­che­delia more by as­so­ci­a­tion with the groups’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album than ac­tual psy­che­delic con­tent or in­tent

At op­po­site ends of the psy­che­delic spec­trum are the gen­uinely mind-bending “Light My Fire” (the unedited album ver­sion should be pre­ferred should you want to turn on and tune in some time) and the faux psy­che­delia of “In­cense and Pep­per­mints” (al­though the Straw­berry Alarm Clock made much trip­pier music on their al­bums).

Lew: “There’s al­ways some­thing in­ter­esting in these. This time it’s in­ter­esting how few black artists made the top spot. I wonder if the au­di­ences were al­ready starting to frag­ment, with black lis­teners going to more spe­cial­ized sta­tions. This has al­ways been one of my laments, that music is so seg­re­gated now.

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Thank you, thank you, thank you for the ex­cel­lent fea­ture on the Cowsills and the men­tion of the crim­i­nally under known Blue Shadows. They rule! (or I should say, ruled).