Posts Tagged ‘Cuff Links’

Memorial Day, 2009

June 28, 2013

Originally posted May 25, 2009

It’s another Memorial Day, another day to reflect. We’ve been told that some of our soldiers will this year begin to come home. Let’s hope that’s true. We’ve also been told that more of our soldiers are required to fight elsewhere. Let’s hope that’s for a brief time. These are the same songs as last year and the year before; if that’s a disappointment, I’m sorry. These are the songs that remind me of those whom we are supposed to remember today.

“Requiem for the Masses” by the Association, Warner Bros. single 7074 [1967]

“I Ain’t Marchin’ Anymore” by Phil Ochs from Rehearsals For Retirement [1969]

“War” by Edwin Starr, Gordy single 7101 [1970]

“Where Have All The Flowers Gone” by Peter, Paul & Mary from Peter, Paul & Mary [1962]

“One Tin Soldier (The Legend of Billy Jack)” by Coven, Warner Bros. single 7509 [1971]

“Universal Soldier” by Buffy Sainte-Marie from It’s My Way! [1964]

“Masters of War” by Bob Dylan from Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan [1962]

“Give Peace A Chance” by the Plastic Ono Band (John Lennon), Apple single 1809 [1969]

“2+2=?” by the Bob Seger System from Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man [1968]

“Handsome Johnny” by Richie Havens from Mixed Bag [1967]

“Bring The Boys Home” by Freda Payne, Invictus single 909 [1971]

“All The Young Women” by the Cuff Links from Tracy [1970]

“Bring ’Em Home” by Bruce Springsteen from We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions (American Land Edition) [live, most likely in Detroit, 2006]

As I’ve noted the past two years, times have changed enough since Freda Payne, the Cuff Links and Peter, Paul & Mary recorded their songs that we now need to also bring the girls home, and we need to grieve as well with all the young men who have lost loved ones.

Chart Digging, April 4, 1970

April 4, 2013

As I noted a couple of weeks ago, the upper portions of the Billboard charts from 1970 hold few surprises. Here’s the Top 10 from the Hot 100 on April 4, 1970, forty-three years ago today:

“Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Simon & Garfunkel
“Let It Be” by the Beatles
“Instant Karma (We All Shine On)” by John Ono Lennon
“ABC” by the Jackson 5
“Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)” by Edison Lighthouse
“Spirit in the Sky” by Norman Greenbaum
“House of the Rising Sun” by Frijid Pink
“The Rapper” by the Jaggerz
“Come and Get It” by Badfinger
“Easy Come, Easy Go” by Bobby Sherman

Not a bad swath of songs: A couple of timeless masterpieces at the top, with a little bit of clunky rock following; a youthful bit of R&B; some great fuzz guitar; a hard-edged cover of an old folk song; and a good helping of light pop and bubblegum with a Paul McCartney tune in the middle. Of course, it’s hard to be objective with these records (and so many more from that time). These were the sounds of my junior year in high school and remain deeply imprinted.

As we’ve found out here numerous times, however, that’s not always the case with records that show up lower in the chart. Given that it’s April 4, we’ll start with No. 44 (which I believe is the only one of today’s six I’ve ever heard before) and then move down eleven records at a time.

Jennifer Tomkins was born on a Sunday.
Her daddy got drunk and left home on a Monday.
Her mother, she died young, when Jenny was seven.
And Jennifer Tomkins went to work at eleven.

So begins the tale of the week’s No. 44 record as told by the Street People, a studio group that included Rupert Holmes, who would hit No. 1 under his own name in late 1979 with “Escape (The Pina Colada Song).” Holmes’ other footnote in pop history is that he wrote “Timothy,” the tale of cannibalism in a caved-in coal mine that the Buoys took to No. 17 in 1971. As for the Street People, their only other charting single was “Thank You Girl,” which went to No. 96 a couple of weeks after “Jennifer Tomkins” fell out of the chart.

