Archive for the ‘1973’ Category

What’s At No. 68?

Thursday, August 20th, 2020

I can’t resist today’s date: 8/20/2020. So we’re going to play Games With Numbers and turn those numerals into sixty-eight, and then we’ll check what was at No. 68 in the Billboard Hot 100 on this date during the seven years that make up my sweet spot, the years 1969 through 1975.

So, during the third week of August 1969, when the No. 1 record was “Honky Tonk Women” by the Rolling Stones, what was parked at No. 68? Well, it’s a record I don’t think I’ve ever heard: “I Do” by the Moments. The R&B trio from Hackensack, New Jersey, was eight months away from breaking through with the sweet “Love On A Two-Way Street,” and “I Do” went only to No. 62 in the Hot 100 (and to No. 10 on the Billboard R&B chart). Listening this morning, it sounds shrill.

A year later, the third week of the eighth month of 1970 found Bread’s “Make It With You” at No. 1. Our target spot down the chart was occupied by a short version of one of my favorite tracks from that summer fifty years ago: A cover of Neil Young’s “Down By The River” by drummer Buddy Miles & The Freedom Express. The link is to the single version, which I don’t recall hearing; Rick and I heard the album track – a much better piece of work – on WJON during late evenings in his screen porch that season. We’ve caught the record at its peak; it would go no higher than No. 68.

Sitting at No. 1 forty-nine years ago this week was the Bee Gees’ “How Can You Mend A Broken Heart.” The No. 68 record during that week in 1971 was one of the two hits I recall from my college years to feature a banjo solo: “Sweet City Woman” by the Stampeders, a trio from Calgary, Alberta. (“Dueling Banjos” from the movie Deliverance is the other I recall; there are likely more.) The Stampeders’ record went to No. 8 in the Hot 100 and to No. 5 in the magazine’s Easy Listening chart. And you know, you can do lots worse than love and tenderness and macaroons.

On to 1972, when the No. 1 record as August 20 went past was “Brandy (You’re A Fine Girl)” by the Looking Glass (and its mention brings back radio memories as Rick, Gary and I drove to Winnipeg, Manitoba). As we drove, we likely also heard the A-side of the single at No. 68 that week: “Burning Love/It’s A Matter Of Time” by Elvis Presley. (I don’t know that I’d ever heard the B-side until today.) “Burning Love” was Presley’s last big hit in the Hot 100, as it peaked at No. 2. (He would still have Top Ten hits on the Easy Listening and Country charts.) On the Billboard Easy Listening chart, the record – with “It’s A Matter Of Time” listed as the A-side, according to Joel Whitburn’s top adult songs book – went to No. 9.

“Brother Louie” by the Stories sat atop the Hot 100 as the third week of August 1973 ended and the fourth week began. Down at our target slot that week was the title track from Alice Cooper’s current album, “Billion Dollar Babies.” I admit that I’ve listened to very little of Cooper’s work over the years, and in 1973, I was, I guess, pointedly ignoring it as gauche or something. The record had guest vocals from Donovan, but still disappointed, peaking at No. 57, considerably lower than Cooper’s last few singles.

Perched at No. 1 as the third week of August 1974 passed was “(You’re) Having My Baby” by Paul Anka and Odia Coates. Hoping for better, we drop down to our target at No. 68 and find “Finally Got Myself Together (I’m a Changed Man)” by the Impressions, a record I do not recall and honestly doubt that I’ve ever heard until today. It’s a sweet soul/R&B side, underlaid with the social awareness that ran through much of Curtis Mayfield’s work. The record peaked at No. 17 in the Hot 100 and spent two weeks on top of the Billboard R&B chart.

Forty-five years ago this week, as August 1975 spooled out, the No. 1 record was “Fallin’ In Love” by Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds. Sixty-seven spots further down the chart, we find, again, the Impressions, this time with “Sooner Or Later,” a tale of romantic consequences told with an irresistible groove. The record went no higher on the Hot 100, but went to No. 3 on the R&B chart.

