There’s something that’s been bugging me for a while, and it’s time to deal with it.
I was looking through some listings for the Time-Life AM Gold series this morning, including one titled Teen Idols of the 70s. It features the usual suspects: the Partridge Family, the Bay City Rollers, the Osmonds, Bobby Sherman—and the Brady Kids doing “It’s a Sunshine Day.” The latter is frequently anthologized on collections of this sort, you get 9.6 million hits on it with a Google search, and I’d be willing to bet that if you asked random folks on the street who could place the record at all, they’d tell you that “It’s a Sunshine Day” was quite a big hit in its day. But it wasn’t. Of the 15,000 surveys online at ARSA, it doesn’t appear on a single one. It doesn’t appear in the Cash Box Archives and never made it into Billboard, either, not even on the Bubbling Under chart.
So how come this song is now considered one of the prime musical artifacts of the 1970s? Let’s see if we can figure it out.
The Brady kids recorded four albums between 1970 and 1973, but none of them charted. They recorded solo and in various combinations also. “It’s a Sunshine Day” appeared on the 1972 album The Kids From the Brady Bunch, and was seen on the show in a January 1973 episode. But even though I was mainlining the Top 40 in those days, I don’t remember hearing anything by them on the radio—or even knowing they’d recorded anything. This might be because I never cared much for the show, even though I was in the prime demographic for The Brady Bunch during its run from 1969 to 1974. (Far from seeming like my peers, the Brady kids seemed like vapid twits with whom I had nothing in common.)
Regardless of how I felt about it, The Brady Bunch was impossible to escape, running in syndication during those all-important after-school hours throughout the 70s and later getting extensive play on cable in the 80s. There was a TV reunion movie in 1981 and a reunion series, The Brady Brides, which ran for 10 episodes, but true Bradymania wouldn’t break out until the late 80s, with A Very Brady Christmas in 1988 and a brief dramatic (!) revival of the show in 1990. In 1993, various Brady recordings were cobbled together and released as It’s a Sunshine Day: The Best of the Brady Bunch; the big-screen Brady Bunch Movie followed in 1995.
So it’s only since the middle of the 1990s that “It’s a Sunshine Day” has been considered one of the classic pop hits of the 1970s. And that leads me to surmise that it’s the children of the 1980s and early 90s who worship “It’s a Sunshine Day,” and by extension, The Brady Bunch itself, much more than the children of the 1970s do.
I was a Partridge Family man myself. Tomorrow is the 40th anniversary of that show’s premiere, and I’ll celebrate it with a Partridge Family megapost over at Popdose.
Coming Monday: the post I intended to put up here today.