Friday Five: March 1968

5. “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In)” by Kenny Rogers and the First Edition
Country legend Kenny Rogers’ first hit (it peaked at #5 on the Hot 100) wasn’t a country song, it was a psychedelic song that takes us on the journey of an acid trip. It was supposed to caution people against doing LSD but I doubt that message got across. Check out the band’s “performance” on The Smother Brothers Comedy Hour. I don’t ever recall hearing the song until 1997’s The Big Lebowski, which embraced the comedic potential of the song beautifully.

4. “I Thank You” by Sam & Dave
This Sam and Dave classic barely cracked the Top Ten on the Hot 100 and it peaked at #4 on the R&B charts. Its moderate success hardly begins to capture its endurance. It lives on into our present as a standard for rhythm and blues bands everywhere.

3. “Take Me To Your World” by Tammy Wynette
1968 was an amazing year in rock, pop, and R&B but it was also pretty good in the world of country. Tammy Wynette——the first lady of country——was making her climb through a string of top ten singles that would stretch from 1967 to 1970. After her first #1 in late 1967, she’d hit the top spot three times in ’68, culminating with her classic (and signature tune) “Stand By Your Man.” This song started the #1 streak of that year for her.

2. “Valleri” by the Monkees
From Wikipedia: “Screen Gems president and music supervisor Don Kirshner’s asked [Tommy] Boyce and [Bobby] Hart if they had any “girl’s-name” songs to be used in the Monkees’s television series. After pretending over the telephone that they had a song which was already finished, Boyce and Hart improvised “Valleri” on their way over to Kirshner’s office.” What can you say? It’s written on the ride to work. RIP Peter Tork.

1. “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” by Otis Redding
It reigned at #1 for March 1968 on both the Hot 100 and R&B charts. Written by Otis Redding and Steve “The Colonel” Cropper, it was recorded in 1967, on November 22 with some additional work on December 7. After Otis died in a plane crash on December 10, Cropper mixed the song (including the addition of the ocean and seagulls) and the rest is history. Not a “finished” song by the Bg O’s standards, the informality worked. It is one of the greatest songs in popular music, and a fitting tribute the one of the greatest voices of soul.

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