Archive for the ‘1975’ Category

A January Tale

Wednesday, January 27th, 2021

I was sitting at my desk the other day, watching the snow fall outside, when the RealPlayer offered up a Roberta Flack tune. That reminded me of this piece, which originally ran in January 2008. I’ve polished it a bit, and the ending is different.

It was a snowy late afternoon in January 1975, and I was at The Table in the student union at Minnesota’s St. Cloud State. Most of the folks who spent their between-classes time at The Table had already headed out into the snow. The only other regular remaining was Laura, a woman who’d joined us during autumn after moving to St. Cloud from a city about sixty miles north.

I don’t recall what we were talking about that afternoon. It could have been my health – I’d been in a serious auto accident in October. Or we might have been discussing her progress in disentangling herself both legally and emotionally from her marriage to an abusive husband (a circumstance commonly mentioned today but one that was not much talked about in 1975). Whatever it was, we were intent on the topic. I knew, however, that it would soon be dinnertime at my parents’ house, and I needed to either go home or call them to say I wouldn’t be home for dinner.

My guess is that we’d been discussing her dilemmas, as I remember reading on her face that she was not keen on the idea of making her way to the house a few blocks away that she shared with, oh, maybe ten other women. So I dug a dime out of my pocket, walked to the phone on the wall a few feet away and told my folks to set another place at the table. Swaddled in winter garb, we headed out to the parking lot, where we cleared about three inches of snow from my car, and then we drove to the East Side.

I think my folks had met Laura before, most likely at the hospital after my accident, but even if they hadn’t, they greeted her warmly, as I knew they would. I don’t recall what we ate, but it was a pleasant meal. As dinner ended, Laura suggested we go for a quick drink at the Grand Mantel, the downtown bar where we and our friends frequently gathered. Sounded like a good idea, I told her, but there was still three inches of snow on the sidewalks – adjacent to the house and along Kilian Boulevard – and it needed to be cleared.

She offered to help. So we bundled up again and spent twenty minutes shoveling snow, with the streetlamp on the corner casting a honey-colored glow onto the snowy sidewalk and street, onto the snow that continued its leisurely descent to the ground, and onto us. When we were finished, we got into my old Falcon and headed across the river to the Grand Mantel, where there were only a few other folks taking refuge from a winter evening.

I don’t remember what we talked about as we sat there sipping drinks – Scotch and water, if I’m not mistaken – but we likely danced around the topic of whether the two of us were ever going to be a couple. I was still fragile in all ways from the auto accident, and she was still linked – however tenuously and unhappily – to another. So I’m certain we talked of other things and left the heavy issues to resolve themselves. But there was no denying the attraction.

Roberta Flack’s “Killing Me Softly With His Song” played on the bar’s sound system. She said, “That’s from the record I gave you, isn’t it?” I nodded. She’d given me Flack’s Killing Me Softly album while I was homebound in November. “The other song is on there, too, right?” And I nodded again.

She took a fountain pen out of her purse and grabbed one of the napkins on the table, with one of the four quadrants displaying the Grand Mantel’s name and logo. Carefully, she unfolded the napkin and wrote on an empty quadrant the opening words from that other song:

When you smile, I can see
You were born, born for me,
And for me you will be do or die.

She blew on the napkin to dry the ink, then folded it and gently tucked it in my shirt pocket. Not much later, we left. When I got home, I put the napkin in a shoebox I used for keepsakes, where it still is today.

The wish written on that napkin never came true. Laura and I remained friends through our college years and saw each other occasionally for about fifteen years after that, but we’ve since drifted apart, the way people sometimes do. The Roberta Flack LP is gone, too, but I’ve got the CD, and I listen to it sometimes. When I do, I almost always think about Laura.

The first time I ran this piece here, I closed with Flack’s “No Tears (In The End)” from that same 1973 album because I thought it had a better groove than “When You Smile.” It does, but I still should have closed with the song that Laura quoted. Here’s Roberta Flack’s “When You Smile.”

