Archive for the ‘1975’ Category

A Stop In 1975

Thursday, May 16th, 2019

We’re going to scan the digital shelves here today and play around in 1975, checking out five tracks from that long-gone but fondly remembered year. We’ve got a little more than 1,800 tracks to play with, so we’ll sort them by time, put the cursor in the middle of the column, and go.

Our first stop is a track titled “Thirty-Piece Band” by guitarist and singer Ellen McIlwaine from her third album, The Real Ellen McIlwaine. Recorded in Montreal and released on the Canadian Kot’ai label – after her first two albums came out on Polydor – the album is generally a decent mix of covers and originals. She’s not well-known – never having hit any chart that I’ve ever seen – but her records from the 1960s and 1970s were nice additions to a collection. According to Wikipedia, she released a couple albums in Japan in the early 2000s. “Thirty-Piece Band” is two-and-a-half minutes of churning solo guitar work topped off in the middle by some vamping and less than coherent lyrics. It’s not one of McIlwaine’s best moments.

On we go, landing on Linda Ronstadt’s “Hey Mister, That’s Me Up On The Jukebox” from Prisoner In Disguise, an album that went to No. 4 in the Billboard 200 after being released in September 1975. Ronstadt’s cover of James Taylor’s 1971 album track has always been my favorite track from Prisoner; her restrained vocal and the light steel guitar are far more effective than anything else on the album, including the hits (“Love Is A Rose,” “The Tracks Of My Tears” and “Heat Wave”). From this point on (with just a few exceptions), Ronstadt seemed a lot more vehement and got a lot less interesting.

The late Larry Jon Wilson pops up here from time to time with his southern wit. This time, it’s “The Truth Ain’t In You” from his debut album New Beginnings. A mostly spoken tale of an early 1960s college-age pursuit of a young woman, the track rambles on nicely, winding around three times to the chorus: “You don’t love Jesus and the truth ain’t in you.” Fun, like much of Wilson’s work was.

In 1975, Gordon Lightfoot followed up the mega-success of 1974’s Sundown – buoyed by two Top Ten singles (“Sundown” and “Carefree Highway”), the album was No. 1 for two weeks during the summer of 1974 – with Cold On The Shoulder, an album similar in approach but, to my ears, less distinctive. Part of that judgment, certainly might be that I know Sundown better, having listened to it more frequently. The tune we fall on today is “Now & Then” from Cold On The Shoulder. It’s your basic softer Lightfoot song, a tuneful reverie of love now gone that slips on occasion into cliché, backed with chiming guitars and perhaps a few too many strings. Pleasant listening, but not as satisfying as his best work.

Albert Hammond has popped up here from time to time, at least once for his hit “It Never Rains In Southern California” and one other time for his “99 Miles From L.A.” Today, we get “Lay The Music Down” from the 99 Miles From L.A. album. A song of lost love told in the context of musicians and their songs, “Lay The Music Down” is backed, says Stephen Thomas Erlewine of AllMusic, by “mild disco rhythms.” I don’t get that, but okay. It’s a decent track but no more than that.

Saturday Single No. 635

Saturday, March 30th, 2019

I didn’t sleep well, unaided by cats who demanded breakfast at 7 a.m., and my back hurts this morning, more than it has for some time.

I’m in a cranky mood. None of the 77,000-some tracks in the RealPlayer have the word “cranky” either in their titles, their album titles or their notes. This increases the cranky quotient.

The word “back,” however, brings up more than 1,400 results. Some of them – as is usual with a RealPlayer search – must be discarded, as they contain the word “backing” in their listing or they link to an album, like the Bible’s Walking The Ghost Back Home (1986). Stuff like that.

In addition, many of the titles in the search results refer to “go back” or “come back” or similar usages, not to “back” as a body part. But there are a few tracks I can pull to offer something back-related to listen to this morning.

