COMING SOON TO A SCREEN NEAR YOU! The Tell It Like It Was A-Go-Go featuring Trini Lopez, Johnny Rivers, and Billy Lee Riley! Yeah, that’s a joke for those of us old enough to remember the live albums from those artists recorded at the Whiskey A-Go-Go in Los Angeles. But that’s not what this post is about.
For the past few months, I have been involved in a rather large project with two other writers, John Ross and Lew Shiner. I assembled a list of every record to make it to #1 on the Cash Box Top 100 chart from the beginning of 1960 through the end of 1969. Each title is linked to a recording of that song on YouTube. For each entry, we went about commenting on the record, the artist, the times, and, eventually, one another’s comments.
It was fun, but it was also a lot of work: at this time, the ten articles have passed 80,000 words and feature more than 200 images and 500 hyperlinks. That’s a lot of work for us—granted, we had fun doing it—and it’s also a lot of reading for someone to take on.
Of course, we’re pretty certain that once you start reading, you’ll have fun, too!
And to get you reading, here is a sample of our efforts, almost 800 words on a record that many “serious” rock fans dismiss without a second thought.
The question “But do you like it?” follows each entry. There, we use a 3-star system to express our opinions. Actually, a star-shape wasn’t available to us, so we used a diamond (♦). We are not grading the record ala All Music Guide, we are simply stating how much we like a given record. There are excellent records that none of us particularly care for, and there are “crappy” records we love.
All of this makes a helluva lot more sense if you take a few minutes and read the “Introduction to The Toppermost of the Poppermost.”
July 1–July 8
Warner Brothers 7041
After a relatively disappointing second album and its attendant singles, “Windy” was the Association’s second #1 record. They reached the Top 10 with two more sides but by the end of 1968, they were has-beens on AM radio Top 40.
There are a handful of records from this time that are now lumped into the sunshine pop genre (a term that I find ridiculous) that are simply great records that don’t have the harder sound or edge we associate with most rock music. “Windy” is one such record.
There are a number of records from this time that dealt obliquely with the psychedelic experience and are often not recognized as such by many fans and even historians. “Windy” is one such record.
While it is wise to assume little, it is not unwise to assume that pop songs of the ’60s that mention certain words (such as “high” and “stoned”) are making reference to smoking of marijuana and its effects on most human beings.
Similarly, any song using the word “trip” or “tripping” is suspect: that is, one can assume the possibility that the songwriter wanted listeners to make some connection with LSD and the psychedelic experience.
One can assume that any pop song from the ’60s using the word “trip” or “tripping” that the songwriter wanted listeners to make some connection with LSD and the psychedelic experience.
So, take the lyrics to this song at face value and the song is about a girl named Windy who stumbles around the streets of the city, smiling at everybody she sees. After enough falls and enough bruised elbows and knees, the smiling must have been stoic at best.
Instead, consider the lyrics being about a girl named Windy who does lots of acid, and is therefore always tripping down the streets of the city. And if you’ve ever done any tripping, you know that smiling at everybody you see comes naturally! Handing out rainbows and flying above the clouds isn’t that difficult, either.
After one week at #1, “Windy” was bumped out of the top spot and then returned to #1 on July 22, 1967, for one more week as the nation’s best-selling record for a total of three weeks at the top.
Lew: The Association’s first big hit, “Along Comes Mary,” didn’t get played in Dallas because somebody decided “Mary” was “Mary Jane” (a.k.a marijuana) and they didn’t want to endanger our youth by suggesting that anything good could come of this. So the first I heard from them was “Cherish,” in 1966, which I loved.
“Windy,” though it sounded at first like a song about flatulence, charmed me anyway. The Association had more singers than they knew what to do with, intricate harmonies, and backing by the ever-astonishing Wrecking Crew (Hal Blaine et al.).
What’s not to love?
John: One of the great harmony groups from harmony’s golden age. I had a brief rock snob phase in my early twenties where I attempted to dismiss things like this. Mercifully, it didn’t take. Unlike Ruby Tuesday, Windy didn’t need saving. I keep hoping I’ll spot her in the park someday.
Neal: Warner Brothers did not seek immediate RIAA certification for an official Gold Record Award for “Windy.” This was rectified on July 14, 1976, when it received a Gold Record Award for 1,000,000 sales and a Platinum Record Award for 2,000,000 sales.
• Billboard Top 100 #1: Yes (4 weeks)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: No
• Accumulated sales: Unknown
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: No
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: No
But do you like it?
John: ♦ ♦ ♦
Lew : ♦ ♦ ♦
Neal: ♦ ♦ ♦
FEATURED IMAGE: By 1967, those of us who were paying attention began to realize that what our government, or military, and our media were telling us about our boys in Vietnam didn’t add up. Anti-war protests became more frequent and got a lot bigger. The response of “them” was more cops, more troops, more violence. This photo was taken at a demonstration at the Pentagon. It was a time when we learned that governments who sicced armed troops on unarmed civilians weren’t just overseas.