Song: “I Can See Clearly Now” by Johnny Nash
Reached #1: November 4, 1972 (his first, 4 weeks)
Before they hit #1 themselves with “Pick Up The Pieces”, the Average White Band was part of two #1 singles in 1972. Two members of the band were part of Chuck Berry’s group at the festival where “My Ding-A-Ling” was recorded – and several band members were studio musicians in London when Johnny Nash recorded his only #1 hit.
What isn’t really remembered today is that this was Johnny Nash’s comeback single. He’d had a brief run in 1968-69, with the #5 single “Hold Me Tight” as his biggest hit the first time – but he’d had some setbacks and planned to use “I Can See Clearly Now” as his return to prominence.
On one level, it worked. The catchy tune got him his only #1 hit in the USA. It also left him with nowhere to go but down as he never got higher than #77 with his followup singles.
For me, this song has a story. In the late ‘70s, when I was in high school, I took several computer programming courses. Our instructor was… to be kind… “diminutive”. Or you could say he was short. I was one of several students who rewrote the hook to this song to be “I can see clearly now / I’ve grown an inch” in his “honor”. Yes, it was juvenile. I was in high school…
Nash had dropped out of sight by the time we did that childish “remake”… and stayed out of the music business for the most part (except for a 1986 album) until the mid-‘00s, when he made a small comeback in his hometown of Houston, TX. At last report, he was working on digitizing his albums.
Tomorrow, the ‘80s soundtrack hit that revived a classic ‘60s band.
Other songs that reached #1 on November 4:
1978 – “You Needed Me” by Anne Murray (her first, 1 week)
1989 – “Listen To Your Heart” by Roxette (their second, 1 week)