And we find a track from an album I discovered in 1998, during my last year on Pleasant Avenue in South Minneapolis. “Get Off My Back” is on the self-titled 1975 album by a group called High Cotton. The information at discogs.com categorizes the band as Southern Rock and seems to indicate that the band never released another album. (A single, “Going Up To Get Down,” was pulled from the album; it was the group’s only released single.)

I recall having high hopes for the album and being vaguely disappointed with it, but twenty-plus years later, “Get Off My Back” sounds pretty good. Not world-beating, but good enough for a Saturday morning.

That’s why “Get Off My Back” from High Cotton’s 1975 self-titled album is today’s Saturday Single.

‘Kisses And A Tootsie Roll . . .’

Thursday, March 28th, 2019

The Beach Boys’ “Disney Girls (1957)” was the topic Saturday, and after talking about versions by the Beach Boys, Art Garfunkel and Cass Elliot, I noted that there were fifteen versions listed at Second Hand Songs. I actually meant to throw the word “additional” in there, as SHS lists eighteen takes of the Bruce Johnston tune. That’s been corrected now, and it’s a good time, I guess, to look at some of the covers of that purposefully nostalgic tune.

The first to take a stab at the tune after the Beach Boys (1971) and Cass Elliot (1972) were the Captain & Tennille, still a few years away from the huge success of “Love Will Keep Us Together.” They released “Disney Girls (1957)” as a B-Side to “The Way I Want To Touch You” three times, first on Butterscotch Castle 001, then on Joyce 101, then on A&M 1624. The latter two were released in 1974, based on what I see at discogs.com; I think the Butterscotch Castle release was in 1974, as well.

“The Way I Want To Touch You” was finally a hit on its fourth release, but by then its B-side was “Boddy Bounce,” and “Disney Girls” ended up as an album track on the duo’s first album Love Will Keep Us Together in 1975. Even for an exercise in nostalgia, it’s a little syrupy.

After that, Garfunkel covered the song, and covers came in the next few years from: Papa Doo Run Run, an L.A.-based band that specialized in covers of tunes by the Beach Boys and Jan & Dean; English singer Michael Crawford; the song’s writer himself, Bruce Johnston; MOR singer Jack Jones; and a number of artists whose names I do not recognize through the rest of the century and beyond, with Doris Day’s 2011 release and Mari Wilson’s cover a year later ending the train.

Day’s take is okay, a little breathy, and was recorded some years before the death of Day’s son (and producer) Terry Melcher in 2004. I don’t care for Wilson’s voice, at least not for “Disney Girls.” There’s a husky undertone that doesn’t seem to fit the song.

Johnston’s 1977 solo take is a stripped-down piano-backed version that doesn’t seem to go anywhere, and Jones’ version brings nothing special either.

So for something to listen to this morning, we’ll go back to the first version I heard: Garfunkel’s cover of the song on his 1975 album Breakaway, the version that started this minor exploration when it came out of the player here in the kitchen last week.

What’s At No. 100? (March 1975)

Thursday, March 14th, 2019

We’re going to look today at the record that sat at No. 100 in the Billboard Hot 100 as the Ides of March fell in 1975. But first, here’s the magazine’s Top Ten as of March 15, 1975, forty-four years ago tomorrow:

“Black Water” by the Doobie Brothers
“My Eyes Adored You” by Frankie Valli
“Lady Marmalade (Voulez-Vous Coucher Avec Moi)” by Lady Marmalade
“Have You Never Been Mellow” by Olivia Newton-John
“Lovin’ You” by Minnie Riperton
“Lady” by Styx
“Lonely People” by America
“Express” by B.T. Express
“I Can’t Get It Out Of My Head” by the Electric Light Orchestra
“Don’t Call Us, We’ll Call You” by Sugarloaf/Jerry Corbetta

Well, that’s a jumble. I mentioned my affection the other day for the Frankie Valli record, and the Lady Marmalade record was in my long-ago Ultimate Jukebox. I liked “Black Water,” probably giving it a few spins on the juke box at St. Cloud State’s Atwood Center. The same is true for the Riperton single.