The Village Soul Choir, according to Joel Whitburn in Top Pop Singles, was a ten-member interracial group from Queens, New York, that made the Hot 100 just once, in that long-ago spring of 1970. Funky and fun, “The Cat Walk” peaked at No. 55 on April 4 that year (it went to No. 27 on the R&B chart) after being pulled from the group’s seemingly odd album, Soul Sesame Street. According to the listings at Discogs.com, the group had a few other singles released, but none of them charted.

By the spring of 1970, the most recent Top 10 hit by the Classics IV had been the sorrowful “Traces,” which went to No. 2 on both the pop and AC charts in early 1969. Three other records had hit the Hot 100 since then, with “Everyday With You Girl” getting to No. 19. As April began, the group – now billed as Dennis Yost and the Classics IV – had another tale of lost love in the charts, as “The Funniest Thing” was sitting at No. 66, on its way to No. 59 (No. 11, AC). The group would have five more records reach the Hot 100, but only one of them, “What Am I Crying For,” would reach the Top 40, going to No. 39 (No. 7, AC) in late 1972.

The Cuff Links, a studio group featuring the voice of the much-heard Ron Dante, were sitting at No. 77 with “Run, Sally, Run” during the first week of April in 1970. The record, which would move up one more spot, was the third and last by the Cuff Links to reach the Hot 100. The best of those three had been “Tracy,” a delicious piece of bubblegum that had gone to No. 9 (No. 5, AC) in October of 1969. The follow-up, “When Julie Comes Around,” got only to No. 41, and after Dante urged Sally to run, the Cuff Links – even though both follow-ups to “Tracy” reached the AC Top 40 – became unfastened.

The Buffalo Soldiers, says Wikipedia, “originally were members of the U.S. 10th Cavalry Regiment of the United States Army, formed on September 21, 1866, at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. This nickname was given to the ‘Negro Cavalry’ by the Native American tribes they fought; the term eventually became synonymous with all [four] of the African-American regiments formed in 1866.” In early April 1970, the record “Buffalo Soldier” by the Flamingos was sitting at No. 88, on its way to No. 86 (No. 28, R&B). The tribute to those long-ago soldiers was the last of fourteen charting singles for the group from Chicago that is far-better known for the 1959 doo-wop classic, “I Only Have Eyes For You.”

Being a lover of lush keyboards, 1960s and ’70s instrumental pop and cover songs, I smiled when I saw the names of Ferrante & Teicher at No. 99 in the chart from April 4, 1970. I don’t believe that I ever heard the piano duo’s version of Bob Dylan’s “Lay Lady Lay” coming from the speakers of my radio. It would be surprising if I had, as the record was in the Hot 100 for just one week and moved no higher (though it went to No. 16 on the AC chart). I know, however, that I would have liked it. As little noticed as it was, the record was significant for being the last of fifteen records the duo placed in the Hot 100 between 1960 and 1970; “Exodus” was their high water mark when it went to No. 2 in January 1961. (After “Lay Lady Lay,” Ferrante & Teicher had three more records reach the AC chart into 1972, the most familiar of which would likely be “Love Theme from ‘The Godfather’,” which peaked on that chart at No. 28.)

I Wore My Tiger Every Day

March 25, 2012

Originally posted March 30, 2009

The Texas Gal and I watch Friday Night Lights and enjoy it immensely. Based around the lives of the members of the fictional Dillon Panthers in West Texas, the show is about much more than high school football. It’s truly one of those rare television shows that finds its drama in the small workings of day-to-day life. That’s not to say that it’s entirely subtle, but it’s character-driven, and the folks who live in Dillon are generally finely drawn, not caricatures. They are folks who are changing – many of them young people who do so as they take on the hard work of growing up, of course – and sometimes the changes are surprising, just as they are in real life.

The episodes currently playing on NBC on Friday evenings were shown last fall on a satellite service, and during this season, as in the previous two, the producers do pretty well in fitting their characters’ stories into the subfolders of high school life, high school football and life in West Texas. There aren’t a lot of obvious mistakes. But I think I spotted one in the episode that ran last Friday.