Saturday Single No. 721

Saturday, January 23rd, 2021

Earlier this week, we glanced at the top ten singles in the Billboard Hot 100 from January 25, 1975, and were decidedly unimpressed. I thought that today might be a good time to see if the top ten albums from that week made me feel any better. Here they are:

Greatest Hits by Elton John
Fire by the Ohio Players
Miles Of Aisles by Joni Mitchell
Dark Horse by George Harrison
Heart Like A Wheel by Linda Ronstadt
Relayer by Yes
Back Home Again by John Denver
AWB by the Average White Band
War Child by Jethro Tull
Goodnight Vienna by Ringo Starr

I look at that Top Ten, and I feel like I should find it interesting. I don’t. Six of those albums eventually found their ways onto my LP stacks over the years. The best was probably the Elton John album, but after years of listening to the hits and to the albums from which those hits came, I tend to think that a listener is better hearing the hits in their original settings nestled among very good album tracks (some of them better than the singles).

For various reasons, I never thought much of the Mitchell album, and the albums by the Ohio Players and the Average White Band also left me unmoved. Heart Like A Wheel was good, but not as good as other Ronstadt albums, so it stayed pretty much on the stacks, and Goodnight Vienna was mediocre Ringo.

When Dark Horse pops up in these kinds of things, I’m always surprised that I’ve never owned it. I like Harrison’s solo work, maybe more than I liked the solo work of the other Beatles, and there was a fair amount of Harrison’s stuff on the LP stacks before the Great Vinyl Sell-Off the other year. But not Dark Horse. And I’ve never bought the CD or even sought out a digital version of the album.

Which leaves the albums by Yes, Jethro Tull and John Denver, none of which I’ve ever owned. Maybe I’ve missed out on something over the years, but I paid no attention to those albums and little attention to Yes or Tull over the years. And I’ve resolutely ignored almost anything Denver released after 1971.

So, I owned none of those albums when this chart was published in 1975, and none of them has endeared me to itself over the years. (Am I grumpy as I write this on a cold and soon to be snowy Saturday? Perhaps.)

Well, sorting out what’s written here, if we ignore the Elton John hits album, the best thing in that Top Ten is the Ronstadt album. (I said it was good but not as good as other Ronstadts I had.) So, let’s dip into Heart Like A Wheel and pull out my favorite track. That would be Ronstadt’s cover of Lowell George’s “Willin’.” It’s today’s Saturday Single.

Chart Digging: January 1975

Wednesday, January 20th, 2021

Here’s the Top Ten of the Billboard Hot 100 from the fourth week of January 1975, released on January 25 that year:

“Please, Mr. Postman” by the Carpenters
“Laughter In The Rain” by Neil Sedaka
“Mandy” by Barry Manilow
“Fire” by the Ohio Players
“Boogie On, Reggae Woman” by Stevie Wonder
“You’re No Good/I Can’t Help It” by Linda Ronstadt
“One Man Woman/One Woman Man” by Paul Anka w/ Odia Coates
“Morning Side Of The Mountain” by Donny & Marie Osmond
“Never Can Say Goodbye” by Gloria Gaynor
“Pick Up The Pieces” by the Average White Band

Oh, my god. No wonder I was depressed that month.

Well, there were other reasons for my deep funk. I was still trying to put my life back together after my Halloween 1974 traffic accident (and I was not doing a very good job of it). But if that’s the music I was hearing as I skipped class and spent my days at The Table sipping bad coffee and pretty much chain-smoking Marlboro Lights, then the tunes were not likely helping my mood.

The best thing there is the Stevie Wonder single. Some folks will find virtues in the Ronstadt A-side that I have never heard. There are times when I enjoy the records from the Ohio Players, Gaynor and the Average White Band, but they’re not real frequent. (Of those three, the Gaynor is the best.)

I have no time at all for the records by the Carpenters, Anka/Coates or the Osmonds, and I can enjoy the Sedaka record on only very rare occasions.

Then there’s “Mandy,” which I swear we’d been hearing in the Atwood Center jukebox since mid-October, at least four weeks before it entered the Hot 100 in November. It got to No. 1 a week before the chart we’re examining today, where we found it at No. 3.