I found the Newton-John record pleasant and unoffensive, as was “Lonely People.” “I Can’t Get It Out Of My Head” was – and remains – an earworm of great magnitude; I don’t dislike it, but once I hear it, I hear it for the next twelve hours or so.

“Don’t Call Us . . .” was a gimmick I did not like, and I have never, ever liked anything by Styx. I just don’t like the sound of the band. Finally, I do not recall “Express” at all, and having listened to it this morning, all I can do is shrug and say, “Yeah, that sounds like a slice of 1975.”

So how many of those are in my current listening (based on the 3,900-some tracks in the iPod)? Five of them: The top three and the entries by America, because of a later association, not my 1975 reaction to the tune, and, surprisingly, ELO. (It’s still an earworm.) I might add “Have You Never Been Mellow” to the mix.

And now, let’s answer the question at the top of the post. Heading to the bottom of the Hot 100, we find a Joe Walsh single that I doubt that I have heard until this morning: “Turn To Stone.” It’s certainly not familiar.

(I have to admit that when I saw the title, I wondered about the ELO record of the same title. Whoever transcribed the many years’ worth of Hot 100s to Notepad made a few errors along the way. But, as many out there knew already, this is an entirely different record.)

And it’s one I wish I’d heard (or heard more frequently than I did) forty-four years ago. It’s got power, it’s serious (as opposed to a lot of Walsh’s winking solo work), and – according to Joel Whitburn’s Top Pop Singles – it’s got Eagles Don Henley, Glen Frey and Randy Meisner on backing vocals.

I like it a lot, and as it ran this morning, I had a vague thought that might seem weird, but the sound of Walsh’s “Turn To Stone” reminded me a lot of some of the tracks on Wishbone Ash’s 1972 album Argus.

“Turn To Stone” didn’t do so well on the charts. By the time we catch up to it at No. 100, it was in its third week in the Hot 100 and had peaked at No. 93. It was re-released in 1979 and bubbled under the Hot 100 for one week at No. 109.

What’s At No. 100? (12-20-75)

Thursday, December 20th, 2018

Here are the top ten records from the Billboard Hot 100 from December 20, 1975, forty-three years ago today:

“That’s The Way (I Like It)” by K.C. & The Sunshine Band.
“Let’s Do It Again” by the Staple Singers
“Fly, Robin, Fly” by the Silver Convention
“Saturday Night” by the Bay City Rollers
“Love Rollercoaster” by the Ohio Players
“Theme from ‘Mahogany’” by Diana Ross
“Sky High” by Jigsaw
“I Write The Songs” by Barry Manilow
“Fox On The Run” by Sweet
“Nights On Broadway” by the Bee Gees

Our first note here is that for reasons of spacing, I’ve trimmed the title of the Diana Ross single, leaving off its parenthetical “(Do You Know Where You’re Going To).”

Beyond that, this is a very mixed bag. By this time in 1975, I was in the third week of interning at a Twin Cities television station, so on workdays, my radio listening was minimal: morning and afternoon drive time and perhaps in the evening if my roommate – a school portrait photographer who worked the northwestern portion of the Twin Cities – and I could agree on a station. He liked the harder-edged album rock of KQRS, while I preferred the softer adult contemporary sounds of KSTP-FM or WCCO-FM. We usually just watched television on weekday evenings.

So some of those records in that Top Ten, I didn’t know as well. As an example, the chart I’m looking at shows “Fox On The Run” as having been in the Hot 100 for six weeks. For the last three of those weeks, my listening was limited; for the first three of those weeks, the record was climbing the chart and I wouldn’t have heard it very often. And, as it turns out, that’s my least favorite record among those ten. I didn’t care about it then, and I don’t care about it now.

