February 4, 2021

Music in 1969: Was I too Young or Am I Blocking It Out?


I ran across this YouTube video that listed the top songs of 1969. Go watch it before reading further so that this makes more sense.

I turned 7 years old in 1969 so I thought it likely I would remember much of these songs. By 7 you are old enough to remember TV and music. Turns out I do remember many of them. Some were classics, such as Creedence Clearwater Revival’s (CCR) “Proud Mary” and “Bad Moon Rising.” Others were so bad they ended up in those lists of Worst Songs of All Time.

While listening to this video a few things occurred to me.

  1. Motown and R&B made up a huge portion of the top hits of 1969. Classic Motown and R&B bands such as The Isley Brothers, Sly and the Family Stone, and Marvin Gaye are featured prominently in the list alongside others that no one has heard of since.
  2. Bubblegum pop was really popular at that time. The Number One hit of 1969 was the ultimate bubblegum pop record, “Sugar Sugar” by the Archies. I had that record. It came in a box of cereal and I snatched it up before my siblings could get it. I was 7 – that’s how bubblegum pop that song is.
  3. Missing from the list is many of the bands that we think of as classic rock. No Led Zepplin, The Doors, or Jimi Hendrix. It was cool to see CCR chart twice but you would think something from The Doors’ “Soft Parade” would chart in the top 30. Apparently not.
  4. Much of these songs are just terrible. Classic bad songs like “In the Year 2525” by Zager & Evans and “Baby, I Love You” by Andy Kimare are featured here. It’s amazing how awful some of these songs are.
  5. There are two songs by two different groups from the musical “Hair.” “Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In” from the 5th Dimension played on AM radio for years after this. The Cowsills version of “Hair” though is the kind of song that disappeared quickly from our cultural consciousnesses. Fun fact: The Cowsills were a family band that were the inspiration and template for The Partridge Family TV show.

With so many awful tunes charting in 1969, I keep wondering if I just don’t remember them because I was 7 and no one played these songs after 1969. On the other, I might be blocking out these songs because they suck so bad that my young mind needed to protect itself from them. I don’t know. It’s entertaining to see what people were listening to and a bit disconcerting. My only responsibility here is with “Sugar Sugar.” It was the first record I owned and I played it until it wore out both the record player and my parents’ patience. They were they saints for putting up with that.