Monday’s Music Moves Me: #1 At WLS On Memorial Day In The ’60’s

Getting a late start today. No particular reason…

First, Happy Memorial Day, although that doesn’t seem right to say on a day that commemorates our fallen service members. We owe a lot to the men and women who gave their lives in the struggle to maintain our freedom, and sadly, there’s no way to thank them for it. Someone posted on Instagram (I’m having trouble finding it) that today is a day to celebrate the freedom the fallen have bought for us and paid with their lives. I think that’s as good a way as any to think of it. And let’s not forget the other fallen veterans, the dogs, horses, goats, mules, carrier pigeons, camels and other animals who lost their lives in the cause.

Memorial Day was celebrated on May 30 from 1868 until 1970, after which the celebration was moved to the last Monday in May. WLS in Chicago started publishing its weekly survey in October 1960, so here are the #1 songs from the survey immediately preceding May 30 for each year from 1961 through 1970. WCFL started playing Top 40 in late 1965, so I’ll give the song that was #1 for them starting in 1966.

  • 1961: Ricky Nelson, “Hello Mary Lou” One of my favorites, largely due to the James Burton guitar solo that inspired so many guitar players, or so it seems. Jumped all the way from #9 the week before. (Survey from May 27.)
  • 1962: Ray Charles, “I Can’t Stop Loving You” Having conquered the world of R&B, Ray tackled country music and was just as successful. Jumped from #8 the week before. (May 26.)
  • 1963: Lesley Gore, “It’s My Party” Lesley was celebrating her last week at #1 with this song on Memorial Day. The next day, she was supplanted by Ryu Sakamoto’s “Sukiyaki” (“Ue O Muite Arokou”), which jumped from #13 the previous week. (May 24)
  • 1964: The Beatles, “Love Me Do” A two-sided hit with “P.S. I Love You”, it remained at #1 from the week before. I’m pretty certain this isn’t The Fab Four doing this, but I couldn’t find an actual version. (May 29)
  • 1965: Herman’s Hermits, “Silhouettes” An upbeat cover of The Rays’ 1957 song, this stayed at #1 from the week before. (May 28)
  • 1966: The Rolling Stones, “Paint It Black” Hopped to the top spot from #5 the week before, supplanting The Mamas & Papas’ “Monday, Monday.” Down Wacker Drive at WCFL, “Monday, Monday” still topped the chart. (May 27)
  • 1967: Jefferson Airplane, “Somebody To Love” Knocked Tommy James & The Shondells’ “Mirage” out of the top spot. The same exact thing happened at Marina City on WCFL, one of the few times they were in sync. (May 26)
  • 1968: The Ohio Express, “Yummy, Yummy, Yummy” Bubblegum reigned supreme as “Yummy3” spent another week atop the Silver Dollar Survey. Meanwhile, the last take-home survey WCFL issued was from the week before (May 23), when Tommy James & The Shondells’ “Mony Mony” topped the survey. There was no survey the week of the 30th, and the June 6 survey (of which one copy was sent to the record stores) had “Yummy, Yummy, Yummy” in the top spot. (May 27)
  • 1969: The Beatles, “Get Back” The Beatles, who were on the verge of breaking up by now, topped the charts for a second consecutive week. A visit to your local record store on May 28 showed that “Get Back” as well as its flip side, “Don’t Let Me Down,” topped the Big 10. (May 26)
  • 1970: Creedence Clearwater Revival, “Up Around The Bend” CCR overtook Simon & Garfunkel’s oft-reviled “Cecilia” for the top spot at The Big 89. Vanity Fare’s “Hitchin’ A Ride” topped The Big 10 Countdown for a second week. (May 25)

I’ve enjoyed my month as your Guest Conductor, and hey, if you’re interested in joining us on Mondays, here’s what you do: check Xmas Dolly’s blog for the theme of the day, build your playlist (and it doesn’t have to be ten songs long, and it doesn’t even have to be a playlist) accordingly, and, when you’ve published your post, go to the Linky, which this week is

HERE

and enter your information. Then go visit the other bloggers doing this, who will be listed on the Linky page.

And that’s Monday’s Music Moves Me for Memorial Day, May 28, 2018.