Beyond “Fox,” three other records in that Top Ten didn’t matter to me back then, even though I had heard them fairly frequently: “Saturday Night,” “Love Rollercoaster” and “I Write The Songs.” (I think that lots of folks then and now look at the Manilow single as one of the worst of all time. I don’t. I thought then and think now that the record’s idea was interesting but its lyrics were clumsy. And I can think of many singles that I dislike a great deal more.)

The other six records, though, I liked pretty well, even the early disco of Silver Convention and K.C. & The Sunshine Band. Both of them are worthy of current day listening (as measured by being in the 3,900 or so tracks on my iPod). The Silver Convention record is a potent reminder of a beautiful (and important) autumn. It’s a little monotonous, but a listen now and then is fine. The same goes for “That’s The Way (I Like It).”

The final four records – those by Diana Ross, Jigsaw, the Staple Singers and the Bee Gees – are also among the 3,900 in the iPod and they’re going to stay there. They are not only reminders of that sweet time in my life, but they’re great records as well.

But enough about that. Let’s drop deeper in that long-ago chart and see what resides on the very last rung.

And we find a record from an early rock & roll star who became a huge country star. He’s been mentioned here just four times and never featured over the course of nearly twelve years and about 2,200 posts. Parked at No. 100 forty-three years ago today was “Don’t Cry Joni” by Conway Twitty. The record – featuring Twitty’s daughter, Joni Lee – would spend another six weeks in the Hot 100, climbing to No. 63. As might be expected, it did appreciably better on the magazine’s country chart, peaking at No. 4.

Interestingly, it was the last time Twitty would put a single into the Hot 100 (or its Bubbling Under addendum). During the late 1950s and early 1960s, Twitty had been a regular presence on the pop chart, putting sixteen singles in or near the chart, with three of them hitting the Top Ten. Unquestionably, his greatest success had been “It’s Only Make Believe,” which spent two weeks at No. 1 in November 1958.

And then there was a second act. After “Portrait Of A Fool” stalled at No. 98 in early 1962, Twitty was gone from the pop chart for more than eight years. During that time, says Joel Whitburn in Top Pop Singles, Twitty switched his focus from rock & roll to country. (Whitburn dates the shift to 1965.) The country hits began to pile up (forty of them going to No. 1 between 1968 and 1986, if I counted correctly), and some crossed over to the pop chart.

From the summer of 1970 (“Hello Darlin’,” No. 1 country, No. 60 pop) into early 1976, when “Don’t Cry Joni” went to No. 63, Twitty put nine more records into the Hot 100. The best performing of those was “You’ve Never Been This Far Before,” which went to No. 22 (No. 1 country) in 1973.

But what about “Don’t Cry Joni”? That is how we got here. Well, it’s a pretty little first-person record about Jimmy and the younger girl who lives next door, Joni. The tale – about the choices the two make – is predictable, the backing is monotonous, and Twitty’s daughter, Joni Lee, doesn’t have a strong enough voice for her part. It’s interesting, I guess, but in the end not much more than a trifle.

Happy Labor Day!

Monday, September 3rd, 2018

I wasn’t in the world of work long compared to most of my contemporaries, just until I was 49, when some major health issues confronted me. And – except for some janitorial work the summer after high school – I never did much manual labor. My work came at a desk or in front of a classroom.

So Labor Day isn’t really mine. It belongs to the folks who work harder jobs than I ever had, and to the people who organized the unions, giving time and sometimes blood to help working folks thrive.

Here’s “Union Man” by the Cate Brothers. It went to No. 24 in 1975.

Well, it’s six a.m., I’m out on the job
Working like a fool for my pay
A big man walks by with a smile
Says you got to go on strike today

Hey, hey, Mr. Union Man
How am I gonna pay my dues?
Or the landlord or the doctor?
How am I getting new shoes?

