Div­ing deeply into 6,886 hits from 1960s

Chattanooga Times Free Press - ChattanoogaNow - - MUSIC - Con­tact Shawn Ryan at mshawn­ryan@gmail.com.

Dave Kinz­er­waded through 4,172 songs when putting to­gether his book, “The 80s Mu­sic Com­pen­dium.” Pub­lished in 2015, the book plowed through ev­ery song that landed in the Bill­board Top 100 in that decade, and found tid­bits such as the big­gest hit with a gong (“Africa” by Toto, if you care).

As if that year- long task wasn’t crazy enough, Kinzer has done it again. This time, he’s stepped back two decades to look at songs of the 1960s.

“Has Amer­i­can pop­u­lar mu­sic ever had a decade quite like the 1960s?” he asks in the in­tro­duc­tion to “The 60s Mu­sic Com­pen­dium.” No, it hasn’t. A K- 8 mu­sic teacher in Spring­field, Ill., Kinzer me­an­dered through 6,886 songs this time, tak­ing a mu­si­cal walk that in­cluded ev­ery­one from the Bea­tles to the Supremes, Elvis Pres­ley to Alvin and the Chip­munks.

He waded through muck such as the syrupy in­stru­men­tal schmaltz of “A Sum­mer Place,” which was No. 1 for nine weeks in 1960, a record matched only by the Bea­tles’ “Hey Jude” in 1968.

He forced him­self to lis­ten to the long­est hit in the 1960s, the 8: 15 com­edy rou­tine of “The As­tro­naut (Parts 1 & 2)” by Jose Jiminez. It hit No. 19.

He tal­lied up the artists that had the most Top 100 sin­gles: The Bea­tles, the Four Sea­sons and the Beach Boys. The Four Sea­sons?

At 441 pages, the fun- toflip- through book in­cludes Re­makes, Songs with Deaths and Songs with Chip­munk Voices (11, and not all by Alvin and the Chip­munks). He dis­cov­ered six songs with a ka­zoo. What, yo u don’t re­mem­ber that 1966’s “The Egg­plant Shawn Ryan That Ate Chicago” by Dr. West’s Medicine Show and Junk Band?

He even went as deep as “Songs That Mo­du­late” and “Songs with a Coun­ter­melody.”

And he doc­u­mented that pub­lic taste some­times stinks. Some of the Worst Songs of the 1960s ac­tu­ally hit the Top 10 — “MacArthur Park” by Richard Har­ris at No. 2 (“Some­one left the cake out in the rain”) and “They’re Com­ing to Take Me Away, Ha-Haaa!” by Napoleon XIV at No. 3. If you’ve heard it, you’ll never for­get it. “The Jolly Green Gi­ant” by The Kings­men — yeah, the ones who did “Louie Louie”— rose to No. 4.

But even with all the dreck, the 1960s were amaz­ing for the sheer breadth of pop­u­lar-mu­sic of­fer­ings. The Bea­tles took the world by storm and the Rolling Stones cre­ated a darker storm of their own. Mo­town ruled the charts with the Supremes, the Temp­ta­tions, the Four Tops and Ste­vie Won­der. The Who’s “Tommy,” the first rock opera, was re­leased. Jimi Hen­drix ap­peared and made ev­ery other rock gui­tarist feel in­ad­e­quate.

As Kinzer writes: “The mu­si­cal jour­ney you can take from 1960 to 1969 is wild.”

Groovy.

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