Saturday Single No. 569

December 16th, 2017

Having stumbled via serendipity yesterday onto the story of “The Huckle-Buck,” I thought I would toss things to the universe again today and see what I have on the digital stacks recorded on December 16 over the years.

A caveat: As mentioned before, I have session data on perhaps ten percent of the tunes in the digital stacks, usually for those that come from box sets of vintage music. There are a few other CD or LP sets that include session dates, but not many. So what do we get for December 16?

Well, not much. We get Ruth Brown’s “Hello, Little Boy” from 1953, a live performance of “Fire” by Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band from 1978, and a full day’s work in a New Jersey studio by saxophone player Ike Quebec from 1961: The entire Blue & Sentimental album plus a couple of bonus tracks.

(If I recall things correctly, I found the Quebec album in a pawnshop here on the East Side a couple of years ago. It seemed like an odd thing to find there, but anyway . . .)

And while there’s nothing wrong with any of that, it leaves me a little dissatisfied on this Saturday morning. So we’re heading to the Billboard Hot 100 from this date in 1967, and we’ll hope that a fifty-year old chart will bring us Saturday satisfaction. We’ll play Games With Numbers and turn 12-16-17 in Nos. 28, 29, 33 and 45, and see what we find.

At Nos. 28 and 29, we find a pair of well-known singles, “Different Drum” by the Stone Poneys featuring Linda Ronstadt and “Chain of Fools” by Aretha Franklin, respectively. Both were on their way up the chart, with “Different Drum” later peaking at No. 13, and “Chain of Fools” getting to No. 2 (as well as spending four weeks atop the magazine’s R&B chart).

The record at No. 33 is another heavy hitter: “If I Could Build My Whole World Around You” by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell. It, too, was headed up the chart to an eventual peak at No. 10 (and No. 2 on the R&B chart).

So we move on to No. 45, which turns out to be a pleasant but probably unnecessary take on Glen Miller’s “Chattanooga Choo Choo” by Harpers Bizarre. The record stalled at No. 45 in the Hot 100 but made its way up the magazine’s Easy Listening chart to No. 2, where it spent two weeks.

And sometimes, we take what chance gives us, so “Chattanooga Choo Choo” by Harpers Bizarre is today’s Saturday Single.

Hucklebucking

December 15th, 2017

So, I thought, what do I have in the digital stacks that was recorded on December 15?

And the RealPlayer brought me a few tracks: Lena Horne’s “Stormy Weather” from 1941, the King Cole Trio’s version of “Sweet Lorraine” from 1943, Deanna Durbin’s “Always” from 1944, Dion’s “Ruby Baby” from 1962 and three copies of “The Huckle-Buck” by Paul Williams & His Hucklebuckers, recorded in 1948.

And I stopped right there, because the tag on one of those three copies said the track was recorded in New York, while the tag on another said Detroit. The third had no location listed. And between the three copies of the same track, I had four catalog numbers, all on the Savoy label. But before we go any further, let’s listen to “The Huckle-Buck” as Williams and his band recorded it in December of 1948:

The record was a major hit in 1949, topping the Billboard Best Seller chart for twelve weeks and the magazine’s Juke Box chart for fourteen weeks. You’ll note that the catalog number in the video is Savoy 683, and that’s the number that Joel Whitburn has listed in Top 40 R&B and Hip-Hop Hits, so we’ll go with that. But according to the data at The Online Discographical Project, Savoy did in fact issue the record with three other catalog numbers as well.

But where was it recorded? Where did I find Detroit and New York mentioned? Well, I found New York listed as the recording site on the two-LP set The Roots Of Rock ’N Roll, a 1977 release on the Savoy label. And Detroit was listed as the site in the very detailed notes supplied with The Big Horn, a four-CD set from England of 106 tracks featuring saxophone, released in 2003 by Proper Records.

And I’m uncertain. Part of me says that the New York location make sense, because Savoy should know where one of its biggest hits was recorded. And part of me tends to think that Detroit is correct, because the notes in the booklet accompanying The Big Horn are so very detailed and could contain information found during the intervening years. I’d like to know, but I’m not going to let the discrepancy get in the way of the music. Because there’s a lot of stuff about “The Huckle-Buck” that I found interesting.

