Beyond Radio is the place where music discovery and music nostalgia collide. It is your one-stop source for playlists, music charts, remembrances and recommendations. Our Podcast and music therapy playlists combine elements of nostalgia and discovery, while my blog entries reflect on our musical past through the lens of my personal charts from decades past. I weave a story that includes the connection between artists, chart facts and personal anecdotes that hopefully conjure a connection to the soundtrack of your own life. The current charts and playlists are updated monthly or bi-monthly (bi-weekly for the BR250) and are curated based on a passionate audience that produce their own personal charts weekly.
I started out in January of this year with the intention to write a series of blogs connected to my personal charts of the past and felt 1970 was a perfect starting point, 50 years in the rearview. I was 9 at the time and I had not started doing a weekly chart (that didn’t commence until 1974) so the first thing I needed to do was create a chart for January 1970 that reflected how I felt about the songs now. I have been doing this for every month of the year so now I can compile a year-end chart for the year. I had done a version of this in 2001, the last time I did an all-time list (I am due for an update in 2021). I only did a top 60 then based on my gut. On the following chart that original position is on the left and the current rankings are based on the charts from Dec. 1969 through Nov. 1970 that I created this year. 3 songs in the top 20 were not on my list in 2001 and 4 songs in the top 10 made substantial moves.
The Carpenters moving to #1 (up from #6) was slightly surprising, though it is a song closely related to my mother, who actually passed in April 2001, so the 20th anniversary is coming soon. I have a copy of the “Close To You” sheet music framed above my desk that my best friend gave me after she died. In a related occurrence, a few days ago I was texting with my friend Lisa, sitting in my new Beyond Radio studio. We had our garage converted this fall to an office that I can do my work from. I’m moving my albums, 45s, CDs, and mixed tapes that were relegated to our basement years ago. It’s a fabulous space with stone walls that will be a perfect place to record future podcasts. All extremely exciting. Anyway, when texting Lisa my Mom came up and I told her the story about “Close To You”. As I was writing to her the song unexpectedly came on. I told Lisa that my Mom had just christened the studio. It was a beautiful moment and if you have listened to any of the podcasts, just another crazy coincidence that happens to me all the time.
The Hollies move from #22 to #2 with “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother”, is another surprise, but that song’s connection to childhood is just so strong, as is the case with Ray Stevens’ “Everything Is Beautiful” at #4. Both evoke a certain warm feeling that remains in the past. And, of course, it’s a beautiful song (Neil Diamond’s version-not so much). Funny, another song in a similar mode, “The Long And Winding Road”, fell from #1 to #9. At one point in the late ‘70s, it was my #1 song of all-time, displacing “Funeral For A Friend” by Elton John for a brief time, when I was really discovering the Beatles catalog. My #2 song of 1969, “Oh Darling” shows up behind ‘Road’ at #10. The Beatles scored 5 titles in the top 25 with the Abbey Road Medley being considered one song at #25. In addition, “Let It Be” comes in at #24 and “Maxwell’s Silver Hammer” at #19. Paul McCartney also shows up in the top 25 as a solo artist with the original version of “Maybe I’m Amazed” at #18. And the McCartney written “Come And Get It” by Badfinger lands at #21.
John Lennon also shows up at #36 with “Instant Karma (We All Shine On)”. I was just reminded by my ex-girlfriend Chris from high school that today is the 40th anniversary of Lennon’s murder. What a sheer tragedy that was. I had just talked about the song “Imagine” in my most recent 2010 blog post. The band Live did a version during their 1999 tour leading up to the millennium. When I saw them on that tour it was paired with my favorite song of all-time at that point, “Pillar Of Davidson”. It is my favorite concert experience ever. ‘Karma’ was the first solo Beatles song to sell a million copies.
The move for “Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)”, 51-3, is totally appropriate, just a great bubblegum Pop song of the time. The kings of bubblegum in 1970 were the Jackson 5, whose “The Love You Save” was their highest charter at #12. All 4 of their Billboard #1 hits from the year made the top 100 with “ABC” at #20. Elsewhere on the chart, Bobby Sherman fell some from my previous version of the list. “Easy Come, Easy Go” down to #46 from 29 and “Julie, Do Ya Love Me” at #60. The Partridge Family’s “I Think I Love You” is at #47, but only because of the late-year release. More about the PFam when I write about the December 1970 chart.
The 3 songs that enter the top 20 that were not on my original list all come from the R&B side. “Ball of Confusion” at #8, a killer remake of the Rolling Stones “Gimme Shelter” by Merry Clayton (who was the female singer on their version) at #16, and “I Want To Take You Higher” by Sly & The Family Stone at #17. I didn’t appreciate this music as a child, so it was really great to re-discover some and be introduced to others from the time (like Aretha’s version of “Eleanor Rigby” at #58 and “Psychedelic Shack” by the Temptations at #61).