Saturday Single No. 696

Saturday, July 11th, 2020

Okay, so how many tracks among the 80,000 on the digital shelves were recorded on July 11?

This, of course, is the kind of thing I resort to on days when my stock of ideas to write about is running low. Sometimes it results in something that limps, sometimes it works. (And it’s worth remembering that I have recording dates for maybe ten percent of the mp3s in my collection.)

Anyway, the answer is ten, and those tracks are:

“Put It There (Shag Nasty)” by McKinney’s Cottonpickers, 1928
“Pete Brown’s Boogie” by the Pete Brown Quintet, 1944
“Fat Stuff Boogie” by the Beale Street Gang, 1948
“Me & My Chauffeur Blues” by Memphis Minnie, 1952
“You Win Again” by Hank Williams, 1952
“I Forgot To Remember To Forget” by Elvis Presley, 1955
“Mystery Train” by Elvis Presley, 1955
“Trying To Get To You” by Elvis Presley, 1955
“(You’re A) Bad Girl” by Paul Revere & The Raiders, 1966
“Samantha’s Living Room” by the Guess Who, 1972

Four of those – the first two by Presley and the singles by Memphis Minnie and Hank Williams – are pretty well known. The others? Well, the Cottonpickers’ record is 1920s jazz on the Victor label, and the two from the 1940s are – as their titles indicate – piano-led boogies (with lots of horns) on Savoy. “Trying To Get To You” showed up on Presley’s 1956 self-titled album. “(You’re A) Bad Girl” came out of the sessions for The Spirit Of ’67 but was unreleased until the CD era. And the Guess Who track was on the 1973 album Artificial Paradise.

And of those, the one that catches my ears this morning is “Samantha’s Living Room.” An odd, atmospheric track, it showed up here on a two-CD anthology of the Guess Who’s work, and its lyrics intrigue me:

The family’s in the front room cheering
Old Dad’s in the corner snoring
Mother’s helping baby walk
And Auntie Jean is yawning
In Samantha’s living room

Granddad’s at the punchbowl drinking cordial
While Grandma sees the children play
Blindman’s bluff and chess, and the music plays
All in all it’s time for fun
In Samantha’s living room
In Samantha’s living room, in the year 1921

In Samantha’s living room
In Samantha’s living room
In Samantha’s living room, in the year 1981

So, because it intrigues me, and because I have the sense that I’ve not often mentioned the group here, “Samantha’s Living Room” by the Guess Who is today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 692

Saturday, June 13th, 2020

Boy, I was beginning to think that any record I ever wanted to hear was available in a video at YouTube.

Well, not quite. Four months ago, when I wanted to share here a version of “Goldfinger” by easy listening musician Jack LaForge, I had to make a video and upload it. But that was a niche thing, and understandable. And three of the other four videos I’ve created and uploaded in the last two years were niche things that one wouldn’t expect to find. The fourth was a Joe Cocker tune that I put up because I couldn’t find the official version on that particular day. (I’m sure it was there but I got frustrated and made my own video.)

How niche-y were the other three videos? They were two singles – “Never Goin’ Home” by Owen B. and “Summer Sunshine” by Misty Morn – and a repackaging of “Going The Distance” and “The Final Bell,” the soundtrack music by Bill Conti that backs the climactic fight and its aftermath in the original Rocky from 1976.

(And the music from Rocky may not be as niche-y as I once thought; since I put the video of Conti’s music on YouTube a year ago, it’s been viewed three million times, which makes it by far the most popular of the 500 or so videos I’ve put up; second place goes to the video of “Bittersweet” by Big Head Todd & The Monsters, which has been viewed 1.9 million times.)

Otherwise, over the past two years, anything I wanted to share in this space has been available on YouTube. But the website failed me this morning.

