Saturday, January 31, 1970

The Jackson 5 hit #1 with “I Want You Back”

First posted 4/20/2020.

I Want You Back

The Jackson 5

Writer(s): Berry Gordy/Freddie Perren/Deke Richards/Fonce Mizell (see lyrics here)


Released: October 7, 1969


First Charted: November 15, 1969


Peak: 11 US, 11 CB, 2 HR, 14 RB, 2 UK, 2 CN, 77 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): 2.0 US, 0.6 UK, 6.0 world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 172.4 video, -- streaming

Awards:

About the Song:

Rock critic Dave Marsh called this” “the greatest debut single of any act since the fifties, and…certainly the greatest record ever made by a singer who had yet to reach puberty.” MA “I Want You Back” introduced the world to a pre-teen from Indiana named Michael Jackson who became the youngest person ever featured on a Billboard Hot 100 chart-topper. SF He and four of his brothers comprised the Jackson 5, one of Motown’s proudest creations.

The label had undergone changes, such as relocating from Detroit to Los Angeles and losing their star writing team of Holland-Dozier-Holland. Head honcho Berry Gordy was eager to mint a new group as superstars helmed by a new writing team. He assembled a group of writers known simply as “The Corporation,” thus depersonalizing them and keeping them from becoming “too big for their boots.” TB They had written a song called “I Wanna Be Free” TM which was intended for Gladys Knight & the Pips. TB Gordy wasn’t satisfied so “the words were overhauled and the key lowered” TB with the direction that it be reimagined as a song for someone like Frankie Lymon, SF a teen star in the ‘50s best known for “Why Do Fools Fall in Love?” The team “chiseled and polished [it] into this starmaking jewel” TM we now know as “I Want You Back.”

It was the first nationally distributed single by the Jackson 5 (they previously released a single in 1968 on a local label in Gary, Indiana) SF and it made the dancing brothers into stars overnight. It became the first of four consective #1 songs for the group on both the pop and R&B charts. “It’s an immaculate machine of a song, propelled into orbit by the leaping voice of Michael Jackson,” TM who “yelped his lead vocals with boyish fervor” RS500 while “singing about an emotional experience he could not possibly have had.” TM The song is, after all, “a passionate declaration of regret att a fractured relationship.” TB

“‘I Want You Back’ remains one of hip-hop’s favorite beats, sampled everywhere from Kris Kross’ ‘Jump’ to Jay-Z’s ‘Izzo (H.O.V.A.).’” RS500


Resources and Related Links:

Monday, January 26, 1970

Simon & Garfunkel released Bridge Over Troubled Water

First posted 1/26/2013; updated 11/24/2020.

Bridge Over Troubled Water

Simon & Garfunkel


Released: January 26, 1970


Peak: 110 US, 133 UK, 19 CN, 115 AU


Sales (in millions): 10.0 US, 3.2 UK, 28.5 world (includes US and UK)


Genre: folk


Tracks:

Song Title (Writer(s) [time] (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. Bridge Over Troubled Water [4:52] (2/7/70, 1 US, 1 UK, 1 AC, sales: 0.5 m, airplay: 7.0 m)
  2. El Condor Pasa (If I Could) (Daniel Alomía Robles, arranged by Jorge Milchberg and English lyrics by Paul Simon) [3:06] (9/12/70, 18 US, 6 AC)
  3. Cecilia [2:55] (4/11/70, 4 US, 31 AC, sales: 0.5 m)
  4. Keep the Customer Satisfied [2:33]
  5. So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright [3:41]
  6. The Boxer [5:08] (4/12/69, 7 US, 6 UK, 3 AC)
  7. Baby Driver [3:14]
  8. The Only Living Boy in New York [3:58]
  9. Why Don’t You Write Me [2:45
  10. ]Bye Bye Love (live) [2:55] (Felice Bryant/Boudleaux Bryant)
  11. Song for the Asking [1:49]

All songs written by Paul Simon unless noted otherwise.