Monday’s Music Moves Me is sponsored by X-Mas Dolly, Callie, Cathy, Alana, Michelle and Stacy, so be sure and visit them, where you can also find the Linky for the other participants.


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Author: John Holton

I'm a writer and blogger who writes and blogs about things that interest me.

30 thoughts on “Monday’s Music Moves Me: #1 At WLS On Memorial Day In The ’60’s”

  1. Mony, Mony came from Tommy James’ view of Metropolitan of New York (and that and 49 cents used to buy a really bad cup of coffee). Here’s the story from the man himself:

    True story: I had the track done before I had a title. I wanted something catchy like “Sloopy” or “Bony Maroney,” but everything sounded so stupid. So Ritchie Cordell and I were writing it in New York City, and we were about to throw in the towel when I went out onto the terrace, looked up and saw the Mutual of New York building (which has its initials illuminated in red at its top). I said, “That’s gotta be it! Ritchie, come here, you’ve gotta see this!” It’s almost as if God Himself had said, “Here’s the title.” I’ve always thought that if I had looked the other way, it might have been called “Hotel Taft”.

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  2. More old memories from the red Sony transistor radio I held by my ear at night –

    “A thumb goes up, a car goes by
    Won’t somebody stop to help a guy…”

    -Vanity Fare

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  3. I agree with you 100% about Memorial Day. I thank ex-military friends like E.J. “Ted” Klapka Jr. for their service from time to time, but you can’t thank the ones who are gone.

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  4. I was of the generation that watched “Ricky”on television, but my favorite of his songs was “Lonesome Town”. Look at the variety in this list – bubblegum and Jefferson Airplane…and how things have changed.

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    1. Now everything is pretty much the same, at least as far as the Top 40 is concerned. In the ’60’s everything had a chance on the Top 40: Country, Easy Listening, Folk, and Rock all lived side-by-side in peace.

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  5. I always like to thank the veteran’s every chance I get. They have done so much for me. Great selections. I always like to see what was popular on different dates. I think that helps to keep us well-rounded.

    ~Mary

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    1. It’s easy to do, too: find the survey and count down the Top 10. I have fun doing it, because I end up hearing songs that have been lost over time. Oldies stations limit themselves to just the most popular songs, but working with the surveys you hear a lot more.

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  6. Hey John,
    I’m on the second round of your playlist. I so LOVE “Hello, Mary Lou”. That sure takes me back! I loved that song when I was a kid and still love it. My folks had Ricky Nelson albums.
    It’s so awesome to see how the music changed over the course of a decade. I’m glad you included “Paint It Black” on a day we are honoring our service men and women: I always associate that song with the Vietnam War for some reason. Maybe because it’s been used in Vietnam movie soundtracks? I don’t know but I always think of our soldiers who were in Vietnam when that song comes on. It’s interesting the vast difference a year makes, going from Herman’s Hermits “Silhouettes” to the Stones “Paint It Black.”
    And then here comes the Bubblegum years. “Yummy Yummy” is such a good song. I was young back then so very age-appropriate for the genre and so there were several Bubblegum hits that I really like, including Yummy and “Sugar Sugar” by the Archies. I can’t exactly recall when the switch was being made from AM to FM and what year that all really took root. But for sure I remember my little black transister radio and the radio that sat atop my headboard with the dial and the antennae that I often had to futz with…

    Excellent playlist here. What a great snapshot of change during that decade that was all about change…

    You probably already heard this but both of your Beatles videos stop your playlist, directing folks to watch/listen on YouTube. But I couldn’t find away to move forward or backward when landing on these videos; I had to jump out and refresh the page to get back into your playlist.

    Well, I know for sure what my earworm of the week is going to be: Ohio Express will be running around in my head this week. Fun stuff! 🙂

    Michele at Angels Bark

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  7. John,

    Let me start by saying how much fun it’s been having you as May’s honorary co-host. You did a fabulous job and I loved your theme choices. I hope your experience was every bit as fun as your presence on the dance floor.