Just before I started writing, I opened my iTunes library and clicked around and then posted a link at Facebook to Sweathog’s 1971 cover of “Hallelujah.” And I wondered about versions of the song I might not have heard. Beyond Sweathog’s cover, I have the Clique’s 1970 original and Chi Coltrane’s 1973 version.

So I went to Second Hand Songs and learned about two other covers, one by a group called Lovequake in 1976 and one by Dobie Gray in 1970. The Lovequake one didn’t intrigue me at the moment – we may get back to it – but the thought of Dobie Gray taking on the song? Oh, yeah.

It’s not at YouTube. It’s not at Amazon. It’s not at iTunes. I learned at discogs that “Hallelujah” was the B-side to “Honey, You Can’t Take It Back” on the White Whale label, but so far, the only copies of the single I’ve seen for sale are promos with “Honey, You Can’t Take It Back” on both sides.

I probably won’t dig any further, but damn, it would have been nice to hear Dobie’s take on the song. I’m going to default to Coltrane’s version of the tune, even though I’ve likely shared it before. It was on her 1973 album Let It Ride, and it’s today’s Saturday Single.

One Random Shot

Friday, May 22nd, 2020

I’m kind of swamped today: Housework beckons, as does a careful trip to the grocery store. And I’m still getting things squared away on my new desktop.

(I seem to have lost all of my email contacts, which means at least several long sessions of entering data; thankfully, all of the emails in my inbox came through, so I can at least harvest names and email addresses from there.)

Anyway, I have many things to do, and I need to get to them. But I’ve fallen into a Wednesday-Friday-Saturday mode here, and I hate to leave this space blank. So I’m going to play some Games With Numbers. I’ll take today’s date – 5/22 – and turn that into 27, and then I’ll take the year 2020 and use that to drop back to the year I turned twenty, 1973.

There are 2,630 tracks from 1973 in the RealPlayer. (I spent about four hours yesterday afternoon configuring the player and loading the music into it.) I’m going to sort them by running time, set the cursor in the middle of the stack, and click forward on random twenty-seven times, and we’ll see what we get.

And we come across perhaps the most rocking track from Ringo Starr’s self-titled album from that distant year: “Devil Woman.” Ringo wrote the song with Vini Poncia, and the album notes show Ringo and Jim Keltner on drums, Klaus Voorman on bass, Jimmy Calvert on guitar, Tom Hensley on piano, Milt Holland on percussion, and Tom Scott and Chuck Finley on horns.

No. 47, Forty-Seven Years Ago

Wednesday, April 15th, 2020

We’ve not done anything in 1973 since sometime last year, so I thought we’d fire up the Symmetry machine and jump into the middle of April 1973.

I was finishing my second academic year at St. Cloud State, but I recall at most two of the classes I took. I think I repeated the basic history class I’d failed during my first quarter on campus, replacing African history with a look at Nineteenth Century anarchism in Europe. And with more than a hundred other folks, I was taking an orientation to Denmark (once a week, I think), and as we met, I had no clue that most of the people in that room would become friends with whom I would still gather more than forty years later.

(Of course, at nineteen, I couldn’t conceive of things being forty years later. Hell, I trouble trying to figure out what life was going to be like five months later when most of us in that room headed out to Denmark. And I kind of knew that however I envisioned it, it would be different.)

Otherwise, I was hanging around at The Table in the student union, laughing and sipping coffee with about ten other folks, three of whom remain in my life today. And I assume we heard at least some of mid-April’s Billboard Top Ten as we gathered not far from the jukebox:

“The Night The Lights Went Out In Georgia” by Vicki Lawrence
“Neither One Of Us (Wants To Be the First To Say Goodbye)” by Gladys Knight & The Pips
“Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round The Ole Oak Tree” by Dawn feat. Tony Orlando
“Ain’t No Woman (Like the One I Got)” by the Four Tops
“Sing” by the Carpenters
“The Cisco Kid” by War
“Danny Song” by Anne Murray
“Break Up To Make Up” by the Stylistics
“Killing Me Softly With His Song” by Roberta Flack
“Call Me (Come Back Home)” by Al Green

Well, the records by Gladys Knight, the Four Tops, the Stylistics, Roberta Flack and Al Green save that set of ten, although “Neither One Of Us” is one of Knight’s lesser efforts (and the same might be said of the Four Tops’ record).

