1969 marked the beginning of a four year run which produced the finest music in the history of rock! Several new bands emerged that I really liked including one that would soon take the torch from the Beatles as the top rock band of the 1970s. It would actually take a couple of years before I would become a full on Led Zeppelin fan, but 69 was their debut year and they came out rockin’. The highlight of the year was the Woodstock Music Festival, featuring Jimi Hendrix, which I actually knew nothing about until following year when the movie was released. No, I wasn’t living under a rock! Just on a farm!
For me personally, it was a memorable year in many ways. I spent the summer on my aunt and uncle’s dairy farm north of Belleville, Ontario, where my brothers and I had a ball driving tractors, milking cows and living the farm life. We actually got used to early [very early] mornings. My family moved again, this time, from a farm outside of Bracebridge to a two story home on the edge of town. There was the Apollo landing on the Moon which I vividly remember watching while sitting on the floor in my uncle’s living room. And I started high school, which for me, was five very memorable years [not necessarily productive] in which rock music was front and center.
The Beatles recorded their final two albums that year, Abbey Road, which was released in the fall, and Let It Be which was recorded earlier in the year, but not released until 1970. They topped the Billboard charts with three songs, including Get Back from Let It Be, and Come Together and Something from Abbey Road, none of which are among my favorite Beatles songs [although I do like Something]. My favorite song from Abbey Road is, She Came in Through the Bathroom Window.
The Rolling Stones came out with the album Let It Bleed late in the year. It contained a number of hits including two songs that I really like, Gimme Shelter and You Can’t Always Get What You Want. Earlier in the year, they released Honky Tonk Woman as a single. I love the lyrics from this song, particularly the opening line, “I met a gin soaked barroom queen in Memphis.” Awesome!
The three emerging bands that were soon to become my favorites included Three Dog Night, The Guess Who and Creedence Clearwater Revival, which actually had their first hit the year previous year. Three Dog Night, which got its name from an Australian expression for a very cold night, had two hits that year including my personal favorite, One. One was actually written by British singer songwriter Harry Nilsson, who wrote several chart toppers for himself and others. This would be the trademark for TDN as most their hits were written by other songwriters. The Guess Who, from my native Canada, hit the airwaves with three awesome songs, including These Eyes, Laughing and No Time [again, my personal favorite]. CCR were arguably the biggest band of the year, placing no less than seven songs on the charts, including my all time favorite, Down on the Corner, off of the Willie and the Poor Boys album.
Other songs that I really liked from 1969 include Something in the Air by Thunderclap Newman, Pinball Wizard by The Who, Suspicious Minds by Elvis Presley, Venus by Shocking Blue, The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down by The Band, He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother by the Hollies and Aquarius/Let the Sun Shine In by the 5th Dimension.
I should mention that the #1 song on the Billboard Top 100 that year was Sugar Sugar by The Archie’s, a song written by Jeff Barry and Andy Kim. It’s a good song, but not one of my favorites.
It was a banner year indeed for a high school freshman rock and roll junkie from Muskoka and a phenomenal prelude to what was to come in 1970.
Have an awesomely special day!