Archive for the ‘1973’ Category

‘And I Have Loved You Wild . . .’

Thursday, October 29th, 2015

Reality television has added another notch to its belt in our household: I’ve joined the Texas Gal in becoming a viewer of The Voice, the singing competition offered by NBC. She’s been a fan for some time, and as this season began, I joined her in the living room and found myself intrigued by some of the talent in the competition.

The structure of the competition – with head-to-head match-ups and so on – seems a little gimmicky sometimes, but one thing that does make it a better show than American Idol, which we’ve watched for years, is the opening round, in which hopeful contestants sing in blind auditions, with the chairs of the four judges facing away from them.

That means, of course, that the judges – Adam Levine, Gwen Stefani, Pharrell Williams and Blake Shelton – can only assess a contestant by his or her voice in that first round. That’s an interesting twist, which I like.

Anyway, this season’s contest is underway, and I’ll likely follow it to the end. I have a few favorites among the contestants still alive in the competition. Among those eliminated, one of the intriguing entries was the duo of Jubal Lee Young and Amanda Preslar. Young is the son of country musician Steve Young, and for the blind audition, the duo performed the elder Young’s most famous song, “Seven Bridges Road.”

They advanced, landing a spot on Williams’ team, but were eliminated in the next round. The show’s profile of the two showed them with their families, including, of course, Steve Young. I was startled for an instant to see that he’s looking old and a bit frail, but then I realized that the man is in his seventies. (He’s seventy-three, to be precise.)

And as Young and Preslar sang the elder Young’s song during their blind audition, I thought, not for the first time, about what a great song it is. A couple of years ago, I found a quote from Steve Young about the song’s inspiration:

I lived in Montgomery, Alabama, in the early ’60s and had a group of friends there that showed me the road. It led out of town, and after you had crossed seven bridges you found yourself out in the country on a dirt road. Spanish moss hung in the trees and there were old farms with old fences and graveyards and churches and streams. A high bank dirt road with trees. It seemed like a Disney fantasy at times. People went there to park or get stoned or just to get away from it all. I thought my friends had made up the name “Seven Bridges Road.” I found out later that it had been called by that name for over a hundred years, that people had been struck by the beauty of the road for a long time.

I shared Young’s original version of the tune then, and this morning, I thought I’d dig into the files and see what covers I have. The obvious one, of course, is the Eagles’ cover of the tune from their 1980 live album (a version that essentially replicates Ian Matthews’ 1973 version from his Valley Hi album). I’ve also got covers by Rita Coolidge and by Tracy Nelson with Mother Earth, both from 1971. I may dig up more – and there seem to be plenty of covers out there – but here’s Matthews’ version:

The Day

Friday, October 16th, 2015

In the east, a thin sliver of light – maybe bright, maybe muted through clouds – slides its way above the horizon. As it does, the music begins.

The tune is “Dawn” from a 1973 self-titled album by a group calling itself Glory. It was Glory’s first album, but that’s only a technicality: Since 1968, when two Cleveland groups more or less merged to form what All Music Guide calls an “acid rock combo,” the musicians in Glory had been calling themselves The Damnation Of Adam Blessing and had released three albums on the United Artists label. A dispute with the label brought about the name change.

The first album, a 1969 self-titled work, spent two weeks in the Billboard 200, peaking at No. 181. In 1970, a single titled “Back To The River” – from the album The Second Damnation – bubbled under the Billboard Hot 100 for seven weeks, peaking at No. 102.

Glory, a good if unspectacular album, was the last word from the group; it and the first two Adam Blessing albums, as well as an anthology, are available on CD.

The music continues as the hands of the clocks turn just a little. It’s not quite raining as we listen to “In A Misty Morning” by the late Gene Clark from his 1973 album, Roadmaster.

At the time, the album was actually released only in the Netherlands, according to Wikipedia, which notes that Clark’s label, A&M, was displeased with the slow pace of his work and created the album by combining eight of Clark’s new tracks with three tracks from other sessions (two tracks from sessions with the Byrds in 1970-71 and one track from sessions with the Flying Burrito Brothers). Whatever the source, Roadmaster is a decent listen.