Lawrence’s attempt at a southern gothic tale of good ole boys, illicit romance, murder and lynching has always fallen flat to me, with too much pop sheen and too lilting a chorus. Slow it down a fair amount, add some swamp, and have Cher include it on her Muscle Shoals album, and I’d probably like it.

I tuned out “Yellow Ribbon” and “The Cisco Kid” whenever I heard them, and even though I liked some of the Carpenters’ stuff, “Sing” was just too saccharine. As to “Danny’s Song,” I much prefer Loggins & Messina’s 1971 version.

So, how many of those ten have stayed with me for nearly fifty years? Among the 3,900-some tracks in the iPod, I find only the records by Gladys Knight and the Stylistics. I’m surprised by the absence of the records by Al Green and Roberta Flack; those will be added by the end of the day.

And what of our other business today? When we drop to No. 47 in that long-ago Hot 100, what do we find? Well, we find the only Top 40 hit for an R&B group from Harlem, and it’s a record I remember well, one I liked a lot. And it was in fact one of the first tracks I dug out of the LP stacks to rip to an mp3 when I got my digital turntable: “I’m Doin’ Fine Now” by New York City.

Released on the Chelsea label, the record went to No. 17 in the Billboard Hot 100, No. 14 on the magazine’s R&B chart, and No. 8 on the Easy Listening chart.

Full Moon Omens

Friday, September 13th, 2019

All week – perhaps a little longer – my news feed at Facebook and commentary at a few other places have been filled with folks’ anxieties about the confluence today of a full moon and Friday the 13th.

It’s an accepted part of modern folklore – and perhaps there are some studies out there validating that folklore, but I’m not going to go hunting for them this morning – that things get weird out there on the nights of full moons. Some folks swear that even if they didn’t know there was a full moon by the calendar, they’d recognize its existence by either the behavior of others or the workings of their own bodies.

I won’t gainsay those folks, as I don’t know. In my working life – as a reporter/editor and as an educator – I came across plenty of weirdness, but I never cross-checked its timing against the phases of the moon. I guess I just assumed that there was weirdness in the world.

And Friday the 13th has never meant much to me. Its notoriety as a day of bad luck is simply folklore. Here’s the history of it as presented by Wikipedia:

The irrational fear of the number 13 has been given a scientific name: “triskaidekaphobia”; and on [sic] analogy to this the fear of Friday the 13th is called paraskevidekatriaphobia, from the Greek words Paraskeví (Παρασκευή, meaning “Friday”), and dekatreís (δεκατρείς, meaning “thirteen”).

The superstition surrounding this day may have arisen in the Middle Ages, “originating from the story of Jesus’ last supper and crucifixion” in which there were 13 individuals present in the Upper Room on the 13th of Nisan Maundy Thursday, the night before his death on Good Friday.While there is evidence of both Friday and the number 13 being considered unlucky, there is no record of the two items being referred to as especially unlucky in conjunction before the 19th century.

An early documented reference in English occurs in Henry Sutherland Edwards’ 1869 biography of Gioachino Rossini, who died on a Friday 13th:
“He [Rossini] was surrounded to the last by admiring friends; and if it be true that, like so many Italians, he regarded Fridays as an unlucky day and thirteen as an unlucky number, it is remarkable that on Friday 13th of November he passed away.”

