Before we get started, I’d like to ask you, if you haven’t already, to check out my latest Battle of the Bands. It’s between three acts, each of whom did a song called "Games People Play," and as of right now there’s a three-way tie.
- #10: Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, "Mr. Bojangles" Jerry Jeff Walker wrote this one in the mid-’60’s and recorded it in 1968, but the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band’s cover is probably best known. Theirs was a Top 10 hit in the US (#9) and Canada (#2).
- #9: 5th Dimension, "One Less Bell To Answer" This Burt Bacharach-Hal David song was originally written for Keely Smith. "Bones" Howe, producer for the 5th Dimension, found it and thought it would be perfect for their debut on Bell Records, 1970’s Portrait. It went to #2 in the US and #7 in Canada.
- #8: Santana, "Black Magic Woman" A cover of Peter Green’s song with Fleetwood Mac, the album version was longer and segued into Gabor Szabo’s "Gypsy Queen" at the end. This is the version from the single, which reached #4.
- #7: José Feliciano, "Life Is That Way" A song that had not made it onto an album yet, it appeared on 1971’s Encore! José Feliciano’s Finest Performances. Today was the first time I had heard it.
- #6: Jerry Reed, "Amos Moses" Certified Guitar Player (a title bestowed on him by the late Chet Atkins) Jerry had a few semi-novelty records in the late ’60’s and early ’70’s. This one reached #8 on the Hot 100 and #2 in Canada as well as #16 on the Country chart.
- #5: José Feliciano, "Feliz Navidad" A really simple song that’s become a holiday classic. It reached #1 on the Holiday 100 and #29 on the Hot 100.
- #4: Brian Hyland, "Gypsy Woman" Brian’s cover of The Impressions’ tune went to #3 on the Hot 100 and the Canadian chart.
- #3: Smokey Robinson & The Miracles, "Tears of a Clown" A song written by Smokey, Stevie Wonder, and Hank Cosby (Stevie Wonder’s producer) originally for 1967’s Make It Happen. It turned out to be a huge crossover hit, reaching #1 on the Hot 100 and the R&B chart.
- #2: The Partridge Family, "I Think I Love You" Written by Tony Romeo, this was the first hit for the Partridges, who were actually David Cassidy and mom Shirley Jones in the studio with musicians from The Wrecking Crew. It was a #1 hit in the US and Canada.
- #1: George Harrison, "My Sweet Lord"/"Isn’t It A Pity" This was the first #1 single released by a former member of The Beatles. "My Sweet Lord" was, of course, the subject of a lawsuit by Ronnie Mack, who had written The Chiffons’ "He’s So Fine" earlier in the decade, claiming successfully that George had stolen the melody for his hit. George had written "Isn’t It A Pity" originally as a Beatles song, but it was never recorded by them as a group.
And that’s the Friday 5×2 for December 20, 2019.