"Medley: Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In (The Flesh Failures)"
Fitfh Dimension Aquarius.jpg
Single by The 5th Dimension
from the album The Age of Aquarius
B-side"Don'tcha Hear Me Callin' To Ya"
ReleasedMarch 1969
Length4:49 (Album Version)
3:50 (Promo Single Edit)
LabelSoul City
Composer(s)Galt MacDermot
Lyricist(s)James Rado
Gerome Ragni
Producer(s)Bones Howe
The 5th Dimension singles chronology
"California Soul"
"Medley: Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In (The Flesh Failures)"
"Workin' On a Groovy Thing"

"Medley: Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In (The Flesh Failures)" (commonly called "Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In", "The Age of Aquarius" or "Let the Sunshine In") is a medley of two songs written for the 1967 musical Hair by James Rado and Gerome Ragni (lyrics), and Galt MacDermot (music), released as a single by American R&B group the 5th Dimension. The song spent six weeks at number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 pop singles chart in the spring of 1969 and was eventually certified platinum in the US by the RIAA.[2] Instrumental backing was written by Bill Holman and provided by session musicians commonly known as the Wrecking Crew.[3][4] The actual recording was novel at the time, being recorded in two cities, Los Angeles and Las Vegas, and being mixed down to a final version later.

The song listed at number 66 on Billboard's "Greatest Songs of All Time".[5]


The recording was led by veteran American producer and engineer Bones Howe, who had previously worked with the 5th Dimension as well as the Mamas & the Papas and Elvis Presley. As Howe tells it, the recording can be traced to an incident in which 5th Dimension lead singer Billy Davis Jr. left his wallet in a New York City cab; the man who found the wallet was involved in the production of Hair and invited the group to see the show: "After they'd seen it I received a phone call in which they were all talking over one another, saying 'We've got to cut this song "Aquarius". It's the best thing ever.'" Howe was skeptical ("This isn't a complete song. It's an introduction."), but after seeing the show on stage got the idea to create a medley with another musical moment from the show, a few bars from the song "The Flesh Failures" that consist of the repeated words "let the sunshine in." Although the two song fragments are in different keys and tempos, Howe resolved to "jam them together like two trains."[6]

The instrumental track was set to tape at Wally Heider's Studio 3 in Hollywood by the Wrecking Crew members including Hal Blaine on drums, Joe Osborn on bass, Larry Knechtel on keyboards, Tommy Tedesco and Dennis Budimir on guitars and Tony Terran on trumpet. It also featured strings, winds, and brass instrumentations. However, the vocals were recorded separately in Las Vegas, where the 5th Dimension was performing at the time, using only two microphones for the five singers. Davis' solo during "Let the Sunshine In" was improvised during the session; songwriter Jimmy Webb, who happened into the studio during the recording, remarked to Howe, "My God, that's a number one record."[6]

Among the counterpoint phrases sung by Davis are: "Oh, let it shine", "Open up your heart", "You got to feel it" and "I want you to sing along with the 5th Dimension".

This song was one of the most popular songs of 1969 worldwide, and in the United States it reached the number one position on both the Billboard Hot 100 (for six weeks in April and May) and the Billboard Easy Listening chart. It also reached the top of the sales charts in Canada and elsewhere. Billboard ranked it as the No. 2 Hot 100 single for 1969, although "Aquarius (Let the Sunshine In)" would go on to outsell the No. 1 Hot 100 single for 1969, "Sugar Sugar" by The Archies, and consistently ranks several positions above it in the all-time chart.[7]

The recording won both the Grammy Award for Record of the Year and Best Pop Vocal Performance by a Group for the Grammy Awards of 1970, after being published on the album The Age of Aquarius by the 5th Dimension, and also being released as a seven-inch vinyl single record.

The lyrics of this song were based on the astrological belief that the world would soon be entering the "Age of Aquarius", an age of love, light, and humanity, unlike the current "Age of Pisces". The exact circumstances for the change are "When the moon is in the seventh house, and Jupiter aligns with Mars." This change was presumed to occur at the end of the 20th century; however, astrologers differ widely as to precisely when.

Astrologer Neil Spencer denounced the lyrics as "astrological gibberish", noting that Jupiter forms an astrological aspect with Mars several times a year and the moon is in the 7th House for two hours every day.[8] These lines are considered by many[who?] to be merely poetic license, though some people take them literally.

The American Film Institute's 100 Years...100 Songs list, published in 2004, ranked "Medley: Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In (The Flesh Failures)" as number 33.

Track listing


Cover versions

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In popular culture

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From 1970 to 1977, "Aquarius" was used as the theme song to the British arts programme Aquarius.

In 1970, "Let The Sunshine In" was used in an Ad Council PSA for the National Urban Coalition; the commercial promoted racial harmony using a large all-star choir including cameos by Ray Charles, Peggy Cass, Johnny Carson, Will Geer and Leonard Nimoy.

The song is the opening scene soundtrack of the movie "Bird On A Wire" which music is composed by Hans Zimmer and starring Mel Gibson.

"Let the Sunshine In" has been adopted by soccer fans in Argentina and popularized in Uruguay's "Soy Celeste" to proclaim their support.

Peter Lawford sang the song "Aquarius" in the Hollywood Palace in November 1969.

Charles Schulz referred to "the age of aquariums" in his Peanuts comic strip (see GoComics archive - 1970MAY11).

