1,000 Greatest Songs of the 1960s – 890 to 881
Phil Ochs gets tired of walking.
890. “Nothing Takes the Place of You,” Toussaint McCall. Songwriters: Toussaint McCall, Patrick Robinson; #52 pop/#5 R&B; 1967. The planet Earth is not overflowing with information about Louisiana soul singer Toussaint McCall. It is known that he performed in clubs in Monroe, Louisiana and was in his early thirties when he released his sole Top Five R&B hit “Nothing Takes the Place of You.” Writer Kirk Silsbee on this tale of heartbreak, “McCall’s baritone lament had nary a hint of vibrato, and he sought no refuge in ornamentation or histrionics. McCall took it like a man, with stiff-upper-lip regret, making no apologies for his longing and pain.” It is probably not a coincidence that “Colour My World” by Chicago replicates the piano riff of “Nothing Takes the Place of You.”
889. “Windy,” The Association. Songwriter: Ruthann Friedman; #1 pop; 1967. Songwriter Ruthann Friedman, “Van Dyke Parks introduced me to the guys in the Association. We were friends for a long time before I ever showed them a song. They had just had the hit ‘Along Comes Mary,’ with my good friend Tandyn Almer and they thought to ask me if I had something for them. I had just written ‘Windy,’ and I said, ‘I think this might be right up your alley.’ So, I played it for them and they said, ‘That’s the song.’ Within a few weeks, they called me from the studio and they said, ‘We have a hit here. Come on and sing on the backups.’ So, I went in and I’m the voice singing the blues licks.” The Association scored five Top Ten pop hits between 1966 and 1968, although their soft pop harmony sounds weren’t always embraced by their contemporaries. Ray Manzarek, ““We were quite angry wondering why The Association was at the Monterey Pop Festival, and The Doors were not”.
888. “I Ain’t Marching Anymore,” Phil Ochs. Songwriter: Phil Ochs; Did Not Chart; 1965. Phil Ochs was part of the early 1960’s Greenwich Village folk scene and was releasing stridently anti-military themed material years before it was considered culturally enlightened to do so. His 1964 debut album, “All the News That’s Fit to Sing,” established his singing journalist image and is best known for leftist idealism of “Power and The Glory.” His signature song is “I Ain’t Marching Anymore,” tracking the sacrifices of soldiers throughout history. Ochs commenting at the time it was released, “The fact that you won’t be hearing this song on the radio is more than enough justification for the writing of it.”
887. “Right Track,” Billy Butler. Songwriter: Johnny Jones; #24 R&B; 1966. Chicago soul singer Billy Butler was the younger brother of Jerry Butler and both men benefitted from their relationship with Curtis Mayfield. Mayfield wrote Billy Butler’s only Top Ten R&B hit, 1965’s “I Can’t Work No Longer.” “Right Track” is a brassy dance number that did well on the British Northern Soul scene and was co-produced by Carl Davis, the man responsible for Jackie Wilson’s commercial comeback during the late 1960s. Billy Butler fronted the soft soul vocal act Infinity during the late 1960s/early 1970s, then utilized his guitar skills taught to him by Mayfield to serve as Jerry Butler’s musical director.
886. “C’mon and Swim,” Bobby Freeman. Songwriters: Thomas Coman, Sly Stone; #5 pop; 1964. California native Bobby Freeman was only seventeen years old when he had a Top Five pop hit in 1958 with his composition “Do You Want to Dance.” Followup success was difficult to attain until Freeman met a young disc jockey/producer named Sly Stone. Stone played organ, bass, and guitar on “C’mon and Swim,” a dance craze R&B meets frat rock record with a sound that explodes like 1950’s rock ‘n’ roll. Freeman introduced “The Swim” at a 1962 concert when he had no material to perform for an encore. Freeman, “I started off by saying, ‘I’m going to show you some new dances.’ I started creating these things I called the Basketball Twist, the Tennis Twist and all of a sudden my arms started moving and my bottom part started shaking, and I said, ‘This is called the Swim.’”