First, Paul Williams pretty much stole the song. The website Second Hand Songs notes that the tune was first called “D’ Natural Blues.” It was written by Andy Gibson and it was first performed by Lucky Millinder & His Orchestra in September of 1948. The website then notes:

Paul Williams heard Lucky Millinder and His Orchestra perform “D’ Natural Blues” and decided to perform this song too. He called it “The Huckle-Buck.” The reactions turned out to be very positive and he decided to record it (December 15th, 1948). Lucky Millinder recorded it a few weeks later (beginning of January 1949) . . .

Here’s Millinder’s “D’ Natural Blues.”

Soon enough, lyricist (and occasional composer) Roy Alfred wrote some words for the tune, and Roy Milton & His Solid Senders recorded a vocal version in January 1949 that went to No. 5 on the R&B chart. And the covers kept on coming: Big Sis Andrews & Her Huckle-Busters, Frank Sinatra, Lionel Hampton (No. 12, R&B), Homer & Jethro with June Carter (as the B-side of a 1949 record titled “The Wedding of Hillbilly Lily Marlene”), Benny Goodman, Pearl Bailey and on through the 1950s until we get to the 1960s and the only version of the tune that’s been a hit in the Billboard Hot 100: Chubby Checker’s cover went to No. 14 (and No. 15 on the R&B chart) in the autumn of 1960, just months after “The Twist” went to No. 1 for the first time:

The list of covers at Second Hand Songs – instrumentals and vocals alike – is pretty lengthy, and includes a lame 1961 vocal version by Annette Funicello, an instrumental version by a 1988 edition of Canned Heat*, and a wicked version by Otis Redding, recorded in September 1967 and released post-humously on The Dock of the Bay in 1968. And that’s where we’ll close today’s proceedings. Hucklebuck, ya’ll!

*That 1988 edition of the band has two original members, according to Wikipedia: Fito de la Parra and Larry Taylor. That’s pretty thin gruel from this side of the table. My sense is that once Al Wilson and Bob Hite were gone (1970 and 1981, respectively), so was Canned Heat.

Saturday Single No. 568

December 9th, 2017

My sister and brother-in-law and I stood in the cold for a little more than an hour yesterday as three guys from a local auction and estate sale company emptied one of Mom’s storage lockers.

“It’s an odd feeling, isn’t it,” my sister said, “seeing your parents’ lives go past piece by piece?”

She was right. We saw the foreman and his two young movers assess Mom’s china closet, a nearly six-foot tall piece with some curved glass windows on either side of its door. Mom and Dad got it soon after I left home in 1976, and I’d guess it dates from somewhere around 1920. As they maneuvered it toward the door of the storage unit and out to the rapidly filling truck, I held my breath for a moment.

But they got the fragile piece safely into the truck, draped it heavily with drop clothes and secured it to the side of the truck with bungee cords.

I remember the china closet being filled with dishes and pieces from Mom and Dad’s past: wedding gifts that they’d gotten in 1948, dishes from both of her grandmothers, and much more. For about thirty-five years, that “much more” included two painted tea glasses that I somehow acquired from a Tunisian restaurant in Paris in March 1974. Mom loved them (although I think she was unhappy with my means of acquisition). The china closet went with her to her assisted living apartment, and in recent years, she began to give away some of her treasures to me, to my sister, to her grandchildren. The tea glasses now sit on a bookcase in our dining room here.

We watched as the dresser and the bed headboard and foot board that Mom and Dad bought soon after they were married headed out the door and onto the truck. Then there was the teal couch Mom bought when she moved into her patio home after Dad’s death, followed the large brown kitchen table my folks bought in the early 1970s, a table at which several of my girlfriends had joined us for meals in the early years, a table around which we’d all gather on Christmas Eve through 2003 for a late evening snack of sausage, meatballs, pickled herring, crackers and flatbread. Then came the black wooden rocking chair – once my great-grandfather’s, I believe – that was my place on Sunday evenings when we all gathered together to watch Walt Disney’s show, a couple of sitcoms and Bonanza.

The last things heading out of the locker were two big cardboard boxes filled with heavily wrapped glassware, much of it antique. From another locker – filled mostly with furniture my nephew may want – the estate sale guys took the vanity and mirror from Mom and Dad’s 1948 bedroom set and the treadle sewing machine that had belonged to my dad’s mom. And they were ready to go.

