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Two songs made into hits by black vocalists and written by white Jewish songwriters were released on this date in 1963 and 1968, respectively: “One Fine Day,” recorded by the Chiffons and written by Carole King and Gerry Goffin; and “Stoned Soul Picnic,” recorded by The Fifth Dimension and written by Laura Nyro. “One Fine Day” hit the top five on the Billboard Chart, and “Stoned Soul Picnic” hit #2 and became a platinum record. The older song made use of dreamy 1950s sexual roles, the girl longing for the day when the run-around boy would “want to settle down.” The newer song mystified with its make-believe verb, “surry” (“Surry down to a stoned soul picnic”) and its sensual spirituality. All three songwriters are in the Songwriters Hall of Fame. To see The Chiffons singing their hit, look below; to see Carole King’s own version, look below that. Then go further down to hear The 5th Dimension, and below that to hear Laura Nyro.
“Surry down to a stoned soul picnic
Surry down to a stoned soul picnic
Rain and sun come in akin
And from the sky come the Lord and the lightning” --Laura Nyro
Lawrence Bush edited Jewish Currents from 2003 until 2018. He is the author of Bessie: A Novel of Love and Revolution and Waiting for God: The Spiritual Explorations of a Reluctant Atheist, among other books. His new volume of illustrated Torah commentaries, American Torah Toons 2, is scheduled for publication this year.