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Jimmy Webb wrote this song. He was a prolific songwriter who wrote "MacArthur Park
," as well as many of Glen Campbell's hits. In our interview with Jimmy Webb
, he said of recording this song, "It was the greatest experience of my life in a way, because it was the first time I had been really set free. I had been working in the studio with Johnny Rivers and Mark Gordon co-producing, and I was just kind of a gopher. I went around and did everything. I did rhythm parts for my songs. But I had a good friend in Marty Paich, and he was teaching me the basics - I guess you would say the fundamentals of orchestration. And finally when we got in to do (second album) Magic Garden
with Bones Howe that was the first album that I was ever given complete freedom to do my own orchestration. And it turned out great."
Webb was inspired by a balloon that his friend William F. Williams flew on promotions for radio station KMEN. Both men thought the song could be used in a planned documentary, which never panned out. This song, more than any other, is associated with hot air ballooning. Learn more in Song Images
This song was first released by a Los Angeles Pop group called The Sunshine Company (best known for their #36 charting "Back On The Street Again"), who included it on their 1967 debut album in a version that used the "Up, Up and Away" saying from a Superman broadcast at the end. Around this time, the song was also recorded by Linda Kaye Henning, star of the TV show Petticoat Junction, with The Sunshine Company singing backup. This version was not released until November, 2011 when it appeared on the album The Girls From Petticoat Junction. Later that year The 5th Dimension issued the song as a single, and it became their second Top 40 hit after the #16 "Go Where You Wanna Go."
This won 4 Grammy awards: Best Pop Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocal, Other Pop/Rock&Roll/ Contemporary Awards or Instrumental, Record Of The Year and Song Of The Year. (thanks, Brad Wind - Miami, FL, for all above)
Bones Howe was the engineer on this track. Over the next few years, he produced most of their hits.
According to the Grammy Foundation's January 23, 2014 A Song is Born show, the tune initially met some resistance at radio, especially in Jimmy Webb's hometown of Oklahoma City, as programmers thought it was about drugs.
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