Clark’s catalog is not easily listed, given his solo work and his work with Doug Dillard, with the Byrds and finally with McGuinn, Clark & Hillman. I’ve seen his 1974 album No Other mentioned as the best of his career, and it’s the only solo album to reach the Billboard 200, peaking at 144 in 1974.

Most of his work, including Roadmaster, seems to be available on CD; I didn’t take the time to do an album by album check.

By late morning, the mist is gone, and as the sun reaches its highest point in the sky, it’s time for a break. Our refreshment is “Red Wine At Noon” by Joy Of Cooking, found on the group’s 1971 self-titled debut.

The Berkeley-based group has been mentioned and featured here frequently enough that I’m not sure there’s a lot left to say. I’ll just note that I wish that the group’s unreleased fourth album, 1973’s Same Old Song And Dance, would somehow find a release. And I’ll add that not long ago, I got hold of a two-CD collection titled “back to your heart” that offers seventeen unreleased studio tracks – some of them polished, some less so – as well as a 1972 concert in Berkeley. If you like what I call “living room music,” it’s sweet stuff.

All three of Joy Of Cooking’s original albums spent some time in the Billboard 200: Joy Of Cooking (1971) went to No. 100, Closer To The Ground (1971) peaked at No. 136, and Castles (1972) got to No. 174. The group’s only charting single in Billboard was “Brownsville,” which went to No. 66 in 1971. All the original albums are available on CD, as is “back to your heart” and a collection titled American Originals, which includes a few tracks from the unreleased Same Old Song And Dance.

The day moves on, and some times of day and some times of year merge nicely for time spent outdoors. That’s evidently what the Stone Poneys thought in 1967 when they released “Autumn Afternoon” on Evergreen Vol. 2.

The Stone Poneys were, of course, Linda Ronstadt, Bobby Kimmel and Kenny Edwards, with Ronstadt handling almost all of the lead vocals on Evergreen Vol. 2, the group’s second album. If the stories at Wikipedia are accurate (and I think they are, given the notes), the group’s label, Capitol, saw Ronstadt as the marketable talent and Kimmel and Edwards as expendable. And the guys were pushed firmly to the side.

Evergreen Vol. 2 went to No. 100 in Billboard upon its release in 1967. The first album, re-released with the title The Stone Poneys Featuring Linda Ronstadt, went to No. 172 in 1975.

The Stone Poneys’ first two albums are available on a two-fer CD; also available on CD is Linda Ronstadt, Stone Poneys and Friends, Vol. III, a 1968 release that was, from what I read, more Ronstadt and very little Poneys.

After the sun goes down (and we could easily – and might someday – devote an entire slice of this kind of whimsy to “sundown” alone), and the shadows come from the streetlights and perhaps a full moon, it’s time to get a little slinky. Pat Benatar did it well on “Evening” from her 1991 exploration of jump blues and torch songs, True Love.

Benatar, of course, was a 1980s icon with eleven Top 40 hits from 1979 to 1984; six of her albums made the Top Fifteen during that time as well. True Love did not. It peaked at No. 37. Given my tastes, it’s not surprising that I like it better than the rest of Benatar’s catalog. Like all of her catalog, it’s easily available.

Just past 11:59 p.m., the clock turns over, a new day starts, and we hear “Midnight Wind” by John Stewart from his 1979 album Bombs Away Dream Babies. The album was fortified by Fleetwood Mac’s Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks – both contributed backing vocals, and Buckingham added guitar and co-produced – and was the greatest success of Stewart’s long career, peaking at No. 10 on the Billboard 200.

None of Stewart’s six earlier charting albums had gone higher than No. 126; his 1980 follow-up, Dream Babies Go Hollywood, went to No. 85, and Stewart’s moment was gone.

But the moment was a great one, with a sound evocative of its time: “Midnight Wind” went to No. 28 in the Hot 100; its predecessor, “Gold,” had reached No. 5. A third single from Bombs Away Dream Babies, “Lost Her In The Sun,” went to No. 34.

