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Sounds on Sunday: 50 years on/17

POP MUSIC was once so new and daring: it’s shocking to think that it’s over 50 years old. Some standards have been around for over half a century… What, then, were we listening to 50 years ago? It was an odd year, 1970. The influence of the older generation saw a good deal of old school easy listening in the charts – while the movements that were to develop during the 1970s were not yet established. Come with us – whether it’s down memory lane or to unknown territory – and remember or find out what it was all about.

We spent the first half of 2020 looking back on the UK number 1s of 1970 – half a century ago. Now let’s have a butcher’s at the singles that made it into second place in the charts.

Elvis Presley spent a month at number 2, and it took “Peter, Paul and Mary” (that sounds so much like a holding name, doesn’t it?) to knock him off the number 2 spot – with their classic Leaving on a Jet Plane. PPM were from the US: rooted in the 1960s folk scene, they were a manufactured band – which became highly successful. We have them to blame for Puff the Magic Dragon, If I had a hammer, and… but we digress.

Jet Plane was written by fellow folkie John Denver, and originally recorded by the Chad Mitchell Trio (of which he was then a member). It became the last great hit from PPM, released in the year the band formally split. The three pursued their own carers, occasionally giving one-off performances together, until they re-united at the end of the 1970s/early 80s.

The song benefits from a simple and universal message: I’m leaving and I don’t want to go and I’ll miss you – often a useful message to reach for in a song. It’s a jolly tune, just right for an autumn morning as we leave the summer behind us… Good for a listen.


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