Boy oh boy. There are so many good tunes for the Billboard Year-End Hot 100 singles of 1966 that I really had to scratch my head over choosing just one. I am now 4 years old and remembering more songs as I grow older.
We had the Monkees 33.3 record with “Last Train to Clarksville.” My last name is Clark so as a kid that got my attention.
Even as a child, though, I sensed that the Monkees weren’t really the best of bands. A made-for-TV copy of the Beatles. We had oodles of Beatles 33s and 45s kicking around. So I had a good basis for comparison.
The Monkees were catchy. But they weren’t the Beatles.
Later in life I came to appreciate and really adore Frank Sinatra. But in ’66 he was more of a middle-aged act than a young person’s thing. Frank was going out of style. “Strangers in the Night” did chart and won a Grammy for Record of the Year. But it didn’t fly with the teeny-bop crowd. Rock and Roll was “here to stay” as Neil Young would sing.
Mind you, that swanky era wasn’t totally gone. My parents’ generation still bought records like that. Funnily enough, I don’t remember seeing any Sinatra records in my parents’ collection. My love for Frank just came naturally later in life as I enjoy most types of music, especially the greats.
For the 1966 best song, however, I chose The Mamas & The Papas’ “Monday Monday” because, like “Downtown” (1965), it was one of those songs that stayed with you, even when you weren’t near the radio.
Notice the pre-hippy fashion in this video. Elvish colors and collars. Pinstripe pants. Hair getting a bit longer and shaggier. The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s, The Moody Blues’ Days of Future Passed , Traffic’s Mr. Fantasy and Jefferson Airplane’s Surrealistic Pillow were just around the corner. And that, my friends, was a whole new ballgame.
To me, the opening vocals in this tune are like a tulip coming out in April. Something so new, so fresh, so positive. Even though the song is about a sad Monday, it’s still upbeat, uplifting.
That’s flower power, man!
You can just see Sinatra and his fellow crooners burying their heads in their hands, heading for Vegas where they can still squeeze out a few bucks for booze, cigarettes and who knows what else.
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