The week’s climactic scene dealt with a confrontation between J. D. McCoy, a ninth-grade quarterback new to town, and his father. Nothing wrong with the drama, but in the scene – which followed a football game – J.D. was shown wearing a letter jacket with a “D” on the front and a football patch on the sleeve. Now, maybe they do things differently in Texas, but I’ve never heard of a high school where you could wear a varsity letter on a letter jacket before you’ve earned it. And being new to town, J.D. couldn’t yet have done so. (Maybe I’m wrong and there are places like that. Anyone know?)

It’s not a big deal, but for a show that generally gets the details right, it stood out. And it reminded me of my letter jacket.

I was a manager, not an athlete. I spent three seasons going to wrestling practices and keeping the scorebook; two seasons at football practices, hauling balls, pads and other stuff around; and one season tending to the training room for track. And among the rewards for doing all that stuff were three varsity letters and the right to wear a letter jacket.

It was March 1970 when I finished my second season as a wrestling manager. Near the end of the month, I got a letter in the mail from the high school’s athletic director. The letter granted me permission to go to Fitzharris Athletic downtown and buy a St. Cloud Tech letter jacket. So the following Friday evening, my folks and I went into Fitzharris and I presented the letter to the clerk. Shortly after that, I walked out wearing an orange and black jacket. The next day, my mom sewed a tiger head on the front, my name on the pocket and the year “71” on the sleeve. I remember how smooth the leather (or maybe simulated leather) sleeves were, a condition I wanted gone as soon as possible, as it identified me as a newbie.

(I got my actual letter, my “T,” at the athletic banquet that spring. I put it away in a box, as the tradition at Tech at the time was to wear the tiger head on the jacket instead of the letter. I never knew anyone who put his letter – and it was an exclusively male group in the early 1970s – on his jacket.)

Looking back, it’s amazing how much that jacket mattered to me: It made me feel as if I belonged somewhere. And I think I wore that jacket to school every day from then on, even as the weather turned warmer in the spring and then – during my senior year – even though there were days when the temperature dropped below zero. The other guys did the same, I think: If you’d earned the right to wear a letter jacket, you wore it.

I continued to wear the jacket around town during my first year of college. (For those interested, the etiquette for wearing your high school jacket during your college days was to remove your high school letter [or tiger, in my case], your graduation year and any patches other than your name.) Most likely, it was sometime during the spring of 1972, as my freshman year at St. Cloud State was ending, when I took the jacket off for the last time. By the time I got home from Denmark two years later, my mom had packed it away. And there it stayed until I took it with me when we closed the place on Kilian a few years ago.

It’s in a closet again, near the back, its usefulness gone. I certainly won’t wear it again. I have no one to leave it to, and I doubt that anyone else would want it. But I also doubt that I’ll ever get rid of it.

A Six-Pack From The Charts (Billboard Hot 100, March 28, 1970)
“Give Me Just A Little More Time” by the Chairmen of the Board, Invictus 9074 (No. 9)
“Psychedelic Shack” by the Temptations, Gordy 7096 (No. 24)
“Reflections of My Life” by the Marmalade, London 20058 (No. 51)
“Rag Mama Rag” by The Band, Capitol 2705 (No. 58)
“Run Sally Run” by the Cuff Links, Decca 32639 (No. 77)
“Miss America” by Mark Lindsay, Columbia 45125 (No. 117)

A couple of weeks ago, I called “Give Me Just A Little More Time” by the Chairmen of the Board “chirping and warbling and absolutely wonderful.” It’s all that and more, one of the really great singles that I think tends to be a little overlooked. At the time of this particular chart, the record had just dropped from its peak position at No. 3; it would slide to No. 30 by April 25, its fifteenth week in the Hot 100, and then tumble completely out of sight by the next week’s chart.