Well, I know I need to help to get that raise
There’s one thing I don’t like
Tell me how can I feed my hungry family
If you say I’m going on strike

Hey, hey, Mr. Union Man
How am I gonna pay my dues?
Owe more money than I can pay
Looks like I’m bound to lose

Well, I don’t see how I’m going to get ahead
Seem like there ain’t no way
Well, he said don’t worry, ’cause I understand
Won’t you try to see things my way?

Hey, hey, Mr. Union Man
Thank you for the helping hand
Hey, hey, Mr. Union Man
So glad you understand

One Chart Dig: June 1975

Tuesday, June 19th, 2018

Here’s the Billboard Top Ten from its June 21, 1975, edition:

“Love Will Keep Us Together” by the Captain & Tennille
“When Will I Be Loved/It Doesn’t Matter Anymore” by Linda Ronstadt
“Wildfire” by Michael (Martin) Murphey
“I’m Not Lisa” by Jessi Colter
“Love Won’t Let Me Wait” by Major Harris
“Sister Golden Hair” by America
“The Hustle” by Van McCoy & the Soul City Symphony
“Get Down, Get Down (Get On The Floor)” by Joe Simon
“Listen To What The Man Said” by Paul McCartney & Wings
“Cut The Cake” by the Average White Band

Well, any top ten that has two of my all-time favorite summer records is going to be well-received here. “Wildfire” and “I’m Not Lisa” are among the most potent sounds from that summer, which – as has been well-chronicled here – was the best summer of my college years and one of the most fondly remembered summers of my life. As I wrote here nearly five years ago:

[They] play in memory from the boothside jukebox at the Country Kitchen: “Wildfire” by Michael Martin Murphey and “I’m Not Lisa” by Jessi Colter. Same night? Same companion across the booth? Yes and yes.

There are only a couple of misfires in that top ten. I’ve never been fond of the Ronstadt records; I like “It Doesn’t Matter Anymore” more than the other, and that tells me that I preferred Ronstadt when she did the softer stuff. I can take or leave the Average White Band single, and I never heard the Joe Simon often enough that summer to have an opinion.

I’ve never written much about America, but “Sister Golden Hair” is a pretty good record, despite some lyrical oddities, which were almost a trademark of the band. I picked up a greatest hits CD at a garage sale a couple of weeks ago, and I was reminded how good many of the band’s hits were. And those lyrical oddities? Well, I used to forgive the same type of thing when I listened to the Bee Gees way back when, so who am I to complain?

As has been our habit here recently, we’re going to roll the dice and see what’s lurking at the very bottom of that Hot 100 from forty-three years ago. And at No. 100, we find Travis Wammack’s “(Shu-Doo-Pa-Poo-Poop) Love Being Your Fool.”

In Top Pop Singles, Joel Whitburn reminds us that the Memphis-born Wammack was a prolific session guitarist for the FAME studios in Muscle Shoals. His first charting record, “Scratchy,” was released when he was seventeen. (Whitburn notes that it was an instrumental version of Mel Torme’s 1962 hit “Comin’ Home Baby.”) Altogether, Wammack had six singles either reach the Hot 100 or bubble under. “(Shu-Doo-Pa-Poo-Poop) Love Being Your Fool” was the most successful of the six, peaking at No. 38.

Does “(Shu-Doo-Pa-Poo-Poop) Love Being Your Fool” make me want to go out and find Not For Sale, the 1975 Capricorn album from which it came? Not really. But it’s a fun listen with some great drums.

Some Friday Songs

Friday, June 8th, 2018

When I sort the 72,000 tracks in the RealPlayer for “Friday,” the returns are not encouraging: I get twenty-two tracks. Two of them are set aside immediately: They’re performances of “Remedy” and “Willie McTell” by The Band during 1994 on the NBC show Friday Night Videos.

The other twenty tracks, however, provide an interesting mix, though I think we’ll pass by the theme from the television show Friday Night Lights by W.G. “Snuffy” Walden. So what we’ll do is sort the other nineteen tracks by their running time, set the cursor in the middle of the stack and find four tracks.

