You Kids Get Off My Lawn

There’s something that’s been bugging me for a while, and it’s time to deal with it.

I was looking through some listings for the Time-Life AM Gold series this morning, including one titled Teen Idols of the 70s. It features the usual suspects: the Partridge Family, the Bay City Rollers, the Osmonds, Bobby Sherman—and the Brady Kids doing “It’s a Sunshine Day.” The latter is frequently anthologized on collections of this sort, you get 9.6 million hits on it with a Google search, and I’d be willing to bet that if you asked random folks on the street who could place the record at all, they’d tell you that “It’s a Sunshine Day” was quite a big hit in its day. But it wasn’t. Of the 15,000 surveys online at ARSA, it doesn’t appear on a single one. It doesn’t appear in the Cash Box Archives and never made it into Billboard, either, not even on the Bubbling Under chart.

So how come this song is now considered one of the prime musical artifacts of the 1970s? Let’s see if we can figure it out.

The Brady kids recorded four albums between 1970 and 1973, but none of them charted. They recorded solo and in various combinations also. “It’s a Sunshine Day” appeared on the 1972 album The Kids From the Brady Bunch, and was seen on the show in a January 1973 episode. But even though I was mainlining the Top 40 in those days, I don’t remember hearing anything by them on the radio—or even knowing they’d recorded anything. This might be because I never cared much for the show, even though I was in the prime demographic for The Brady Bunch during its run from 1969 to 1974. (Far from seeming like my peers, the Brady kids seemed like vapid twits with whom I had nothing in common.)

Regardless of how I felt about it, The Brady Bunch was impossible to escape, running in syndication during those all-important after-school hours throughout the 70s and later getting extensive play on cable in the 80s. There was a TV reunion movie in 1981 and a reunion series, The Brady Brides, which ran for 10 episodes, but true Bradymania wouldn’t break out until the late 80s, with A Very Brady Christmas in 1988 and a brief dramatic (!) revival of the show in 1990. In 1993, various Brady recordings were cobbled together and released as It’s a Sunshine Day: The Best of the Brady Bunch; the big-screen Brady Bunch Movie followed in 1995.

So it’s only since the middle of the 1990s that “It’s a Sunshine Day” has been considered one of the classic pop hits of the 1970s. And that leads me to surmise that it’s the children of the 1980s and early 90s who worship “It’s a Sunshine Day,” and by extension, The Brady Bunch itself, much more than the children of the 1970s do.

I was a Partridge Family man myself. Tomorrow is the 40th anniversary of that show’s premiere, and I’ll celebrate it with a Partridge Family megapost over at Popdose.

Coming Monday: the post I intended to put up here today.

7 responses

  1. I’d never heard of “It’s A Sunshine Day” prior to your post, jb. And now that I have, I think I’ll retire to the nearest cave. Forever.

  2. As a “Brady Bunch” fan, I have to agree with you that “It’s a Sunshine Day” is awful, even by Brady standards. Now, “Time to Change,” complete with Peter’s voice changing throughout the song — now *that’s* a classic! :)

  3. Does Time-Life benefit in some way from promoting the Bradys? They don’t own syndication rights or something, do they?

    I personally have never thought of “It’s a Sunshine Day” as a hit, perhaps because I have never heard it actually come through a radio.
    Just seems like a lazy bit of double-shuffling on the part of some CD compiler.

    Or maybe the compilation rights for the song came cheap …

  4. I just saw some sealed Brady Bunch vinyl in the new LP bins at my local record store the other day. I passed.

  5. It’s interesting that “The Brady Bunch” seems to be re-invented every few years. After ABC cancelled the show in 1974, a “Brady Bunch Variety Show” re-surfaced on ABC in 1976. “The Brady Brides” came to NBC in 1981.Then, in 1988, in an episode of an NBC sitcom called, “Day By Day,” several members of the Brady Bunch starred in the show where one of the characters was having a dream about being one of the Brady kids. That started up another Brady revival. At Christmas time in 1988, CBS aired “A Very Brady Christmas” as a Sunday night movie. I remember watching Florence Henderson on “Late Night with David Letterman” saying that the ratings for the movie kept going up and up and up throughout the night. It was so popular that CBS developed a one-hour drama called “The Bradys” in 1990. It didn’t last long. (C’mon! Marcia becoming an alcoholic? Jan unable to concieve? Bobby being paralyzed in an auto racing accident? Please!) Around the same time, MTV had Barry Williams and Susan Olsen as guests on their popular game show, “Remote Control” (featuring one of my favorite categories, “Brady Physics.”) Of course, we had two “Brady Bunch Movies” that spoofed the TV show in the mid-1990’s.

    That cooled down the Brady Bunch stuff for a while until 2000 when FOX aired the movie, “Growing Up Brady” based on a book written by Barry Williams. Just two weeks ago, “Good Morning America” had Chistopher Knight, Mike Lookinland, and Susan Olsen, and the son of Sherwood Schwartz on the show to promote a new book written by Schwartz called “Brady, Brady, Brady.” Does anyone sense another “Brady” revival?

  6. uncle joe mccarthy | Reply

    40th anniversary of the partridege family?

    i am soooo old

    but i still wanna bang marcia….when i was 10, she made me feel funny inside

  7. […] groups turned out to have interesting histories, too: the Poppy Family, the Starland Vocal Band, the Brady Bunch (who were not the hitmakers many people believe they were), and an early group featuring a […]

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