WON: "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head," Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
SHOULD'VE WON: "Come Saturday Morning," The Sterile Cuckoo
1969, the year of unlikely Best Picture Oscar-winner Midnight Cowboy (and no, Harry Nilsson's terrific "Everybody's Talkin'" was not eligible for consideration in Best Original Song), marks quite a strong year in the Original Song category - it's a line-up so solid that the winner, "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head," which I love, doesn't even come out on top for me.
I'll start with the winning track, the Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid tune that finally gave Burt Bacharach and Hal David their Oscars after having deserved it at least once or (I would argue) twice in recent years. Performed by B.J. Thomas, the song was a smash Billboard hit, later clocking in at number 23 on AFI's "100 Years...100 Songs" list, and for good reason - it's immensely catchy, with typically brilliant Bacharach-David music and lyrics, and Thomas' vocal is wonderful too. It's a tough song to knock in any way, even if it isn't quite my favorite of the bunch.
That honor goes to "Come Saturday Morning," the truly remarkable collaboration between composers Dory Previn and Fred Karlin and the supremely underrated folk rock group The Sandpipers, for the film The Sterlile Cuckoo, an idiosyncratic coming-of-age story that marked Liza Minnelli's first leading lady vehicle. The tune is drenched in late-'60s nostalgia - it might well be the most '60s-sounding song that's ever been nominated in this category - and has a warm, dreamy quality that puts it right up there with the best of acts like The Beatles and The Byrds.
I am also quite fond of Glen Campbell's "True Grit," from the eponymous John Wayne film, for which the latter scored his Oscar. As western themes go, it's not quite in the same league as say, the title song from High Noon, but it is enjoyable and I would argue one of the more memorable parts of a rather overrated film. "What Are You Doing the Rest of Your Life," from the Jean Simmons starrer The Happy Ending, is a very nice piece too, from the team of Michel Legrand, Alan Bergman and Marilyn Bergman. I'm not terribly fond of the Michael Dees version of the song, however, which appears in the film. A few years later, Barbra Streisand did a cover, as the B-side to "The Way We Were," that was pitch-perfect.
The final nominee, "Jean," from Maggie Smith's Oscar-winning vehicle The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, is the pretty clear weak link here, a rather dreary theme to an otherwise wonderful film. Replace this song with "We Have All the Time in the World," the underrated Louis Armstrong-performed theme to On Her Majesty's Secret Service, and you'd have a marvelous line-up here from top to bottom.
The Oscar-winners ranked (thus far)...
- "Over the Rainbow," The Wizard of Oz (1939)
- "The Way You Look Tonight," Swing Time (1936)
- "High Hopes," A Hole in the Head (1959)
- "Whatever Will Be, Will Be (Que Sera, Sera)," The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956)
- "Mona Lisa," Captain Carey, U.S.A. (1950)
- "You'll Never Know," Hello, Frisco, Hello (1943)
- "On the Atchison, Topeka and the Santa Fe," The Harvey Girls (1946)
- "Baby, It's Cold Outside," Neptune's Daughter (1949)
- "The Windmills of Your Mind," The Thomas Crown Affair (1968)
- "Raindrops Keep Fallin' on My Head," Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)
- "High Noon (Do Not Forsake Me, On My Darlin')," High Noon (1952)
- "Secret Love," Calamity Jane (1953)
- "White Christmas," Holiday Inn (1942)
- "Moon River," Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961)
- "When You Wish Upon a Star," Pinocchio (1940)
- "Thanks for the Memory," The Big Broadcast of 1938 (1938)
- "Lullaby of Broadway," Gold Diggers of 1935 (1935)
- "Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah," Song of the South (1947)
- "Days of Wine and Roses," Days of Wine and Roses (1962)
- "All the Way," The Joker Is Wild (1957)
- "It Might As Well Be Spring," State Fair (1945)
- "The Last Time I Saw Paris," Lady Be Good (1941)
- "In the Cool, Cool, Cool of the Evening," Here Comes the Groom (1951)
- "Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing," Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing (1955)
- "Born Free," Born Free (1966)
- "Never on Sunday," Never on Sunday (1960)
- "Three Coins in the Fountain," Three Coins in the Fountain (1954)
- "Chim Chim Cher-ee," Mary Poppins (1964)
- "Call Me Irresponsible," Papa's Delicate Condition (1963)
- "Swinging on a Star," Going My Way (1944)
- "Gigi," Gigi (1958)
- "The Continental," The Gay Divorcee (1934)
- "Sweet Leilani," Waikiki Wedding (1937)
- "Buttons and Bows," The Paleface (1948)
- "Talk to the Animals," Doctor Dolittle (1967)
- "The Shadow of Your Smile," The Sandpiper (1965)