It is possible that the publication in 1907 of Thomas W. Lawson’s popular novel Friday, the Thirteenth, contributed to disseminating the superstition. In the novel, an unscrupulous broker takes advantage of the superstition to create a Wall Street panic on a Friday the 13th. A suggested origin of the superstition – Friday, 13 October 1307, the date Philip IV of France arrested hundreds of the Knights Templar – may not have been formulated until the 20th century. It is mentioned in the 1955 Maurice Druon historical novel The Iron King (Le Roi de fer), John J. Robinson’s 1989 work Born in Blood: The Lost Secrets of Freemasonry, Dan Brown’s 2003 novel The Da Vinci Code and Steve Berry’s The Templar Legacy (2006).

Interesting stuff, I guess. We need some music to match it, but as I wander through the digital stacks, I come up empty on both sides. A number of tracks have the word “moon” in their titles, but none of them seem to hit the mark today. And a fair number of tracks have the word “Friday” in their titles, but none hit the date or the mood.

So let’s go with the word “superstition.” Here’s Jeff Beck, Tim Bogert and Carmine Appice, recording as Beck, Bogert & Appice, taking on Stevie Wonder’s tune for their self-titled 1973 album.

Another September 4

Wednesday, September 4th, 2019

As always, when September 4 rolls around, I’m taken back to 1973 and the evening I got a plane for the first time and began the nearly nine-month adventure in Denmark (and elsewhere in Europe) that became – as I’ve noted before – the single most formative experience of my life.

Even forty-six years later, the images, thoughts and sounds of that time are still vibrant, part of the inner furnishings that define me and much of my life. And it is on days like today that I am grateful for the gift (and occasional curse) of a good memory, as I recall the taste of my first meal in Copenhagen (a stew advertised as a Stroganoff but not quite getting there), my first attempt to find the correct train from Copenhagen back to a suburban hostel (a comedy of errors in two languages), the first time my arm slipped around the waist of a young lady whom I would come to love, and so much more.

Those and all the rest of my adventures have been covered enough here over the years, I am sure. Beyond what I’ve said above, I’ll not add to that word count today.

Nor will there be music here today. The song of love and memory and wonder that would fit how I feel today has never been written, never been sung.

At about half past nine tonight, I’ll tip my glass to the memory of the more than a hundred of us who made our ways onto a Finnair jet during that long-ago evening, the first step of more than a hundred individual journeys. Most of us are still living. Some have left us. But I remember them all, and so much more.

And I always will.

Saturday Single No. 656

Saturday, August 31st, 2019

The end of August hangs in the air this morning, and the first thing that comes to mind is acorns. As readers might recall, our acre-plus lawn on the East Side was blessed with thirty-four oak trees, and every other August or so, the lawn and adjoining street would be covered with acorns. We have none here at the condo; the three trees that guard our southern flank are flowering crab, linden and maple. I kind of miss the acorns.

But there’s more to the end of August than that. I still feel the pull of the school year; the end of the eighth month of the year and the beginning of its ninth still feels to me like a major point, an end and a beginning. That’s laid, no doubt to my long connection with education: one year of Kindergarten followed by twelve years of elementary and secondary education, five years of college, two years of graduate school, five years of college teaching, and about twelve years of newspapering in communities where all things school-related – from board meetings to athletics to the activities of the various clubs – were among the major topics of coverage.

Even though I’ve been long separated from reporting and from school matters, the end of August feels like a gateway into a new time. Things other than reporting and school signal that: Football season is here for the colleges, and my Minnesota Vikings take the field in a little more than a week. And then, autumn is my favorite season, as I’ve noted before. So there are those things.

I got to thinking about August’s endings in the past, and two a decade apart raised their heads: August 1983 when I was about to begin my two years of graduate study at the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism and was concerned about how I’d fit in, and – inevitably – August 1973, when I was just days away from boarding a Finnair jet and heading off for a college year in Denmark, somewhat apprehensive of being away from home for truly the first time.

No such import attaches itself to this August about to end. This has not been an entirely uneventful time: The Texas Gal retired yesterday (though she will return to the same non-governmental organization next week as a part-time employee, armed with the leverage of being able to negotiate her tasks and her hours). Otherwise – and I find this reassuring regarding the tranquility of our current life – the only other news of the month is the welcome installation of a garbage disposal unit in the kitchen.