And we start with a churning, loping and somewhat dissonant boogie decorated by one of those odd lyrical excursions typical of Steely Dan: “Black Friday” from the 1975 album Katy Lied:

When Black Friday comes
I fly down to Muswellbrook
Gonna strike all the big red words
From my little black book

Gonna do just what I please
Gonna wear no socks and shoes
With nothing to do but feed
All the kangaroos

When Black Friday comes I’ll be on that hill
You know I will

I’m not an expert on Steely Dan, though I enjoy the group’s music almost any time I hear it and recognize the skill and talent on display. But the artistic visions of Walter Becker and Donald Fagen almost always leave me a little off-kilter, as if – to use an idea I think I’ve expressed at other times describing other artists – I’m suddenly living in a world of eighty-nine degree angles.

The first moments of the next track are oddly similar to “Black Friday,” but then the tune slides into the familiar jangly sound of “Friday On My Mind” by the Easybeats, a 1967 hit that peaked at No. 16 in the Billboard Hot 100. The tune has its own moments of dissonance as it tell the tale of a fellow enduring another week of work or school, looking for the weekend so he can get to the city and spend time with his gal: “She’s so pretty!”

So were the Easybeats a one-hit wonder? It depends on how you define the term. I’ve seen some chartheads define a one-hit wonder as a group that had only one record reach the Hot 100. I tend to think that’s a bit stringent, and use the qualifier of only one hit in the Top 40. Why discuss that here? Because the Easybeats had one other record in the Hot 100: a 1969 release titled “St. Louis” that spent one week at No. 100 and then dropped off the chart.

By my terms, then, the Easybeats – who hailed from Sydney, Australia – are definitely a one-hit wonder. Their hit is a record I’m not particularly fond of, but there it was at No. 16 during the spring of 1967.

Larry Jon Wilson, who died in 2010, was a Southern storyteller whose songs never seemed to hurry, even when they clipped right along. “Friday Night Fight At Al’s” fits into that style very well. I found it on an album titled Testifying: The Country Soul Revue, a 2004 sampler put out in the United Kingdom by the Casual Records label. (Among the other artists on the album were Tony Joe White, Bonnie Bramlett and Dan Penn.)

The track starts with Wilson’s laconic explanation that Al’s Beer Depot was a bar out near the bomb factory, a place where he went for a banquet one Friday when things went as they normally did at Al’s:

The Friday night fights at Al’s place: The situation was grim and I was forced to face
The extreme possibility of no one ever seein’ me alive again
When the night was over, chairs are busted, tables are flyin’
Get me out of here, Jesus, I’m afraid of dyin’
It’s the Friday night fights at Al’s place . . . We didn’t have no referee

Wilson’s body of work is a little thin: Four albums between 1975 and 1979, another in 2008, and a few other things here and there, two of which are included on Testifying. I like his stuff a lot.

Our fourth stop today brings us the Tulsa sound of the late J.J. Cale, a shuffling tune titled simply “Friday,” a track from a 1979 album titled, with equal simplicity, 5. I’ve loved Cale’s work since I came across his first album, Naturally, back in 1972, a year after it came out. There is a sameness to his work, yes, but it’s a comfortable sameness, if that makes any sense.

In any case, just lean back and listen to “Friday.”

Back In ’75

Wednesday, 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.

‘Where’

Wednesday, September 20th, 2017

Today, we’re going to open our textbook and take on the third portion of a project we’re calling Journalism 101, looking for tracks that have the word “where” in their titles. And it has to be a stand-alone word; “nowhere,” “somewhere,” “anywhere” and all the other possible compound words won’t cut it.