The album is seemingly out of print; copies are available on CD but at higher prices than I’m willing to pay. The same seems to hold true for most of Stewart’s catalog.

The One & Only

Wednesday, October 14th, 2015

With only 365 days in a year (well, 366 in each Leap Year), and nearly 3,000 LPs on the crowded shelves here at the EITW studios, I expected that I would have, over the years, bought multiple records on every day of the year.

It ain’t so.

Casting about for an idea for a post, I thought I’d see how many LPs I’ve bought over the years on October 14. It turned out to be one. (I imagine that if I searched for each of the 365/366 days of the year, I might find a day of the year on which no record has ever come home; I’m not going to invest the time.)

On October 14, 1989, while I was living in Anoka, Minnesota, I found myself a copy of the Marshall Tucker Band’s self-titled 1973 debut. It was a Saturday, and my Saturday morning routine in those days was to stop at either the small grocery store near downtown Anoka that had a good meat department or the larger supermarket in the nearby suburb of Andover, with its better selection of other victuals and its lower prices.

Whichever one I went to on October 14, I stopped and bought a record somewhere in Anoka. The city had no record stores, so I must have stopped at a garage sale or a rummage sale as I made my way to or from the grocery store. Wherever I found it, the record came home to my apartment just off Brisbin Street (one of the nicest and most spacious places I’ve ever lived), and I likely put it on the turntable that day.

I can’t say that it’s one of my favorites, although I like it well enough. One of its tracks, “Can’t You See,” found a place in my Ultimate Jukebox five years ago. Other than that, all I can say is that when tracks from the album pop up, I enjoy them, especially the opening track, “Take The Highway.”

Two things come to mind as I head toward the end of this post: First, I need to make certain that I add both “Can’t You See” and “Take The Highway” as well as the band’s “Heard It In A Love Song” to my iPod playlist, and then I should note that the copy of The Marshall Tucker Band that’s currently on my shelves is not the one I bought twenty-six years ago today in Anoka. I replaced that one in 1997 with a better copy of the album that I picked up at Cheapo’s just up the street from my place in Minneapolis.

Neither of those matter, I guess, so here’s “Take The Highway,” the opening track to The Marshall Tucker Band, the only LP I’ve ever bought on October 14.

Remnants From 1973

Tuesday, September 1st, 2015

There’s a lot of stuff to dig into unknowingly when one is rummaging around in the Bubbling Under portion of the Billboard Hot 100 from September 1, 1973, forty-two years ago today. I recognize some of the titles – “Heartbeat – It’s A Love Beat” by the DeFranco Family and “Can’t You See” by the Marshall Tucker Band are two (spanning a wide gulf in style, of course, and, as I perceive it, quality) – and I don’t recall anything about most of the twenty-two singles listed.

Titles intrigue me: “Old Betsy Goes Boing, Boing, Boing” by the Hummers, sitting at No. 104, turned out to be a novelty record about the serial challenges faced by a man and his auto. The Hummers, according to Joel Whitburn’s Top Pop Singles, were a studio group, and the record went no higher in two weeks of bubbling under. It’s the only listed single for the Hummers.

“Bondi Junction” by Peter Foldy, sitting at No. 113, turns out to be a feathery boy-meets-girl tune seasoned with just a hint of regret. Foldy was a Hungarian-born Canadian who was raised in Sydney, Australia, where the area known as Bondi Junction is home to – one assumes from the video – an amusement park. (The video, featuring an older Foldy, was evidently made to promote a hits package.) The record, which went to No. 14 in Canada, went no higher, and Foldy never showed up in the Billboard chart again.

And then there was the title listed in Billboard as “We’re Haldeman, Erlichman” by the Creep, bubbling under at No. 116. I went and found that one, too, and learned that the magazine had left out part of the title. The full title is “We’re Haldeman, Erlichman, Mitchell & Dean,” but I hadn’t needed the missing names to know that the record was a novelty poking fun at the President’s men as the walls around the Nixon White House began to crack during the Watergate scandal.

