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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

April 30, 1969

Welcome to the last day of April 2013, and welcome to the last Tuesday Timeline of the month!

If you're living in Canada, and still have not yet filed your tax return for this month...WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?!? It's due today!

But, if you've already done your taxes and/or are not Canadian, you can kick off your shoes and sit back with a nice cup of tea, or a glass of Hawaiian Punch, if you will, and enjoy another look back through time.

Actually, I have a confession for all of you. I did have this very topic planned for the Sunday Jukebox for Sunday, April 28, but when George Jones passed away recently, I decided to do a spotlight on him instead. But when I did my research for the original topic, it happened to be linked to today's date, so I thought...why not use it for the Tuesday Timeline entry!

I tell you, life has a funny way of working out, doesn't it?

So, you're probably figuring out that this week's Tuesday Timeline is music themed. But that's all that I'm going to say for now. We still have to get through other happenings that are going on today!

Celebrating a birthday on the final day of April are Cloris Leachman, Willie Nelson, Burt Young, Bobby Vee, Leslie Grantham, Perry King, Merrill Osmond, Jane Campion, Paul Gross, Stephen Harper, Isiah Thomas, Michael Waltrip, Barrington Levy, Adrian Pasdar, Jeff Timmons, Johnny Galecki, Kunal Nayyar, and Kirsten Dunst.

And on the last day of April, here are some of the events that took place throughout history.

1492 – Spain gives Christopher Columbus his commission of exploration

1789 – George Washington takes the oath of office in New York City to become the first elected President of the United States of America

1803 – The United States buys the Louisiana Territory from France for $15 million, in an event known as “The Louisiana Purchase”

1812 – Louisiana becomes the 18th state of the United States of America, nine years after the Louisiana Purchase

1900 – Casey Jones is killed in a train accident in Vaughn, Mississippi

1927 – The first footprints left behind at Grauman's Chinese Theater are made by Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks

1938 - “Porky's Hare Hunt” debuts in movie theaters, which includes an early prototype of Bugs Bunny

1945 – Adolf Hitler and his wife commit suicide to avoid capture by the Red Army

1957 – Elvis Presley records the single, “Jailhouse Rock”

1963 – The Bristol Bus Boycott was held in Bristol, United Kingdom to protest racial discrimination

1975 – Saigon falls as the Vietnam War comes to an end after nearly two decades

1983 – The “father of modern Chicago blues”, Muddy Waters, passes away at the age of 70

1993 – Tennis star Monica Seles is stabbed by an obsessed fan during a quarterfinal match of the Citizen Cup

2004 – Michael Jackson is arraigned on charges of child molestation, pleading not guilty to ten counts

So, what day in history are we going back to this year?

April 30, 1969.

1969 was a rather turbulent year in history. Obviously I wasn't around then (I was born a dozen years later), but from what I have heard from people who have lived through that year, it was a year of great protest. With the Vietnam War in full swing, millions of people all over the world were bombarded with images of pain and suffering, and having to say goodbye to loved ones far too soon. Many people questioned why the United States had gotten involved in fighting in the Vietnam War, and they demanded that their voices be heard.

Hence the “Make Love, Not War” movement.

During 1969, there were lots of protests in major cities, speaking out against the Vietnam War. There were sit-ins, marches, and perhaps one of the most vibrant, well-publicized events occurred in August of 1969, when the Woodstock music festival was held.

Actually, come to think of it, music was a huge part of the protest movement back in 1969. And today's featured song was one of those songs that did exactly that.

On April 30, 1969, this song was certified gold, and what made it stand out was that it was a medley of two songs that could be found in a musical that was released two years earlier.

Have you ever heard of a musical known as “Hair”? It debuted in the fall of 1967, and was a rock musical penned by James Rado and Gerome Ragni. Gail MacDermot provided the music.

The story of “Hair” surrounds a young man by the name of Claude and his hippie friends. Claude has fallen in love with the hippie philosophy of making love and not war, and all he wants to do is continue to live his bohemian lifestyle in New York City, while turning his back on the “squares” who want them to serve in the military or get jobs to become better people.

And for Claude, he is found in a rather sticky situation. He has to choose between resisting the Vietnam War draft, as his hippie friends have done, or pleasing his parents and conservative America by donning the soldier duds and going off to war.

I should note that “Hair” was dripping with controversy, given the nudity, profanity, and irreverence of the American flag. At the same time, I have seen the movie adaptation of “Hair”, and found it to be absolutely fantastic.

Heck, you know what? Had I lived during the 1960s, I likely would have become one of those hippies...well, in spirit anyway. I don't think I would look very good in tie-dyed garments.

Anyway, the musical “Hair” is the source for the gold selling single, receiving that certification exactly 44 years ago today.

ARTIST: The 5th Dimension
SONG: Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In
ALBUM: The Age of Aquarius
DATE RELEASED: March 8, 1969

TRIVIA: This was the very first medley to top the Billboard charts.

The song not only did very well on the pop charts, but in other venues as well. It won two Grammy Awards in 1970 for “Record of the Year”, and “Best Pop Vocal Performance by a Group”. That's mighty impressive, given that it was only one of two songs by the group to peak at the top spot (the other song was “Wedding Bell Blues”, which was also released in 1969).

The 5th Dimension was made up of Florence LaRue, Marilyn McCoo, Billy Davis Jr., LaMonte McLemore, and Ron Townson, and the lyrics for the song were – at best description – a little bit whimsical, even trippy. They were based on the astrological belief that the world would enter an era known as the “Age of Aquarius”, which would bathe the world in light, love, and humanity. We'd know when we were in the “Age of Aquarius” when the planet Jupiter aligns with Mars. And, it was initially believed that the transition would take place at the end of the 20th century or the beginning of the 21st century.

It appears as though they were off by a few years, as I remember the period between 1999 and 2002 being filled with school shootings, terrorist attacks, and economic turmoil. But, hey, I suppose not all predictions could be accurate.

(In case you're wondering, astrologists have pinpointed that this alignment could happen anytime between 2062 and 2680. So, I'm either going to be really, really old when we enter the “Age of Aquarius”, or I'm going to be compost. Either way, I won't be able to truly appreciate it.)

At any rate, the song was a huge hit in 1969, and was one of the key songs that served as the official soundtrack of the anti-war movement.

A song that was certified gold on April 30, 1969.

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