Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In

Last updated
"Medley: Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In (The Flesh Failures)"
Fitfh Dimension Aquarius.jpg
Single by The 5th Dimension
from the album The Age of Aquarius
B-side "Don'tcha Hear Me Callin' To Ya"
ReleasedMarch 1969
Recorded1968
Genre Psychedelic soul, sunshine pop
Length4:49
Label Soul City
Songwriter(s) James Rado
Gerome Ragni
Galt MacDermot
Producer(s) Bones Howe
The 5th Dimension singles chronology
"California Soul"
(1969)
"Medley: Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In (The Flesh Failures)"
(1969)
"Workin' On a Groovy Thing"
(1969)
Audio sample

"Medley: Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In (The Flesh Failures)" (commonly called "Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In", "The Age of Aquarius" or "Let the Sunshine In") is a medley of two songs written for the 1967 musical Hair by James Rado and Gerome Ragni (lyrics), and Galt MacDermot (music), released as a single by American R&B group The 5th Dimension. The song spent six weeks at number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 pop singles chart in the spring of 1969 and was eventually certified platinum in the US by the RIAA. [1] Instrumental backing was written by Bill Holman and provided by session musicians commonly known as the Wrecking Crew. [2] [3] The actual recording is something of a "rarity"; the song was recorded in two cities, Los Angeles and Las Vegas, then mixed together in the studio.

<i>Hair</i> (musical) 1960s counterculture rock musical

Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical is a rock musical with a book and lyrics by Gerome Ragni and James Rado and music by Galt MacDermot. A product of the hippie counterculture and sexual revolution of the late 1960s, several of its songs became anthems of the anti-Vietnam War peace movement. The musical's profanity, its depiction of the use of illegal drugs, its treatment of sexuality, its irreverence for the American flag, and its nude scene caused much comment and controversy. The musical broke new ground in musical theatre by defining the genre of "rock musical", using a racially integrated cast, and inviting the audience onstage for a "Be-In" finale.

James Rado is an American actor, playwright, director, writer and composer, best known as the co-author, along with Gerome Ragni, of the 1967 musical Hair. He and Ragni were nominated for the 1969 Tony Award for best musical, and they won for best musical at the 11th Annual Grammy Awards.

Gerome Ragni was an American actor, singer and songwriter, best known as co-writer of the 1960s musical Hair: The American Tribal Love-Rock Musical.

Contents

The song listed at number 66 on Billboard's "Greatest Songs of All Time". [4]

History

The recording was led by veteran American producer and engineer Bones Howe, who had previously worked with the 5th Dimension as well as the Mamas & the Papas and Elvis Presley. As Howe tells it, the recording can be traced to an incident in which 5th Dimension lead singer Billy Davis Jr. left his wallet in a New York City cab; the man who found the wallet was involved in the production of Hair and invited the group to see the show: "After they'd seen it I received a phone call in which they were all talking over one another, saying 'We've got to cut this song "Aquarius". It's the best thing ever.'" Howe was skeptical ("This isn't a complete song. It's an introduction."), but after seeing the show on stage got the idea to create a medley with another musical moment from the show, a few bars from the song "The Flesh Failures" that consist of the repeated words "let the sunshine in." Although the two song fragments are in different keys and tempos, Howe resolved to "jam them together like two trains." [5]

Dayton Burr "Bones" Howe is an American record producer and recording engineer associated with 1960s and 1970s hits, mostly of the sunshine pop genre, including most of the hits of the 5th Dimension and the Association, as well as music supervision of several films. He was one of the first industry members to serve as both producer and engineer of the hit records on which he worked. In addition, he was occasionally credited as a musician on recordings as "Dayton Howe".

Elvis Presley American singer and actor

Elvis Aaron Presley, also known mononymously as Elvis, was an American singer and actor. Regarded as one of the most significant cultural icons of the 20th century, he is often referred to as the "King of Rock and Roll" or simply "the King".

Billy Davis Jr. American singer

Billy Davis Jr. is an American musician, best known as a member of the 5th Dimension. Along with his wife, Marilyn McCoo, he had hit records during 1976 and 1977 with "I Hope We Get to Love in Time", "Your Love", and "You Don't Have to Be a Star ". Davis and McCoo were married in 1969. They became the first African American married couple to host a network television series, The Marilyn McCoo & Billy Davis Jr. Show, on CBS in the summer of 1977. That same year, "You Don't Have to Be a Star " won a Grammy Award.

The instrumental track was set to tape at Wally Heider Recording in Los Angeles by the Wrecking Crew rhythm section of Hal Blaine on drums, Joe Osborn on bass, Larry Knechtel on keyboards, and Tommy Tedesco on guitar along with guitarist Dennis Budimir. However, the vocals were recorded separately in Las Vegas, where the 5th Dimension was performing at the time, using only two microphones for the five singers. Davis' solo during "Let the Sunshine In" was improvised during the session; songwriter Jimmy Webb, who happened into the studio during the recording, remarked to Howe, "My God, that's a number one record." [5]

Wally Heider Studios

Wally Heider Studios was a recording studio in San Francisco, California between 1969 and 1980, started by recording engineer and studio owner Wally Heider.