‘Psychedelic Shack” seemed utterly weird at the time, especially for the Temptations, a group with records like “My Girl,” “I Wish It Would Rain” and “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg” in its pedigree. But “Shack” is what happened when producers Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong were handed the reins. With “Psychedelic Shack,” the Whitfield and Strong pushed the boundaries they’d stretched with the No. 6 single “Cloud Nine” in late 1968, and “Shack” went to No. 7. The follow-up, “Ball of Confusion,” went to No. 3. (This is the album track and has the same running time as the single, but I don’t remember ever hearing the knocks on the door when the record played on the radio; maybe they were there, or maybe there was a radio edit without them. I don’t know.)

When it was on the charts, “Reflections Of My Life” seemed musically adventurous and lyrically important. I’m not sure how well “Reflections Of My Life” holds up as a piece of philosophy these days. I mean, “The world is a bad place, a bad place, a terrible place to live” isn’t Nietzsche; it isn’t even Lennon, for that matter. But the music, on the other hand, does owe something to Nietzsche (Jack, who worked with Phil Spector, not that German dude), with its horns and Wall of Sound-ish references. Maybe I’m still hearing this one with the ears of a high school junior, but man, I still love this record! At the end of March, it was still on its way up the chart, heading for a peak of No. 10.

I heard the second half of “Rag Mama Rag” on the radio – probably late at night on WLS from Chicago – sometime during the early months of 1970 and was frozen, staring at the radio as the song played out with its fiddle and honky-tonk piano. I didn’t catch the title or the name of the group, and I wondered for a long time what the hell it was I’d heard. I mentioned it to a few people I knew, and from my description, they said it sounded like country and they were sure I couldn’t have heard it on a Top 40 station. I quit asking people about it, and it wasn’t until the following Christmas when Rick gave me The Band that I learned what it was I’d heard. Utterly unlike anything being played at the time (probably well-defined as Americana before anybody thought about such a label), “Rag Mama Rag” never really had a chance of making the Top 40. It peaked at No. 57 the week of March 21; three weeks later, after eight weeks in the Hot 100, the record had dropped out.

“Run Sally Run,” the Cuff Links’ follow-up to their No. 9 hit “Tracy,” lasted six weeks in the Hot 100, with the March 28 position of No. 77 being its peak. There really were no Cuff Links, of course. What you got on the record was bubble-gum master Ron Dante and a bunch of studio musicians. Still, it wasn’t awful: It was fun, it had a good beat and you could chew it!

As I’ve noted here before, I do have a difficult time being at all objective about the Top 40 music of the second half of 1969 and all of 1970. Although I’d heard Top 40 before that – it would have been hard for any American kid to escape it – I’d not really listened until the late summer and autumn of 1969. So, as I’ve also said here before, when I think about and write about the music I heard during that period, I’m thinking and writing about old friends. Two of those friends are Mark Lindsay’s singles, “Arizona” (No. 10 in early 1970) and “Silver Bird” (No. 25 in the late summer of 1970). The single posted here is one that came in between the two, and to my mind, it’s a better single. Credited only to J. Kelly at All-Music Guide, the song is an allegory casting America as a young girl, with a nifty, if somewhat predictable, lyrical twist: “Do you miss America? I know I do.” The record, which peaked at No. 44, is pure pop with nothing of rock about it, and – not recalling it at all from 1970 – I wonder if the implicit political commentary kept programmers from playing it.

‘She Goes Walkin’ Past My Window . . .’

