Up-Up and Away

Album: Up-Up and Away (1967)
Charted: 7
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Songfacts®:

  • 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.
  • 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 four 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.
  • Billy Davis Jr. and Marilyn McCoo of The 5th Dimension got married in 1969. In 2004, they released a book called Up, Up, and Away: How We Found Love, Faith, and Lasting Marriage in the Entertainment World.
  • 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.
  • Desmond Carrington presented a music programme on BBC Radio for 36 years.

    When Desmond Carrington launched his BBC Radio music program All Time Greats (later re-named Desmond Carrington: The Music Goes Round) on October 4, 1981, the first song he played was "Up-Up and Away." It was also the first song he played on October 28, 2016, the last time he presented the show before retiring at the age of 90. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Alexander Baron - London, England

Comments: 29

  • Ajawamnet from NvaUh - this song was written by Jimmy Webb (a well known songwriter that also wrote Wichita Lineman for Glenn Campbell) and the entire story of how it came about is in the Wall Street Journal -

    https://on.wsj.com/2Y2o2Tb

    I have no clue where all these posts are based on. From what that states no one else cut that before the 5th Dimension did in 1966

    Here's what really happened:

    As he mentions in that article, he was in Hollywood trying to sell songs and the KMEN-AM station was doing a promo at a hot dog stand (in radio we called them "remotes") and had a hot-air balloon. Since he was really into aviation, he and the one DJ William F Williams got in. As they approached it Williams mentions, " “Would you like to ride in my beautiful balloon?” and then said “We ought to make one of those teen beach movies, but in the desert about ballooning.” as they went up in it. Webb stated he'd write the music. He then went to Valley College and wrote it in 40 minutes.

    He used a line from the Superman movies - "up... up and away!!" MUsically he mentions that the bridge of the song allows it to modulate from GMaj to C.

    He based the intro on the Association's "Along Comes Mary"

    So by 1966 he was working with Johnny Rivers. Rivers had just signed the a group called "5th Dimension" to his Soul City label. Webb states that he wrote five of the songs on that album - one of which was "Up, Up, and Away".

    He then co-produced and got guys from the Wrecking Crew - Joe Osborn, guitarist Tommy Tedesco and drummer Hal Blaine. The Wrecking Crew was group of studio musicians that did most of that 60's stuff - even the Beach Boys didn't play on their own records - it was the WC. Watch the movie about them. Along with the others Osborn, Tedesco and Blaine are just silly good musicians.

    After they cut the scratch tracks, Webb then rehearsed it with the 5th Dimension. Marilyn McCoo recalls feeling happy when she first heard it.

    They then cut it at Sound Recorders with the WC, strings and horns.

    Strange story he mentions is that the radio station KOMA in his native OK thought it was about drugs and wouldn't play it. His dad - an ex-marine and a Baptist minister set the radio stations Program Director straight and they began playing it.

    The story of the balloon marriage occurred in 1969 and took place at the Century Plaza parking lot in LA. with Webb's father officiating it.

