Song: “Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In” by the 5th Dimension
Reached #1: April 12, 1969 (their first, 6 weeks)
Hair was a game-changing musical. Whether it was the nude scene (on stage, on Broadway, in the ‘60s), the topic (a very anti-war musical in the midst of the Vietnam War), or the music – it’s kind of surprising that the musical worked at all. But it did… and a number of pop acts recorded songs from the soundtrack and made hits out of them.
It seems, though, that it was more than “kind of surprising” that the 5th Dimension did this song – they struck nobody as the kind of group that would sing a Hair soundtrack song, even though this medley isn’t really political. Outside the show, it’s just a groovy track about love, hope, and understanding.
It worked, though. It became a signature song for the 5th Dimension, and the musical remains relevant 40+ years later (with a Broadway revival just a few years ago at the height of the Iraq/Afghanistan wars – hmm….).
Now when you think of the 5th Dimension, you probably think of Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr. I certainly did. But the real heart and soul of the group is the “other” female singer in the above video, Florence LaRue. She started with the group at the beginning in 1967 – and never left. 45 years later, she’s still front and center with the 5th Dimension, which does a lot of casino and private shows these days.
Finally, of course, because the song is based on astrological concepts, it’s not totally accurate. According to astrology, an “age” begins when the vernal equinox “moves” to a new star sign. To nobody’s surprise, no two astrologers can agree on when the Age of Aquarius did start and/or will start. The simplest indictment of the whole “Age of Aquarius” concept comes from one line of Wikipedia, which indicates that the start date is somewhere between “1447 and 3621” CE. Real precise.
But it’s still a terrific song.
Tomorrow, the all-star charity single that redefined charity singles.
Other songs that reached #1 on April 12:
1975 –“Philadelphia Freedom” by Elton John (his fourth, 2 weeks)
2008 – “Touch My Body” by Mariah Carey (her eighteenth, 2 weeks)