It was indeed an odd feeling, with the three of us watching as Mom and Dad’s lives, and – in large part – our lives, too, went out the doors and onto the truck. And it happened fast. An hour and ten minutes after the three fellows arrived, they secured Mom’s vanity and its bench in the back of the truck and headed to their warehouse on the southern edge of the city. They’ll organize everything into an on-line sale that will take place most likely next May or June.

Seventy minutes is a very brief time to watch more than sixty years of memories go by. But then, time and memory twist themselves in odd ways as we find our sometimes uncertain paths through our lives. As long as I live, my grandmother’s sewing machine will forever be next to the green couch in the basement rec room on Kilian Boulevard, the brown lamp upon it providing the only light as I sit back – maybe by myself, maybe with a sweet young lady – and listen to the Beatles or maybe Van Morrison or maybe the Moody Blues.

The green couch went in Mom’s garage sale in 2005, the sewing machine went onto the truck yesterday, the brown lamp sits on an end table in our living room just steps away, and my vinyl copy of the Moody Blues’ Seventh Sojourn is in the stacks just across the room from me. And they’ll all be in that basement rec room with me for the rest of my life.

Here, from Seventh Sojourn, is “Isn’t Life Strange.” The question in that title can only ever be answered with the words “Yes, indeed.” And “Isn’t Life Strange” is today’s Saturday Single.

Revised slightly after first posting.

Baby Grand? ‘Lucy Cain’?

December 7th, 2017

Looking for a radio survey from today’s date in 1972 – forty-five years ago – I came upon only two such surveys at the Airheads Radio Survey Archive: one from WMEX in Boston and another from WISM in Madison, Wisconsin. And the latter result amused me, as I’m pretty sure that one of WISM’s listeners in those days – at times, anyway – was my pal jb, who grew up on a farm not far away from Wisconsin’s capital and lives now in a small city adjacent to Madison.

So I took a look at the top ten records listed there:

“It Never Rains In Southern California” by Albert Hammond
“Something’s Wrong With Me” by Austin Roberts
“Papa Was A Rolling Stone” by the Temptations
“Clair” by Gilbert O’Sullivan
“I’m Stone In Love With You” by the Stylistics
“If You Don’t Know Me By Now” by Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes
“Summer Breeze” by Seals & Crofts
“Me and Mrs. Jones” by Billy Paul
“Ventura Highway” by America
“You Ought To Be With Me” by Al Green

The top five has a couple of misses, at least to my ears – the records by Roberts and O’Sullivan never hit my sweet spot – but the other eight would make for a very nice half-hour of listening. The one I know the least is the Al Green tune, but listening to it this morning I’d be willing to put it in second place among those ten. (It would take a hell of a record to push “Papa Was A Rolling Stone” from the top of this heap.)

Even though – as I’ve noted before – my listening at the time was becoming more album-oriented as time went on, I still heard enough Top 40 around me that almost all of the records in the lower spots on the WISM survey were familiar as well. To be precise, as I scan the titles and artists listed in the thirty spots on the survey and the three hit-bound entries, there’s only one pairing that’s a mystery to me: “Lucy Cain” by Baby Grand, sitting at No. 23, up three spots from the week before.

I would guess that “Lucy Cain” would be a mystery to many: Out of the thousands of radio surveys cataloged at ARSA, WISM’s Music Guide from December 7, 1972, is the only one that lists the record. And it seems to have not yet been shared by any of the millions of folks who put tunes up at YouTube. (Although there are evidently three women with YouTube accounts by the name of Lucy Cain.)

So I googled. A copy of the record, which came out on the Hemisphere label, is available at Ebay, and a website titled That 70s Wisconsin Beat informs me that Baby Grand – as I suspected – was a local act. And the next entry in the googled results takes me to the lengthy comment section on a piece about the Wisconsin band Clicker by my pal Jeff at his blog AM, Then FM. A few commenters mention Baby Grand and “Lucy Cain,” but unless I missed something in the more than fifty comments, there’s no real info there.

Perhaps jb or Jeff can clue us in, or maybe our pal Yah Shure. Or someone.

Regrouping, I dropped to the bottom of the WISM survey and picked out the third listed of the three hit-bound singles. I remember hearing and liking the Hollies’ “Long Dark Road,” but I haven’t heard it for years. It’s not on the digital shelves here now, and I doubt that it was there before the recent hard drive crash.

