20 inescapable songs! 20 original artists!

Manhattans on Friday night

Friday night at the Manse: a fire in the fireplace (electric, but who cares?), Manhattans, and a turntable for some classic vinyl records: what more do you need for a perfect Friday night, save for Katherine’s list of the Top 20 ubiquitous songs from when all of us were young?

If you are, like me, of a certain age, you have doubtless caught on to the reference in the headline of this post. How can we forget the TV ads of our youth for those cheap K-Tel albums that regurgitated (in truncated form, something that K-Tel never mentioned in its ads) the hits we’d just been hearing on the radio?

But this is not just about K-Tel, my friends. Oh no. This is Friday night – best night of the week; I don’t have to get up at 6 a.m. tomorrow for work! – and so, like last Friday night, we are going to have some fun with music.

However, there is a difference. Last week I wrote about the songs that, in the long-ago years (the 1960s and early ’70s) when I was growing up here at the Manse, every MOR (that’s middle-of-the-road for you young folk) singer worth his or her salt felt he or she needed to sing on those ubiquitous TV variety shows. Songs like (Life is a) Cabaret, and People (Who Need People), and of course, of course, the ultimate everybody-sang-it song, The Impossible Dream.

On this Friday night we are going to try something a bit different, and possibly a bit more fun. Tonight it’s about ubiquitous songs that weren’t sung by every singer under the sun – that instead gained their ubiquity while being inextricably identified with their original singer (or band). These are the songs that were utterly, utterly inescapable once upon a time; you could not turn on a radio without hearing them. Remember? Of course you do!

Now, I must remind you of the one rule in picking these songs: they had to have been inescapably ubiquitous during the years of my Manse childhood. (Yes, it is my blog. I can set the rules.) So that would be between July 1,1964 and July 1,1975 – not before, not after. (Which is the reason why Hotel California, released in 1977 and inescapable ever since, will not be on the list.)

Also – since it is my blog – I am one the one making the choices. (Though Raymond had fun helping me with this project this evening). And you will notice that the list skews toward the 1970s; that’s because I spent a good deal more time listening to the radio after the age of 11 or 12 or so (1971/72) than back in the ’60s when I was, you know, a little kid. Oh yeah, and one more thing: there is one ubiquitous song from that period that I am just saying no to, I think because it was so ubiquitous that I cannot stand to hear it one more time. That would be Tony Orlando and Dawn doing Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree; to that one, I just say no. (But Tony and the gals – Telma Hopkins and Joyce Vincent Wilson – do get an entry below, you fans will be glad to know.)

Anyway, here are my Top 20 inescapable songs, starting at #20 and working up to #1. Some of them are songs I think are eternal classics; some are godawful and really should never have happened in the first place. But they all share the distinction of having been ubiquitous in The Manse Years.

However! Before we start, I have something important to say: I want you to join in on this musical project! What glaring errors or omissions are there in my list of ubiquity? How would you order a top-20 lineup of inescapable ’60s and ’70s songs if you were doing it? What have I put on the list that doesn’t belong? What’s missing? Think about it, and please share your thoughts.

But for now, sit back, enjoy the fact that it’s Friday night, and – let’s take a trip back through some pop-music history.

Okay, here we go. At #20 in ubiquity:










And now we’re into the Top 10 of ubiquity! How exciting! Okay, here’s #10, and what more appropriate to take us into the 1960s/’70s Top 10 than – the Age of Aquarius?









And… (drum roll here)… my choice for the #1 ubiquitous song of all time (or at least from July 1964 to July 1975) is…

14 thoughts on “20 inescapable songs! 20 original artists!

  1. An excellent list! It’s nice to see some of these oldies again, although it’s a bit sad learning that Toni has filed for divorce from the Captain, so I guess love didn’t keep them together, after all.

    Here’s one that could squeeze in somewhere, a favourite of many after all of these years.

    • Oh, good one, Sash! The Queen of Soul doing a great Carole King song – wow. I actually scanned the track list from Carole King’s Tapestry album to see if one of the singles from it should be on my Top-20 list. I decided that Tapestry falls into a whole other category: that of albums that absolutely everybody had at one time. Remember?

  2. We had a blast listening to those songs. Now we want the top twenty best songs of those years, top twenty worst songs, top twenty most cheeseeeee, etc,etc,etc…. Please have more Manhattan Fridays so we can have more Oldies Sundays dancing with Henry…. 😉

    • You’ve got a deal, Justine and Sean! Oh man, that would be so much fun, picking the 20 best and (gulp) 20 worst songs of the era. I think I would have to invite readers to participate. All in a very good cause: getting Henry to dance!

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