Sweden didn't have a baby boomer generation or a generation Jones. Our big birth periods are the early forties, during the war, and the late sixties/early seventies. And that makes this list of the most played songs on US radio incredibly fascinating to me from my Swedish perspective. I'm struck by just how much of the music never made it across here, and if it did it certainly doesn't get played on the radio these days.
Most of the music on the list, generally the oldies hits of the sixties and a lot of the eighties material, is obviously familiar to me. But it's interesting (considering how much I love music, and especially American music) that there's so much stuff from the Soft Rock side of the late sixties and early seventies that I've quite simply never heard of. I'm obviously missing out on huge chunks of American culture!
Already in the top five there's a song that I'm only very vaguely familiar with: Never My Love by The Association. I'm not sure if I've ever heard it before, and it's actually fairly good, slightly folk-rock, slightly Beach Boys. Apparently there's a whole (hugely successful) genre of "Sunshine Pop" that almost completely passed us Swedes by: Up, Up And Away by The Fifth Dimension is another top 25 song I've never heard of, what a totally psyched-out hippie track to make it that high up the list! It is about drugs isn't it?
The top 25 has some more unusual surprises: two astoundingly cringeworthy whitebread covers of soul classics Baby I Need Your Loving and (Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher by some guy named Johnny Rivers and some woman named Rita Coolidge respectively. I thought that practice died out in the fifties? Apparently not! I'm also positively surprised at the inclusion of a song about masturbation in the top 25, but that one I've obviously heard before. Still great though!
The questions keep amassing as I go down the list. Like, who on earth are these clean-faced bozos?
Why does this obscure early soul track and this obscure soft soul track rate so highly? Why does this get played more than anything else Don Henley has ever been involved in? Who is Anne Murray? Matt Monro? Mason Williams? Eddie Rabbit? Bertie Higgins?
It also answers a couple of questions, like: Why did Carol Williams do a cover of More as her big number at Salsoul? The original was a huge hit! (It doesn't feature on Youtube, just like a surprising number of tracks on the list.) Why does the Monkees last hit Daydream Believer get played so much more in clubs than their other stuff? It's a radio favourite!
It's certainly been an interesting dig through lots of crap going down the list. But it's definitely been worth it to find the glimmers of gold. Who knew Brook Benton did such menacing Doo-Wop? The intensely weird Little River Band and the wonderfully weary-voiced Sammi Smith are two other acquaintances I'm definately looking to make again.
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