It wasn’t one of the Hollies’ biggest hits, reaching No. 26 in the Billboard Hot 100, but it’s worth a listen today:

Saturday Single No. 567

December 2nd, 2017

Household tasks and other stuff call me away today. Here’s one of my favorite Saturday tunes: “Saturday Clothes” by Gordon Lightfoot. It’s from his 1970 album If You Could Read My Mind, and it’s today’s Saturday Single.

An Answer & New Questions

November 30th, 2017

When someone posts a comment here, I’m supposed to get an email. It works like that maybe half of the time. Sometimes a comment sits out there for a while before I notice. That’s why I fill the occasional idle moment here by going back through the blog’s archives, checking for comments on posts of months and years gone by.

I did that one evening about a year ago, and found a comment by a reader by the name of Irene Greulich. I’d written a couple of posts a year earlier than that – during the summer of 2015 – pondering what I’d been listening to during the summer of 1975 when Bruce Springsteen released Born To Run and I didn’t buy it.

The second of those posts found me telling the tale – more aptly re-telling the tale – of how I came to own Paul Williams’ 1971 album Just An Old Fashioned Love Song during that summer of 1975:

An evening in July, my bedroom windows open to gather what breeze there might be, me on my bed reading, and the radio playing softly, tuned to WCCO-FM. The disk jockey played a portion of an interview with Paul Williams, probably done while the singer was in the Twin Cities for a concert, and the interview segment closes with Williams talking about his song “Waking Up Alone.”

And after that, the deejay cues up Williams’ sorrowful “Waking Up Alone.” I’d never heard the record, and the sad story, the quiet arrangement and, yes, the saxophone solo called to me as I listened. I’ve learned since that “Waking Up Alone” was released as a single in early 1972 and got to No. 60 in the Billboard Hot 100, and as I’ve said many times before, it deserved better.

I found the album the next day, and it went into regular rotation on the rec room stereo on Kilian Boulevard. And many years later, “Waking Up Alone” was one of the 240 tracks I listed in my Ultimate Jukebox, noting that as heartfelt and sad as the lyrics are, the best part of the record is the “saxophone that comes in late . . . hanging around long enough to take a nice solo and then walk us home.”

I’ve wondered for years – probably not since 1975, but certainly since 1990, when I began amassing vast quantities of records and reference books – who played the saxophone on “Waking Up Alone.” The record jacket gives no clues; the CD insert might, but I don’t have it. (I note this morning that the CD is available in a standard release; for several years, when I looked for it, it was available only in a Japanese release and was quite pricey.)

I’d run through the names of L.A. session players, wondering, and finally came down to guessing that the sax solo came from either Tom Scott or Jim Horn. The question actually came up at a gathering of friends the other day, and two other music geeks and I decided that those two names were the most likely.

It turns out that I wasn’t the only one wondering. Irene Greulich – remember her? – came by the post about finding Williams’ record about a year after I wrote it, and left me a note:

Hello! I’ve been trying to find out who is the musician who plays the saxophone solo at the end of “Waking Up Alone”. If you have the album (CD?) and the musicians’ credits are listed in the liner notes, can you please tell me the sax player’s name? Truly a very beautiful and moving song – always been one of my favorites. Thank you!

I’m pretty sure I answered her, telling her that there was no information on the jacket or the sleeve and telling her, as well, that my best guess was either Tom Scott or Jim Horn.

And you know what? I was wrong. About a week ago, I got an email about a comment left at that post, a note from a Marcia Fisher. She wrote: “The sax solo at the end of ‘Waking Up Alone’ is Gene Cipriano (“Yo, Cip!”), famous guy, long history in music. This song was my first exposure to Paul Williams, sent me looking for more, and I’ve loved his work ever since.”

Cipriano’s was a name I hadn’t considered, but it certainly makes sense, though I’ve run across his work less than I have Scott’s or Horn’s. And a quick check at All-Music finds both Cipriano and Scott credited for tenor sax on the album. (Over time, I’ve found myself using All-Music as a source less and less frequently, as the site is slow and, to me, very clunky. So when the saxophone question came to mind I never checked there. Mea culpa.)

As it turns out, Marcias information was in error; as the comment below by Yah Shure indicates, Cipriano played oboe on “Waking Up Alone,” and Tom Scott played saxophone.