Total Running Time: 36:29

Rating:

4.572 out of 5.00 (average of 29 ratings)


Awards:

About the Album:

Ironically, the album which would showcase Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel at their best was made while the lifelong friends were pulling away from each other. By the end of recording what would be their fifth and final album, this folk duo “pretty much hated each other.” TL Garfunkel was launching an acting career in Mexico with a film version of Catch-22 while Simon wrote most of the songs; “Art’s contribution is limited to providing angelic harmonies to Paul’s melodies.” PR “When they got together to finalize material they feuded endlessly.” TL However, “what remains is the partnership at its best: wry, wounded songs with healing harmonies such as The Boxer,” RS500 “a profound and perceptive song that is pure poetry.” RV

Bridge “serves as an effective counterbalance to the clichés” TM of 1960s America, providing listeners with “a quiet respite from the exuberant noise of pop culture in the Age of Aquarius.” TM. The decade has been simplified to “rampant flower-powered euphoria” TM and “almost utopian togetherness,” TM but Paul Simon “writes as an outsider” TM “in pieces that sit idly and contemplate life in America from the window seat of a bus” TM or in which “emotional entanglement brings heavy consequences and duties.” TM “Simon is a deceptive lyricist – he starts out describing the scenery, and pretty soon he's drawn listeners deep into the thoughts of his complicated, often conflicted characters.” TM

Bridge Over Troubled Water, at its most ambitious and bold…was a quietly reassuring album; at other times, it was personal yet soothing; and at other times, it was just plain fun.” AMG “Each song is a marvel of introspection,” TM “convey[ing] a slightly different perspective.” TM “Some of his best songs take the perspective of an alienated, isolated young man.” TM “There are moments of withering cynicism (Keep the Customer Satisfied) and euphoric expressions of teenage romance (Cecilia), personal reflections (The Only Living Boy in New York),” TM and exploration of “world music on tracks like El Condor Pasa, inspired by a Peruvian song he first heard performed by a Chilean musician.” RV

Only Garfunkel sang on the “gorgeous” RS500 “gospel-flavored title trackAMG which “expresses devotion and empathy in terms more likely to resonate with an adult than some headstrong hippie.” TM The song seemed an ironic send-off for the duo considering its “themes of enduring friendship and tenderness” RV “According to BMI, [it] was the 19th most performed song of the 20th century, spawning versions that run the quality gamut from Aretha Franklin’s transcendent cover at the Fillmore in ‘72 to Clay Aiken’s considerably less transcendent cover on American Idol in ’03.” TL In 1972, Simon told Rolling Stone, Garfunkel “felt I should have done it…And many times I’m sorry I didn’t.” RS500


Notes:

A 2001 reissue added demos of “Feuilles-O” and “Bridge Over Troubled Water.”

Review Sources:

Saturday, January 3, 1970

“Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head” hit #1

Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head

B.J. Thomas

Writer(s): Burt Bacharach, Hal David (see lyrics here)


Released: October 1969


First Charted: November 1, 1969


Peak: 14 US, 12 CB, 13 HR, 17 AC, 38 UK, 13 CN, 20 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): 2.0 US, 0.1 UK, 3.0 world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, -- video, 53.63 streaming

Awards:

Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

The night before B.J. Thomas was scheduled to record “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head,” his doctor told him he couldn’t use his voice for two weeks because of laryngitis. Thomas pleaded that he was supposed to work on a song for the Paul Newman movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and the doctor gave him some medicine to keep his throat lubricated. Thomas recorded five takes of the song before Burt Bachrach, one of the song’s writers and the producer, was satisfied. Thomas says his throat couldn’t have handled one more take. An executive from the movie company congratulated Thomas on the decision to use a raspy singing voice that made him sound like Paul Newman. FB The version released as a single, however, was recorded eight weeks later and featured a horn solo at the end. SF

Rumor suggests Bob Dylan was originally asked to record the song, but Bachrach denies that. He did, however, ask Ray Stevens, who was best known for novelty songs and decided against it. He reportedly didn’t like the movie. ST Dionne Warwick, who’d worked extensively with Bachrach and co-songwriter Hal David, was the one who suggested Thomas. They were signed to the same label. FB

The song was used during a scene when Paul Newman is riding a bicycle to entertain his girlfriend. Bacharach convinced director George Roy Hill that the scene needed a pop song with a vocal. ST Lyrically, the song “describes somebody who overcomes his troubles and worries by realizing that ‘it won’t be long ‘till happiness steps up to greet me.’” WK

As the first #1 song of the 1970s, “Raindrops” set a tone with its “unhurred, carefully orchestrated soft-rock amble” ST which would dominated the charts through the first half of the ‘70s. ST When “Raindrops” won the Oscar for Best Original Song, it was only the second time in the rock era that a song which topped the Billboard Hot 100 won an Oscar. FB The other was the Four Aces’ “Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing” in 1955.


Resources:

  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for B.J. Thomas
  • FB Fred Bronson (2003). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits (5th edition). Billboard Books: New York, NY. Page 266.
  • SF Songfacts
  • ST StereogumThe Number Ones” by Tom Breihan
  • WK Wikipedia


First posted 3/30/2022.