So how to find a tune? Well, we’re going to play Games With Numbers with today’s date – 8/31/19 – and turn that into 58.Then we’re going to drop into the earlier of those two Augusts that came to mind, 1973, and see what record was at No. 58 as August came to a close. I imagine it will be familiar.

And indeed it is: We fall onto “Ramblin’ Man” by the Allman Brothers Band, a record that was on its way to No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 (and to No. 12 on the magazine’s Easy Listening chart). And it’s appropriate, in that the first time I ever heard “Ramblin’ Man” was in the lounge of the youth hostel where most of us on our Denmark adventure lived for at least a portion of that school year.

But it’s overly familiar, too, so we’re going to make an adjustment and listen to the flip side of the single. That, too, is a track I first heard in that hostel lounge distant in both time and space, but it’s heard less often than the hit record. With that, here’s “Pony Boy,” today’s Saturday Single:

Saturday Single No. 650

Saturday, July 20th, 2019

I’m here briefly and woozily, following a night of poor sleep and heading into a day of a few unavoidable tasks. So this is a place-holder, just to show people that I was here today.

And since it is July 20, the fiftieth anniversary of Neil Armstrong’s “One small step,” I’m going with a moon song. I could have dressed it up with memories of that remarkable evening half a century ago, but you know, I have no great insights about that evening, at least on this rainy, blurry morning.

We sat in the living room – Mom, Dad, my sister and I – and, like everyone else, watched those ghostly figures move around on the moondust. I knew I was watching a miracle of science and courage, but beyond that, I got nothing this morning.

So here’s a somewhat moon-related tune I’ve been hearing a lot lately, as I listen to my new Jimmie Spheeris CD – it offers his first two albums, 1971’s Isle Of View and 1973’s The Original Tap Dancing Kid – as I wander through my errands. This is “Moon On The Water” from the 1973 album, and it’s today’s Saturday Single.

No. 46, Forty-Six Years Ago

Thursday, June 13th, 2019

Having dabbled in 1973 the other day, looking at how I occupied my daytime during the summer of that year and what I likely heard on Chicago’s WLS during my nighttime ponderings, it seemed like a good idea to play our game of Symmetry with the early summer of 1973 and see what sat at No. 46 in the Billboard Hot 100 during that time forty-six years ago.

Two of the top three records in the Hot 100 that came out during this week in 1973 were also atop the WLS survey we looked at two days ago. At WLS, Paul McCartney’s “My Love” and Sylvia’s “Pillow Talk” were Nos. 1 and 2 respectively. On the Hot 100, they were Nos. 1 and 3, separated by Clint Holmes’ “Playground In My Mind.” As I indicated the other day, “Pillow Talk” really made no impression on me then, and I found the Clint Holmes record insipid from the start, and my distaste for it only increased.

“My Love,” though, I liked and still like. For some reason, it’s one of the two records that puts me in St. Cloud’s East Side Dairy Queen sometime during the summer of 1973, waiting in line with Rick and our pal Gary for some frozen treat. Even having heard the song live during a McCartney concert in 2002, it still pulls me back to soft-serve.

But let’s get to our game. What was it that sat at No. 46 in the Hot 100 forty-six years ago this week? Well, it’s a record that will please one of my long-time readers,assuming this blog is still on that person’s reading list: “Back When My Hair Was Short” by Gunhill Road.

The record – the band’s only Hot 100 hit – was in its twelfth week on the chart, heading back down after peaking at No. 40. I recall it only vaguely. I can’t find a survey from the Twin Cities’ KDWB for the time, but a WDGY survey from late May of 1973 I found at Oldiesloon shows “Back When My Hair Was Short” sitting at No. 10. So I likely heard the admittedly catchy record back then but paid little attention. My loss, I guess.