Ranking #1 singles, U.S. edition: 1970

If it wasn’t obvious, I was not alive in 1970. I did not grow up in a world where teens and college students greeted The Carpenters with loud snorts (I grew up in a world where Starship and Steve Winwood thought they recorded indelible pop). When I listen to the Carpenters, I hear songs with a staggering control: every filigree is ordered into place. Karen’s precise contralto did not transcend its settings; listeners accepted her and them or they didn’t. She had a gift for inhabiting received emotions just as the songs she and brother Richard picked and he co-wrote were case studies in precisely rendered received emotions. This is a long way of saying I like “(They Long To Be) Close To You,” especially Richard’s piano runs.

Otherwise this is the list in which I listen to standards and ask my Swiss Guard to take them way. “The Long and Winding Road” is sodden crap, “Let It Be” not much more. “Bridge Over Troubled Water” does little for me either. If it wasn’t obvious, I was not alive in 1970 (Aretha Franklin’s version, recorded not long afterward, is better but not by much).

But as my readers can tell this year belongs to The Jackson 5, who can claim more marvels in a few months than any band since The Beatles.

The Hague

The Guess Who – American Woman
The Beatles – The Long and Winding Road
Ray Stevens – Everything is Beautiful

Meh

The Beatles – Let It Be
Simon & Garfunkel – Bridge Over Troubled Water
Bread – Make It With You
B.J. Thomas – Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head

Sound, Solid

Diana Ross – Ain’t No Mountain High Enough
Shocking Blue – Venus
George Harrison – Isn’t It a Pity
The Partridge Family – I Think I Love You
The Carpenters – (They Long To Be) Close To You

Good to Great

Edwin Starr – War
The Jackson 5 – I Want You Back
Sly & the Family Stone – Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)/Everybody Is a Star
The Jackson 5 – ABC
Smokey Robinson and the Miracles – The Tears of a Clown
The Jackson 5 – The Love You Save
Three Dog Night – Mama Told Me (Not To Come)
The Jackson 5 – I’ll Be There
George Harrison – My Sweet Lord
Neil Diamond – Cracklin’ Rosie

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