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Music of a Lifetime #16: The Day Music (and Charts) Took Over My Life

I actually remember the moment when music took over my life.

It was right around July 20, 1968. I don't know if that was the exact date, but I know it was the date on the first music chart I ever saw. It was in our local paper, I believe, on the same page as the TV listings. Just a short little piece of column that listed the ten biggest records in the country.

Up until that point, I was much more into science, mainly the space program. I remember liking music and owned a few 45's. I remember watching the Beatles on the Ed Sullivan Show. I heard a lot of music but mainly coming from the Easy Listening WHAM, which was always on when I was getting ready for school, so there was a lot more Englebert Humperdinck than The Who. It was around, but I never had any real drive to learn about it.

Than came the chart. Numbers 1 through 10. Each a little more "popular" than the other, all ranked right in front of my eyes.
  1. Grazing in the Grass - Hugh Masakela
  2. Lady Willpower - Gary Puckett & the Union Gap
  3. Jumpin' Jack Flash - The Rolling Stones
  4. This Guys in Love With You - Herb Alpert
  5. The Horse - Cliff Nobles & Company
  6. Stoned Soul Picnic - The 5th Dimension
  7. Hurdy Gurdy Man - Donovan
  8. Classical Gas - Mason Williams
  9. Hello, I Love You - The Doors
  10. Indian Lake - The Cowsills
I knew Herb Alpert and the 5th Dimension from the radio but the rest were all new to me and that led to seeking out the local top forty station and seeing what these popular songs sounded like (yes, we had to wait until the DJ played them.....no streaming in those days).

The thing is, there was such a HUGE variety of music on top 40 in those days. Three of the top ten were instrumentals, one based in jazz, one in R&B and one in classical pop. There was what we would now consider Adult Contemporary with Herb Alpert (his first record that WASN'T an instrumental), Gary Puckett and the Cowsills. Then there were the outliers, the Stones and the Doors.

I would follow those charts every week from that date until, well today (except for about a decade and a half when kids took away my attention). Within weeks, those genres already in the top ten would see the addition of vocal R&B (Slip Away by Clarence Carter, Who's Making Love by Johnny Taylor), Country (Harper Valley P.T.A. by Jeannie C. Riley), Blue Eyed Soul (People Got to Be Free by the Rascals), screaming off the wall rock (Fire by The Crazy World of Arthur Brown) and, of course, the Beatles (Hey June/Revolution).

It was a great time for music, one where every genre mixed on the radio, and it all was reflected in those weekly music charts.

1. Grazing in the Grass - Hugh Masakela


2. Lady Willpower - Gary Puckett & the Union Gap


3. Jumpin' Jack Flash - The Rolling Stones


4. This Guys in Love With You - Herb Alpert

5. The Horse - Cliff Nobles & Company


6. Stoned Soul Picnic - The 5th Dimension


7. Hurdy Gurdy Man - Donovan


8. Classical Gas - Mason Williams


9. Hello, I Love You - The Doors


10. Indian Lake - The Cowsills


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