Next Plane To London was the one hit by the one hit wonder band The Rose Garden. It was released as a single in November 1967 b/w Flower Power. It peaked on the US pop charts in February of 1968 at 17. The group would never again have any sort of pop success.

The song itself is a very interesting recording, using airport announcement style voiceovers and very solid vocals from Diana De Rose, lead vocalist of The Rose Garden. It's a pleasant, vaguely psychedelic pop number, the kind that was very popular as the 1960s roll to a close, and is well worth picking up if you stumble upon it in a used record bin. The lyrics are as follows.

"The next flight to London will be boarding in five minutes"
Next plane to London
Leaving on runway number five
Next plane to London
And I'm missin' him
That baby of mine

Told 'im I was gonna be a star
But to do it I would have to go far away
But I'd come back someday
And take him away

Said that over here I wasn't in
Down in Hollywood I couldn't find a friend
Would would help me get in
Or listen to me
"Your attention please. The next flight to London is now in the final boarding state.
All passengers holding tickets please proceed to the boarding area number five."
Maybe over there I'll get a start
Only hope by leaving I don't break his heart
The more important part
Than any record on the chart
I'm on the

Next plane to London
Leavin' on runway number five
Next plane to London
And I'm missin' him more and more
That baby of mine

This song really has three things that make it memorable. The first is the very distinctive voiceover pieces that create the ambience of an airport in the song. It almost comes off as though it were sampled in, which is definitely an unusual effect given the timeframe. The second is the great vocals, which really carry the song musically, particularly during the choruses. But what makes the other parts click is the percussion, which drives the song forward very well.

What may be most interesting about this song, however, is the fact that it took me roughly eleven years to figure out what the story of this song was and who sang it. Let me explain...

When I was about seven years old, I bought a working record player at a garage sale. I had a fascination with music even then, and so when I brought home this record player, various relatives gave me some of their old records that they didn't want any more. Most interesting by far was my aunt Marcia, who gave me essentially her entire collection. Among them were a lot of classic late 1960s and early 1970s albums and singles, but one single that stood out was an unsleeved one in which the description (which usually appeared on a sticker in the middle) had been worn away due to time and exposure to some water. The description label was vaguely pink, but that was about all.

I asked her what it was but for the life of her she had no idea. I put it on the record player and it was this single, Next Plane To London b/w Flower Power. The b-side sounded like a bad imitation of Jefferson Airplane, but the a-side was very interesting to me. In fact, I grew to love the song and it guided me to sleep many nights during my pre-adolescent years.

I would play the single for various people (I had no idea which was the a-side, so I would usually play both sides for people) and no one seemed to have the vaguest idea of who was singing it or when it came out. I even went so far as to take the record to a record shop and the owner of the shop hadn't a clue. It almost became a running joke of sorts in my immediate family, an Uncle Alvarez type of thing.

So I grew up listening to it on occasion and filing it away in the back of my mind as a "thing to find out one day." Finally, one fine spring day when I was sixteen years old, I was driving along a gravel road listening to an oldies station when suddenly a voice appeared on the radio, intoning, "The next flight to London will be boarding in five minutes." In all seriousness, I almost took the car straight into the ditch out of pure shock.

I pulled over and listened to the song, waiting for the DJ to come back on to announce who the song was by. He came back.... and proceeded to go directly to a commercial! I leaned forward and literally pounded my head on the steering wheel. Then, a plan hatched in my mind. I got out of the car and began to run towards the house of an acquaintance who lived along the road. I sprinted the 1,000 or so feet to his house and breathlessly asked if I could use the phone to make a quick phone call.

The only person that was at home was an elderly gentleman who I didn't know at all, and seeing my large frame at the door, lightly perspiring and breathing heavily, he quickly let me in and showed me to the phone. I picked it up and called the radio station; when the receptionist answered, I almost shouted, "I need to know what the name of that last song was!" The old man gave me a very odd look and proceeded to stare at me as I managed to finally, after eleven years of curiosity, discover that the name of the song was Next Plane To London, that it was sung by a one hit wonder band named The Rose Garden, and that it peaked in popularity in 1968. I hung up, jumped up and down, let out a celebratory "Whoo!!!", uttered a thank you, and left behind a considerably confused old man.

I often wonder what on earth he thought about the whole matter.

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