Saturday, April 25, 1970

The Jackson 5 “ABC” hit #1


The Jackson 5

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

Released: February 24, 1970

First Charted: March 6, 1970

Peak: 12 US, 11 CB, 11 GR, 12 HR, 14 RB, 8 UK, 14 AU, 2 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): -- US, 0.6 UK

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 78.4 video, 328.97 streaming


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About the Song:

The Jackson 5, fronted by a pre-teen Michael Jackson, burst onto the scene in 1969 with their #1 hit “I Want You Back,” “a perfect song.” SG It was the group’s first Motown single with chief Berry Gordy actively involved in writing the song. It “was a Motown tradition for a follow-up to resemble the song it succeeded” FB so when it came to putting together a follow-up, “his brainstrust pretty much just rewrote ‘I Want You Back’ as closely as possible.” SG That would seemingly be “an artistically bankrupt move” SG but Gordy knew “how well formulaic pop music could work.” SG

The resulting “ABC” mastered the formula, giving the group its second of four consecutive #1 hits. The song was “based around the goofy idea that learning about love is like learning the alphabet.” SG Freddie Perren, one of the songwriters, was a former school teacher. He said they wrote roughly ten verses before landing on the two “that conveyed just the right amount of energy and innocence.” SF

“Pop history really would be much the poorer without ‘ABC,’ as it personifies all that is exciting about pop.” LW Like its predecessor, the song is “fast and jittery and joyous” SG and driven by “the way that Michael and his brothers would euphorically bounce their voices off of each other.” SG “It’s a ridiculously funky confection, with fuzzed-out guitars and berserker bongos and a nagging piano riff that keeps the song airborne throughout.” SG Michael “spends the whole song sounding like the teenage Superman at the precise moment that he figured out that he could fly.” SG

Rapper 50 Cent says it was the first song he remembered hearing. WK In 1991, Naughty by Nature sampled the song in its hit “O.P.P.” Rosario Dawson dances to “ABC” in the 2006 movie Clerks II.


  • FB Fred Bronson (2003). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits (5th edition). Billboard Books: New York, NY. Page 272.
  • LW Alan Lewens (2001). Popular Song – Soundtrack of the Century. Billboard Books: New York, NY. Page 131.
  • SF Songfacts
  • SG Stereogum (12/20/2018). “The Number Ones” by Tom Breihan
  • WK Wikipedia

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First posted 11/21/2022.

Monday, April 20, 1970

Neil Young “Cinnamon Girl” released

Cinnamon Girl

Neil Young

Writer(s): Neil Young (see lyrics here)

Released: April 20, 1970

First Charted: June 19, 1970

Peak: 55 US, 56 CB, 36 GR, 52 HR, 1 CL, 25 CN, 34 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): --

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 10.50 video, 22.13 streaming


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About the Song:

After Neil Young’s departure from Buffalo Springfield, he released his first solo album in 1968. The self-titled debut failed to dent the charts, but the follow-up, 1969’s Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere, logged 98 weeks on the Billboard album chart, peaking at #34 and reaching platinum status. The album ranks as one of the top 1000 albums of all time.

Lead single “Down by the River” failed to chart, but the second single – “Cinnamon Girl” – was a top 40 hit in Canada and Australia and got to #55 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song is sung as a duet between Young singing the low harmony and Danny Whitten singing the high harmony. WK Whitten was a songwriter and guitarist in Young’s backing band, Crazy Horse. Beck called the guitar riff on “Cinnamon Girl” his all-time favorite. WK The British magazine New Musical Express (NME) ranked it one of the 50 greatest guitar riffs of all time. WK

Some have speculated that the song refers to Jim Morrison’s common-law wife, Pamela Courson, who had reddish-brown hair. WK Young has denied that, never confirming who the cinnamon girl is, SF although there is a reference in the song to ‘60s folk singer Jean Ray via the bit about finger cymbals. SF Young has also confirmed he had a crush on her. SF

Lyrically, the song is about the singer daydreaming about having someone to love. Critic Johnny Rogan said the lyrics are “exotic and elusive without really saying anything at all.” WK Author Toby Creswell called them “cryptic love-song lyrics over the cruching power of Crazy Horse.” TC Critic John Mendelsohn sees it as a message of “desperation begetting brutal vindictiveness.” WK

The song has been recorded and/or performed by Big Head Todd & the Monsters, the Dream Syndicate, John Entwistle, the Gentrys (#52, 1970), Hole, Phish, the Pretty Reckless, Radiohead, the Smashing Pumpkins, Matthew Sweet & Susanna Hoffs, Toad the Wet Sprocket, Type O Negative, and Wilco.