The Creep – an abbreviation for the Committee to Rip off Each and Every Politician, according to Whitburn – was another one-shot studio group. Its name, of course, was a take-off on Nixon’s own Committee to Re-Elect the President, which in 1972 had inevitably been called CReeP. The record bubbled under for two weeks at No. 116. I’d never heard it before.

‘I’ll Be Just As Gone . . .’

Friday, August 7th, 2015

In our tour of Texas music the other day, I missed some tunes that we could have included because I forgot about a variant spelling. In the days before, as I pondered the post and the city of San Antonio, I did check on the digital shelves for tunes that called the city “San Antone.” But as I wrote Tuesday, that spelling slipped my mind.

As it slipped, we lost our chances at hearing Emmylou Harris’ “I’ll Be Your San Antone Rose” from her 1977 album Luxury Liner, and we missed out on two versions of “Home In San Antone,” the first a vocal take by Redd Volkaert from 1998 and the second an instrumental version by the Quebe Sisters Band from 2003.

And we missed out, of course, on one of the classic country songs, “Is Anybody Goin’ To San Antone.” The song was written by Glenn Martin and David Kirby, and its most famous iteration is its first, the version recorded in February 1970 by Charlie Pride:

Pride’s version was No. 1 for two weeks on the Billboard country chart and made it to No. 70 on the magazine’s Hot 100. (It was one of twenty-nine No. 1 hits for Pride on the country chart between 1969 and 1983.) And covers abound: Second Hand Songs lists twenty-eight of them, from Bake Turner’s version recorded in March 1970 to a version by Buddy Jewell that came out in June of this year (and there are likely others not listed there).

Two of those covers – along with Pride’s original – are on the digital shelves here: There’s a pretty basic country version by Nat Stuckey from his 1971 album Only A Woman Like You, and then there’s a 1973 take on the tune by Doug Sahm with some vocal help – according to both my ears and Joel Whitburn’s Top Pop Singles – from Bob Dylan:

The track was released as a single on Atlantic and bubbled under the Hot 100 for three weeks, peaking at No. 115. It was also released on a 1973 album titled Doug Sahm and Band.

Saturday Single No. 455

Saturday, July 18th, 2015

Summer just got a whole lot busier here.

The two gardens have already offered us zucchini, yellow squash and lettuce, some banana peppers and one or two slicing cucumbers, and last evening, the Texas Gal spent about an hour in the near garden, pulling the first rounds of green and wax beans. The wax beans didn’t quite fill a bowl that I estimate at about five quarts, while the green beans topped their bowl by about a quart.

Then, as we ate dinner with the beans bagged and waiting in the refrigerator, we got a call: The half-bushel of small pickling cucumbers that the Texas Gal had ordered were available. So this morning as she headed off to the farmers’ market downtown, I pulled canning and pickling equipment and supplies from the fruit cellar and washed and cleaned those things that needed washing and cleaning.

As I write, the Texas Gal is washing and cutting green beans with the wax beans soon to follow. Some will be canned and some will be frozen and some few, I imagine, will end up on tonight’s dinner table, accompanying three ribeye steaks that are currently thawing and have a date with our new broiler pan this evening.

And tomorrow, the kitchen here will turn into the Thirteenth Avenue Pickling Plant, as the half-bushel of small cukes is processed into jars of kosher dills, polish dills and perhaps a few hot mustard dill pickles.

Beyond this weekend, we will see more green and wax beans, more zucchini, yellow squash and cucumbers, many more peppers and many tomatoes, some cabbages and eggplants and a good supply of herbs. By the end of August, as the picking, canning and pickling season begins to draw to an ending, we’ll be well tired of all of it, the Texas Gal more than I, certainly. After all, she is the gardener and canner, and I am only the helper (and more comfortable helping in the kitchen than in the dirt).

But those are our roles, and for what must be the seventh year now, we shall see how our gardens grow.

And here’s a tune I’m certain I’ve shared here before, and probably in this context, but it’s been a few years, and it still works. That’s why Genya Ravan’s cover of Derek & The Dominos “Keep On Growing,” from her 1973 album, They Love Me, They Love Me Not, is today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 453

Saturday, July 4th, 2015

It’s Independence Day here in the U.S., a day that’s become the occasion for picnics, barbecues and fireworks, all taking place, maybe, without much thought about the day’s historical import. I imagine, though, there are still towns and cities where there might be a public reading of the Declaration of Independence, the document adopted by the Continental Congress in Philadelphia 239 years ago today.