Anyway, thanks to Marcia Fisher for the note, which does leave me wondering what brought her to a post two years old. But then, there’s always another question to ask.

And that’s true of a track I found this week as I wandered around YouTube thinking of Williams’ song “Waking Up Alone.” I found a version of the tune credited to the Fleetwoods, the same group that hit No. 1 in 1959 with “Come Softly To Me” and “Mr. Blue.” At least, that’s what it says:

I’ve found this track listed online as one of two on a 2012 set titled Unreleased. The other track is “Stay With Me.” The vocalist, for what it may matter, does sound a lot like Gary Troxel, who was the male member of the Fleetwoods more than fifty years ago. But when was it recorded? I have a vague idea that it comes from the early 1970s, but nothing more than that.

 

Saturday Single No. 566

November 25th, 2017

One of the main currents that’s run through my adult life – and thus through this blog – is the impact of the time I spent in Fredericia, Denmark, through St. Cloud State during the 1973-74 academic year. It was, as I think I’ve said here before, the greatest formative experience in my life, a foundation for almost anything I’ve done, thought and written over the past forty-four years.

I wondered for years if my attachments to my time in Denmark and to the memory of the more than one hundred students who shared that experience were excessive, and I wondered if they were mine alone. But when I broached in late 1993 to a few of those folks that we should plan a twenty-year reunion the following summer, I learned I was not alone. Others felt the same way about the impact of those days in Denmark and in their connections to those who were there.

We are, as one of us noted in an email this week, brothers and sisters. In our day-to-day lives, we are – as is true of any large group – closer to some than to others. But when the largest of life’s sorrows come to one, all of us feel it. And this week, we grieve for the loss of one of our own.

I’ve written before about Dewey, telling of our 450-mile trek to watch the Super Bowl on television in Hanau, Germany, and remembering our pilgrimage to the headquarters of the Adidas shoe company in the small German town of Herzogenaurach. I’ve likely not noted that as we resumed our Minnesota lives and for some years after that, Dewey was one of my closest friends.

We finished college pretty much together, and he was one of two from our Denmark group to stand at my side when I married the Other Half in 1978. He was troubled but supportive when that pairing failed in 1987. When I landed a job in the Twin Cities suburb of Eden Prairie a few years later, I stopped by his office every now and then. But my life turned left in 1999, and I saw Dewey only once more, at our 2004 reunion.

Dewey was a very private man. I had no idea he was seeing anyone until I was invited to his wedding in the early 1980s. And when he began having the physical difficulties that were eventually diagnosed as ALS, he held that pretty close. He had to be persuaded by his life-long friend Cal that those who were in Denmark with him should know, and Cal passed the word on to us at a gathering a few summers ago. I emailed Dewey, and in his reply he said things weren’t too bad, a typical Dewey response. Neither of us said anything about his prognosis in the few emails we sent back and forth after that. But we knew.

The end came last Monday, November 20, and Cal emailed us all that afternoon. Emails went back and forth in the next couple days as we shared our tales of Dewey and our grief. In one of those emails, I shared a graphic I made a few years ago when a Facebook acquaintance died. I found the photo online; the text is the chorus of a lyric I wrote about thirty years ago.

Be A Candle

Do we need music today? Well, I remember visiting Dewey in the mid-1970s when he had an apartment in Minneapolis, and he introduced me to the music of Jackson Browne, for which I’ll be forever grateful. But nothing from Browne’s catalog seems to fit perfectly here, not even “For A Dancer,” Browne’s meditation on grief. So I’ll reach back forty-four years for a tune that we listened to in the lounge at our youth hostel as the end of our time together in Denmark approached.

Here’s America’s 1973 track “To Each His Own.” It’s today’s Saturday Single.

Back In ’75

November 22nd, 2017

Here are the top ten albums from the Billboard 200 released on November 22, 1975, forty-two years ago today:

Rock of the Westies by Elton John
Windsong by John Denver
Red Octopus by Jefferson Starship
Prisoner In Disguise by Linda Ronstadt
Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd
Still Crazy After All These Years by Paul Simon
Wind On The Water by David Crosby & Graham Nash
Born To Run by Bruce Springsteen
The Who By Numbers by the Who
Breakaway by Art Garfunkel

Over the years, seven of those albums ended up in the vinyl stacks; the only three that didn’t were the albums by John Denver, by the Who, and by David Crosby and Graham Nash. (Wind On The Water, however, has a place on the digital shelves while the other two of those three albums do not.) The first two to show up were the Paul Simon and the Art Garfunkel, both of which landed on my shelves about the time I graduated from St. Cloud State in February 1976. The latest acquired was the Linda Ronstadt album in 1994.