It’s an overly dramatic, trite and bathetic song and a bombastic record. And I loved it. I recall regularly dropping quarters in the snack bar jukebox for four records between the autumn of 1974 and spring 1975. They were “Life Is A Rock (But The Radio Rolled Me)” by Reunion, “We” by Shawn Phillips, “I Saw Her Standing There” as performed by John Lennon with Elton John (the flip side of Elton John’s “Philadelphia Freedom”), and “Mandy.”

I probably dropped more quarters for “Mandy” during that 1974-75 year than for any other record. And the thought of it this morning brings back potent bittersweet memories.

As we usually do, let’s see how many of those eleven records in the top of that chart are among my current day-to-day listening in my iPod.

Well, only one of them is included in the more than 2,800 tracks I carry around the house with me: The Stevie Wonder single.

Now, here is where I usually drop to the bottom of the chart, or somewhere in the middle, to find something more or less at random, something we’ve never (or rarely) heard in the nearly fourteen years this blog’s been throwing things at the wall. But a search of the 2,500-or-so posts in our history this morning told me that we’ve mentioned Barry Manilow’s “Mandy” twice and never posted it.

So here’s “Mandy.” Will I drop it into the iPod? I dunno.

Incorrect title changed after posting.

Saturday Single No. 715

Saturday, December 12th, 2020

“This is an odd phone call,” my sister said the other day. “I’m dis-inviting you two for Christmas dinner.”

It wasn’t unexpected. The Texas Gal and I had already decided that we were going stay home on Christmas. And it wasn’t distressing, either, to be dis-invited. It makes perfect sense. We have our very small set of people we see – and then only briefly – during these Covid times, and my sister and her husband and their son have their pods (a usage I’ve begun to see more and more frequently but one I’ve not employed until this moment).

“That’s fine,” I said. “We’d pretty much decided to turn down any invitation, but you’ve come in ahead of us. What will we not be having for Christmas dinner?”

They’re having a ham dinner purchased in full from one of their nearby grocery stores. We’re planning – we think – lasagna, baked in a large pan that was a Christmas gift from my sister and her husband to us more than fifteen years ago, not long after the Texas Gal and I set up housekeeping together.

And as I told my sister that this week, the length of time we’ve owned that pan startled me, and that reminded me of the flexibility of time, how it bends and stretches and turns in its own ways, leaving those of us who use it to measure our lives baffled and bemused.

Fifteen years ago, we were midway through our time in our second apartment, the one in St. Cloud in the complex called Green Gable, just yards from the house where we would eventually live for more than nine years. In some ways – and this is not by any means a deep thought – it feels as if the time in that apartment was just moments ago. Still, I was forty-nine when we first moved there; now I am sixty-seven. We’d been together a little less than three years at the time; now we’ve been married for thirteen.

When we were first merging our households in 2001 and it became evident that the task of moving my stuff to her apartment was beyond our abilities and we’d need to hire the task out, she said to me, offhandedly, “Well, you’re almost fifty, you know.”

The comment, true though it was, startled me. I was forty-seven, but I’d never thought of myself as being close to that milestone. My reaction amused her, and the comment has come with us through the years, being updated every once in a while. These days, she tells me, “Well, you’re almost seventy, you know.”

And I am. And as this odd year of Covid plays out its last month, I think of years together, which is a grace I often thought I’d never have with anyone. And I think that lasagna for Christmas sounds perfect.

There are, as might be expected, no tracks on the digital shelves that include the word “lasagna” in their titles. As for “time,” there are too many to sort rationally, so I’ll just fall on one of my favorite tracks by Eric Andersen, whether it actually speaks to my thoughts above or not.

Here’s “Time Run Like A Freight Train” from Andersen’s 1975 album Be True To You. It’s today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 712

Saturday, November 14th, 2020

Trying to keep things picked up around here, about once a week, I head into posts from years past and replace – if I can – videos that have been deleted. Doing so also has the benefit of reminding me of topics I planned to follow up, ideas that have been swept away by my inattention and simple time.

That brought me yesterday to a 2015 post about the song “He Did Me Wrong But He Did It Right,” written by Patti Dahlstrom and Al Staehly and recorded by Patti for her 1975 album Your Place Or Mine. In 1978, Bobbie Gentry covered the song as the B-side to a promo release of the Jimmy Hughes song “Steal Away.”

