Posts Tagged ‘Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head’

Thanksgiving night, after a wonderful get-together with family, Diane and I continued our trek through Good Girls Revolt. One episode centered on New Year’s Eve of 1969: As the ‘60s came to an end, Patti (Genevieve Angelson) and editor Finn (Chris Diamantopoulos) concluded that the decade had been about suppression and repression; the ‘70s, they predicted, would be about expansion. Then, at about 10:50pm, I received a message from iTunes: Rumer’s This Girl’s in Love: A Bacharach and David Songbook was available for download.

It’s a lilting and lush set; the music possesses the grace of Audrey Hepburn, soul of Dusty Springfield and vocal finesse of the 5th Dimension, if that makes sense, and evokes the era in which the songs were born while remaining firmly rooted in the present. While one can imagine Rumer singing, say, “One Less Bell to Answer” on The Tonight Show in 1969, one can also imagine her swaying to the same music on The Tonight Show next month. At its best, music transcends time and space; and this set does just that.

Anyway, the juxtaposition of Good Girls Revolt and This Girl’s in Love (and, perhaps, too much turkey) led me to reflection – and to the realization that Patti and Finn, in their rush to pass judgment on the ’60s, were wrong. The decade was not a time of suppression or repression. To the contrary. It was a time when the collective American mindset pushed past a centuries-old prejudice (race) and began to do the same with another (gender). That’s not to say prejudice was eliminated; far from it. But the majority of folks realized it was wrong.

Consider this clip from Petula, a TV special starring British pop singer Petula Clark that aired on NBC on April 2, 1968:

The moment near the end, when Petula puts her arm on Harry Belafonte’s? Believe it or not, it spurred a controversy. A vice president of Chrysler, which was sponsoring the show, demanded that another take be used due to the “interracial touching.” Petula Clark and her husband, the special’s producer, said no; NBC sided with them; and the special, when it aired, was a hit. But if that touch had occurred a decade earlier? NBC likely would’ve cut the song or, if not, many TV stations, primarily in the South, would’ve refused to air the show.

That said, despite the decade’s advances, life wasn’t great. Two days after that special aired, for example, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated; two months later, Robert Kennedy was killed; four months later, the Democratic National Convention in Chicago turned violent; six months later, Richard Nixon was elected president; and, all the while, the Vietnam War raged – more than 16,592 American soldiers died and 87,388 were wounded that year.

When we strip the gauzy nostalgia from the reality of any time, we’re left with this: What often made the time wonderful was less day-to-day life and more the promise of what had yet to come. It’s why succeeding generations continue to embrace the music of the ‘60s and ‘70s, I think – despite the tumult of the ‘60s and woes of the ‘70s, the messages that powered much of the music were hopeful. And, by and large, we’re a hopeful lot.

Which leads to today’s Top 5: The Promise of Tomorrow, circa 1970 and Billboard. These are the year’s top singles…

1) Simon & Garfunkel – “Bridge Over Troubled Water”

2) The Carpenters – “(They Long to Be) Close to You”

3) The Guess Who – “American Woman”

4) B.J. Thomas – “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head”

5) Edwin Starr – “War”

6) Diana Ross – “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”

And a few singles that didn’t make the year’s top 100:

7) The 5th Dimension – “One Less Bell to Answer”

8) Elton John – “Your Song”

9) Dusty Springfield – “A Brand New Me”

 

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.”