With only a few days left to organize my mom’s stuff, my sister and I will be spending most of the day in Sauk Rapids today, trying to get ready for Wednesday’s move. I imagine that any appearance I make in this space through the middle of next week will be cursory.
But before I head out today, here’s an appropriately titled track: “Movin’ On” by Bobby Whitlock. It’s from his 1975 album One Of A Kind, and it’s today’s Saturday Single.
Here’s the Top Ten from the Billboard Hot 100 forty-two years ago today, March 22, 1975:
“My Eyes Adored You” by Frankie Valli
“Lady Marmalade (Voulez-Vous Coucher Avec Moi)” by LaBelle
“Lovin’ You” by Minnie Riperton
“Black Water” by the Doobie Brothers
“Have You Never Been Mellow” by Olivia Newton-John
“Express” by B.T. Express
“You Are So Beautiful/It’s A Sin When You Love Somebody” by Joe Cocker
“Poetry Man” by Phoebe Snow
“No No Song/Snookeroo” by Ringo Starr
“Don’t Call Us, We’ll Call You” by Sugarloaf/Jerry Corbetta
Almost all of those were coming out of the jukebox in the Atwood Center snack bar at St. Cloud State around that time. I don’t recall ever hearing either of the listed B-sides, nor – having listened to it this morning – do I recall ever hearing “Express.” But the rest of those records were a good portion of the soundtrack of my life as 1975 – one of the best years of my youth – approached its second quarter.
Sometime during the six weeks just past, one of my friends at The Table had given me some hard-to-hear but essential advice. He said I had to quit obsessing about the accident I’d been in at the end of October 1974. He was right, so I quit skipping my classes, I quit skipping my work shifts at the library’s periodicals counter, and I got to work on finishing three courses from fall quarter in which I’d taken incomplete grades.
In other words, I got busy being a student, and it was good for me. And most of the music listed above and plenty more from the rest of the chart came along with me as we headed into spring quarter.
Still, as always, there was music out there that never got to my ears, usually because it stayed for a brief time in the lower level of the Hot 100. Here are four records that caught my eye and my ear this morning:
“You’re A Part Of Me” by Susan Jacks was sitting at No. 90. The single, from the female voice of the Poppy Family (with then-husband Terry Jacks), was okay, based on some listening at YouTube. I never thought her voice was big enough to carry a career, though I likely would not have put it in those terms back when the Poppy Family stuff was coming out of the speakers. “You’re A Part Of Me” was intended for an album titled Dreams, but the folks at Russ & Gary’s “The Best Years of Music” say in a 2013 post that the album “was kept from market by Ray Pettinger, her husband’s former business associate at Goldfish Records.” I’m not sure about that: Discogs lists the LP as having been released in Canada. Either way, the album is available at YouTube, and – based on admittedly brief listening this morning – it sounds like the work of a limited singer trying to figure out which Seventies niche to land in. “You’re A Part Of Me” went no higher than No. 90 during its five weeks in the Hot 100.
Sitting at the very bottom of the Hot 100 forty-two years ago today was “Where Have They Gone” by Jimmy Beaumont & The Skyliners. Billed simply as simply the Skyliners, the group had offered the classic “Since I Don’t Have You” in 1959. And although the group had released a cluster of records that had gotten some airplay in the early 1960s – the best-performing being 1960’s “Pennies From Heaven,” which went to No. 24 – there’d been nothing in the charts since 1965. Even in the context of the big tent that Top 40 was in 1975, the string-laden “Where Have They Gone” sounds like a record out of its time, which I kind of like. I was intrigued to see that it had been written by Doc Pomus and Ken Hirsh, and it turns out there’s an interesting note at Wikipedia, where Pomus categorizes the songs he wrote in the 1970s – with Hirsh and others – as being for “those people stumbling around in the night out there, uncertain or not always so certain of exactly where they fit in and where they were headed.” Not to be cruel, but I suppose that could fit Beaumont and the Skyliners after ten years with no records in the charts. And “Where Have They Gone” was itself gone after this one week in the Hot 100.
Heading into the Bubbling Under portion of the Billboard chart, I ran across a group name that I found irresistible: Ecstasy, Passion & Pain. Tagged as an R&B/dance group by Joel Whitburn in Top Pop Singles, the group had seen three records in or near the Hot 100 since early 1974, with the best-performing of them being “Ask Me,” which went to No. 52 in November 1974. Their next try was “One Beautiful Day,” which was bubbling under at No. 103 in that chart from forty-two years ago today. To my ears, there’s nothing there that maybe twenty other groups weren’t doing more compellingly at the time. “One Beautiful Day” would eventually peak at No. 48 (No. 14 on the Billboard R&B chart) and would be the biggest mark Ecstasy, Passion & Pain ever made on the charts.