The promo turned out to be, from what I can tell, the last new recording Gentry ever released, which was interesting enough, so in that 2015 post, I offered videos of Gentry’s cover and Patti’s original. (It seems odd to use Bobbie Gentry’s last name and Patti Dahlstrom’s first name, but Patti and I are friends because of this blog and exchange emails occasionally. Gentry, as you might imagine, has never contacted me.) It was the video for Patti’s version of the song I replaced yesterday; the fan-made video I’d originally used was deleted, so I dropped in Patti’s official version.

And I saw that I’d written at the end of that post five years ago that I’d noticed one other cover of the song available on YouTube and promised to share it later that week. Later that week, however, I wrote that the video – by a soul trio called Hodges, James & Smith – had disappeared. And that was that, at least five years ago. But I did a quick search yesterday and found not one, but two other videos of “He Did Me Wrong . . .”

The first was from Evelyn Rubio, a Mexican-born singer and sax player who recorded the song for her album Crossing Borders, released in May 2020. I didn’t care at all for her vocal style, so I left before the sax break I assumed would be there, and moved on to the version from Hodges, James & Smith.

The website Discogs tells me that the trio of Pat Hodges, Denita James and Jessica Smith was the idea of producer William Stevenson. They released four albums, the first two – 1973’s Incredible and 1975’s Power In Your Love – on 20th Century and the others – 1977’s What’s On Your Mind? and 1978’s What Have You Done For Love? – on London. The only chart action I can find for the trio came from a 1977 disco medley of “Since I Fell For You” (a No. 4 hit for Lenny Welch in 1964) and “I’m Falling In Love” (written by Stevenson), which went to No. 96 on the Billboard Hot 100 and to No. 24 on the magazine’s R&B chart. (You can find the medley as both an album track and an extended disco mix at YouTube.)

The trio’s version of “He Did Me Wrong, But He Did It Right” was an album track on Power In Your Love, and it sounds just like 1975, as it should. Is it a great record? Probably not, but it’s a decent take on the song. And, just like I promised five years ago, here it is, as today’s Saturday Single. (Whoever made the video got the title wrong.)

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. 699

Saturday, August 1st, 2020

Here’s the Billboard Top Ten from forty-five years ago this week, the first week of August 1975:

“One Of These Nights” by the Eagles
“I’m Not In Love” by 10cc
“Jive Talkin’” by the Bee Gees
“Please Mister Please” by Olivia Newton-John
“The Hustle” by Van McCoy & The Soul City Symphony
“Someone Saved My Life Tonight” by Elton John
“Midnight Blue” by Melissa Manchester
“Listen To What The Man Said” by Paul McCartney & Wings
“Rockin’ Chair” by Gwen McCrae
“Dynomite – Part 1” by Tony Camillo’s Bazuka

I can live without “Dynomite,” although it’s better today that I thought it would be. I remember not being impressed by the TV show Good Times (which makes sense as I was not a member of its target audience), and I found Jimmie Walker’s exclamations of “Dynomite!” tiring as they echoed in the popular culture canyons that season.

The rest of that top ten has worn well, for the most part. If I were to rank those nine, there would be a first tier occupied by the Eagles, the Bee Gees, McCartney & Wings, and Manchester. Any of those are welcome in my ear buds at any time. The other five? Well, I don’t mind hearing them now and then, except for the Newton-John single.

Not all of the eight that I like are in my current listening in the iPod, at least not as I begin writing. I’m still reconstructing the device’s contents after clearing it earlier this summer. But by the time this piece is finished, the only two singles from that top ten not in my current playlist with be “Dynomite” and “Please Mister Please.”

We’re not going to look at No. 100 today. I glanced ahead, and it’s a single by the Mystic Moods (having dropped “Orchestra” from its name) that’s been featured here twice in the life of this blog. Instead, we’ll play Games With Numbers, using today’s date as a guide, and look at No. 81 from that Hot 100 of forty-five years ago.

