Desert Island Jukebox: My 300 Favorite 45s of the 1960s (Songs 16 through 20)

by M.C. Antil on December 19, 2014

60sAs one of those high-energy and ubiquitous AM station IDs at the top of the hour might have bellowed out a lifetime ago, as a tympani thundered in the background...And the hit’s just keep on comin’!


Desert Island Jukebox: Part 1
Desert Island Jukebox: Part 2
Desert Island Jukebox: Part 3
Desert Island Jukebox: Part 4
Desert Island Jukebox: Part 5
Desert Island Jukebox: Part 6
Desert Island Jukebox: Part 7
Desert Island Jukebox: Part 8
Desert Island Jukebox: Part 9
Desert Island Jukebox: Songs 26 thru 30
Desert Island Jukebox: Songs 21 thru 25
Desert Island Jukebox: Songs 16 thru 20
Desert Island Jukebox: Songs 11 thru 15
Desert Island Jukebox: Songs 6 thru 10
Desert Island Jukebox: Songs 1 thru 5

16. Wonderful Summer
Robin Ward
Robin Ward
While many of my friends daydreamed about winning Game Seven of the World Series with a bottom of the 9th home run off Sandy Koufax or Bob Gibson, connecting on a game-winning basket over the outstretched arms of, say, Bill Russell or Wilt Chamberlain, or maybe scoring a touchdown as time expired on a pinpoint pass into the corner of the end zone from Johnny Unitas, I spent most the decade fantasizing about something else entirely. I spent many a June and July day conjuring up images of meeting and having a breathless, whirlwind summer fling with a pretty little girl with big eyes, soft lips and long flowing hair; an idle daydream that took on an almost epic sense of urgency every time this song came on my little green plastic transistor. A song that to this day remains, just maybe, the single most romantic marriage of words and melody in pop music’s long and glorious history of summer songs.

17. Full Measure
Lovin’ Spoonful
As I have mentioned a few times, and as you may have now gathered, I was crazy about the Lovin’ Spoonful. They were, quite simply, my favorite band of the decade. I wrote at some point as well that one Christmas (1966 to be exact) I opened what turned out to be my greatest Christmas gift ever – the Red Ryder BB gun of my lifetime – six all-new recently released albums, a mix of surefire hits hums of the lovinand would-be sleepers, compliments of mom and dad operating under the careful guidance of the guys behind the counter at Gerber Music: Groovin’, Buffalo Springfield Again, Along Comes…the Association, Supremes a Go-Go, More of the Monkees and Hums of the Lovin’ Spoonful. Of those six, the last completely won my mind, if not my heart. And the one song on that LP that rose above the rest was this one. I can’t really explain it. Full Measure was not rock. And it was hardly pop. I wasn’t sure what it was. But it had a sound, feel and message I’d never heard before. It was just, I don’t know, different. In fact, it dared to be different. Its musical style was an island unto itself and its sense of maturity self-evident. And yet, it still somehow maintained an almost child-like innocence. Released as the B-side of Nashville Cats, the tune received little airplay anywhere except in L.A., where DJ’s began flipping the 45 over and playing its B-side. The song took off there, but nowhere else in the U.S., including Syracuse. I only heard it because that Christmas my parents Nashville Catshad given me the album. And to listen to it today — to hear Joe Boone’s vocals, to hear its odd but beguiling collection of non-traditional instruments, including a harmonium, triangle and what sounds like a toy piano, and to listen to its message of giving and the joy therein — is to be flown back through time to a day in 1966, during which I sat there and over the course of one snowy Christmas morning fell in love with an album and, in particular, a song. This song. A song that, the more I played it, and the more I found myself captivated by its sound, willingness to be different, and heartfelt message – a message that told me there was greater joy to be found in giving than receiving – I began to realize that, just maybe, somewhere buried deep within all this little boy, there was, indeed, a man hiding in here somewhere.

