If I had to pick the quintessential 60’s pop song, I would have a hard time picking between this song and “I’m Only Sleeping” by the Beatles. I’ve never really paid too much attention to the Hollies, but few bands can match them for the breadth of their tunes. They could do bar rock (“Long Cool Woman”), catchy pop (“Bus Stop”), heavy ballads (“He Ain’t Heavy”), and anthems (“The Air That I Breathe”), all the while saddled with a angst-ridden leader who always struck me as a wet blanket. But this song. . . it’s perfect. “Look Through Any Window” has the highest hook-per-second ratio of any song – hardly 5 seconds goes by without a big chord change, a different background vocal, a key change, handclaps, contrapuntal tunes, anything to keep it fresh. It also has that mid-60’s optimism, a “busy town” with “smiling faces all around,” the same kind of big-city outlook that Pet Clark’s “Downtown” had and which sounds so naive today. In addition, the line about how looking through windows, you can see “the little ladies in their gowns” kills me – it was kicky and mod in ’65, but how often do you really see girls in gowns wandering through “the busy town?” I’ve got over 8000 MP3s on my phone, but this is the one tune I listen to the most.
(Bonus: the YouTube video above seems to be one of the few ’60s band TV appearances where the band is actually performing live rather than lip-synching. Pretty cool.)
Oh, and just to show you how quickly things changed in the ’60, here are the Hollies on the Smothers Brother Comedy Hour just three years later. Holy God.
And let us take a moment to pay tribute to Graham Gouldman. Never heard of him? Shame on you. He was (and is) one of the most prolific and brilliant pop composers who ever drew little dots on staves. He not only wrote “Look Through Any Window,” but he also, incredibly, wrote:
“Bus Stop” by the Hollies (the greatest pop song of all time, and don’t even try to argue with me about it);
“No Milk Today” by Herman’s Hermits;
“For Your Love” and “Heart Full of Soul” by the Yardbirds;
“I’m Not In Love” and “The Things We Do For Love” by 10cc (he was the lead singer of the group);
And dozens of other songs you’ve never heard of. Send him all your money now.