That document made the case for political freedom and, at least implicitly, the personal freedoms that followed. (It was, of course, all much more complex than that simple sentence seems to imply, but I’m not going to get into a political science lecture here. Just nod your head and follow along.)

And as I dug through the digital files this morning for a tune for Independence Day, I came across “On The Road To Freedom” by Alvin Lee and Mylon Lefevre. It was personal freedom and personal realization – things difficult to attain without political freedom at the base – that Lee was writing about and thinking about when the song became the title tune for their very good 1973 album:

I’m on the road to freedom
On the road to love
Yonder can you see them
Who they’re thinking of

I met a rich man on the road
He told me where to go
To get my hands upon some gold
But I still answered no
’Cause freedom waits for me ahead
Your gold will slow me down
I smiled as I walked on my way
And left him with a frown

I’m on the road to freedom
On the road to love
Yonder can you see them
Who they’re thinking of

I met an old man on the road
His eyes were clear and wise
Can you direct me on my way
To where the answer lies
I’m looking for the road to freedom
So I can be free
He said keep thinking as you walk
And one day you will see

I’m on the road to freedom
On the road to truth
Yonder can you see them
Wasting precious youth

I’m on the road to freedom
On the road to love
Yonder can you see them
Who they’re thinking of

I thought as I walked down the road
Of what the man had said
It seems to me that what he meant
Is freedom’s in your head
The road I walk along is time
It’s measured out in hours
And now I need not rush along
I stop to see the flowers
Stop to smell the flowers

And that link between political freedom and personal freedom and realization is what makes “On The Road To Freedom” a good choice for an Independence Day Saturday Single.

(Personnel on the track: Alvin Lee on vocals, bass, guitar and background vocals; Mylon Lefevre on background vocals and percussion; Steve Winwood on piano; Jim Capaldi on drums; Rebop on congas.)

‘Monday Morning Rolls Around . . .’

Monday, June 29th, 2015

I have no idea how Bill Wilson’s 1973 album, Ever Changing Minstrel, found its way onto the digital shelves here. Somewhere in my wanderings through blogworld, I came across it and thought it sounded interesting. Certainly, the tale of its origins, as told a few years ago by Rob Nichols at Indianapolis-based NUVO, is intriguing:

One night in February of 1973, Indiana folk rock legend Bill Wilson was a 25 year-old musician looking for a break. So he drove to Nashville and knocked on the kitchen door of producer Bob Johnston, the guy who had produced Bob Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited and Blonde on Blonde albums, and Johnny Cash’s At Folsom Prison and “I Walk the Line” records.

What happened after that is murky, beautiful and puzzling.

According to the liner notes of Wilson’s debut album, Johnston answered the door to find Wilson standing there, saying “I’m Bill Wilson and I want to make a record.”

“Well, you came to the wrong house,” Johnson answered. “You can’t just show up and make a fucking record.”

“Will you listen to one song?” asked Wilson.

“One song,” said Johnston.

A Vietnam vet who hung around in the Austin scene, Wilson’s spark must have been evident to Johnston, because the producer let the singer in, allowed him to play 12 songs, and as legend has it – there are no official notes that confirm it – rounded up many of the guys who played on Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde to record Ever Changing Minstrel in one night.

The album was re-released on CD by Tompkins Square a couple of years ago, and that’s likely what I came across as I clicked my way through blogs one day. The album’s closing track, “Monday Morning Strangers,” popped up this morning as I looked for a Monday song, and I’m glad it did. The track, Nichols wrote, “pulls out a ‘sleepy sidewalk pushes on’ line . . . with the loneliness of Sunday replaced by a ‘whenever Monday morning rolls around.’ Added bonus: the track contains one of the juiciest Allman Brothers-like guitar solos unearthed in a long time.”

Wilson never knew his debut album – he recorded a few more after Ever Changing Minstrel – was re-released; he passed on, Nichols notes, in 1993.

