Oh Well Parts 1 and 2 - Fleetwood Mac
1969 was an extraordinary year in terms of popular music. While nowadays the top twenty is almost exclusively dominated by artists popular with teenagers, in part due to the on-line ways in which it is compiled, in the sixties, it was the product of actual sales of vinyl in record shops and therefore money and access meant that a much broader range in ages and tastes was reflected. Top ten entries varied from orchestrated slow crooners like Donald Peers, Engelbert Humperdinck and Frank Sinatra, through the novelty nonsense of the likes of Scaffold and Rolf Harris, the reggae of Jimmy Cliff, Desmond Dekker, Max Romeo, the Harry J All Stars and the Upsetters, the soul of Judy Clay and William Bell, Bob and Earl, Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson, the Temptations, Diana Ross, the Isley Brothers and a host of others, rock music - the Who, Rolling Stones, Humble Pie, Beatles, Joe Cocker, Creedence Clearwater Revival and Jethro Tull - to gospel with the Edwin Hawkins Singers. This is leaving out Jane Birkin and Serge Gainsbourg's sex simulatory "Je t'aime.....Moi non plus", movie themes, folk, country and western, middle of the road pop from the likes of Herman's Hermits and Manfred Mann, bubblegum music and even hits by Elvis Presley, Cliff Richard, Bob Dylan and David Bowie respectively. What a decade! and what a year!
But amongst this veritable cavalcade of variety, what made the age arguably the greatest for popular music, was the fact that something like Fleetwood Mac's "Oh Well" could get to number two as it did in November 1969 - only prevented from reaching number one by "Sugar Sugar" by the Archies! (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qvXFP_tjgEE)
I can still remember the amazement and excitement as us fourteen year olds watched the motley crew of long haired guitarists - there were four of them including John McVie on bass - led by Peter Green looking like Jesus Christ in some rare Florentine Renaissance artwork. Socks off, minds, gaskets, fuses, they blew the lot.
The 'A' side is part one, savage, apocalyptic unforgiving; the 'B' side is "Oh Well part 2", literally the flip side: tender, moving, redeeming, with Peter Geen's classical acoustic guitar (backed by Green double tracked on cello) so sad but uplifting that if you're caught unawares, you wind up with tears streaming down your cheeks, remembering your mother, young, with the sunlight dappling through the trees as you play in the sand.
Some chart, some song. Timeless.