1968. The violent deaths of RFK and MLK, Jr; Rowan & Martin’s “Laugh-In”; the Tet Offensive in South Vietnam; the repeal of the Gold Standard; Green Bay and the Super Bowl; Lyndon Johnson’s signature on the Civil Rights Act; Richard M. Nixon; Johnny Cash at Folsom Prison; “Hair” on Broadway; the “White Album”; “The Graduate”; “Hey Jude”; “Born to Be Wild”; “Love Child”; “Mrs. Robinson”; and…”Honey.”
Yep, in 1968, the country-pop song, “Honey,” written by Bobby Russell and performed by Bobby Goldsboro, sold more than 1 million copies and was number 1 on the US charts for 4 weeks.
“See the tree how big it’s grown” was the stuck-in-your-head-forever first line to the tearjerker ballad about a young woman who dies an unspecified and untimely death.
And Bobby Goldsboro? The Alabama native never had another hit as big as “Honey” (1964’s “See the Funny Little Clown” was close), but he continued to record and write songs and he remained popular on the country charts. In 1969 his composition, “With Pen in Hand,” another tearjerker, was a Top 40 hit for adult contemporary singer Vikki Carr. In 1973 he himself had a Top 20 hit with “Summer (The First Time)” a typically-male self-obsessed song about sex with an older woman. From 1973 to 1975 he even had his own TV variety show.
Goldsboro discontinued performing during the 1980s. The guy who had the funky 1970s moptop hairdo is now 70 years old, continues to be involved with music, and as an artist, sells paintings on his website.
In 1985, a sinfully cheerful love song called “Walking On Sunshine” hit the radio waves, hopped up to number 9 on the US charts. It was a worldwide best seller as well.
The tune was a hit for the band Katrina and the Waves (named for the lead vocalist Katrina Leskanich). This song was a particular favorite of mine — it was a great drivin’-around, bein’-in-love kind of song. I recall owning the cassette tape of the full-album release, but I only listened to that one song. Apparently so did mostly everyone else. Despite successful sales and touring, the group’s second album never took off.
They continued to record throughout the ’90s however, most notably in 1990, when they recorded the song “We Gotta Get Out of This Place” along with Eric Burden for the TV show “China Beach.”
The band also had a brief comeback in 1997 when they won a song contest in the UK with “Love Shine A Light.”
The band dissolved not long after that. The year 2010 marked the 25th anniversary of “Walking On Sunshine.” I still remember what was going on in my life in 1985 when that happy-go-lucky song was part of my background music.
Anyone who loved “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” during the 1970s like I did probably can never forget the theme song that launched Mary’s hat into the air for 7 seasons. But who was that guy singing “you’re gonna make it after all” for all those years?
Sonny Curtis, born in 1937 in Meadow, Texas, was primarily a country/pop singer-songwriter. He recorded 7 albums between 1964 and 1987 and released 23 singles. He wrote the old country-pop classic “I Fought the Law” and co-wrote another bouncy tune, “The Straight Life” with Bobby Goldsboro.
But “Love Is All Around” remains his most well-known song. And how could it be otherwise? It is inextricably linked to one of the most beloved TV shows of all time.
In 1991, Sonny Curtis was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame.
Speaking of theme songs…. The words and melody of “Searchin’ My Soul” greeted fans of the TV show “Ally McBeal” for 5 seasons, 1997-2002. Vonda Shepard was the previously unknown singer-songwriter who belted out the song each week while images of quirky characters who worked for the law firm of “Cage and Fish” flashed across the screen.
Shepard appeared in all 5 seasons of the show, singing and playing guitar and piano in the law firm’s bar/dance hangout. In real life she is, well…a singer-songwriter who plays guitar and piano. During the time that she was on the show, she recorded 2 soundtrack albums. In 2004 she married and in 2006 had her first child.
She may be out of the limelight for now perhaps, but who can ever forget Ally McBeal searchin’ her soul with such depressing gusto or wiggling her skinny, mini-skirted butt along the streets of Boston with Vonda singing “I know something about love” (from the song “Tell Him”) in the background?
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