    So I ain't sure where all these other stories came from. This is what really happened.
  • Volare from New York NyYou're right Seventhmist, it wasn't written for the McCoo/Davis wedding, which did not happen, as you pointed out, till two years later. In fact the Fifth Dimension was not the first artist to record the song - the Sunshine Company and Linda Kaye Henning (of Petticoat Junction fame) both recorded it first. Of course the 5th Dimension had their big breakthrough hit with it.
  • Seventhmist from 7th HeavenAdolph from Denver, this couldn't have been a song for McCoo and Davis's marriage because they were married in 1969 and this song came out in 1967.
  • AnonymousDirty song if the hidden meaning of the balloon was a condom.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyMr. Sullivan must have loved this song; for on this day in 1969 {May 18th} the 5th Dimension performed it for the third time on his Sunday night CBS-TV program...
    {See posts below}.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn March 10th 1968, the 5th Dimension performed "Up-Up and Away" on the CBS-TV program 'The Ed Sullivan Show'...
    Two months earlier on January 28th, 1968 they sang the same song on the 'Sullivan' show...
    {See the 2nd post below}.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn June 24th 1967, the Fifth Dimension performed "Up-Up and Away" on the ABC-TV program 'American Bandstand'...
    It was the quintet's first appearance on national television...
    Between 1967 and 1976 the group had thirty Top 100 records; seven made the Top 10 with two reaching #1, "Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In" for 6 weeks in 1969 and "Wedding Bells Blues" for 3 weeks in 1969...
    They missed having a third #1 when "One Less Bell to Answer" peaked at #2 for 2 weeks in 1970 (the 2 weeks it was at #2, "My Sweet Lord" by George Harrison was the #1 record for both those weeks).
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn January 28th 1968, the 5th Dimension performed "Up-Up and Away" on the CBS-TV program 'The Ed Sullivan Show'...
    Seven months earlier on May 28th, 1967 it entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; and on July 2nd, 1967 it peaked at #7 (for 3 weeks) and spent 12 weeks on the Top 100...
    It was track one on their debut album of the same name; the album reached #8 on Billboard's Pop Album chart...
    Two other songs from the album also made the Top 100; "Go Where You Wanna Go" (#16) and "Another Day, Another Heartache" (#45)...
    Between 1967 and 1976 the group had thirty Top 100 records; with seven making the Top 10 and two reaching #1 ("Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In" for 6 weeks in 1969 and "Wedding Bell Blues" for 3 weeks, also in 1969)...
    Original group member Ron Townson passed away on August 2nd, 2001 at the young age of 68...
    May he R.I.P.
  • Christopher from Charlotte, NcRegarding the original by The Sunshine Company, I have a gut feeling that the previously unreleased until November 2011 alternate recording by the band with PETTICOAT JUNCTION star Linda Kaye Henning is the original cut. My guess is that for some unknown reason, Imperial records decided to remove Linda's vocals and use The Sunshine Company's own lead vocalists Mary Nance and Maury Manseau instead. Both are more or less variations of the same recording and both predate
    The 5th Dimension's hit.
    The original(?) "Sunshine" version with "Betty Jo" on lead in available on the audio CD THE GIRLS FROM PETTICOAT JUNCTION: SIXTIES SOUNDS
  • Christopher from Charlotte, NcWhen are you going to add that this song is cover and that it was first done by "Petticoat Junction" star Linda Kaye Henning backed by The Sunshine Company? It's true, Linda's was unreleased until November 2011. However The Sunshine Company own version was also recorded and released before The 5th Dimension. Released about a week
    ahead of the fifth Dimensions version, it failed to chart. It also appeared on The Sunshine Company's
    debut album "Happy Is The Sunshine Company" Linda Kaye's original was recently released on
    The brand new compilation "The Girls From Petticoat Junction:Sixties Sounds.
    So it wasn't originally intended for The 5th Dimension; they just had the hit with it.
  • Christopher from Charlotte, NcWell this may be just an urban legend, but supposedly Up Up And Away "originated" on Petticoat Junction! There are a handful of episodes from 1967 and '68 in which the Bradley sisters( the lineup of Linda Kaye Henning, Lori Saunders, and Meredith MacRae) perform the song, minus verse 2. The versions by The 5th Dimension,The Sunshine Company(which came BEFORE the 5th Dimensions' and The Johnny Mann singers are all supposedly covers of the "Junction original!
  • Steve from Whittier, CaThis, the Cowsills's "The Rain, The Park, and Other Things", and Spanky and Our Gang's "Lazy Day", pretty much form a trilogy of laid back, trippy middle of the road music that year.
  • Mike from Midhurst, United KingdomIn the film Spiderman our superhero is about to launch himself up a tall building. Before doing so he says "up up and away web." I remain unsure as to whether the last word has a second B in it but I suspect it does.
  • Dougee from San Bernardino, CaKMEN (1290), along with KFXM (590), were the premiere pop stations in the San Bernardino area for many years. According to one account, Webb became inspired by Williams' balloon, then went to a piano practice room at San Bernardino Valley College, where he was a student at the time, and composed the song. Sadly, though the college is still there, KFXM is now a conservative talk station and KMEN now broadcasts "Disney Radio."
  • Ekristheh from Halath, United StatesThe first time I heard this song was just after midnight October 13, 1967. I believe I was DXing a Philadelphia station. I was impressed. I'd never heard the 5th Dimension before.
  • Robert from Houston, TxThe first dimension can be represented as a point in space. The second...? A line without depth or form. The third can be thought of as a cube, since it has depth of field. The fourth dimension is the flow of time. And the Fifth Dimension? Well, they got to number seven with Up-Up and Away.
  • Richard from Talladega, AlFirst time I heard this song on the radio, I thought it was a commercial for an airline or something. Fantastic song.
  • Geraldine from Miami, FlAlso Pan Am, used this beautiful song for a commercial back in the 70s.

    At the end it said "At Pan Am, experience makes the difference".
  • Chris from Preston, EnglandSong was also released in England by Johnny Mann Singers.
    It too was used in a commercial on TV for Nimble Bread
  • Adolph from Denver, CoP.S....give it up there is no connection to the Cowsills.
  • Adolph from Denver, CoThis song was written to commemorate the marriage of Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr. They were married in a hot air balloon. This was a Grammy Winner for the 5th Dimension
  • Chris from Currumbin, AustraliaIn Australia, during the 1970s, TAA (Trans Australian Airlines) used this song for an advertisment. "Up, up and away, with TAA, the friendly, friendly way."
  • Steve from Jamesburg, NjArthur's probably thinking about "We Can Fly' by the Cowsills. (I'm originally from Philly-so Drexel Hill wasn't far)
  • Susan from Chantilly, Va5th Dimension member, Florence LaRue, married the group's then manager, Marc Gordon, in a balloon, in the summer of 1969 to honor the success of the song.
  • Arthur from Drexel Hill, PaSomehow I remembered this song as being done by the Cowsills. Anybody know if there was ever a Cowsill connection to it?
  • Mark from Lancaster, OhNobody knew why then or now, but this song was once banned by a dictatorship in Asia--Malaysia, I believe.
  • Bobodobo from Los Angeles, CaTo Pete Down Under: This song was also used in the USA in a TV commercial for Trans World Airlines (TWA): "up, up and awaaaaa... tee duuuuble-yew aaaaa"
  • Rick from San Juan, United States"Up-Up And Away" was the first top 10 hit for The 5th Dimension, produced by Johnny Rivers on his Soul City label.
  • Pete from Nowra, Australiathe song was used for an airline company commercial in Australia, just a few of the words were changed
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