Can this feeling that we have together Ooh, suddenly exist between Did this meeting of our minds together Ooh, happen just today, somewhere?
Can you tell me, please don’t tell me It really doesn’t matter anyhow
This song was the first single released from the 1969 debut album of Chicago the band, then known as The Chicago Transit Authority. Written by Robert Lamm, it was about a romantic relationship Lamm had from 1967 and 68, hence the title of the song.
The horn arrangement from James Pankow is different from their later efforts. Here they are playing throughout with no rests for the horn players. It is a rock style like no other at that point in time.
After the band had some success with other singles, the tune was re-released in 1971 with I’m A Man on the “B-side.”
For more on the B-side, see “I’m A Man,” SERENPIPITY (teepee12.com) August 30, 2019.
There is no doubt in my cluttered mind that 1969 was the most memorable year of my life. None. Of all of the events that have happened through the years, I can not say that any other years stands out like this one.
When you are a Senior in high school and people tell you to enjoy it because these late high school, early college (if you go to college) years are the best years of your life, it is hard for you to believe.
Surely better times will come along, you think. You cling to that belief for many years. Then you realize something.
The years around your high school graduation may, in fact, have been the best years of your life. They are the touchstone. They are the yardstick by which all future events are measured. They contain the moments you treasure, and they are locked away in your memory vault for all time. They are the springboard that launched you into adulthood.
My first high school closed and I went to another for one year. Our class play is the extracurricular activity that introduced me to many of my classmates. Most seniors joined the spring musical which was South Pacific. It was a great experience as a large cast worked together at a common goal. It turned out well.
Meanwhile, a series of astounding events filled the spring and summer of ’69. In April the convicted assassin of Senator Robert Kennedy, Sirhan Sirhan, was sentenced to the death penalty in California, but the state would eliminate the death penalty and he would never be executed. He is still incarcerated and is now 75 years old.
In May Apollo 10 took off for the moon. It was just a dress rehearsal for Apollo 11. On July 20th the world watched in wonder as Neil Armstrong stepped onto the surface of the moon. President Kennedy had promised the nation in May of 1961 we could accomplish this by the end of the 1960s, although he did not live to see it himself.
Also in May, The Who introduced their”rock opera,” Tommy. It was an album of rock songs that told the story of that “deaf, dumb. and blind kid” who “plays a mean pinball.” The “Pinball Wizard” may not have been the first rock opera, but it was the first album to call itself that. Others have followed to varying degrees of success.
The Beatles were still hitting the top of the charts. In May “Get Back” would reach number one. The song would later turn up on the “Let It Be” album. Who knew we were nearing the end of an era that in many ways never ended? In September The Beatles released Abbey Road.
In ’69 I went to the movies a little more often than I do now. Midnight Cowboy came out in May and I recall seeing it in the theater. It was likely then that I first took notice of the Harry Nilsson song, “Everybody’s Talkin’.” It became a favorite. After the movie came out, the song received a lot of radio play.
In June the Stonewall riots took place outside a Greenwich Village, New York City gay bar. A confrontation between police and activists turned ugly over a few days period. Many say it led to the modern gay rights movements. The following year the first gay pride parades were held in several cities, including Chicago. I can not say that I was aware of any of this at the time. However, Stonewall marked an important moment in LGBT history in this country.
On two days in August, The Charles Manson “Family” killed 8 people in murders that would shock the nation. The gruesome details that came out over time were almost too horrifying to be believed. Manson was sentenced to death for his role in the killings, but, like Sirhan Sirhan, his sentence was changed to life in prison when California did away with the death penalty. Manson died in prison in 2017 at the age of 83.
By the time we got to Woodstock We were half a million strong And everywhere there was song and celebration
In August it may not have been a half million people who went down to Max Yasgur’s dairy farm 43 miles from Woodstock, New York, but the crowd was certainly in the hundreds of thousands for the “3 days of peace and music.” Perhaps a half million said they were there. Over the festival, 32 acts performed, sometimes in the rain, while organizers proved rather unprepared for the massive event.
I can not say I knew much about Woodstock in 1969. The film, the music and the many videos that have turned up taught us about the event. It meant little to some of us back home in the Midwest at the time it was happening. The 1970 documentary of the festival won an Academy Award. Joni Mitchell wrote a popular song that was a big hit for Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young who played at the festival. Mitchell had turned it down.
The big news in Chicago that summer for baseball fans was the miracle collapse of the Chicago Cubs. On August 14th the Mets were nine games behind the Cubs in the standings and it looked like the long pennant drought for the northsiders was about to end. Then September happened. The Cubs lost 17 of 25 and the Mets got hot. They went on to win the World Series and the Cubs did not make it to the Fall Classic until 2016.