December 27, 2011

A couple of days ago, looking ahead to the first after-Christmas post here, I started digging around in the Billboard charts. One of the Hot 100 charts that came out on December 27 – today’s date – was in 1969. Here’s the Top Ten that week:

“Someday We’ll Be Together” by the Supremes
“Leaving On A Jet Plane” by Peter, Paul & Mary
“Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head” by B.J. Thomas
“Down On The Corner/Fortunate Son” by Creedence Clearwater Revival
“Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye” by Steam
“Holly Holy” by Neil Diamond
“Come Together/Something” by the Beatles
“I Want You Back” by the Jackson 5
“Whole Lotta Love/Living Loving Maid” by Led Zeppelin
“Take A Letter Maria” by R.B. Greaves

Boy, there is nothing there that I would not want to hear coming out of my radio. I don’t know that I ever heard the B-side of the Zeppelin record back then, but the rest were – and still are – about as familiar as any music in any year. I don’t know, however, that I have much to say about the records at the top of the chart anymore.

So, as I frequently do, I dropped to the bottom of that Hot 100 to see if there was anything I missed forty-two years ago. And moving up through the Bubbling Under portion, I saw a title that seemed familiar sitting at No. 113: “She Lets Her Hair Down (Early In The Morning)” by Don Young. A quick check of the reference library told me that the record peaked at No. 104 in the first weeks of 1970. It turned out to be the only record that the Brooklyn-born Young ever got near the pop chart. Still, it’s pretty good.

I kept scanning the Bubbling Under section of that Hot 100, and just six spots higher, at No. 107, was Gene Pitney with the same title: “She Lets Her Hair Down (Early In The Morning).” Pitney’s version went to No. 89 in early 1970 and has the distinction of being the last of thirty-one records that Pitney placed in or near the chart between 1961 and 1970.

I’d never heard either Young’s or Pitney’s version before. But the tune was familiar, as was the title. So I began digging and learned that two other versions of the same tune made the Hot 100 or its Bubbling Under section. The best-performing of all the versions was by the Tokens, whose version of “She Lets Her Hair Down (Early In The Morning)” was sitting at No. 68 during that last week of 1969, on its way to a peak of No. 61.

And the version that fared the worst was a cover of the tune by Bobby Sherman, who released “Early In The Morning” in the spring of 1973. That version topped off at No. 113.

But none of that explained why the tune was familiar. So I checked on its writers: Paul Vance and Leon Carr, according to All-Music Guide. Various indices noted that the two had written several pop tunes, with one of the indices listing eight of them. But it didn’t list “She Lets Her Hair Down (Early In The Morning),” so I figured it wasn’t complete. And I began wading through links on Google and elsewhere.

Vance, as it turns out, is someone whose name I should have known, a writer and producer whose co-writing credits include “Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini” (No. 1 in 1960 for Brian Hyland), “Catch A Falling Star” (No. 1 in 1958 for Perry Como) and the parody “Leader of the Laundromat” (No. 19 in 1965 for the Detergents). A look at his page at Wikipedia is instructive.

Carr, who passed on in 1976, had a list of credits nearly as impressive, in both popular music and advertising. Those credits include, Wikipedia notes, the “Sometimes You Feel Like A Nut . . .” jingle for Mounds and Almond Joy candy bars as well as the “See the U.S.A. in Your Chevrolet” jingle made famous by Dinah Shore:

Having wandered far astray – and not being bothered by that one bit – I refocused on Vance and Carr’s tune, “She Lets Her Hair Down (Early In The Morning).” I found a listing of tracks and writers for a greatest hits album by the Cuff Links, who had a No. 9 hit with “Tracy” in late 1969. There I saw a familiar title. For some reason, I have the entire Tracy album by the Cuff Links both on vinyl and in mp3 form, so I did a quick search. And among the blues, folk and pop tunes with the title “Early In The Morning” was a familiar album track by the Cuff Links:

I probably prefer Pitney’s version, but Ron Dante and his studio pals did a pretty decent job on a sweet pop song.

A Baker’s Dozen For Memorial Day 2008

June 29, 2011

Originally posted May 26, 2008

As I keep reading the same things in the newspapers and magazine and on the ’Net, and as I keep hearing and seeing the same things on television and radio as I did a year ago, it seems fitting to present here today the same things I did a year ago.

Maybe next year can be different.