The first run through the RealPlayer nets us 947 tracks. But we lose a number of entire albums (except, in some cases, the title tracks): Where It All Begins by the Allman Brothers Band, Come To Where I’m From by Joseph Arthur, Where Is Love by Bobby Caldwell, Eva Cassidy’s Somewhere, Judy Collins’ Who Knows Where The Time Goes, Somewhere My Love by Ray Conniff & The Singers, Bo Diddley’s Where It All Began, and that just gets us into the D’s with so much more of the alphabet to go until we run into Bobby Womack’s Home Is Where The Heart Is.

Lots of titles with those compound words are culled as well, including six versions of “Somewhere My Love.” (I also have ten versions of the tune under the title “Lara’s Theme.”) We also lose four versions of Neil Young’s “Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere,” twelve versions of the Beatles’ “Here, There & Everywhere,” five versions of “Somewhere In The Night,” and more that I won’t list here.

But there are still plenty of titles to choose from, so let’s look at four:

There are a few records that bring back viscerally the last months of 1975 and the first of 1976, and Diana Ross’ “Theme From Mahogany (Do You Know Where You’re Going To)” is one of them. Those months were my last as an undergrad; I was an intern in sports at a Twin Cities television station, with graduation quickly approaching (and no job prospects in sight). I was also in a relationship that seemed promising, but I was nevertheless very aware of the not so subtle hints being laid down by the lovely redhead who was interning in the station’s promotions department. So, to answer the record’s question, no, I had no idea where I was going to. But it wasn’t the lyrics that pulled me into the song; it was the twisting, yearning melody that caught me then and still does today (with current hearings all the more potent for the memories they stir). Whether for the melody or the words, the record caught many people as 1975 turned into 1976: It went to No. 1 on both the Billboard 100 and the magazine’s Easy Listening chart, and it reached No. 14 on the magazine’s R&B chart.

More than six years ago, I looked at Oscar Brown’s song “Brother Where Are You” and wrote:

The tune is familiar to me – and others of my vintage, I assume – because of its inclusion by Johnny Rivers in his 1968 masterpiece Realization. In those environs, the song became less a plaint about racial injustice and more a call for economic and political justice. (It was, of course, not uncommon in the late 1960s and early 1970s for young, socially aware white men to call each other “brother” with no irony and little self-consciousness.)

That post (you can read it here) gave a listen to the first version recorded of the song – Abbey Lincoln’s take from her 1959 album Abbey is Blue – and to a few other versions as well, including Rivers’ cover. Sorting through the eleven versions of the tune here on the digital shelves, I’ve decided to offer the one I found most recently: Marlena Shaw’s typically eccentric version, released in 1967 on the Cadet label. From what I can find, it made no chart noise at all.

Thinking, as we were, of records that define seasons, as soon as the list of “where” tunes got to “Where Is The Love” by Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway, I was back in the summer of 1972, working half-time as a custodian at St. Cloud State, taking long bicycle rides on Saturday evening, driving idly around town in my 1961 Falcon with Rick as a passenger, and wondering when I was going to meet someone. I doubt if I heard the record as a cautionary tale, advising me that love was hard and not always permanent, but if that thought had ever crossed my mind, I likely would have thought in response, “But even lost love is better than no love.” (I learned years ago that such a thought is better left to songwriters and poets than to anyone in real life.) The record was everywhere that summer, going to No. 5 on the Hot 100 and topping both the R&B and Easy Listening charts.

And lastly we’ll turn to Cat Stevens’ brilliant 1970 album, Tea For The Tillerman. “But tell me,” Stevens sings in the first track, “where do the children play?” It’s a rhetorical question, of course, but it’s one that I think runs with resignation through the entire album, through “Sad Lisa,” “On The Road To Findout,” “Father & Son” and all the rest. At least that’s what I hear these days. Back in 1971, when I heard “Wild World” on the radio and caught up with the rest of the album over the next few years, the lost loves, the fragile women, the quests for place and knowledge all seemed so utterly romantic. Perhaps the resignation I hear is only the echo of being sixty-four, with eighteen so far in the past as to be unknowable. In any event, “Where Do The Children Play” is still lovely and forever haunting.