    Today’s playlist did not fail to disappoint. I think it’s kinda neat that I have sort of a connection to WLS. During my courtship years with DH, he often mentioned listening to WLS. He lived on top of a mountain in southern WV which placed him at a great advantage for picking up far away radio stations like WLS in Chicago. It wasn’t until years later that I actually listened to WLS most often in the car during our trips to and from WV for visits.

    I’ve always liked the sound of Ricky Nelson. What a golden voice he had! Lesley Gore, “It’s My Party” is a favorite of mine from the 60s. What an interesting thing that you also referenced “Sukiyaki” because Sunday on our way home from the mountains this tune came across the radio. DH & I talked about remembering this song as very little children and how much that we liked it. DH confessed that the words baffled him but he was only four years old at the time. Interesting still is that although we could not understand the lyrics, we knew that it was a love song. Here are the words in English for anyone wishing to read the translation. It’s sad that Sakamoto died at only 44 years of age in 1985. Jefferson Airplane “Somebody to Love” is a groovy tune and I think The Ohio Express “Yummy, Yummy, Yummy” is a fun bubblegum pop hit. CCR is a fabulous band from yesteryear. I always love hearing their tunes!

    Thanks for sharing such a dance-worthy playlist for us get to our feet and boogie. I hope you had an enjoyable holiday weekend. Have an excellent week, my friend!

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    1. WLS was one of the “clear channel” stations for years (others were WLW in Cincinnati, WSM in Nashville, and KMOX in St. Louis). They were licensed to broadcast at 50,000 watts 24 hours a day using an omnidirectional antenna, so they could be heard all over the nation (at least, west of the Rocky Mountains) at night. Chicago had a bunch of them, including WGN and WCFL.

      The words to “Sukiyaki” have nothing to do with food. The record company in the US gave it that name because they figured no one would remember the real name and go into record stores and ask them for “that sukiyaki record.” They could have given it the English version of the name (“I Look Up As I Walk”), but no…

      Glad you liked this list. The record-buyers in Chicago had good taste.

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  8. I love your picks of songs because so many are just great. I had to smile that the song “Need Somebody to Love” is followed by “Yummy, Yummy, Yummy”…I did laugh a bit. In some ways I think the younger generation just think this was a weekend to party and start the summer. I hope it is drilled into kids and others how important your weekend is. We celebrate in November but it is just a day and not a long weekend plus it is not a statutory holiday which is a shame. The position is that the kids learn about Remembrance Day and what it means instead of having a day off. I still think it should be a holiday.

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    1. When I choose a theme like this one, I typically don’t know what songs will be part of the playlist until I go to Oldiesloon or ARSA and look at the survey or surveys that the radio stations put out, so I don’t exactly pick the songs myself. I can be just as surprised as anyone by what the survey says…

      It all goes back to the law Congress passed back in 1970 that moved many holidays to Monday so people could have a 3-day weekend. In some cases, they re-thought it, most notably Independence Day (July 4) and Veterans’ Day (November 11). Why they haven’t done that with Memorial Day, which commemorates service members killed in action, I don’t know, but I understand now why the American Legion and VFW were so against moving it from May 30.

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  9. This is a great list, John! I was a fan of Ricky Nelson – wow, some great memories! Unfortunately, Memorial Day is not appreciated for its true meaning.

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    1. Back when they passed the law that switched most Federal holidays to Monday, the American Legion and VFW were really against moving Memorial Day from May 30. Now I think I understand why.

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  10. I didn’t know that Memorial Day was observed on May 30th for years – glad it was changed so it’s not a ‘floating’ day. 🙂

    Great song selections as usual, John! I enjoyed those! Thanks for being an awesome co-conductor for the month of May! You had great theme ideas, and we appreciated you helping us keep the train moving! 😉 Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

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    1. If you’re under 50, you wouldn’t remember when Washington’s birthday (still the official name for President’s Day) was on February 22 (if you lived in Illinois, you also got Lincoln’s birthday on February 12), Columbus day on October 12, or Memorial Day on May 30. They tried moving Independence Day to the first Monday in July and Veterans Day to the second Monday in November, then moved them right back, because of this historical meaning, but didn’t see the same reason for Memorial Day.

      This was a lot of fun! Thanks for asking me!

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