Maybe the biggest surprise this morning was finding a record from Steppenwolf parked at No. 110, the very bottom of the Bubbling Under section. For me, John Kay’s group occupies the last few years of the 1960s, the years of “Born To Be Wild” and “Magic Carpet Ride.” I somehow tend to forget that more than half of Steppenwolf’s charting records came in the 1970s. None of them flew as high as the two singles just mentioned, but the ’Wolf put six records into the middle to lower portions of the Hot 100 in 1970 and 1971. After an absence of three years came “Straight Shootin’ Woman,” which went to No. 29 in 1974, followed in 1975 by “Smokey Factory Blues,” which was sitting at No. 110 forty-two years ago today. It doesn’t really sound like Steppenwolf until about ninety seconds in, but then the chorus takes off, and when one listens to the story Kay and the rest of the band are telling, it’s a fitting coda to the band’s story: “Smokey Factory Blues” is what happens when you quit running and riding and living wild.
Things are okay here, but this will be a busy day: The Texas Gal and I will be part of the group from our Unitarian Universalist Fellowship staffing a booth at the annual Pride In The Park festival near Lake George just southwest of downtown St. Cloud. We’ll be in on set-up this morning and on breakdown this afternoon, and in between, the Texas Gal will be there most of the day.
I’ll be taking a break in there to head for practice for a cabaret-style performance that I’ll be doing with two friends in November. We’re trying to finish the script – some editing remains, but things are, we think, in their final order – and today, we will begin to polish the dances and vocal numbers. (I do no dancing; I play piano and sing, for the most part.)
But that comes in mid-day, so after rehearsal is over, I’ll make my way back to Lake George and eventually help with tear-down. After that, the Texas Gal and I will head home to meet a high school friend of mine whom I’ve seen only rarely in the last forty years. He’s in town for a high school reunion tonight – an event that I’ll skip only because I cannot do everything – and he’s going to stop by to exchange an aloe plant for some of the Texas Gal’s pickles.
After that, as Mike heads off to the reunion, we’ll likely collapse at the end of a very busy but very worthwhile Saturday.
So I went looking for Saturday tunes, and I found one I’m pretty certain I hadn’t listened to very closely before: It’s by Aztec Two-Step, which has released some very nice folk-rock albums starting in 1972. Leading off the 1975 album Second Step was the track “It’s Going On Saturday,” and it’s today’s Saturday Single.
Responsibilities accumulate and errands call. That’s okay; as some younger folks call it these days, that’s adulting. And I’m feeling better today than I did last week. Not entirely back, but closer than I was.
So to keep things brief here but still find some music I’d not heard before (or at least hadn’t thought about for a long time), I ducked into the Billboard Hot 100 from this date in 1975, and played with the numbers today’s date gave me: 9-13-75.
I didn’t expect anything new at Nos. 9 or 13, and I was right. At No. 9, I got “Run, Joey, Run” by David Geddes, a record that I try not to think about, and at No. 13, I got “That’s The Way Of The World” by Earth, Wind & Fire, a record that I’m happy to think about but one that’s eminently familiar.
So Odd and Pop and I turned our gaze to No. 75 in that long-ago chart and found Jessi Colter’s: “You Ain’t Never Been Loved (Like I’m Gonna Love You).” I’d never heard it, so as it played, I hit the books and the charts. It turns out that some of the info in the weekly charts I got from a board or forum long ago conflicts slightly with the information in my reference library. That on-line compilation – in which I have found some errors over the years – indicates that “You Ain’t Never . . .” is a double-sided single, with “What’s Happened To Blue Eyes” on the flip.
But the listing of the Hot 100 at the Billboard website lists only “You Ain’t Never . . .” at No. 75 for the week in question. In Top Pop Singles, Joel Whitburn shows “You Ain’t Never . . .” entering the Hot 100 on September 6 and peaking at No. 64, with “Blue Eyes” coming into the chart on October 11 and peaking at No. 57. Whitburn’s listing seems to indicate that “Blue Eyes” was the A side, and in fact, “Blue Eyes” went to No. 5 on the magazine’s country chart and “You Ain’t Never . . .” did not hit the country Top 40.
If there’s a mystery there, I’ll not be unraveling it this morning. And having listened to both of the tracks this morning, I find “You Ain’t Never Been Loved (Like I’m Gonna Love You)” to be a better record, one that I like pretty well on first listen. So here it is, and I’ll be off to take care of my world.
It was about this time forty years ago – as November was entering its fourth week – that the brilliant autumn of 1975 shifted into the cold.