And we fall onto the next-to-last Hot 100 hit from the long career of Frank Sinatra, “I Believe I’m Gonna Love You.” It was in the first of seven weeks in the chart; it would peak at No. 47. I’ve not heard it before, and as I listen, I note that its lyric is studded with clichés, but hey, it’s Sinatra, And it’s today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 694

Saturday, June 27th, 2020

So what do I think of when I see No. 694? Well, I think of the Twin Cities’ Interstate Highway 694, the half-loop that crosses the Twin Cities’ northern and eastern suburbs, providing a way for drivers to avoid I-94’s route through the downtowns of both St. Paul and Minneapolis.

I’ve driven portions of 694 probably hundreds of times, and I lived near it twice, first during the winter of 1975-76, when I was a sports intern for an independent television station in the suburb of Golden Valley, and then during the autumn and winter of 1991-92, when I was beginning my work at the Eden Prairie News, a paper – as I noted not long ago – that no longer exists.

Musically, the earlier time period is more interesting, but of course, it’s not winter right now. We are in the early days of summer, the early days of one of most confounding, confusing and worrisome summers I can ever remember. It’s quite a contrast to the summer of ’75, my last undergraduate summer, when I was twenty-one, knew what I was doing, knew where I was going, and thought I knew what I would find there when I arrived.

Hah!

So let’s twist this up and take a look at the top ten in the Billboard Hot 100 for the fourth week of June 1975, when – except for having a steady girl – absolute certainty ruled my life:

“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
“The Hustle” by Van McCoy & The Soul City Symphony
“Listen To What The Man Said” by Paul McCartney & Wings
“Get Down, Get Down (Get On The Floor)” by Joe Simon
“Magic” by Pilot
“Cut The Cake” by the Average White Band

Boy, those first eight singles are imprinted musically and with memories, the Ronstadt double-sided single a little less than the other six. They remind me of working with my pal Murl and the rest of the inventory crew, cruising through my four physical education courses and my last general eds, hanging around The Table with a slightly changed cast (summer sessions were different), sipping coffee at the Country Kitchen with a variety of young women . . .

It was one of the great summers of my life, now forty-five years in the past.

As to the last three of that Top Ten, I remember the records by Pilot (currently adapted to sell a pharmaceutical) and the Average White Band, but they never meant much to me. And I had to go to YouTube this morning to verify that I don’t recall the Joe Simon single. My listening those days was mostly WJON and WCCO-FM on the radio, and the jukebox at the student union, and I don’t think those three gave the Simon a lot of play.

So, how many of those seven records are on my day-to-day playlist forty-five years later? Let’s look at the iPod (still a work in progress after firing up the new computer). Turns out that only the Jessi Colter single got into the device during the early sessions. But by the end of the morning, five more of those in that Top Ten – the rest of the top seven except the Ronstadts – will be in the device.

Our final business this morning, as long as we’re here, will be to look at the bottom rung of that long-ago Hot 100 and see what we find. And I’m reminded that no matter how long I’ve dug into music, there will always be something new to find. The No. 100 record forty-five years ago this week was “What Time Of Day” by Billy Thunderkloud & The Chieftones.

Thunderkloud and his band were a country group made up of First Nations musicians from British Columbia, and they were backed on the single – obviously – by a children’s chorus. It’s a pleasant little tune but no more than that, and it peaked at only No. 92 on the Hot 100. It did better than that on the other charts, getting to No. 32 on the magazine’s Easy Listening chart and to No. 16 on the country chart. (Later in the year, the group hit No. 37 on the country chart with “Pledging My Love,” a cover of the 1955 hit for both Johnny Ace and Theresa Brewer.)

Here’s “What Time Of Day.”

No. 45, Forty-Five Years Ago

Friday, February 28th, 2020

Dropping into 1975 for a game of Symmetry this morning, I have absolutely no idea what we’ll find, but I’ll likely know it well. (I think so, at least. It would be fun, though, for our excavation to find something utterly new. I’ll settle, though, for not lame.)