The song appears as part of the Forrest Gump soundtrack along with other songs from the 1994 film. The song is featured when Forrest is playing ping-pong with spectators watching meanwhile on TV (with no one watching) Neil Armstrong is stepping on to the moon for the first time with his "one small step" speech.

The song also appeared in episode 3 ("Harmony of the Worlds") of Carl Sagan's Cosmos during a sequence debunking the practice of astrology.[38]

In episode 16, season 3 of The Simpsons ("Bart the Lover"), "Age of Aquarius" is played during a yo-yo demonstration at a school assembly.[39]

The song appeared at the end of 1995 Serbian movie Treća Sreća when the son of main character is mobilized for war.

The song appeared at the end of the 2001 movie Recess: School's Out.

The song also appeared at the end of the 2005 movie The 40-Year-Old Virgin.

They Might Be Giants make reference to "Age of Aquarius" in the song "Cage and Aquarium", taken from the album Lincoln.

A sample of the song as it appears in the film Hair carries the main loop of the Boards of Canada song of the same name, appearing on their debut LP.

The beginning of the song is heard during a flashback at the start of episode 2 of American Horror Story Season 1: Murder House.

The song is featured in Just Dance 2014.

In November 2017, Don Caron published the satirical "The Age That Will Bury Us" on his Parody Project YouTube channel.[40]

In season 16, episode 16 of Family Guy ("Family Guy Through the Years"), Peter sings a parody of "Let the Sunshine in", called "Let my Son Die", after he switches places with Chris, who is going to Vietnam, then changes his mind.

The song appears twice in We Bare Bears: The Movie when the Bears are disguised as hippies, then later actual hippies are stopped at a checkpoint.

In season 33, episode 5 of The Simpsons ("Lisa's Belly"), Patty and Selma sing a parody of "Aquarius".

See also


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  2. ^ AllMusic.com The Age of Aquarius page Accessed: November 8, 2013
  3. ^ Hartman, Kent (2012). The Wrecking Crew. St. Martin's Griffin. pp. 261–263. ISBN 978-1-250-03046-7.
  4. ^ Discogs credits for Bill Holman 'Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In'
  5. ^ "Hot 100 55th Anniversary: The All-Time Top 100 Songs". Billboard. 1980-12-08. Retrieved 2014-05-24.
  6. ^ a b "CLASSIC TRACKS: Fifth Dimension 'Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In'". Sound on Sound. February 2006. Retrieved June 16, 2018.
  7. ^ a b c d Top Records of 1969 (Based on Billboard Charts)", Billboard, December 27, 1969. pp. 16-17. Accessed December 7, 2016.
  8. ^ Neil Spencer, True as the Stars Above, 2000, p. 124.
  9. ^ a b The 5th Dimension - Aquarius / Let the Sunshine In, austriancharts.at. Retrieved June 24, 2018.
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  14. ^ "The 5th Dimension – Aquarius / Let the Sunshine In" (in Dutch). Single Top 100. Retrieved June 23, 2018.
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  16. ^ "SA Charts 1965–March 1989". Retrieved 5 September 2018.
  17. ^ "Låtarna från Kvällstoppen 17 juni 1969".
  18. ^ "The 5th Dimension – Aquarius / Let the Sunshine In". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved June 23, 2018.
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  20. ^ "The 5th Dimension Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved June 23, 2018.
  21. ^ Adult Contemporary - The 5th Dimension Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In (The Flesh Failures) Chart History, Billboard.com. Retrieved June 24, 2018.
  22. ^ Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs - The 5th Dimension Aquarius/Let The Sunshine In (The Flesh Failures) Chart History, Billboard.com. Retrieved June 23, 2018.
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  27. ^ "Hot 100 60th Anniversary". Billboard. Retrieved October 22, 2018.
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  29. ^ "Surround Yourself With Cilla - Cilla Black". AllMusic. Retrieved 2021-09-03.
  30. ^ Mercy, Love Can Make You Happy Retrieved May 7, 2015
  31. ^ NVPI.nl Archived 2009-09-10 at the Wayback Machine Certification page. Accessed: November 26, 2006
  32. ^ Stichting Nederlandse Top 40, 500 Nr. 1 Hits uit de Top 40, page 330, ISBN 90-230-0944-4 (Book in Dutch)
  33. ^ "Killdozer & Alice Donut - Michael Gerald's Party Machine Presents..." Discogs. Retrieved 2017-10-23.
  34. ^ "Lightspeed Champion". Archived from the original on 25 December 2008. Retrieved 19 December 2008.
  35. ^ "Chico Arnez". Discogs. Retrieved 20 January 2012.
  36. ^ "Prex-3-CZ-Let the Sunshine-Youtube". YouTube. Archived from the original on 2021-12-13. Retrieved 28 October 2012.
  37. ^ Gans, Andrew (21 January 2021). "Watch Over 35 Broadway Stars Usher in a 'Season of Love' During Joe Biden-Kamala Harris Inauguration Celebration". Playbill. Retrieved 16 April 2022.
  38. ^ "Carl Sagan on the pseudoscience of Astrology". YouTube. 2008-02-16. Archived from the original on 2021-12-13. Retrieved 2014-05-24.
  39. ^ "The Simpsons UK Cuts, Season 3 — Simpsons Crazy". www.simpsoncrazy.com. Retrieved 2016-08-02.
  40. ^ Archived at Ghostarchive and the Wayback Machine: "THE AGE THAT WILL BURY US (Parody of) The Age of Aquarius | Don Caron". YouTube.