Discussion:
The Number Ones: The Fleetwoods’ “Come Softly To Me”
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Bob Roman
2018-11-11 01:11:56 UTC
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A writer named Tom Breihan has been reviewing, in order, every song to hit #1 in the Billboard Hot 100.

The Fleetwoods – “Come Softly To Me”
HIT #1: April 13, 1959
STAYED AT #1: 4 weeks

There’s this narrative in rock history that, after the initial explosion of rock ‘n’ roll, the music became tame and staid until the Beatles came along and revitalized it. Maybe that’s true. By the time the Billboard Hot 100 started, leading lights like Chuck Berry, Little Richard, and Jerry Lee Lewis weren’t really making hits anymore. (Little Richard and Lewis would never score #1 hits; Berry would, but not until years later, with “My Ding-A-Ling.”) There were plenty of unthreatening teen-idol hits topping the charts in those late-’50s and early-’60s years. Plenty of those songs sounded deeply innocent. But for some of those songs, the innocence was the point. Some of those songs even turned that innocence into a strength.

The Fleetwoods were three high-school kids from Olympia, Washington, and they managed to land two #1 hits in a single year before fading into total obscurity and, eventually, taking civilian jobs. When they made “Come Softly To Me,” the first of those hits, they recorded it entirely a cappella; the only sound other than their voices was the jingling of group member Gary Troxel’s car keys. Eventually, the song went to another studio for overdubbing, but all that was added was a delicate acoustic-guitar figure. The song is a starry-eyed hymn of devotion — clearly inspired by the Everly Brothers and somehow even more stripped-down than that group’s early hits — and its simplicity is exactly what makes it so great.

The three singers in the Fleetwoods — two women, one man — sound like they’re trying not to wake a sleeping parent in the next room on “Come Softly.” It gets all its rhythm from Troxel’s doobie-doos. The lyrics are barely there: “You’re my obsession / Forever and a day.” But the point isn’t really in the words; it’s in the way those three voices quietly weave in and out of each other. There is no such thing as a simple time, and the United States of 1959 had virulent institutional racism and nuclear anxiety even more crippling than we’re seeing now. But listening to “Come Softly To Me” evokes some kind of gentle cloud-world, where nobody has any problems. All these decades later, it still works like a balm.

GRADE: 8/10
Mark Dintenfass
2018-11-11 04:17:47 UTC
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Post by Bob Roman
A writer named Tom Breihan has been reviewing, in order, every song to hit #1
in the Billboard Hot 100.
The Fleetwoods ­ ³Come Softly To Me²
HIT #1: April 13, 1959
STAYED AT #1: 4 weeks
There¹s this narrative in rock history that, after the initial explosion of
rock Œn¹ roll, the music became tame and staid until the Beatles came along
and revitalized it. Maybe that¹s true. By the time the Billboard Hot 100
started, leading lights like Chuck Berry, Little Richard, and Jerry Lee Lewis
weren¹t really making hits anymore. (Little Richard and Lewis would never
score #1 hits; Berry would, but not until years later, with ³My
Ding-A-Ling.²) There were plenty of unthreatening teen-idol hits topping the
charts in those late-¹50s and early-¹60s years. Plenty of those songs sounded
deeply innocent. But for some of those songs, the innocence was the point.
Some of those songs even turned that innocence into a strength.
The Fleetwoods were three high-school kids from Olympia, Washington, and they
managed to land two #1 hits in a single year before fading into total
obscurity and, eventually, taking civilian jobs. When they made ³Come Softly
To Me,² the first of those hits, they recorded it entirely a cappella; the
only sound other than their voices was the jingling of group member Gary
Troxel¹s car keys. Eventually, the song went to another studio for
overdubbing, but all that was added was a delicate acoustic-guitar figure.
The song is a starry-eyed hymn of devotion ‹ clearly inspired by the Everly
Brothers and somehow even more stripped-down than that group¹s early hits ‹
and its simplicity is exactly what makes it so great.
The three singers in the Fleetwoods ‹ two women, one man ‹ sound like they¹re
trying not to wake a sleeping parent in the next room on ³Come Softly.² It
³You¹re my obsession / Forever and a day.² But the point isn¹t really in the
words; it¹s in the way those three voices quietly weave in and out of each
other. There is no such thing as a simple time, and the United States of 1959
had virulent institutional racism and nuclear anxiety even more crippling
than we¹re seeing now. But listening to ³Come Softly To Me² evokes some kind
of gentle cloud-world, where nobody has any problems. All these decades
later, it still works like a balm.
GRADE: 8/10
I'm glad he liked this one. Shows he has some taste since it's easy to
dismiss. It still sounds great to me, and "Mr. Blue" sounds even
better.
--
--md
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Roger Ford
2018-11-11 05:32:49 UTC
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On Sat, 10 Nov 2018 17:11:56 -0800 (PST), Bob Roman
A writer named Tom Breihan has been reviewing, in order, every song to hit =
#1 in the Billboard Hot 100.
The Fleetwoods =E2=80=93 =E2=80=9CCome Softly To Me=E2=80=9D
HIT #1: April 13, 1959
STAYED AT #1: 4 weeks
The Fleetwoods were three high-school kids from Olympia, Washington, and th=
ey managed to land two #1 hits in a single year before fading into total ob=
scurity and, eventually, taking civilian jobs.
GRADE: 8/10
Actually The Fleetwoods carried on making the charts right through to
1963 with their remake of "Tragedy" even making the Top 10 in 1961.

I loved this record at the time with its "whispery" delivery and the
the vaguely sexy interplay of the girls behind him.I remember seeing
them do the song on TV at the time (Perry Como?).

It still has a certain charm today.

ROGER FORD
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Roger Ford
2018-11-24 17:06:19 UTC
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On Sat, 10 Nov 2018 17:11:56 -0800 (PST), Bob Roman
A writer named Tom Breihan has been reviewing, in order, every song to hit =
#1 in the Billboard Hot 100.
The Fleetwoods =E2=80=93 =E2=80=9CCome Softly To Me=E2=80=9D
HIT #1: April 13, 1959
STAYED AT #1: 4 weeks
Here's how it did in the 1959 Singles Battle

R1 Jan & Dean - Clementine 1
Fleetwoods 27

2 Little Junior Parker - Five Long Years
Fleetwoods 21

3 Fats Domino - Margie 7
Fleetwoods 19

4 Fleetwoods 10
Fats Domino - I'm Ready 20



ROGER FORD
-----------------------

"Spam Free Zone" - to combat unwanted automatic spamming I have added
an extra "m" in my e-mail address (***@mmail.com).
Please delete same before responding.Thank you!

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