While some songs often come Home To You and say I Wanna Be Your Dog, the artists behind them may have faded into Echo Park. That’s why we are going to have a Birthday party and welcome them back for Apricot Brandy and Bubble Gum Music.
Now if Cinnamon will just let us in, we are ready to blast off into the past. We will bring along Bella Linda, Big Bruce and the California Girl. What is The Worst That Could Happen? I suppose there will be the Games People Play, but we will Kick Out The Jams. Pay no attention to that Hot Smoke and Sasafrass, it just means the party is starting to heat up and There’s Something In The Air.
Don’t worry, I Gotta Line On You, babe, and see that you are ready to Get Together. We will play More Today Than Yesterday because Tracy, when I’m with you, we have all the 45’s we need. Everyone will join in for our Simple Song of Freedom, as well as my top ten one hit wonders of a most memorable year. I see you have waited patiently for some Good Old Rock ‘N Roll, and we will Get It From The Bottom:
10. In The Year 2525, Zagar and Evans. I really liked this song in ’69 and bought the 45. Now I find it a bit obnoxious and repetitious.
9. Take A Letter Maria, R.B. Greaves. This was recorded in August, released in September and sold a million copies by November.
8. Sugar on Sunday, Clique. The song is a cover of an earlier Tommy James and the Shondells’ song.
7. Poke Salad Annie, Tony Joe White. The artist wrote and performed the hit. He found little success recording, but wrote other hits including “Rainy Night in Georgia.”
6. Baby It’s You, Smith. No, it’s not The Smiths. That was a later group. This short lived band is fronted by Gayle McCormick.
5. Love (Can Make You Happy), Mercy. The song was recorded at Sundi and released, and later recorded again at Warner Brothers where the band actually signed. Sundi was sued and their album was no longer allowed distribution. Which version do you hear? You have to check the label, they sound alike.
4. More Today Than Yesterday, Spiral Staircase. The hit was written by lead singer Pat Upton. The group did not last much longer after this million seller.
3. Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye, Steam. We may not have known the song or the fictitious band in ’69, but everyone in Chicago came to know it in 1977 and following years. The White Sox started using the tune to play off opposing pitchers who were being replaced. That was a hit. The group on the album cover and in the old video is a road group that had nothing to do with the recording and is, in fact, lip syncing.
2. Gimme Gimme Good Lovin’, Crazy Elephant. This was another short-lived band that was mainly a studio creation. The song failed to chart when first released, but was re-released a couple of months later and climbed the charts to number 12 in the US.
1. Morning Girl, The Neon Philharmonic. This group was around a few years, then sold off the name. It achieved the big sound by using members of the Nashville Symphony Orchestra. There are bigger hits on this list, as this one only climbed to number 17, but it is one of the ones I remember best.
The lack of good performance videos is due to the fact that many of these groups were not around for very long. Click on any song title to go to a video. Click here for the entire playlist of one hit wonders.
From Atlanta, Georgia, to the Gulf Stream water up to California end I’m gonna spend my life both night and day
Crazy Elephant – 1969
To the girls in Frisco, to the girls in New York To the girls in Texican, you gotta understand That baby I’m your man
Leif Garrett – 1980
Helix – 1984
This is another 1969 one hit wonder. The original did better than any of the many cover versions that followed. Crazy Elephant was another of those studio creations with a fake band biography. It was probably easier to create these fake stories for teen magazines then, than it would be now. Nope, they were not Welsh coal miners.
The song was released in January with little success. It was re-released in March and climbed the charts to Number 12 on the Billboard Hot 100. Former Cadillacs member Robert Spencer was the lead vocalist for most songs of the short-lived band.
Teen idol Leif Garrett had a go at it in 1984. He signed his 5 album record deal in 1976, so by this point he was on the down side of his heart-throb days. After all, he was twenty-two.
Canadian “big hair band” Helix (you know, big hair like Motely Crue, Poison, Whitesnake) gave it a harder edge when they put out their version in 1986. It had limited success but they are still doing it. You can see a 2018 performance here. Yes, it is more painful now than it was then.
The song made my top ten of 1969 one hit wonders. What are the others? You will have to check that out this Sunday on SERENDIPITY, because I know you are eagerly waiting for another Top Ten list
So who do you think sang this one better? Comment below.
Also see and hear this other 1969 hit: Morning Girl by clicking the title.
