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The wonder in Harmony

by | Feb 19, 2021 | Harmony, The Fifth Dimension, wonder

Finally, we get to the song that triggered the week.  I have been trying to be more explicit about leadership and management tips lately, and hopefully, you have gotten a few.  Today’s story is so rich that I don’t have space (or the need) to point it out.  So wonder with me …. by this point, The Fifth Dimension is well on their way, having won multiple Grammys with multiple platinum records.  They were in New York City playing a series of concerts when Billy Davis noticed his wallet was missing – having fallen out in the cab he had just stepped out of.  “Well, that’s gone…. “ 

Billy is likely one of the voices you most identify with the group, and was singing in Gospel groups at an early age in St. Louis.  He had worked hard in his teens and saved enough to buy a cocktail lounge there, a place to experiment with different musical groups.  When Lamonte reached out about joining the Versailles in LA, he decided to try his experiments out west, and by this point, they were going “well” 😉 

Billy and Marilyn were sitting in their hotel room, and the phone rang: “I have your wallet”.  Stunned, particularly in New York City in the late ‘60s, Billy offered the person tickets to see them in the show that night, where they would exchange the wallet.  All went according to plan, and the person had a wonderful time, came backstage, handed over the wallet… and tickets to “his show”.  By now you can guess if you are my age, but if not it was…. Hair…

… only the hottest show in NYC… and one they had all been wanting to see but couldn’t get tickets.  In listening to Billy tell the story, he brought up the one feature that everyone talked about, and in his best southern dialect, “… these people were nekked!!”.  But Billy and Lamonte IMMEDIATELY knew that their group had to sing Aquarius and called their producer, Bones Howe, to start getting the rights lined up.  He was cold at first, and they could tell that it was not going to be a slam dunk, but by this point they trusted him. 

wonder is the ability to see what others miss, and make it into something that is amazing.  Other artists had recorded Aquarius, and even the “other” song, Let the Sunshine In… but they were not together.  Bones realized that they would blend together, along with the bridge between the two songs, which you know is coming, and completely changes the way you hear the song.  

The last piece of wonder is knowledge of the team.  After the group was finished singing both songs, Bones turned to Billy, and said: “Ok Billy, take us to church!!”  Billy stepped back, and thought for a moment, and then went into the booth and completely ad-libbed the portion after both songs  And now, as we all know, at the end of both songs, they sing “Let the SunShine” – over and over and over….  Bones knew that it would give the song the special boost it needed to be timeless.  It became the Song of the Year, again, a platinum album, and was recorded by almost everyone you can imagine, including being on the Simpsons 😉 

I hinted at this earlier in the week, one of the major elements of the Fifth Dimension is the band that backed them up.  The Wrecking Crew deserves a week of its own, but today, as you listen, I hope you will zero in on Joe Osborne – the bass player.  That bass line is as important as the 5 voices, and there are times when it is actually carrying the melody as they turn into Harmony singers with the instruments, particularly in the “Sunshine phase”.  I know as a Bass player I can tell when it is Joe, and I hope that you will start to tune your own ear to wonder more about what is happening behind the leads… 

There is a new series of shows on PBS about the Black Church, and without diving into the politics on either side, let me say for me, there is nothing like a black/African American choir. The end of this song is the full “church” experience that I think we all need now.  To this day, when they sing this song in concert, the crowd breaks into the song, clapping, dancing, and using the phrase from that era, “letting it all hang out”.  I wonder if you can, and will…go for it.  Let the Sun Shine In… It is after all the Age of Aquarius. 

When the moon is in the Seventh House
And Jupiter aligns with Mars
Then peace will guide the planets
And love will steer the stars

This is the dawning of the age of Aquarius
The age of Aquarius, Aquarius, Aquarius

Harmony and understanding
Sympathy and trust abounding
No more falsehoods or derisions
Golden living dreams of visions
Mystic crystal revelation
And the mind’s true liberation
Aquarius, Aquarius

Let the sunshine (Oh let it shine!)
Let the sunshine in (Come on)
The sunshine in (Now everybody just sing along)

Let the sunshine (And let the sun shine on in)
Let the sunshine in (Open up your heart)
The sunshine in (Let it shine on in)

(And when you’re lonely)
Let the sunshine (Hey! Let it shine, yeah)
Let the sunshine in (You got to open up your heart)
The sunshine in (And let it shine on in)

(And when you feel like you’ve been mistreated)
Let the sunshine (And your friends turn their backs upon ya)
Let the sunshine in (Just open up your heart)
The sunshine in (And let it shine on in)

(You’ve got to feel it)
Let the sunshine (You’ve got to feel it)
Let the sunshine in (Ahh, open up your heart and let it shine on in)
The sunshine in

(And let me tell you one thing)
Let the sunshine (I want you to sing along with the 5th Dimension)
Let the sunshine in (Hey, open up your heart)
The sunshine in

(Aww, come on)
Let the sunshine (Let it shine)
Let the sunshine in (Everyday)
The sunshine in (Hey, you got to feel it)

Let the sunshine (You got to feel it)
Let the sunshine in (When you open up your heart)
The sunshine in (You gotta let the sun come on in)

(And I see in the mornin’)
Let the sunshine (And late at night)
Let the sunshine in (Open up your heart)
The sunshine in (Hey!)

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