18. Six Days on the Road
Dave Dudley
It’s not that I’m not a fan of trucker songs. Hell, yours truly fell hook, line and sinker for a few of Red Sovine’s lump-in-the-throat numbers like Teddy Bear and Phantom 309, was nuts about Hank Snow’s I’m Movin’ On and I’ve Been Everywhere, and took a backseat to no one in my admiration for East Bound and Down and that golden thumb dave_dudley_-_six_days_on_the_roadof Jerry Reed’s. And that’s not to mention Convoy, The Girl on the Billboard, Roll on Big Momma, Midnight Hauler and God knows how many others. But the problem is, to me all trucker songs have always felt like occasions for some soft-skinned man who never knew a callous or skinned knuckle in their lives, and who couldn’t back up a semi in a open parking lot, much less a busy city street, to enter the studio and pretend he’s an over-the-road hauler. Except Dave Dudley. I listened this guy, especially on this brawny, ballsy 45, and I could almost see him singing as he’s down-shifting through the hills of Tennessee or flashing some chain-smoking fellow gear-jammer. It’s almost as though he’d turned the cab of that old rig of his – its smoke a-blowing black as coal – into a full-blown studio, just so he could lay down a song whenever one came to him. In fact, when I heard lines like “I’m taking little white pills and my eyes are open wide” I could almost feel his white-line fever and sense his desperate need to get back to that little woman of his. You’d listen Dudley singleto this one and inherent understand that the man craved nothing more than what any trucker would want after too many days (and nights) on the road; a cold beer, a home-cooked meal, and about, I don’t know, maybe six hours’ worth of rodeo sex. It’s still all there between the lines and I love the truth, the matter-of-factness, and the bristling male confidence of this incredible recording. You can talk about all you want about anthems like Whipping Post, Free BirdStairway to Heaven and Jumping Jack Flash. Truth be told, this just may be my favorite anthem of all; a sweaty, coffee-stained and slightly gamey trucker’s anthem — not to mention a clarion call for every Teamster or long-hauler who’s ever double clutched an 18-wheeler, driven too many hours without sleep, worn a kidney belt out of necessity, or showered in the same place he’s loaded up his saddle bags.

19. Uptight (Everything’s Alright)
Stevie Wonder

stevie wonderAfter the success of Fingertips, Part 2, Stevie Wonder sold so poorly for two years that Berry Gordy told those near him he was not going to renew the young prodigy’s contract, which was set to expire. Hearing that, and knowing it would be a colossal mistake to let Wonder go, Motown staff writer Sylvia Moy immediately ran to her partner, Henry Cosby, with a little riff Wonder – who’d recently become enthralled with the guitar hook and driving rhythm of (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction – had been toying around with a day or two earlier. She told Crosby, “We gotta write this kid a hit now.” The two then spent hours developing Wonder’s little riff into a full-fledged song. A day or two later, when they went into Studio A to lay the thing down, they did so without the benefit of a braille machine. So Moy found herself having to stand there and prompt Wonder in real time by softly singing each line into his ear as it came around. It didn’t matter. The end result was this driving, thundering, lightning bolt that caused Gordy to have an abrupt change of heart about his prodigy, a young man who, himself, would soon become a legend, and who would soon change the fortunes of Motown Records, if not the face and direction of all pop music.

20. I See the Light
Five Americans
In 1967, the Five Americans, a band of high school buddies from Dallas by way of Oklahoma, caught lighting in a bottle and scored a Top Ten hit with Western Union, a gimmicky little ditty they wrote around a sound their guitar player developed one day that reminded them all of a Western Union ticker. From that point on, they became a 250px-Five_Americanspop band. Prior to that, however, the boys had been budding folk-rockers whose music was a loose marriage of the jingle jangle sound of the Byrds and Beau Brummels. Before that still, the Five Americans had been a straightforward, rock ‘n roll band fueled by a delectable combination of rage, hormones and the burning desire to not just be heard, but matter. Throw in a beautifully raw Farfisa organ and what they came up with one day in was this, one of the most overlooked garage classics ever. Critics can talk all they want about Americana being roots music, which may be true. But as far as rock ‘n roll goes, roots don’t get any purer or more earnest than this. There’s been a petition around for years trying to get the Five Americans into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I’m sorry; I just think that would be a mistake. Because the Five Americans were never a great band. They were simply five kids from the heartland who, long before they ever earned their 15 minutes, one day went in the studio, turned on the tape machine, and for two glorious minutes and ten seconds reached inside themselves and found greatness.

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