Mornin’ girl, how’d ya sleep last night? You’re sev’ral ages older now
Oh, no, things are different now than they were before You know love is more than kisses
The Neon Philharmonic – 1969
The Lettermen – 1971
Morning girl, where you been so long? Your lips have got some color now A little too much color now Your clothes have gone from nylon to lace, somehow
Shaun Cassidy – 1976
It was a one hit wonder for The Neon Philharmonic in 1969. They achieved the big sound by using musicians from the Nashville Symphony Orchestra. The lead singer was Don Gant. It only made number 17 on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US. It did somewhat better in Canada.
Although credited to the Lettermen, you are only hearing one of their singers in the 1971 cover. Jim Pike sang with the group from 1959 to 1974 and does the honors here. The Lettermen were quite successful covering the songs of others.
The Shaun Cassidy cover is his first single. It may seem strange that the teen heart-throb of the 70’s is singing different lyrics than the others. That is because he is actually singing a follow-up song from The Neon Philharmonic entitled “Morning Girl, Later.” It had the exact same melody and was meant to take the story, if you could even say there was one, a little further along. Perhaps it was felt the lyrics were a little better for the young Cassidy than the other one. He was still in high school.
It’s the golden anniversary of some of the best rock and roll of all time and you are invited to join the party. We’ve got the turntable ready, the records are already stacked up, and we have set the machine to 45 revolutions per minute. If you have a “Way back” machine, you can join Sherman and Mr.Peabody at your school’s 1969 sock hop. If not, we will spin some hits for you. You have waited eagerly for my top 20 and I know you will enjoy them.
The top song of 1969 was the “bubblegum” hit, “Sugar, Sugar” by The Archies. They did not come any sweeter. Also in the top 10 was “Dizzy” by Tommy Roe. These songs were in heavy rotation on the pop music stations. In other words, they were playing all the time. People became dizzy from hearing “Sugar, Sugar” a dozen times a day.
The Beatles were nearing the end of their Long and Winding Road but they still were topping the charts: “Get Back,” “Something,” “Come Together.” The Rolling Stones, Elvis, Marvin Gaye, The Fifth Dimension, The Temptations, Sly and the Family Stone were all having Hot Fun in the Summertime.
Chicago the band released its first album, Chicago Transit Authority, a double album that went “platinum.” The group was nominated for a Grammy as best new artists.
It was a good year to cover songs from the musical, “Hair.” “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In,” “Hair,” “Easy to be Hard,” “Good Morning, Starshine,” all became hits for different bands.
If you are quite ready to Shimmy, Shake and Twist, we can put the needle down on my top twenty. You can add in the comments any of your favorites from 1969 that I missed.
18. Easy To Be Hard. One of the many songs from the Broadway musical, Hair, to present a social message. This cover is by Three Dog Night.
17. Hurt So Bad. The Lettermen covered the 1965 hit by Little Anthony and the Imperials to great success of their own.
16. Traces. The Classics IV hit was released in January and reached number 2. It could not knock “Dizzy” out of the top spot.
15. Hooked On A Feeling. The song was released in late 1968. The B.J. Thomas hit reached number 5 in early 1969.
14. Everybody’s Talkin‘. The Harry Nilsson single was released in July 1968 to minor success. In 1969 it was used as the theme to Midnight Cowboy and re-released. It made our ’68 and ’69 lists.
13. This Magic Moment. Jay and the Americans had a hit with a cover of The Drifters’ song.
12. Touch Me. The Doors’ hit was released in December 1968 and climbed the charts in early 1969.
11. Spinning Wheel. The era of rock with horns was underway and Blood, Sweat and Tears scored with this one.
10. Crimson and Clover. I never really knew what it meant, but then neither did Tommy James and the Shondells. It was just something that sounded cool together to James. The song was released late in 1968 and reached number 1 by February 1969. It represented a shift to a more psychedelic sound.
9. Build Me Up, Buttercup. The British pop and soul band, The Foundations, had a big hit with this late 1968 release. By early 1969 it had climbed the charts to number 3 in the US, 2 in the UK and number 1 in Australia. It was pop fluff, but I liked it.
8. What Does It Take (To Win You Love). Motown initially rejected this Junior Walker and the All-Stars song for single release. Its popularity on radio brought a 1969 release, and it became one of their most popular songs.
7. One. This song was written and recorded by Harry Nilsson and released in 1968, but it was the 1969 recording by Three Dog Night that became a hit. It was their first gold record.
6. Hot Fun in the Summertime. This summertime favorite by Sly and the Family Stone made it to number two on the charts. The Temptations “I Can’t Get Next To You” was holding down number 1.