Here were the top ten records in the Billboard Hot 100 during the week that February turned into March in 1975:

“Best Of My Love” by the Eagles
“Have You Never Been Mellow” by Olivia Newton-John
“Black Water” by the Doobie Brothers
“My Eyes Adored You” by Frankie Valli
“Some Kind Of Wonderful” by Grand Funk
“Lonely People” by America
“Pick Up The Pieces” by the Average White Band
“Lady Marmalade (Voulez-Vous Coucher Avec Moi)” by LaBelle
“Nightingale” by Carole King
“Lady” by Styx

Eight of those rated on the plus side in 1975; I never cared much for the Grand Funk or Styx singles. In fact, nothing I ever heard from Styx ever clicked with me although I never dug too deeply into the band’s work. Grand Funk? Well, I liked “Closer To Home” and “Bad Time” – the latter of which takes me back viscerally to New Year’s Eve 1974 – and liked “We’re An American Band” when I finally heard it long after its release. But “Some Kind Of Wonderful” left me cold.

As to the other eight in that mix, the best is the LaBelle single; it was the only one of those ten to make it into my long-age Ultimate Jukebox, and, of course, it’s one of the 3,900-some tracks currently in the iPod, which is how I measure current relevance.

Which of the other nine in that aged top ten are still in my current listening? Well, five of them. Missing are the records by Grand Funk, the Average White Band, America, and Styx. (And the absence of “Lonely People” surprises me just a hair, but I don’t think I’ll bother to add it.)

Our other business, of course, lies lower down in that chart, and at No. 45 we find an up-tempo piece of funk that I must have heard before: “Once You Get Started” by Rufus (featuring Chaka Kahn) is actually on the digital shelves here, having arrived as part of the album Rufusized. And the record reminds me of the question once posed here: When was the first usage of the phrase “party hearty”? I dabbled with that question in a post in 2012, but “Once You Get Started” was not one of the records I considered. (I think “Do It, Fluid” by the Blackbyrds was likely recorded earlier than “Once You Get Started,” but I do not know, and I will leave the question for others to research in more depth.”)

Anyway, “Once You Get Started” kicks and might itself be elevated to the iPod. Back in 1975, it went to No. 10 on the Hot 100 and to No. 4 in the Billboard R&B chart.

Saturday Single No. 674

Saturday, January 25th, 2020

Some songs haunt.

As I read the paper this morning, the RealPlayer wandered through 1975: Bachman-Turner Overdrive, Albert Hammond, Seals & Crofts, Barry Manilow, and then Janis Ian:

The days are okay
I watch the TV in the afternoons
If I get lonely,
The sound of other voices,
Other rooms are near to me
I’m not afraid . . .

And in the winter,
Extra blankets for the cold
Fix the heater, getting old
I am wiser now, you know
And still as big a fool concerning you . . .

And I was pulled back twenty years, into the winter after I was overexposed to toxic chemicals and was left unable to work, unsure of where I could go safely for more than a few minutes, and uncertain of the future. I was isolated in a new apartment in the southern reaches of Minneapolis, and I was lonely.

Ian’s song “In The Winter” has left me feeling desolate from the first time I heard it during the late summer of 1988. It’s from her 1975 album Between The Lines, the album that contains the remarkable “At Seventeen,” which itself is no joyful romp in the meadow. But the angst in “At Seventeen,” is a look back to youth, and when it came out of speakers everywhere during the late summer and early autumn of 1975, it was a tale of memory. And those of us at The Table at St. Cloud State – all attuned for years to Thoreau’s distant drummer – could listen and agree that our younger days had been confusing and sometimes far less than happy.

But “In The Winter” has no insulation of time gone, being written in the present instead of as a look back. I first heard it, I imagine, in September 1988, when Between The Lines was among a batch of records I brought home from a Saturday excursion to either the flea market or some garage sales. It had been a difficult summer, and in Ian’s dirge of solitude after the end of a relationship, I heard echoes of my life at the time.

And this morning, as it came up, I was back for a moment in another desolate time, January 2000, when I wondering how where my life would go (not knowing, of course, that by mid-February, during my first full week online, my life would take another astounding turn, this one fulfilling). I must have heard it during that winter, but whether I sought it out to underline my depression or forgot it was on the album as I cued it up, I do not know. (I’d like to think it was the latter.)

It’s still a bleak song, but beyond that first twinge, its tale is now memory, like the tale of “At Seventeen” was forty-five years ago. And its appearance this morning during random play is a reminder – one we all sometimes need, I think – that bleakness doesn’t always last. And all of that means that Janis Ian’s “In The Winter” is today’s Saturday Single.