So, here, as part of our occasional Monday Morning series, is Bill Wilson’s “Monday Morning Strangers.

Six At Random

Friday, June 5th, 2015

I’m gonna fire up the iPod and let it do the work this morning. Many of the 2,000 or so tunes in the device are familiar, but sometimes the familiar tends to get ignored around here. So off we go:

First up is “Be Easy” by Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, a 2007 joint that, like most of Jones’ catalog, sounds as if it could have come out of Memphis forty years earlier. The track comes from 100 Days, 100 Nights, Jones’ third release and the first one I ever heard. Six of her albums with the Dap-Kings are on the shelves here along with a couple of one-off recordings. One of those one-offs, a cover of the First Edition’s 1967 hit, “Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In),” caught the ear of my pal Schultz when he was here a few weeks ago, and he spent a few moments jotting down the titles of Jones’ CDs for future reference.

Then we jump back in time to 1971, when Ten Years After’s “I’d Love To Change The World” went to No. 40. When this one popped up on the car radio a couple of years ago, I wrote, “I was once again bemused by the ‘Tax the rich, feed the poor, until there are no rich no more’ couplet. I also considered – not for the first time – about how unacceptable the reference to ‘dykes and fairies’ would be today. Social change happens glacially, but it does happen.” Even with those considerations, it’s still a pretty good record.

And we do get some Memphis R&B: “If You’re Ready (Come Go With Me)” by the Staple Singers from 1973. The slightly funky and sometimes propulsive record went to No. 9, one of three Top Ten hits for the singers, and it spent three weeks at No. 1 on the R&B chart. I didn’t really get the Staple Singers back then – too much other stuff crowding my ears, I guess – but they’re well-represented these days on both the vinyl and digital files, and “If You’re Ready” is one of my favorite tracks of theirs.

From there, we head into the mid-1990s and find a cover of Billie Holliday’s version of “I Don’t Stand a Ghost of a Chance (With You)” as performed by the late Etta James. The track comes from James’ 1994 album Mystery Lady – Songs of Billie Holiday. I can’t find any fault with the song selection, with the classic pop arrangements on the album, or with James’ performances, but there’s something about the entire project that leaves me a little cold. It’s a little odd: It’s like the parts are all fine but just don’t fit together. “I Don’t Stand . . .” is probably the best track on the album, and it’s nice and all, but ultimately kind of empty. That one may not stay on the iPod too much longer.

Somewhere along the line, I came across a huge pile of work by the late Lee Hazlewood, ranging from the early 1960s all the way to 2006, a year before his death. One of the more idiosyncratic folks in the pop music world, Hazlewood kind of fascinates me. And this morning, we get Hazlewood and Ann-Margret gender-flipping and covering Waylon Jennings’ No. 2 country hit from 1968 with “Only Mama That’ll Walk The Line” from the 1969 album The Cowboy & The Lady. Despite my affection for Hazlewood’s work, the limp performance by Ann-Margret means that this is another track that’s likely not going to remain long in the iPod. Linda Ronstadt’s superior version from the same year is already in the device, and that one should be the only one I need.

And we close with one of my favorite melancholy tracks, “Scudder’s Lane,” by the New Jersey band From Good Homes. Found on the group’s 1993 album, Hick-Pop Comin’ At Ya!, the song tells a tale familiar and yet unique. I’ve posted the lyrics here before, but they’re worth another look:

Scudder’s Lane

me and lisa used to run thru the night
thru the fields off scudder’s lane
we’d lay down and look up at the sky
and feel the breeze, thru the trees
and I’d often wonder
how long would it take
to ride or fly to the dipper in the sky

as I drove back into hainesville
I was thinking of the days
when my dreams went on forever
as I ran thru the fields off scudder’s lane

I stayed with my love lisa
thru the darkness of her days
she walked into the face of horror
and I followed in her wake
and I often wonder
how much does it take
’til you’ve given all the love
That’s in your heart
and there’s nothing in its place

as I drove back into hainesville
I was thinking of the days
when my dreams went on forever
as I ran thru the fields off scudder’s lane

i’m afraid of the momentum
that can take you to the edge of a cliff
where you look out and see nothing
and you ask
it that all there is

still I drove back out of hainesville
and I asked myself again will there ever come a day
when you drive back home to stay
could you ever settle down and be a happy man
in one of the houses that they’re building thru the fields
off scudder’s lane

‘I’m Doin’ Fine Now . . .’

