A Big Leg Woman, a Stoned Cowboy, and a Partridge on Your TV

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(Pictured: you know who. Don’t worry; this post isn’t really about them.)

Here’s an excerpt from something I wrote for Popdose back in 2008:

In “My Son, the Feminist,” the December 11, 1970, episode of The Partridge Family, Keith’s girlfriend wants the band to perform at her women’s lib rally. The family is skeptical, but when a group of hostile, anti-lib parents threatens to run them out of town, Mother Partridge says “screw you” [loose translation] and the family decides to perform. The appearance nearly doesn’t come off when the hostile parents storm the psychedelic tour bus, and Keith’s girlfriend announces that the band has to sing “women’s liberation songs”—grim, unshaven-armpit agit-prop [loose translation]—but after threatening to quit, a rebellious Keith says goddammit [loose translation], the show must go on, and the family kicks into a song the girlfriend considers exploitative and demeaning to women: “I Think I Love You.”  Lo, its powerful bubblegummy mojo wins over the girlfriend, the hostile parents, the school principal, and even Mr. Kincaid, and they all live happily until the next week’s episode. As well they might have: On the night “My Son, the Feminist” aired on ABC, “I Think I Love You” had already spent three weeks at Number One.

“I Think I Love You” first hit #1 44 years ago today, a number that leaves me woozy after contemplating how damn long ago that really is. The songs from the fall of 1970 and what they mean in my life has been chronicled here often, perhaps past the point at which you’re willing to read any more about them. So instead of getting all moony and stupid about “I’ll Be There” and “Tears of a Clown” and “Gypsy Woman” and “Cracklin’ Rosie” and “Share the Land” again, here are five other songs from deep in the Hot 100 on that long-distant date.

29. “Stand By Your Man”/Candi Staton (down from 24). Tammy Wynette’s original recording of this might be the single greatest record in the history of country music (although there are other worthy contenders). Candi’s country-soul remake of “Stand By Your Man” (on the Fame label, no doubt featuring Rick Hall’s great crew of musicians) is entirely different and entirely fabulous.

51. “So Close”/Jake Holmes (up from 53). Although this song would peak at #49 on November 28, 1970, Casey would play it on the American Top 40 show dated December 19th. Billboard used to phone the new chart numbers over to the AT40 office, where a staffer would jot them on an old chart. In that particular week, somebody goofed, and “So Close” appeared at #39 instead of the real #39, “Love the One You’re With” by Stephen Stills. Holmes went on to a successful career as a jingle writer; he wrote the music for the Army’s “Be All That You Can Be” and Dr. Pepper’s “I’m a Pepper.”

70. “Big Leg Woman (With a Short Short Mini-Skirt”)/Israel “Popper Stopper” Tolbert (up from 72). Tolbert, who was blind, was a schoolmate of Clarence Carter, whose “Patches” had hit the Top 10 in August. He got the “Popper Stopper” handle from his days as a radio DJ in New Orleans. The burnin’ soul of “Big Leg Woman” was Tolbert’s only Hot 100 hit out of the handful of singles he made around the turn of the 70s.

80. “Stoned Cowboy”/Fantasy (holding at 80). Fantasy was formed in 1967 and became the house band at one of Miami’s major clubs, thus opening for Cream, the Doors, Led Zeppelin and others. Their lead singer died in 1970 and was replaced by a 16-year-old girl. She’s not heard on “Stoned Cowboy,” a weird instrumental with fuzztone guitar and circus-sounding organ.

91. “Morning”/Jim Ed Brown (up from 98). Jim Ed Brown had been on the pop and country charts since 1954 with the Browns (“The Three Bells”) and under his own name, and he would continue to score hits on the country charts until the early 80s, many with duet partner Helen Cornelius, many of them exquisite cheatin’ songs. “Morning” (which may remind you of “The Three Bells”) is surely that. This was my mother’s favorite song of the moment in the late fall of 1970, and one of us kids may have bought it for her as a Christmas present that year—adulterous subject matter notwithstanding.

2 thoughts on “A Big Leg Woman, a Stoned Cowboy, and a Partridge on Your TV

  1. Steve E.

    I will happily read every single thing you write about fall 1970. A special time for me (I was 12 and had just started junior high) coming out of a fantastic summer, and the songs from that period are instant memory triggers. Write on.

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