Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Association – "Along Comes Mary" (1966)

And when the morning
Of the warning's passed 
The gassed and flaccid kids
Are flung across the stars
The psychodramas
And the traumas gone
The songs are left unsung
And hung upon the scars

[NOTE: I first wrote about our next 2 OR 3 LINES “GOLDEN DECADE” HIT SINGLES HALL OF FAME song – a work of genius that was written by Tandyn Almer, who suffered from bipolar disorder and lived in obscurity in Washington, D.C., for many years before he died in 2013 – back in 2010.  What follows is a slightly edited version of my original post.]

They don't write lyrics like that any more, do they?  I'm a little surprised this was a top 10 song – it's very complicated.
I'm looking at the KQYX "Pepsi Sing-a-Long Survey" for May 26, 1966 (the week I turned 14).  KQYX's frequency was 1560, so the survey features the "Top 15" and the "Plus 60," plus five "KQYX climbers" and a "Pick Hit of the Week" – altogether, 81 songs.

One of my nerdier hobbies as a kid was listening to faraway AM radio stations.  It's called "DX'ing" – "DX" is ham-radio talk for a distant station.  (I still remember most of the clear-channel AM stations that I could reliably pick up -- 700 was Cincinnati, 750 was Atlanta, 760 Detroit, 780 Chicago, 820 Dallas, etc., etc., etc.)

Some of the guys who were in the AM DX'ing club I joined for a few years also collected radio station "top 40"-type printed surveys and traded them, so I have dozens of surveys from large and small radio stations around the country.

I think it's amazing how many great songs – and what a diverse group of great songs – are on this KQYX survey.  (I've provided links to Youtube videos for some of these songs.)

"When a Man Loves a Woman" (Percy Sledge) was #1 that week -- not a personal favorite of mine, but a well-known classic.

The Supremes held on to the #2 spot with "Love Is (Like an Itching in My Heart") -- not one of their biggest hits, but classic Motown.

#3 was Bob Dylan's "Rainy Day Women #12 and 35." ("Everybody must get stoned" -- I'm a little surprised that one got airplay in Joplin).

#4 was "Monday, Monday" by the Mamas and Papas – a wonderful song and a perfectly conceived and executed performance.

#5 was "Groovy Kind of Love," by the Mindbenders ("When I'm feelin' blue/All I have to do is /Take a look at you/Then I'm not so blue" – a classic "British Invasion" song).

#6 -- "It's a Man's World"/James Brown.

#9 -- "Green Grass"/Gary Lewis and the Playboys.

#11 -- "How Does That Grab Ya, Darlin' ?"/Nancy Sinatra.  (All of Nancy's songs were pretty much the same song – you smart-aleck tomcat, you!)

#12 -- "I Am a Rock"/Simon and Garfunkel.

#15 -- "Sweet Talkin' Guy"/Chiffons.

#17 -- "Sloop John B"/Beach Boys.

#18 -- "Paint It Black"/Rolling Stones.

#20 -- "Did You (Ever Have to Make Up Your Mind)"/Lovin' Spoonful.

#21 -- "Good Lovin' "/Young Rascals.  (I believe this was one of the songs the band I was in with Jack Davidson, Joe Davis, Bruce Hodson, and Jim Matthews played a year or so later at the South Junior High 9th-grade coronation.  I remember listening to this 45 over and over and over.)

#26 --"Eight Miles High"/Byrds.  (I was never a big Byrds fan, but this is an astonishingly original song – everything about it is distinctive and unique.  To me, one of the top 10 AM-radio songs of all time.)

#27 -- "Red Rubber Ball"/Cyrkle.  (Written by Paul Simon.)

#34 -- "Message to Michael"/Dionne Warwick (one of her many classic Burt Bacharach/Hal David-penned hits).

#35 -- "You Don't Have to Say You Love Me"/Dusty Springfield.  (The greatest female top-40 voice ever?)

#36 -- "Kicks"/Paul Revere and the Raiders.  (We know all about them, don't we?)

#53 -- "Somebody Help Me"/Spencer Davis Group.  (Steve Winwood before there was Traffic.)

#54 -- "Road Runner"/Jr. Walker and the All-Stars.  (Classic Memphis soul – perhaps not as good as "Shotgun," but very solid.)

#58 -- "Hold On, I'm Comin' "/Sam and Dave.  (More classic Memphis soul.)

#70 -- "Louie Louie"/Kingsmen.  (Once of the most incompetent hit singles ever recorded – often imitated, but never exceeded.)

#72 -- "Cool Jerk"/Capitols. 

And last but not least, we come to today's song – one of the "climbers" that week, "Along Came Mary," the first successful single from the Association – not its biggest hit (they had two #1 singles and a #2 in 1966 and 1967), but its best song by far, IMHO.

*     *     *     *     *

I wonder how many of the songs on the current Billboard pop chart will be remembered 44 years from today.  One thing no one can argue with, my friends, is that we had great music when we were growing up.  I'm sure May 26, 1966 was a pretty typical week – I bet I could pick any five weeks from 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, or 1970 at random and that the list of current hit songs from at least four out of the five would compare very favorably to this week's list. 

Take another look at the listing above – Supremes, Bob Dylan, Mamas and Papas,  Simon and Garfunkel, Beach Boys, Rolling Stones, Byrds, Yardbirds . . . and I left off the songs by Stevie Wonder, Dave Clark Five, Herman's Hermits, Roy Orbison, the Animals, The Four Tops, etc.

There are a few top-tier artists of that era who were missing from the list that week, however – most notably a band from Liverpool that wasn't bad.  

Why were the Beatles MIA the week of May 26, 1966?  The Beatles had a #1, #2, and #3 in 1966 – not exactly a bad year for them – but two of those had risen and then fallen off the charts by the time May 26 rolled around, and their best single of the year ("Yellow Submarine"/"Eleanor Rigby") wasn't released until August.)

But the rest of the list is so strong, you hardly miss them – that's saying something, isn't it?

Click here to see a video of the Association performing "Along Comes Mary" on the Smothers Brothers Comedy Hour.

And click on the link below to buy the song from Amazon:

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