Elton John’s “Skyline Pigeon”, which comes in at #14 and was originally #4 of 1969, is definitely My #1 song of 1969 at this point. A simple, harpsichord driven hymn, this is most definitely in my top 50 of all-time. “Take Me To The Pilot” at #6 remains my favorite song from his American debut album. “Empty Sky”, his true debut, was released in the UK in 1969 but not until 1975 in the States. The title track comes in at #45, though it really was a late ’69 song (#1 for me the month of Nov. 1969), so really a much more important song overall. In all EJ placed 10 songs in the top 100, the rollicking “Rock ‘N Roll Madonna”, at #11, was prominently featured in the movie “Rocket Man”.
Chicago had a good year as well with 4 songs in the top 100. I never questioned what “25 Or 6 To 4” (#5 for the year) meant. Now I have learned it means 25 or 26 minutes before 4am. I had to chuckle. Other meanings for the title have been floated around about illegal drugs or a famous person’s name in code. “Make Me Smile” at #29, was actually the band’s first Billboard Top 10, peaking at #9. The radio version is different than the album version on “Chicago II”. It is part of a 7-song suite called “Ballet For A Girl in Buchannon” (kind of similar to the “Abbey Road Medley”). The song suite also includes the song “Colour My World”, an extremely popular prom and wedding song from the early ‘70s. It was the b-side of both “Make Me Smile” and the re-release of “Beginnings” (#74) from their 1969 debut in 1971 after the band gained their popularity. “Questions 67 and 68” (#31) was also re-released in 1971.
I only learned of the #7 “Little Green Bag” from the 1992 movie “Reservoir Dogs”. I don’t believe they played it on the radio in the New York area. It was my #49 in 1995 when I saw the movie. The original title of the Dutch band The George Baker Selection’s debut single was “Little Greenback”, a reference to the color of the American dollar bill. You can hear it sang that way in the song. How it became “Little Green Bag” I am not sure, but again with a drug reference, it was thought to mean a bag of marijuana.
Three Dog Night has 4 songs in the top 200 with “Celebrate” at #13. The band would become one of my favorite artists of the first half of the decade. “Mama Told Me Not To Come” at #27, is a song written by Randy Newman (most famous for the song “Short People”) and was originally recorded by Eric Burdon & The Animals in 1966. Three Dog Night took it to #1 on Billboard’s Hot 100 for 2 weeks in July. “Ride Captain Ride” at #28 was the only hit for the Florida band Blues Image. One of its members later joined Three Dog Night. The song reached #4 on the Hot 100, the same position as the one hit from British band Free, “All Right Now” (#35). The song was sung and co-written by Paul Rodgers, who would later become the frontman of the hugely successful band Bad Company. The song “Vehicle” (#37) was another one-hit wonder by the Illinois band the Ides Of March. That song peaked at #2 on the Hot 100, and many people thought it was by the band Blood, Sweat, and Tears. Vocally and stylistically it totally makes sense. The song was written by frontman Jim Peterik who would also go on to greater success as the leader of the ‘80s band Survivor. This theme is born out once more with “The Rapper” (#39) by the Pennsylvania band The Jaggerz. Another one-hit-wonder, this song reaching #2 on the Hot 100. The lead singer Donnie Iris had a moderately successful run as a solo artist in the early ‘80s with the songs like “Ah Leah” and “Love Is Like A Rock”.
Finally, Diana Ross had a 3-week run at #1 on the Hot 100 in September 1970 with her remake of “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” (#40). The original version peaked at #19 in 1967 for Marvin Gaye & Tammy Terrell. Ross had the defining version which was nominated for a Grammy. The funny thing about this song is that it was the #1 song when my podcast partner Jeff was born. We discussed the song on the original episode of the podcast and he is not a fan of the song.
6 1 THE CARPENTERS (They Long To Be) Close To You
22 2 THE HOLLIES He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother
51 3 EDISON LIGHTHOUSE Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)
24 4 RAY STEVENS Everything Is Beautiful
8 5 CHICAGO 25 Or 6 To 4
3 6 ELTON JOHN Take Me To The Pilot
4 7 GEORGE BAKER SELECTION Little Green Bag
x 8 THE TEMPTATIONS Ball Of Confusion
1 9 THE BEATLES The Long And Winding Road
2-69 10 THE BEATLES Oh Darling
31 11 ELTON JOHN Rock And Roll Madonna
9 12 THE JACKSON 5 The Love You Save
34 13 THREE DOG NIGHT Celebrate
4-69 14 ELTON JOHN Skyline Pigeon
18 15 JAMES TAYLOR Fire And Rain
x 16 MERRY CLAYTON Gimmie Shelter
x 17 SLY & THE FAMILY STONE I Want To Take You Higher