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First posted 3/9/2023; last updated 4/26/2024.

Saturday, April 11, 1970

The Doors “Roadhouse Blues” charted

Roadhouse Blues

The Doors

Writer(s): John Densmore, Robbie Krieger, Ray Manzarek, Jim Morrison (see lyrics here)

First Charted: April 11, 1970

Peak: 50 BB, 76 CB, 41 CN, 1 CL, 1 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): -- US, -- UK, 0.04 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 192.90 video, 273.25 streaming


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About the Song:

Morrison Hotel (also known as Hard Rock Café) was the fifth studio album released by the Doors. Like its predecessors, it was a million-selling, top-ten album. Each of the four previous albums produced at least one top-40 hit, among them “Light My Fire” (#1 BB), “People Are Strange” (#12 BB), “Love Me Two Times” (#25 BB), “Hello, I Love You” (#1 BB), and “Touch Me” (#3 BB).

This marked the first time the Doors didn’t produce a top-40 hit from an album. “Roadhouse Blues” (technically the B-side of “You Make Me Real”) only reached #50 on the Billboard Hot 100. Even so, it became a staple on album rock radio. In 2022, Time Out ranked it the #11 classic rock song of all time. WK Sound engineer Bruce Botnick called it “the all-time American bar band song.” WK

While the Doors fit in more “with the psychedelic denizens of Jefferson Starship and Donovan” TO “Roadhouse Blues” showed that “when they let loose on the blues, they made a massive crater in the soundscape.” TO It is “a droning, repetitive, swampy wallow through 12-bar debauchery in which Jim Morrison…screams gleefully about roadhouses. Behind him, bandmates Ray Manzarek and Robby Krieger fill the empty spaces with so much sonic bravado it almost feels like getting hit by a truck on a lost highway.” TO

Morrison apparently came up with this song during a drunken jam session. SF The roadhouse in the song may be the Topanga Corral, a nightclub in Topanga Canyon where Morrison lived. SF Alice Cooper said he was the inspiration for the line “Woke up this morning and I got myself a beer.” He said he was hanging out with Jim, said that line, and Jim wrote it down. Alice said, “So they go in and they’re doing the song and the next thing I hear is ‘woke up this morning and I got myself a beer’ and I went ‘I just said that a second ago!’” WK


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First posted 4/28/2024.

The Beatles hit #1 with “Let It Be”

Let It Be

The Beatles

Writer(s): John Lennon/Paul McCartney (see lyrics here)

Released: March 6, 1970

First Charted: March 6, 1970

Peak: 12 US, 14 CB, 14 GR, 13 HR, 14 AC, 1 CL, 2 UK, 13 CN, 16 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 2.0 US, -- UK, 7.0 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 5.0 radio, 75.36 video, 354.61 streaming


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About the Song:

Debuting at #6 on the Hot 100, “Let It Be” was that chart’s highest debut to date. It became one of the Beatles’ most enduring ballads. Although credited to Lennon-McCartney, it was solely a Paul McCartney effort. AMG The song was Inspired Aretha Franklin’s “church-born soul,” RS500 giving it a spiritual quality. Between that and its mix of elements of rock, pop, and gospel, the song tread similar ground as Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” AMG the song it knocked off the top of the Hot 100.

McCartney initiated writing during the contenious White Album sessions in 1968 RS500 and unveiled a bare-bones version in January 1969, during the rehearsals for the Let It Be album. RS500 Misinterpreting Paul’s “secular humanism for self-righteous piety,” RS500 John Lennon reacted with brutal dismissiveness. RS500 For whatever reason, that song and others from those sessions sat on the shelves unreleased until after the Beatles’ Abbey Road album. When finally released in 1970, the song hit #1 the same week that the Beatles broke up, a coincidence which has spurred speculation that the song was intended as “an unofficial, subtle epitaph to the Beatles’ career.” AMG

Indeed, McCartney crafts a song of consolidation during times of darkness, a message which could certainly be viewed as a statement to Beatles’ fans. AMG However, it was Paul’s mother, who died of cancer when Paul was fourteen, who inspired the opening lines, “When I find myself in times of trouble/ Mother Mary comes to me.” WK Paul had a dream in which his mother came to him to offer comfort, saying, in his words, “It will be all right, just let it be.” WK


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First posted 7/13/2014; last updated 11/26/2022.