885. “Function At the Junction,” Shorty Long. Songwriters: Shorty Long, Eddie Holland, Jr.; #97 pop/#42 R&B; 1966. Alabama native Frederick Earl (Shorty) Long was a talented instrumentalist who moved to Detroit during the late 1950s and recorded without commercial success for Harvey Fuqua’s Tri-Phi label. After moving to Motown, Long co-wrote and released the original version of “Devil with the Blue Dress,” better known as “Devil with a Blue Dress On,” in 1964. The party number “Function at the Junction” barely touched the charts, but as noted by rock critic Andrew Hamilton, “The song had it all — funky beat, soulful singing, good lyrics, danceability, everything.” Long had his breakthrough hit with the 1968 comedy number “Here Comes the Judge,” then died in a boating accident the following year.
884. “Baby, I’m Yours,” Barbara Lewis. Songwriter: Van McCoy; #11 pop/#5 R&B; 1965. Detroit singer Barbara Lewis was signed to Atlantic Records and performed the original sessions for “Baby, I’m Yours” in New York. The song was written by Van McCoy, who gained fame in the 1970s with “The Hustle,” but Lewis wasn’t initially fond of the material. Lewis, “I didn’t really put 100% into my vocal performance. (Producer) Ollie McLaughlin told me ‘Barbara, we’re gonna have to go back to Detroit and dub you in. We gotta do your vocals over. You’re just not giving like you should on the song.’ We did several takes and he was wondering ‘How am I going to get this girl to give? She’s so hard-headed.’ He said ‘You know, Barbara, Karen can sing that song better than you.’ That was his little daughter. And it pissed me off. I did one more take, and that was the take that they selected.”
883. “Why Do I Cry?” The Remains. Songwriter: Barry Tashian; Did Not Chart; 1965. Inspired by The British Invasion, The Remains formed in Boston in 1964 and never broke nationally despite performing on “The Ed Sullivan Show” and touring with The Beatles. “Why Do I Cry” is R&B tinged garage rock number that demonstrates how quickly Barry Tashian had digested his U.K. influences. Tashian, “I just sat in my little apartment and put that song together in about twenty minutes and I knew it was something cool. That turned out to be the band’s first single and I think it got up to # 3 in Boston.” This is dark shades garage rock that reeks hipster attitude, despite the anxiety ridden lyrics.
882. “I Found a Love,” The Falcons & Band (Ohio Untouchables). Songwriters: Wilson Pickett, Willie Schofield, Bob West; #75 pop/#6 R&B, 1962. The Falcons were a Detroit based R&B vocal group who included, at various times, soul legends Wilson Pickett and Eddie Floyd, as well as Joe Stubbs (the younger brother of Levi) and Mack Rice, whose writing credits included “Mustang Sally” and “Respect Yourself.” The Falcons had their biggest chart hit with the #17 pop hit “You’re So Fine” in 1959. Wilson Pickett had the lead vocal duties on “I Found a Love,” a record that’s a weird combination of doo wop with fire and brimstone singing. Pickett recorded a different version of “I Found a Love” for a 1967 #32 pop hit, but he sounds possessed on the original release. The reference to making a call “in the midnight hour” would inspire Steve Cropper to write a song for Pickett a few years later.
881. “The Bristol Stomp,” The Dovells. Songwriters: Kal Mann, Dave Appell; #2 pop/#7 R&B; 1961. The The Dovells informed the world that the kids in Bristol were hot as a pistol in 1961. The Dovells, originally known as The Brooktones, formed as a high school act in Philadelphia and had a classic vocal group sound, inspired by Frankie Lyman and the Teenagers. Both inspirations for their biggest hit are found in the title – kids in Bristol, Pennsylvania had started performing a dance that was named “The Stomp” and their set of simple steps became a national sensation. The Dovells continued their doo wop on the dance floor style with the 1963 #3 pop hit “You Can’t Sit Down” and band member Len Barry had solo success in 1965 with the #2 pop single “1-2-3.” Songwriters Kal Mann and Dave Appell penned another Top Ten hit in 1961 with Chubby Checker’s “Let’s Twist Again.”