So are any of these essential listening right now? (And let’s just put Born To Run in that category without going any further; I’ve likely said all I ever need to say about that album.)

Beyond that, if we look at the current iteration of the iPod’s playlist we find:

Five tracks from Breakaway, with my favorite likely being Garfunkel’s cover of Albert Hammond’s “99 Miles From L.A.”

Two tracks from Still Crazy . . . but that’s a bit misleading: “My Little Town,” the late 1975 single by Simon & Garfunkel, was on both of their solo albums that autumn, and I happened to pull it into the iPod from Garfunkel’s album.

Two tracks from Red Octopus. One, for long-time readers, is obvious: “Miracles.” The other surprises me a little, but then, the current iPod stock was the result of fast and instinctive clicking, and during that whirlwind, I also pulled in “Play On Love.”

Just one track, “Love Is A Rose,” from Ronstadt’s Prisoner In Disguise. As I rebuild the iPod’s playlist in a couple of days – it’s part of the process of getting my tunes saved on two new three-terabyte external drives – I’ll likely add “The Tracks Of My Tears.”

And one track from Pink Floyd’s Wish You Were Here is currently in the iPod: “Shine On You Crazy Diamond.” I imagine the title track will be pulled into the iPod during the next rebuild.

And, of course, all eight tracks from Born To Run are in the iPod. But excluding that album, which of the other albums on the Top Ten from forty-two years ago today do I see as essential listening? I guess I’d say Still Crazy After All These Years. And I recall hearing “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” on a snowy weekend evening in December 1975, as I took home the young woman who would become the Other Half. We were sure we’d never need any of those fifty ways.

Saturday Single No. 565

November 18th, 2017

When my external hard drive clicked its way to death the other week, I replaced it – for the time being – with the 500-gig hard drive I’d tucked away as a partial back-up. Doing that means that iTunes could no longer find the 3,600 or so tunes I’d loaded there for my iPod to find.

My plan – now maybe half-way completed – was to buy two new three-terabyte hard drives, use one as my day-to-day drive and put all my music in the other one and tuck it away as a back-up along with the 500-gig hard drive. It took all day yesterday to transfer my current (diminished) library (along with many documents and other bits) to one of the new 3TB drives. I’m going to do the remaining transfer overnight tonight, and on Monday, I’ll reload all of the sorted mp3s into the RealPlayer and start selecting tracks – once again – to go into iTunes for the iPod.

While I was laying those plans, I did not want to go without tunes on the iPod, so I spent a few hours pushing about 2,500 tunes its way via iTunes. This was no careful selection; it was more like one of those sixty-second shopping sprees one sees occasionally on television: grab some stuff here, grab some stuff there, take a whole folder here and another over there.

What it means is that the current tracks in iTunes (and on the iPod) have maybe a different flavor than they had before. So I’m going to run random through four of them to find our single for today.

First up is “Kingdom of Days” from Bruce Springsteen’s 2009 album Working On A Dream. It’s a testament to loving another as the days and years pass. I’ve not listened to it a great deal, and when I do, I tend to get lost in the hypnotic melody. But every time I do stop to notice it, I wonder again why I don’t listen to it more. Probably because when I drop the CD into the player, I have to make sure to skip the first track, “Outlaw Pete.” (It’s the only Springsteen track I truly dislike.)

Our second stop is a take on “Quinn The Eskimo (The Mighty Quinn)” by Bob Dylan and The Band. It came here on the 1985 box set Biograph and was a product of the sessions in Woodstock, New York, that became known as The Basement Tapes. It’s a decent performance of the tune, but – as these things usually go – I tend to like the first version I ever heard of the tune, and that’s Dylan’s live performance with The Band at the 1969 Isle of Wight Festival. That one was also included on Dylan’s second greatest hits package in 1971.

