(Pictured: the Supremes deplane, 1966.)
Back at the beginning of the summer, we noodled with the idea of the greatest single Top 10 of all time. There are lots of candidates, as we found, but I keep going back to the one dated September 24, 1966. To refresh your recollection:
2. “You Can’t Hurry Love”/Supremes
3. “Sunshine Superman”/Donovan
4. “Yellow Submarine”/Beatles
5. “Bus Stop”/Hollies
6. “Beauty Is Only Skin Deep”/Temptations
7. “Black Is Black”/Los Bravos
8. “96 Tears”/? and the Mysterians
9. “Wouldn’t It Be Nice”/Beach Boys
10. “Reach Out I’ll Be There”/Four Tops
11. (bonus track) “Eleanor Rigby”/Beatles
It wasn’t just a killer Top 11. The rest of the Top 40 was studded with classics as well:
14. “Cherry Cherry”/Neil Diamond
15. “Sunny Afternoon”/Kinks
17. “Wipe Out”/Surfaris
21. “Sunny”/Bobby Hebb
22. “Turn Down Day”/Cyrkle
23. “What Becomes of the Broken Hearted/Jimmy Ruffin
24. “Land of 1000 Dances”/Wilson Pickett
25. “Psychotic Reaction”/Count Five
26. “Last Train to Clarksville”/Monkees
27. “Working in the Coal Mine”/Lee Dorsey
Sweet mama look at that. And this:
33. “7 and 7 Is”/Love
37. “Summer in the City”/Lovin’ Spoonful
39. “God Only Knows”/Beach Boys
40. “Walk Away Renee”/Left Banke
And below the Top 40:
41. “Just Like a Woman”/Bob Dylan
47. “Blowin’ in the Wind”/Stevie Wonder
50. “With a Girl Like You”/Troggs
53. “See See Rider”/Eric Burdon and the Animals
72. “Poor Side of Town”/Johnny Rivers
73. “Love Is a Hurtin’ Thing”/Lou Rawls
89. “Knock on Wood”/Eddie Floyd
90. “Mr. Spaceman”/Byrds
96. “I’m Your Puppet”/James and Bobby Purify
It was an exceptional week for easy listening music on the Hot 100 as well.
30. “Flamingo”/Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass
32. “Summer Wind”/Frank Sinatra
44. “Summer Samba”/Walter Wanderley
49. “In the Arms of Love”/Andy Williams
54. “Born Free”/Roger Williams
86. “Mas Que Nada”/Sergio Mendes and Brasil ’66
Over on Billboard‘s Easy Listening chart, all six of those are in the Top 10, along with more of the easy-listeningest music of all time:
13. “Somewhere My Love (Lara’s Theme)”/Ray Conniff Singers
17. “The Impossible Dream”/Jack Jones
But Easy Listening is really winning on the Top LPs chart. Revolver is #1, but:
2. Doctor Zhivago/Soundtrack
3. Somewhere My Love/Ray Conniff Singers
4. The Sound of Music/Soundtrack
5. What Now My Love/Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass
6. Whipped Cream and Other Delights/Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass
7. Strangers in the Night/Frank Sinatra
11. Going Places/Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass
13. Sinatra at the Sands/Frank Sinatra
Those big movie soundtracks, Sinatra albums, and the historic Tijuana Brass threesome make for an interesting mix with Revolver and the others in the Top 13: Best of the Beach Boys, the Stones’ Aftermath, Gettin’ Ready by the Temptations, and Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde. Although the biggest rock acts are able to consistently break through, the album market is still dominated by acts selling to adults, although that will start to change within a year or so.
Digression: I am pretty sure that no famous movie has gone further down the memory hole than Doctor Zhivago. Adjusted for inflation, it’s still one of the top-grossing films of all time
, but it never turns up on cable. [Very late edit: it’s on TCM fairly often now.] It’s on several streaming services, but I suspect there are not a lot of people under the age of 70 who are willing to pony up $2.99 on a Saturday night for a three-hour epic set during the Russian Revolution. But in September 1966 it was still popular in theaters. The score had won an Oscar, and “Lara’s Theme,” heard only as an instrumental in the movie but with lyrics added by three-time Oscar winner Paul Webster, was a smash. Conniff’s version was #1 on Easy Listening for a month and had made #9 on the Hot 100.
“Somewhere My Love” also contains a lyric line that stops me in my tracks every time: “You’ll come to me out of the long ago.” As many of the most precious things often do.
The Hot Country Singles chart for the week of 9/24/66 is not the bonanza of eternal classics that the Hot 100 is, but it’s led by a record that didn’t get off the radio for years thereafter: “Almost Persuaded” by David Houston. Although he is forgotten now, David Houston was one of the biggest stars in country between 1965 and 1971, with seven Billboard #1 hits. The nine weeks “Almost Persuaded” spent at #1 country was the longest run of any record since 1963, and it wouldn’t be surpassed until the download era. It’s also at #29 on the Hot 100 in this week, on its way to #24.
It’s well known that terrestrial radio stations, even ones specializing in oldies or classic hits, have largely dumped 60s music. But it’s not because music of later decades is consistently better, cuz it ain’t. And the chart from 9/24/66 is Exhibit A.
9 thoughts on “Out of the Long Ago”
“It’s well known that terrestrial radio stations, even ones specializing in oldies or classic hits, have largely dumped 60s music.”….. i remember the day my oldies station in Melbourne Florida switched to 70’s oldies and dropped most of the 60’s stuff..now THAT made me feel old..
I know this blog is mainly about music and radio but I have to slightly disagree with your comment about the alleged absence of Dr. Zhivago on cable. It does turn up fairly regularly on TCM especially when they do their annual “30 Days of Oscar” month of programming or when they have a birthday celebration of one of the stars (e.g., Omar Sharif or Julie Christie) or the director, David Lean. That said, it is a movie that’s best viewed on a big cinema screen to get the full effect since it always feels at least a bit diminished seen on a TV screen (although TVs have been getting better in that department).
This blog is about music and radio cuz I don’t know nothing about no movies, I guess. I haven’t noticed “Doctor Zhivago” on TCM recently, but I wish I would because I’d like to see it. I am just old enough to remember when it was advertised in the papers and on TV and radio, and it always seemed to me like this giant, sweeping thing—and I am not surprised if it loses something on the small screen.
Yes look at all the GREAT songs on this list. Many times we look back and confuse popular for greatness, or we remember something being better than it is just because we were having so much fun that year. But this list is swingin’, fun, sometimes quite moving, innovative, and just plain rockin’ !!!! There’s no crap here. Think about that for a second. Where did we go wrong?
I was having a conversation on this topic with someone not too long ago, and we agreed that this period in 1966 is a clear contender. I also would put this Hot 100 from Sept. 4, 1965, into contention. https://www.billboard.com/charts/hot-100/1965-09-04.
All I can add here is it’s amazing to me the number of terrestrial radio stations that will program nearly every cut of the Ray Conniff Singers Christmas yet will refuse to play Somewhere My Love.
And I’d rank Summer Wind as one of the top five singles Sinatra ever released. Miles better than the overblown Strangers in the Night and My Way, with the Chairman of the Board providing some of his most effortless yet effective vocals.
Late getting here, but I agree with you about the line from “Somewhere, My Love.” In fact, for me, it’s the whole damn song.
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