The Wrecking Crew (music) Loose collective of session musicians based in Los Angeles whose services were employed for thousands of studio recordings in the 1960s and 1970s

The Wrecking Crew was a loose collective of session musicians based in Los Angeles whose services were employed for thousands of studio recordings in the 1960s and 1970s, including several hundred Top 40 hits. The musicians were not publicly recognized in their era, but were viewed with reverence by industry insiders. They are now considered one of the most successful and prolific session recording units in music history.

Hal Blaine American drummer

Hal Blaine was an American drummer and session musician, estimated to be among the most recorded studio drummers in the history of the music industry, claiming over 35,000 sessions and 6,000 singles. His drumming is featured on 150 US top 10 hits, 40 of which went to number one, as well as many film and television soundtracks.

This song was one of the most popular songs of 1969 worldwide, and in the United States it reached the number one position on both the Billboard Hot 100 (for six weeks in April and May) and the Billboard Easy Listening chart. It also reached the top of the sales charts in Canada and elsewhere. Billboard ranked it as the No. 2 Hot 100 single for 1969. [6]

1969 in music Overview of the events of 1969 in music

List of notable events in music that took place in the year 1969.

<i>Billboard</i> Hot 100 Song chart in U.S

The Billboard Hot 100 is the music industry standard record chart in the United States for songs, published weekly by Billboard magazine. Chart rankings are based on sales, radio play, and online streaming in the United States.

<i>Billboard</i> (magazine) American music magazine

Billboard is an American entertainment media brand owned by the Billboard-Hollywood Reporter Media Group, a division of Eldridge Industries. It publishes pieces involving news, video, opinion, reviews, events, and style, and is also known for its music charts, including the Hot 100 and Billboard 200, tracking the most popular songs and albums in different genres. It also hosts events, owns a publishing firm, and operates several TV shows.

The recording won both the Grammy Award for Record of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Performance by a Group for the Grammy Awards of 1970, after being published on the album The Age of Aquarius by the 5th Dimension, and also being released as a seven-inch vinyl single record.

The Grammy Award for Record of the Year is presented by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences of the United States to "honor artistic achievement, technical proficiency and overall excellence in the recording industry, without regard to sales or chart position." The Record of the Year award is one of the four most prestigious categories at the awards presented annually since the 1st Grammy Awards in 1959. According to the 54th Grammy Awards description guide, the award is presented:

for commercially released singles or tracks of new vocal or instrumental recordings. Tracks from a previous year's album may be entered provided the track was not entered the previous year and provided the album did not win a Grammy. Award to the artist(s), producer(s), recording engineer(s) and/or mixer(s) if other than the artist.

<i>The Age of Aquarius</i> (album) 1969 studio album by The 5th Dimension

The Age of Aquarius is the fourth album by American pop group The 5th Dimension, released in 1969.

The lyrics of this song were based on the astrological belief that the world would soon be entering the "Age of Aquarius", an age of love, light, and humanity, unlike the current "Age of Pisces". The exact circumstances for the change are "When the moon is in the seventh house, and Jupiter aligns with Mars." This change was presumed to occur at the end of the 20th century; however, astrologers differ extremely widely as to when. Their proposed dates range from 2062 to 2680.

Astrologer Neil Spencer denounced the lyrics as "astrological gibberish", noting that Jupiter forms an astrological aspect with Mars several times a year and the moon is in the 7th House for two hours every day. [7] These lines are considered by many[ who? ] to be merely poetic license, though some people take them literally.

The American Film Institute's 100 Years...100 Songs list, published in 2004, ranked "Medley: Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In (The Flesh Failures)" as number 33.

Track listing of the single

SideTitleLength
A."Medley: Aquarius / Let the Sunshine In (The Flesh Failures)"4:50

radio edit 3:07

B."Don'tcha Hear Me Callin' To Ya"3:54

Charts

Cover versions

From 1970–77, "Aquarius" was used as the theme song to the British arts programme Aquarius .

In 1970, "Let The Sunshine In" was used in an Ad Council PSA for the National Urban Coalition; the commercial promoted racial harmony using a large all-star choir including cameos by Ray Charles, Peggy Cass, Johnny Carson, Will Geer and Leonard Nimoy.

"Let the Sunshine In" has been adopted by soccer fans in Argentina and popularized in Uruguay's "Soy Celeste" to proclaim their support.

Peter Lawford sang the song "Aquarius" in the Hollywood Palace in November 1969.

The song appears as part of the Forrest Gump (soundtrack) along with other songs from the 1994 film.

The song also appeared in episode 3 ("Harmony of the Worlds") of Carl Sagan's Cosmos during a sequence debunking the practice of astrology. [34]

In episode 16, season 3 of The Simpsons ("Bart the Lover"), "Age of Aquarius" is played during a yo-yo demonstration at a school assembly. [35]

The song appeared at the end of the 2001 movie Recess: School's Out .

The song also appeared at the end of the 2005 movie The 40-Year-Old Virgin .

They Might Be Giants make reference to "Age of Aquarius" in the song "Cage and Aquarium", taken from the album Lincoln .

A sample of the song as it appears in the film Hair carries the main loop of the Boards of Canada song of the same name, appearing on their debut LP.

The beginning of the song is heard during a flashback at the start of episode 2 of American Horror Story Season 1: Murder House.

The song is featured in Just Dance 2014 .

See also

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References

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