5. Get Together. The Youngbloods recorded the song in 1966 and it was released in 1967 without much success. After use in a radio public service announcement, the song was re-released in June 1969 and became a hit.
4. Proud Mary. John Fogerty wrote the song for his band Creedence Clearwater Revival. It made it to number 2 in March of 1969. Two years later Ike and Tina Turner had a huge hit with a different arrangement of the song.
3. Get Back. The Beatles song featured Billy Preston on piano. The single was released in stereo, unusual for a single then. The song hit number 1 in many countries. “Don’t Let Me Down” was on the B side.
2. Honky Tonk Women. Recorded by The Rolling Stones in June 1969 and released as a single the following month, this became one of the band’s biggest hits and a concert favorite. The song starts out with cowbell!
1. Crystal Blue Persuasion. While “Crimson and Clover” was a bigger hit for the group that same year, I like this one better. Tommy James stated in a 1985 interview, “it’s my favorite of all my songs.” At the time, many thought it was a song about drugs. Actually, James had brought together ideas he had read in several Bible verses, leading to the idea that some day (Book of Revelations) “They’ll be peace and good brotherhood.”
Click on any song title for the music video, or listen to the entire playlist by clicking here.
Many of the informational tidbits came from Wikipedia or from interviews with the artist as shown on You Tube.
1969 was the year I learned to fly. The world spun faster on its axis. Everything changed. We had the best music and the most fun we’d ever have again. It was before AIDS, too. Sex was fun — and the worst disease you could get was something a doctor could fix with a shot of antibiotics.
Neil Armstrong walked on the moon in July 1969. I watched it unfold. I was a new mother with a 2-month old baby boy. I wasn’t working yet and was finished with college. I was at home with the baby, not working, no studying. I had time to see the world unroll.
We were going to make the world a better place, end war. End bigotry, race prejudice, inequality. Turns out, it didn’t quite work out the way we planned, but our hearts were pure, even if we were also stoned.
It was a great time to get work, too because the world was opening up. You could still get an interview with a live person who might actually hire you. We had hope and we believed.
I saw Neil Armstrong walk on the moon. We saw it on CBS. It was obvious Walter Cronkite wanted to be up there too. Up there, with Neil and the rest of Apollo 11. He could barely control his excitement, almost in tears, his voice breaking with emotion.
The great Arthur C. Clarke was his guest for that historic broadcast. Neil Armstrong died last year. He had a good life. Unlike so many others who fell from grace, he remained an honorable man: a real American hero.
How I envied him his trip to the moon. Maybe the Mother Ship will come for us. If they could fix the old folks on Cocoon, maybe there’s room for Garry and me. Off to the stars? Sounds like a good deal. Earth, these days, is a total bummer.
Woodstock was that summer. There were rumors flying about this amazing rock concert that was going to happen upstate. I had friends who had tickets and were going. I was busy with the baby and wished them well.
There were hippies giving out flowers in Haight-Ashbury, but I didn’t envy them. Because I was happy that year, probably happier than I’d ever been and in some ways, happier than at anytime since.
I was young, still healthy. I believed we would change the world, end war, make the world a better place. I still thought the world could be changed. All we had to do was love one another and join together to make it happen. Vietnam was in high gear, but we were sure it would end any day … and though we found out how terribly wrong we were, for a while we saw the future bright and full of hope.
I had a baby boy and I sang “Everything’s Fine Right Now” which I first heard sung by the Holy Modal Rounders at a local folk music club. They were the most stoned group of musicians I’d ever met, but the song was also a great lullaby. It made my baby boy laugh.
It was the year of the Miracle Mets. I watched as they took New York all the way to the top. A World Series win. 1969. What a year. I rocked my son to sleep and discovered Oktoberfest beer. New York went crazy for the Mets. It should have been the Dodgers, but they’d abandoned us for the west coast.
I wore patchwork bell-bottom jeans and rose-tinted spectacles. I had long fringes on my sleeves and a baby on my hip.
Music was wonderful. How young we were! We could do anything, or so we thought.
We were going to end THE war and right every wrong. As we found the peak, we would almost immediately drop back into a dark valley. For a year, though, one great year, the stars aligned and everything was as it should be.
Decades passed. Being young was a long time ago. We use lots of drugs, but they control our blood pressure, not our state of consciousness. They are no fun at all.
I worry about Social Security and Medicare and I know I’m not going to fix what’s wrong with the world. I’ve lived a lifetime. My granddaughter is the age I was then.
I’ve remarried, lived in another country, owned houses, moved from the city to the country, and partied with a President … but 1969 remains my year.
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