“Requiem for the Masses” by the Association, Warner Bros. single 7074, 1967

“I Ain’t Marchin’ Anymore” by Phil Ochs from Rehearsals For Retirement, 1969

“War” by Edwin Starr, Gordy single 7101, 1970

“Where Have All The Flowers Gone” by Peter, Paul & Mary from Peter, Paul & Mary, 1962

“One Tin Soldier (Legend of Billy Jack)” by Coven, Warner Bros. single 7509, 1971

“Universal Soldier” by Buffy Sainte-Marie from It’s My Way!, 1964

”Masters of War” by Bob Dylan from Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, 1962

“Give Peace A Chance” by the Plastic Ono Band (John Lennon), Apple single 1809, 1969

“2+2=” by the Bob Seger System from Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man, 1968

“Handsome Johnny” by Richie Havens from Mixed Bag, 1967

“Bring The Boys Home” by Freda Payne, Invictus single 9092, 1971

“All The Young Women” by the Cuff Links from Tracy, 1970

“Bring ’Em Home” by Bruce Springsteen from We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions (American Land Edition) [live in Detroit, most likely], 2006

As I noted a year ago, times have changed enough since Freda Payne, Peter, Paul & Mary, and the Cuff Links recorded their songs that we now need to bring the girls home, and we need to grieve with all the young men who have lost loved ones. The Springsteen track is a different version than a year ago.

A Baker’s Dozen For Memorial Day

April 22, 2011

Originally posted May 28, 2007

There’s not a lot to say today. I think these songs speak for themselves.

“Requiem for the Masses” by the Association, Warner Bros. single 7074, 1967

“I Ain’t Marchin’ Anymore” by Phil Ochs from Rehearsals For Retirement, 1969

“War” by Edwin Starr, Gordy single 7101, 1970

“Where Have All The Flowers Gone?” by Peter, Paul & Mary from Peter, Paul & Mary, 1962

“One Tin Soldier” by Coven, Warner Bros. single 7509, 1971

“Universal Soldier” by Buffy Sainte-Marie from It’s My Way!, 1964

“Masters of War” by Bob Dylan from Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, 1962

“Give Peace A Chance” by John Lennon, Apple single 1809, 1970

“2+2=” by the Bob Seger System from Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man, 1968

“Handsome Johnny” by Richie Havens from Mixed Bag, 1967

“Bring The Boys Home” by Freda Payne, Invictus single 9092, 1971

“All The Young Women” by the Cuff Links from Tracy, 1970

“Bring ’Em Home” by Bruce Springsteen & the Seeger Sessions Band, Late Night With Conan O’Brien, June 23, 2006

(I should note that times have changed enough since Freda Payne, Peter, Paul & Mary, and the Cuff Links recorded their songs that we now need to bring the girls home, and we need to grieve with all the young men who have lost loved ones.)

Just Too Early

February 3, 2010

The Texas Gal doesn’t have to travel often for her job, a fact that she and I both appreciate. But every once in a while, there’s no way around it. So it was this morning, as she and a few co-workers headed for Chicago. Their flight was set to leave the Twin Cities at seven o’clock, and security concerns require passengers to be at the airport an hour before the flight.

So for the past few days, the Texas Gal and her co-workers were counting hours back from six in the morning to set the schedule. They decided to meet this morning at half past four at a truck stop parking lot located near Interstate 94, their route to the Twin Cities. Thus, our alarm went off at a little past three o’clock this morning. The Texas Gal did her last bits of packing, and we got her bags into the car and headed out for the small town of Clearwater twelve miles away, where the truck stop overlooks the highway.

I’m not much of a morning person. (Neither, for that matter, is the Texas Gal.) If I had my druthers, I’d likely sleep until noon and be active each night into the wee hours. But even as a house-husband, that’s not practical. And during the years I was in the workforce, my presence was required on my various jobs at a relatively early hour. So when I was working, I trained myself to get to bed earlier and get up earlier. During my newspapering days, I was frequently the first one into the office, and I learned that I could get a lot of routine work done during those early hours.

