Something In The Air

Album: Hollywood Dream (1969)
Charted: 1 37
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  • This mellow song about an impending revolution was a surprise hit in the UK, where it was #1 for three weeks in the summer of 1969. It was written and sung by the group's drummer, John "Speedy" Keen, who got to know Pete Townshend through session work - Keen wrote the song "Armenia City in the Sky," which appeared on the album The Who Sell Out in 1967. Townshend took an interest in Keen's songwriting and assembled a band around him, pairing him with 16-year-old guitarist Jimmy McCulloch and the group's namesake, jazz pianist Andy "Thunderclap" Newman.

    Keen was driving a truck to supplement his income when he wrote the song, which he didn't take very seriously. "It was a reflection of what I was seeing at the time," he told ZigZag in 1975. "I wrote it about two months before we recorded it and we put it out as a joke."
  • The hastily assembled Thunderclap Newman were not up to form as a live band, but when this song took off, they were sent on a long tour that became their undoing. Their shows were poorly received, and time on the road meant time away from the studio and writing songs. They split up soon after, releasing just one album, Hollywood Dream in 1970. The group was extant for only two years.

    "'Something In The Air' was very hard to live up to because it wasn't done under any pressure and it was very hard to get that same feel when we knew we had to produce another single," Keen explained.
  • Pete Townshend engineered, arranged and played bass on this song. The Who never had a #1 hit in the UK or US - "Something In The Air" is the only song he worked on that went to the top in either of those territories.
  • "Revolution" was considered as a title for this song, but The Beatles released a song with that title a year earlier.
  • Pete Townshend also produced "Accidents," which was the follow-up single and went to #46 in the UK. The group split up soon after. Newman took up the saxophone and returned to the pub circuit; McCulloch joined Paul McCartney's group Wings before dying of heart failure in 1979. Speedy Keen released two solo albums and continued on as a session musician.
  • This was used in a memorable scene at the end of the 1969 film The Magic Christian when Peter Sellers and Ringo Starr give away "free money," with a hitch: the bills are submerged in a vat of blood and urine. The song also features in the 2000 movie Almost Famous and the 1996 comedy Kingpin. In America, the song was just a minor hit, so Kingpin and Almost Famous were when many Americans heard the song for the first time.
  • This was used in a commercial television advertisement campaign for DirecTV. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France

Comments: 17

  • Chris from Kennesaw, GaDenniscmyers from Sparks Nevada: Here's the definition of "starring role":

    It is a very, very common term in the U.S. vernacular.
  • Denniscmyers from Sparks NevadaI don't know what Doug in Lake Mary means by a "starring role". The term has no film meaning. Roles are lead or supporting. Besides Strawberry Statement and True Grit, Kim Darby had lead roles in Generation, Norwood, The One and Only, and The Grissom Gang, and supporting roles in other movies like Bus Riley's Back in Town, The Restless Ones, and Teen Wolf Too.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyPer:
    Andy 'Thunderclap' Newman, keyboardist with the British group that bore his name, died Wednesday (March 29th, 2016) in London at the age of 73...
    The band was formed by Who guitarist Pete Townshend and featured Andy, John "Speedy" Keene on vocals and drums and Jimmy McCulloch on guitar. They are best remembered for "Something In The Air," a #1 hit in Britain in 1969 (#37 in the US). Though they split up in 1971, Andy re-formed the band in 2010 with a new lineup...
    May he R.I.P.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn August 31st 1969, "Something in the Air" by Thunderclap Newman entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #82; and on October 26th, 1969 it peaked at #37 {for 1 week} and spent 10 weeks on the Top 100...
    On July 2nd, 1969 it reached #1 {for 3 weeks} on the United Kingdom's Singles chart...
    Note for Elvis fans: The week "Something in the Air" peaked at #37, Elvis' eighteen and last #1 record on the Top 100, "Suspicious Minds", reached the top spot for a one week stay.
  • Laurence from Bognor Regis, United KingdomSomething In The Air became my all time favourite when I was 12 - it still is now I'm 54...
  • Adam from West Palm Beach, FlSpeedy Keen wrote this song.
  • Rick from Graysville, MoSongfacts does not mention Pete writing this song,which I believe he did.Can someone verify this?
  • Charles from Charlotte, NcYes McCullough was in Wings and he supposedly killed himself around 1979.
  • Pete from Auckland, New ZealandThis song I believed epitomised the state of British music at the time - 1969. Yes the Stones had found hard drugs and were on the wane some say. I say the elevation of such acts as Genesis and Yes during this time was timely. The WHO with Pete Townsend at the helm were also awesome and to see him producing this song at the peak of his powers is no surprise. Believe me, I rate Pete as the "man" when writing an opera like TOMMY which I performed a version of at hi school in 1975 - just as the film came out - wow- it rocked - Thanks Pete and the bigger T/C Newman- that song was it !!!
  • Paul from Cincinnati, OhThis is a great song from start to finish and the piano solo is rockin'. When I found out that this song and several other good songs (including "Have You Forgotten" by Red House Painters and "Take A Picture" by Filter) was on the Girl Next Door soundtrack, I was really surprised because I just assumed it was a dumb teen movie. Anyway...awesome song, although it's somewhat shockingly pro-violent revolution. Oh well, I don't really care. The vocals are interesting and are good in that they fit the somewhat dreamy atmosphere and yet are somewhat urgent at the same time- they still take a little getting used to at first though. It's interesting that Pete Townshend's apparent views on revolution would change considerably between the making of this song and The Who's "Who's Next."
  • Edward Pearce from Ashford, Kent, EnglandRegarding "The 'songfact' above about Pete Townshend isn't true: 'this was the only song he worked on that went to the top of the charts.' He produced "Fire" by The Crazy World of Arthur Brown in 1968 that was No. 1 in the UK"- I stand corrected. However 'Something In The Air was the only UK #1 that Pete Townshend or for that matter any member of The Who actually performed on.
  • David from Youngstown, OhThe "songfact" above about Pete Townshend isn't true: "this was the only song he worked on that went to the top of the charts." He produced "Fire" by The Crazy World of Arthur Brown in 1968 that was No. 1 in the UK and No. 2 in the US. Both songs, by the way, are excellent.
  • Sam from Christchurch, New Zealandthis song is also in the movie the girl next door
  • Rob from Vancouver, CanadaIs Jimmy McCulloch the same one that played in 'Wings'?
  • Tom from Salt Lake, UtI just noticed that in the big orchestral "swirls" during the last refrains of "You know its right", there is a separate orchestration playing the first few notes of Marseillaise, the French National Anthem. Very cool.
  • Doug from Lake Mary, FlA little surprised that there is no mention of it also being on the soundtrack of 'The Strawberry Statement' (1970), possibly the only other movie besides 'True Grit' where Kim Darby had a starring role....Anyway, it was a MUCH better film than 'The Magic Christian'.
  • Brendon from Paxton, IlTom Petty sang the same song, it is towards the end of his Greatest Hits album.
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