caught in a trap with john and lew at the tell it like it was a-go-go

Es­ti­mated reading time is 2 minutes.

TELL IT LIKE IT WAS, my new pub­li­ca­tion on Medium, fea­tures a list of every record to make it to #1 on the Cash Box Top 100 chart from the be­gin­ning of 1960 through the end of 1969. Each title is linked to a recording of that song on YouTube. For each entry, John Ross and Lew Shiner and I went about com­menting on the record, the artist, the times, and, even­tu­ally, one an­oth­er’s comments.

It was fun, but it was also a lot of work: at this time, the ten ar­ti­cles have passed 80,000 words and fea­ture more than 200 im­ages and 500 hy­per­links. That’s a lot of work for us—granted, we had fun doing it—and it’s also a lot of reading for someone to take on.

Of course, we’re pretty cer­tain that once you start reading, you’ll have fun, too!

And to get you reading, here is a sample of our ef­forts, al­most 800 words on a record that many “se­rious” rock fans dis­miss without a second thought.

The ques­tion “But do you like it?” fol­lows each entry. There, we use a 3-star system to ex­press our opin­ions. Ac­tu­ally, a star-shape wasn’t avail­able to us, so we used a di­a­mond (♦). We are not grading the record ala All Music Guide, we are simply stating how much we like a given record. There are ex­cel­lent records that none of us par­tic­u­larly care for, and there are “crappy” records we love.

All of this makes a hel­luva lot more sense if you take a few min­utes and read the “In­tro­duc­tion to The Top­per­most of the Pop­per­most.”





Medium 45 1969 ElvisPresley SuspiciousMinds 600

Oc­tober 18–October 25

Elvis Presley
Sus­pi­cious Minds
RCA Victor 47–9764

(2 weeks)

Fol­lowing the NBC-TV Spe­cial Elvis in De­cember 1968, then “In the Ghetto” ear­lier in 1969, and the stun­ning From Elvis in Mem­phis album ear­lier in 1969, “Sus­pi­cious Minds” made Elvis look and sound eternal. It seemed like he was just going to get keep get­ting better and better.



Lew: Great com­ments about Elvis. This was the song that re­ally brought Elvis back to his kingdom. It’s also an­other song that in­spired great covers, in­cluding those by Fine Young Can­ni­bals and Dwight Yoakam (though Dr. Dwight’s is nearly slavish in its similarity).

Neal: The older I get, the more awe­some (awe-inspiring?) Elvis gets. How does he do it — he’s dead?

John: Yeah, but he’s Elvis. Death is just a state of mind.

Lew: In Ar­gentina, in rev­er­ence to the great tango singer Carlos Gardel (who died in 1935), they say, “He sings better every day.”

• Bill­board Hot 100 #1: Yes (1 week)
• Million-seller: Yes
• RIAA Gold Record: Yes (Oc­tober 28, 1969)
• Ac­cu­mu­lated sales: Unknown
• 500 Songs That Shaped Rock: Yes
• Rock & Roll Hall of Fame: Yes

But do you like it?
John: ♦ ♦ ♦
Lew : 
♦ ♦ ♦
♦ ♦ ♦

 MiracleMets 1969 WS fullphoto 1000

FEA­TURED IMAGE: The re­cently hap­less New York Mets en­tered June 1969 under .500 but then won eleven straight. Few people out­side New York paid much at­ten­tion as everyone was fo­cused on the front-running Chicago Cubs. The Mets then went on a phe­nom­enal tear through the league, and a mir­acle hap­pened: they won 38 of their last 49 games, passing out the Cub­bies to take the pennant!

The Mets en­tered the World Se­ries against the Bal­ti­more Ori­oles as de­cided un­der­dogs. A second mir­acle oc­curred: they beat the Ori­oles in only five games! New York City had its second ticker-tape pa­rade in two months, the first being for the Apollo 11 astronauts.


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