For the first time in our countdown, we have consecutive number ones that directly contradict one another! Scenes!
Good Timin’, by Jimmy Jones (his 1st and only #1)
3 weeks, from 7th – 28th July 1960
The question in question, as it were, is ‘How do you find love?’ In the blue corner: Eddie Cochran, who would have you think that there are three steps, a simple guide to follow. In the red: Jimmy Jones, who believes it’s all just a matter of timing…
Oh you need timin’, A tic-a-tic-a-tic-a good, Timin’… And that’s all it. Timin’ is the thing, It’s true, Good timin’ brought me to you… Not convinced? Well, Jimmy’s been nose-deep in the history books. And he has citations!
If lil, lil David hadn’t grabbed that stone, Lyin’ there on the ground, Big Goliath mighta stomped on him, Instead of the other way ‘round… Good timing! Who in the world would ever have known, What Columbus could do, If Queen Isabella hadn’t hawked her jewels, In 1492… Good timing!
Jones then narrows his focus down on a much more recent example: him and his beau, and their very own ‘sliding doors’ moment. What woulda happened if you and I, Hadn’t just happened to meet? We’d mighta spent the rest of our lives, Walkin down misery street…
And that’s pretty much it. Another two-minute wonder that we don’t have to take particularly seriously. This should perhaps be going down as a ‘novelty’ number one, but I’m feeling generous and will file it under plain old ‘pop’. If we had to choose between our competing #1s – this and ‘Three Steps to Heaven’ – and their conflicting ideas on love, I’d have to plump for the ‘Timing’ theory’ as it’s simply set to a better soundtrack. The song skips along nicely, accompanied by perky guitars and a couple of violins, and Jones sounds like he’s having fun while singing it.
It’s nice, and cute. But that’s the becoming the problem. We’ve had a lot of nice, cute number ones over past few months – from Anthony Newley’s smarmy ‘Why’ to Johnny Preston’s goofy ‘Running Bear’. The top end of the chart seems to have lost its bite. When, for example, was the last time a sit-up-and-listen record like ‘Great Balls of Fire’ or ‘Jailhouse Rock’ made an appearance? Lonnie Donegan was a snarling, growling presence when he took tracks like ‘Cumberland Gap’ to the top. Now he’s singing ‘My Old Man’s a Dustman’, and gurning at the audience as he goes. No, I think we have to admit that the opening months of the 1960s has witnessed a castration of rock ‘n’ roll. Rock’s still there, in the guitar licks and in the song structures, but it’s definitely lost its bite.
Despite their differences in opinion regarding the course of true love; Jimmy Jones and Eddie Cochran do have one thing in common. Their sole chart toppers are far from being their best songs. Admittedly Jones doesn’t have the back-catalogue that Cochran does; in fact he has just one other UK hit – the far superior ‘Handy Man’ which had made #3 back in April. Listen to that and you can hear that he was quite the singer – a sort of Sam Cooke, or Jackie Wilson, with the falsetto that you hear in ‘Good Timin’’ used to much more soulful effect.
But Jones isn’t the first and he won’t be the last star mis-represented at the top of the pop charts. He died not long ago, back in 2012, aged eighty-two. He had his three weeks of fame before his star swiftly faded. Later, he would go on to enjoy a revival in the Northern Soul clubs of the 70s and 80s. In those circles, Jones’s obscurity lent a certain cache to his records, and so his lack of hits proved to be something of a positive in the end. Good timing, you might say.