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2015

Hi and welcome back! Garden Week is over, and we have plenty of small plants and seeds in the two gardens ready to do their things, given enough sunlight and water over the next eight to twelve weeks: Tomatoes, squash, zucchini, cucumbers, peppers (mostly sweet), eggplant, onions, lettuce, green and wax beans, black-eyed peas and maybe more that I can’t think of at the moment.

Along with gardening work, we managed to try the ribs and beans from Smokin’ D’s, a new barbecue place in Sauk Rapids, the little burg just north of here. The verdict was split: The Texas Gal, true to her roots, prefers the ribs from Dickey’s, which originated in Dallas, while I like both the ribs and the beans from Smokin’ D’s a little more.

We also took in a movie, using a gift card someone gave us to watch good portions of California being destroyed in San Andreas. What did we get? A clichéd plot, which we expected. Indifferent acting, which was not surprising. And great special effects, which is exactly what the movie promised.

That brings us up to date, as we sit here on June 2, with the summer underway (in a cultural sense; the solstice will arrive on June 21). And in search of an idea, I pulled up the Billboard Hot 100 from June 2, 1973, when I was working at St. Cloud State, spending my mornings doing maintenance on audio-visual equipment all over the campus and my afternoons as a janitor in the Education Building.

The top ten forty-two weeks ago, as I washed projector lenses in the morning and blackboards in the afternoon, was:

“My Love” by Paul McCartney & Wings
“Daniel” by Elton John
“Frankenstein” by the Edgar Winter Group
“Pillow Talk” by Sylvia
“Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round The Ole Oak Tree” by Dawn Featuring Tony Orlando
“You Are The Sunshine Of My Life” by Stevie Wonder
“I’m Gonna Love You Just A Little More Baby” by Barry White
“Little Willy” by the Sweet
“Hocus Pocus” by Focus
“Playground In My Mind” by Clint Holmes

Boy, that’s a long way from being a great Top Ten; none of those are records I’d request to hear on the radio, either then or now, and several of them – the records by Sylvia, Dawn, the Sweet and Clint Holmes – are guaranteed to make me find another station.

But maybe I’d have turned on the radio and found something from the next ten, which would have made for a much better bit of listening:

“Drift Away” by Dobie Gray
“Reeling In The Years” by Steely Dan
“Wildflower” by Skylark
“Give Me Love (Give Me Peace On Earth)” by George Harrison
“Stuck In The Middle With You” by Stealers Wheel
“Right Place Wrong Time” by Dr. John
“Steamroller Blues/Fool” by Elvis Presley
“I’m Doin’ Fine Now” by New York City
“Will It Go Round In Circles” by Billy Preston
“Thinking Of You” by Loggins & Messina

The record that jumps out of there for me, oddly, is “I’m Doin’ Fine Now” by New York City. I probably didn’t hear it as frequently as I heard the rest of that second ten, and I know it’s gotten much less play on oldies radio over the years than most of the rest of that bunch (along with, I would guess, the Elvis sides). But I liked it, and I recall the slight burst of satisfaction in March 1999 when the Harlem-based group’s album – also titled I’m Doin’ Fine Now – popped up in the new arrivals at Cheapo’s just a few blocks from my South Minneapolis apartment.

Did the album track sound as good in 1999 as the single had coming out of the radio twenty-six years earlier? Well, yes, mostly because it and most of the records in that second ten from June 2, 1973, offer the sound of that summer as well as any group of records I can think of. (There are a few I might add, but not many.) The single went one more spot up the chart, peaking at No. 17 (and at No. 14 on the R&B chart). It was by far the best-performing single the group ever had: four more were in or near the Hot 100, but none of them went higher than No. 79.

And you know, it still sounds pretty good today.