Posts Tagged ‘Alfie’

On this day in 1967, a Sunday, the Middle East was headed for the conflict known as the Six-Day War, which would begin on June 5th when Israel launched a preemptive strike against the Arab armies massing at its borders.

Closer to home, American society and culture was continuing to experience rapid (and, in some quarters, welcome) cultural changes, as evidenced by the Chicago Tribune introducing the “Working Woman” column by Carol Kleiman in its lifestyle section. It begins with its raison d’être:

Everyone talks about the working woman – but nobody knows her name. She’s been put under a microscope and dissected by the experts. She’s been told to stay home and do the dishes. And then she’s been told she can have any career she wants if she only lets herself have one.

Everyone talks to the working woman. Everyone has advice. But nobody lets her answer. Meanwhile, millions of young, single work. So do married women, with and without children. And thousands of mature women enter the labor market each year and start working for the first time in their lives or for the first time in years.

This is unique. It’s a revolution in the labor force and in equality for women, and all working women – you and I – are caught up in it. We have problems – and we have possibilities. We are not men, and the business world is still a man’s world.

In all the studies of feminine mystiques and feminine mistakes, no one has let the working woman speak for herself. What does the career girl say her problems are? Does she look at her job as a temporary career until marriage, or a lifetime profession?

Kleiman, as she notes in the column, was in the latter category.

Unless my eyes deceived me, however, this Sunday edition of the Tribune doesn’t mention anything related to youth culture. Oh, it includes a few teen guest columnists weighing in on such subjects as patriotism and volunteerism, articles about folks in the entertainment world and one on classical music, but not one mention of any of this week’s top pop releases or hits or even Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, which was due out in the U.S. on June 2nd.

Not surprising, of course, but annoying to me all the same.

Speaking of career gals and lonely hearts: 16-year-old young Wendy D. was eyeing a career in education; and, to that end, she belonged to the Future Teachers of America club at her high school. As for lonely hearts – well, she certainly wasn’t one.

Valerie S., a few years younger than Wendy, was less about the lovin’ and more about studying and playing games. Ping pong!

I share their experiences because, as I noted in the Top 5 for April 22, 1967, when we think of bygone ages – especially one as romanticized as the 1960s – we often imagine them as totally different from the present. The reality is often more mundane, however. Tectonic cultural shifts were underfoot, true, but the vast majority of kids, such as these two, still woke up, went to school, hung out with friends, dated and – as Wendy will in short order – dealt with strep throat. Some things change. Some things don’t.

Oh, and here’s one other thing that attracted my eye while browsing the Tribune’s Sunday edition – an advertisement for Sony’s latest, greatest 12-transistor portable radio. It and radios like it, for those too young to know, were the iPods of the day.

Anyway, enough of the rambling intro and onward to today’s Top 5: May 28, 1967, with songs pulled from the May 27th chart over at Weekly Top 40. (And, yes, I’ve featured a few of these songs before, but not these specific clips.)

1) The Young Rascals – “Groovin’.” The No. 1 song in the land, for the second week in a row, is this gloriously evocative song of summer.

2) Aretha Franklin – “Respect.” Jumping from No. 5 to No. 2 is this classic from the Queen of Soul.

3) Neil Diamond – “Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon.” Entering the Top 10 is Neil Diamond’s fourth single for Bang Records. It possesses a dramatic, brooding melody and lyrics that…well, what can be said about “Girl, you’ll be a woman soon/Please come take my hand/Girl, you’ll be a woman soon/Soon you’ll need a man”? That they reflected a certain mindset of their time? Or that they were just…creepy? You be the judge.

4) Eric Burdon & the Animals – “When I Was Young.” Dropping from No. 15 to 22 is this classic counterculture ode inspired by Burdon’s father.

5) Dionne Warwick – “Alfie.” The week’s No. 37 song is what is now considered to be one of Dionne Warwick’s signature tunes. The Burt Bacharach-Hal David song, which was the theme to the 1966 movie of the same name, was originally sung by Cilia Black over the end credits for the U.K. release and earned her a Top 10 U.K. hit. For the U.S. release, however, Cher sang it, and her version stalled at No. 32 on the American charts. Warwick, who’s joked that she was the 43rd person to sing the song, recorded it only at the insistence of Bacharach, who’d wanted her to sing it all along. (That idea was nixed by the movie studio.) It would reach No. 15. Here she is, in 1972, singing it on Mike Douglas’ afternoon talk show:

And two bonuses…

6) Scott McKenzie – “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair).” One of the theme songs to the Summer of Love, this hippie paean was penned by John Phillips (of the Mamas and the Papas) in order to promote the Monterey Pop Festival. This clip finds McKenzie lip-syncing the words on French TV…

7) And, finally: The times they were a-changin’. That’s for sure. On Thursday of the following week, aka June 1st, Jefferson Airplane flew onto the set of American Bandstand and sang the trippy “White Rabbit” and “Somebody to Love,” which had jumped from No. 22 to No. 17 and was about to rise even higher, No. 9, by week’s end.

IMG_4223Big news out of Rumer land: The sublime singer-songwriter is slated to make a record of Burt Bacharach-Hal David songs – and has solicited suggestions from fans as to which ones they should be. So, for today’s Top 5: Bacharach-David songs that she should consider for the project.

Of course, the songwriting pair has written many classic tunes, including “Do You Know the Way to San Jose,” “Walk on By,” “(They Long to Be) Close to You,” “I Say a Little Prayer” and “What the World Needs Now Is Love.” All great choices. I thought I’d go a slightly different route, however, with this first of two Top 5s, and make it a double-themed endeavor that also spotlights one of my favorite singers, Dusty Springfield. (And, yes, you read right: Today’s Top 5 is a twin spin.)

1) “I Just Don’t Know What to Do With Myself.” Originally sung by Tommy Hunt in 1962, but definitively covered by Dusty Springfield, who had a No. 3 hit with it in the U.K. two years later.

2) “Twenty Four Hours From Tulsa.” A country & western-flavored story-song about a guy leaving his gal for another. Few thought twice about it when it was a hit for Gene Pitney in 1963, but when Dusty covered it a year later the switch in gender perspective caused a minor uproar. Why? Because, well, it was 1964.

3) “A House Is Not a Home.” Dionne Warwick had the honors with the original version, which cracked the Top 100 in 1964; and Rumer herself sang it at the White House a few years back (see below for that). But, for the purposes of this Top 5, here’s Dusty singing it with Burt Bacharach on his “Another Evening with” 1970 TV special:

4) “The Look of Love.” A stone-cold Dusty classic that garnered Bacharach-David an Oscar nomination due to its use in the 1967 spy spoof Casino Royale.

5) “This Girl’s in Love With You.” Covered numerous times by many people, both as “Guy” and “Girl.” Herb Albert had a No. 1 hit with it in 1968, and Dionne Warwick scored a No. 7 hit with it a year later. This, though, is my favorite version. Why? It’s Dusty.

And now… the second Top 5 for today, this one of Bacharach-David songs that Rumer has already covered.

1) “Alfie.”

2) “Do You Know the Way to San Jose” – with the Dutch Metropole Orchestra.

3) “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head.”

4) “What the World Needs Now.”

5) “A House Is Not a Home.”