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.”
October 18–October 25
RCA Victor 47–9764
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 : ♦ ♦ ♦
Neal: ♦ ♦ ♦
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.
Mystically liberal Virgo enjoys long walks alone in the city at night in the rain with an umbrella and a flask of 10-year-old Laphroaig who strives to live by the maxim, “It ain’t what you know that gets you into trouble; it’s what you know that just ain’t so.
I’ve been a puppet, a pauper, a pirate, a poet, a pawn, and a college dropout (twice!). Occupationally, I have been a bartender, jewelry engraver, bouncer, landscape artist, and FEMA crew chief following the Great Flood of ’72 (and that was a job that I should never, ever have left).
I am also the final author of the original O’Sullivan Woodside price guides for record collectors and the original author of the Goldmine price guides for record collectors. As such, I was often referred to as the Price Guide Guru, and—as everyone should know—it behooves one to heed the words of a guru. (Unless, of course, you’re the Beatles.)