And that remains true even when the work I do is my own. I tend to write my posts for this blog in the early hours, generally finishing before ten o’clock and almost always before noon.

But I’m still not much of a morning person. Especially today. I think as soon as I get this posted, I’ll grab a nibble and get some rest. Sometimes early is just too early.

A Six-Pack of Early
“Early In The Morning” by Buddy Holly, Coral 62006 [1958]
“Early In The Morning” by Vanity Fare, Page One 21027 [1969]
“Early Morning Rain” by Peter, Paul & Mary from See What Tomorrow Brings [1965]
“Early In The Morning” by The Cuff Links from Tracy [1969]
“Early Morning Riser” by Pure Prairie League from Bustin’ Out [1972]
“Early In The Morning” by Corey Harris from Between Midnight & Day [1995]

Buddy Holly’s “Early In The Morning” was written by Bobby Darin and recorded with backing vocals from – according to the Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits – the Helen Way Singers, a group that did lots of session work during the late 1950s, based on a quick Google search. The record went to No. 32 on one of the various charts kept during the late 1950s and to No. 45 on another. It was Holly’s last Top 40 hit before his death: In early 1959, “It Doesn’t Matter Anymore” entered the Top 40 on March 9, a little more than a month after Holly’s death.

Vanity Fare was a British pop group that, quite frankly, always puts me in mind of the groups that Tony Burrows was involved with: White Plains, Edison Lighthouse, the Brotherhood of Man and so on. But the Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits lists five other names and no Burrows as members. “Early In The Morning” was a pleasant little ditty and went to No. 12 during a nine-week stay in the Top 40 as 1969 ended and 1970 began. Vanity Fare’s better-known hit, “Hitchin’ A Ride,” went to No. 5 during the spring of 1970.

“Early Morning Rain” is a durable Gordon Lightfoot tune that first showed up – as far as I can tell – as the title tune for an Ian & Sylvia LP in 1965. The composer’s own version shows up on Lightfoot! in 1966. By that time, the song had been covered by numerous folk artists and a few others, too, and over the more than forty years since then, the song has continued to attract musicians: Paul Weller included it on his 2005 album of covers, Studio 150. Peter, Paul & Mary covered the song on their 1965 album See What Tomorrow Brings. Here’s a video of a performance on the BBC that was most likely recorded around that time:

If there was an American equivalent of Tony Burrows, one of the nominees has to be Ron Dante, who was the voice of the Archies and of the Cuff Links in 1969 (and had previously sung as the Detergents on the spoof hit “Leader of the Laundromat”).  “Tracy” was the hit for the Cuff Links, reaching No. 9 during late 1969. One of the bits of filler on the Tracy album was “Early In The Morning,” which wasn’t a bad piece, as those things go.

Being an early morning rise sounds more appealing when Pure Prairie League is singing about it. The song was an album track on the group’s second album, Bustin’ Out, which remains one of the great country-rock albums. The hit on the album – though it took a few years for RCA to release it as a single – was “Amie,” which went to No. 27 in early 1975.

 Corey Harris, says All-Music Guide, “has earned substantial critical acclaim as one of the few contemporary bluesmen able to channel the raw, direct emotion of acoustic Delta blues without coming off as an authenticity-obsessed historian. Although he is well versed in the early history of blues guitar, he’s no well-mannered preservationist, mixing a considerable variety of influences — from New Orleans to the Caribbean to Africa — into his richly expressive music. In doing so, he’s managed to appeal to a wide spectrum of blues fans, from staunch traditionalists to more contemporary sensibilities.” I first came across Harris through his performance of “Walkin’ Blues” on the 2000 release, Dealin’ With The Devil – Songs Of Robert Johnson. Since then, I’ve only heard a few other things from Harris, but I’ve liked what I’ve heard. “Early In The Morning” is from his 1995 debut album.

— whiteray