Then we get Jim Croce’s “Next Time, This Time,” about as catchy a kiss-off song as you might ever want to find. “I’m gonna forget your name and your pretty face, girl and write you off as a bad mistake,” he sings, adding that “a woman like you ought to be ashamed of the things that you do to men.” I remember hearing that lyric for the first time in November of 1974 as I played my newly purchased copy of Croce’s 1973 album Life & Times. As I listened, I found myself relating the song clearly to someone I’d dated briefly that September. Many years later, sipping drinks with a couple of friends from that long-ago era, I mentioned the woman’s name, indicating my less-then-fond memories. The other two guys nodded and noted that they’d had similar, and probably more costly, experiences with the same woman. And that memory makes me wonder if Little Feat’s “Dixie Chicken” might show up next.

But it doesn’t. And that’s okay, because it lands on Wilson Pickett’s “634-5789 (Soulsville, U.S.A.),” a 1966 record that went to No. 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was No. 1 on the magazine’s R&B chart for seven weeks. Even I, as disconnected as I was with Top 40 music in seventh grade, knew that phone number by heart. Thank goodness I still like the track. Oddly, though, I have mentioned Pickett’s record only once in more than ten years of blogging, and that was in a piece on telephone numbers.

And that means that Wilson Pickett’s “634-5789 (Soulsville, U.S.A.)” is today’s Saturday Single.

Better Than Never

November 14th, 2017

I did a quick look this morning to find a Billboard Hot 100 released on today’s date. There were a few in the 1990s and later, but they didn’t interest me. I found charts from today’s date in 1964 and 1970, but without looking, I decided that those two years have been pretty well chewed around here.

Then I came upon a chart from November 14, 1981. Most of the stuff in the Top 40 was familiar, reminding me of Saturday evenings near Monticello when the Other Half and I would eschew television and turn up the radio as I read and she worked on one craft project or another. We generally liked what we heard on the Twin Cities KS-95, which offered an adult contemporary format to the world. Here’s the Top Ten from the Hot 100 chart released thirty-six years ago today:

“Private Eyes” by Daryl Hall & John Oates
“Start Me Up” by the Rolling Stones
“Physical” by Olivia Newton-John
“Waiting For A Girl Like You” by Foreigner
“Tryin’ To Live My Life Without You” by Bob Seger
“The Night Owls” by the Little River Band
“Here I Am (Just When I Thought I Was Over You)” by Air Supply
“I’ve Done Everything For You” by Rick Springfield
“Arthur’s Theme (The Best That You Can Do)” by Christopher Cross
“The Theme From ‘Hill Street Blues’” by Mike Post feat. Larry Carlton

I don’t recall the tracks by Bob Seger, the Little River Band, or Rick Springfield. If I ever heard them, it wasn’t often enough for them to make an impression. The other seven I know well, although only two of them – the tracks by the Stones and Mike Post – really hold my interest.

(And I wonder if the Seger or the Springfield got play on KS-95. I don’t know that they’d fit the format. On the other hand, I’d think that the Little River Band tune would. As I wondered, I grabbed Joel Whitburn’s Top Adult Songs, which told me that seven of those records made the adult contemporary Top 40; those that didn’t were the records by Seger, Springfield and the Rolling Stones. )

That lack of interest was 1981 for me: The process that I referred to a couple of months ago – I wrote “We were slowly moving into a time when what was popular was no longer what I wanted to hear.” – had left me with very little on the radio that I truly dug. Radio still offered pleasant background noise to an evening of reading, but for the most part, that’s all it was.

Still, I had to assume as I looked at the chart this morning that somewhere in the 110 singles listed in that long-ago Hot 100 (with ten records listed as Bubbling Under), there must have been a record that would make me look at the radio in appreciation, a record that I would want to hear again. So I began to make my way slowly down the list.

It didn’t take long. At No. 27, I found “Harden My Heart” by Quarterflash, a record that was included in my Ultimate Jukebox some years ago. But there was something else, I thought, something that I’d skipped past. So I reversed course, and at No. 15, I saw Al Jarreau’s “We’re In This Love Forever.”

Now, that’s another record that I could hear frequently without getting tired of it. It was a huge hit for Jarreau, reaching No. 15 in the Hot 100 and No. 6 on the magazine’s R&B country and adult contemporary charts. But for some reason, even though I remember the record fondly, I’ve not given it any attention in more than ten years of blogging. In fact, I’ve mentioned Jarreau only twice in those ten-plus years, both times in passing, and I didn’t even notice that he died last February.

I guess late is better than never. Here’s Jarreau’s “We’re In This Love Together.”