Fifty years ago today as I write, the Summer of Love was in full bloom. It was, in many ways, a pleasant Delaware Valley Saturday: the temperature topped out at 84 degrees (Fahrenheit) and fell back into the low 70s overnight – far from perfect, but expected. Humidity, always a factor in this neck of the woods, felt like a wet blanket.
On the other side of Pennsylvania, in Allegheny County (home to Pittsburgh and a few other cities), 16-year-old Wendy D. was navigating life’s oft-unexpected highs and lows during what had quickly turned into a personal summer of love. The previous evening, her main beau, Tom, totaled his car. He was shaken up, but not – thankfully – seriously injured.
I say “main” beau because Wendy was also dating – behind Tom’s back, no less – a college man, Scott, who took her to a stock car race this very night. Vroom, vroom! Meanwhile, across the country in California, younger Valerie S. had a good day, too: eating watermelon, painting, and making hamburger for dinner.
Here’s the day’s headline in the Chicago Tribune:
On the surface, life was good: unemployment ticked down .1 percent to 3.8 percent; inflation crept up .3 percent to 2.8 percent for the year; and America, as a whole, was intrigued by the Summer of Love headquartered in San Francisco. At the same time, however, large swaths of the nation were peering into the abyss of hopelessness; thus, race riots spread like wildfires that summer through many cities. During early-morning hours of the 23rd, a police raid on an unlicensed bar in Detroit sparked a five-day riot that resulted in 43 deaths, more than 1189 injured and $40-45 million worth of property damage.
On the entertainment front, one of history’s oddest pairings came to an end earlier in the week when the Monkees lost their opening act, Jimi Hendrix.
The No. 1 album in the land was an LP sans a hit single on the charts: the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. It was in its fourth week in the top spot, and would remain there through October 7th.
And, with that, here’s today’s Top 5: July 22, 1967, based on the charts at Weekly Top 40.
1) The Association – “Windy.” Enjoying its fourth week at No. 1 is this breezy song.
2) Frankie Valli – “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You.” A years-long effort by Valli, Bob Gaudio and Bob Crewe to launch a successful solo career culminated with this classic, which hit No. 2 in the pop charts this week.
3) The Doors – “Light My Fire.” Rising to No. 3 (from 8) is the debut single by Jim Morrison & Co.
4) The 5th Dimension – “Up, Up and Away.” Holding steady at No. 7 is this Jimmy Webb-penned tune, which was the first Top 10 hit by Marilyn McCoo, Billy Davis Jr. & friends.
5) Janis Ian – “Society’s Child.” Also this week, Janis Ian’s debut single – written when she was 13 and released when she was 15 – celebrated its second week at No. 14. This spot, on a Leonard Bernstein TV special, was its introduction to a wide audience.
And a few bonus tracks…
6) The Hollies – “Carrie Anne.” This infectious single from the Manchester-born pop group, which was on its way to the Top 10, rises to No. 23 (from 28).
7) The Bee Gees – “To Love Somebody.” One of the week’s power plays is this now-classic song, which jumped from No. 79 to 42.
8) and 9) The Monkees – “Pleasant Valley Sunday” and “Words.” The Prefab Four click on all cylinders with Goffin-King’s “Pleasant Valley Sunday,” which enters the charts at No. 51. The flip side, the Boyce-Hart ode “Words,” notched its own spot at No. 78.
10) Dusty Springfield – “The Look of Love.” And, finally – entering the charts at No. 98 is this Dusty Springfield gem, which was penned by Burt Bacharach and Hal David.