I can’t be sure of the date, but I know we went deep into November that year with sunny days and unseasonably warm temperatures being the norm. As is the case for any man who cherishes a time long gone, I will insist for the rest of my life that during the autumn of 1975, the sun shone brighter, the golden leaves stayed on the trees longer, the laughter was louder, the girls were prettier and the music was better.
About that last, there is no question.
The end of 1975 is, as I comb through the archives and reference books, the ending of my musical sweet spot. It’s not that I loved all of the music I heard as I wandered through my youth from the autumn of 1969 to the autumn of 1975. There were great records and there were bad records, just like there were rewarding times and there were difficult times. But the music I heard was the music of my most formative years, and thus it’s in my bones in a way that no other music from any other era can be. And that sweet spot’s last autumn – autumn was my favorite season even then – was one of the best seasons I’ve had in all my years. So even if the music of the autumn of 1975 wasn’t quite as stellar as, say, the music of the autumn of 1970 – and it wasn’t – it was still more than good enough to still matter today.
That brilliant autumn of 1975 came to an abrupt ending sometime during the fourth week of November. One day we were basking on the lawns at St. Cloud State, relishing the treasure of another unseasonably warm day, and the next, we were waking to maybe six inches of snow on the ground with more falling. It was one of the most memorable transitions from season to season of my life, made more memorable because it ended that sweet autumn.
I could offer here many tunes that bring that sweet season back to my heart, but many of them we’ve heard here before. Let’s listen instead – for the first time in eight years in this space – to another record from that season whose title expresses the impossible wish that sometimes rises in me when I think about that lovely autumn of 1975. “Let’s Do It Again” by the Staple Singers is today’s Saturday Single.
So we’ve sorted the tracks in the RealPlayer and found about 24,000 from the 1970s. Let’s go find six at random to think about this morning.
“In the corner of my eye, I saw you in Rudy’s. You were very high.” So starts “Black Cow” from Steely Dan’s 1977 album Aja, one of two Steely Dan albums I had before the 1990s (when I, as is well-known around here, went a little mad and bought more than 1,800 LPs over those ten years). My memory, aided by a look at the LP database, tells me that I won Aja for answering a trivia question on WJON while I lived in St. Cloud in late 1977, but there was a delay on the radio station’s part in getting the album, and then there was a delay on my part in getting to the station after I moved to Monticello. The delays didn’t bother me because Steely Dan wasn’t really in my sights at the time. I had Pretzel Logic on the shelves because of the presence of “Rikki Don’t Lose That Number” (and I liked the rest of the album), but the work of Donald Fagen and Walter Becker wasn’t high on my list. Still, I wasn’t going to pass up a free album, so I took Aja home, and I liked it okay. But it’s probably not on my Top 200. So, “Drink your big black cow and get out of here.”
Canny marketers as well as classically trained musicians, the duo of Ferrante & Teicher rarely missed a trend in the 1960s and 1970s, and as the world hit the dance floor in the late 1970s, Ferrante & Teicher followed, providing us in 1979 with Classical Disco, one of the stranger albums of the duo’s nearly forty-year recording career. Covering pieces ranging from composers Rachmaninoff and Khachaturian to Grieg and Tchaikovsky, the album closes with a thumping version of Felix Mendelssohn’s famed “Wedding March” (cliché that it is). Given the move in recent years toward massively choreographed wedding processionals and recessionals (some staid, many not), I can see a couple and their friends putting together a disco processional to the beat of the Ferrante & Teicher track. If it were my wedding and up to me, I’d save it for the reception.
Head On was a late 1975 release from Bachman-Turner Overdrive, and its relative failure in the charts portended the end for the rockers from Canada. The group’s previous three albums of new music had all gone Top Ten in the Billboard 200, but Head On stalled at No. 23. A single from the album, “Take It Like A Man” (with a backing vocal from Little Richard) went to No. 33 in early 1976, but the band’s moment had passed. Fittingly, then, the track titled “It’s Over” is the one that pops up from Head On. It’s a decent enough track, not unlike most of the stuff in the group’s catalog, but its unsubtle pleasures didn’t offer listeners anything new as 1975 was turning into 1976.
As an object lesson that one can find almost anything online these days, we move next to “Tiffany Case” from John Barry’s soundtrack to the 1971 James Bond film Diamonds Are Forever. When the RealPlayer offered the track to me this morning, I winced, but not because of the music. (It’s a decent bit of quiet and pretty musical fill for the movie, nicely portraying the soft side of Ms. Case, played in the film by the lovely Jill St. John.) The wince was for an expected difficulty in finding the track at YouTube. (I’d already made and uploaded one video this morning.) But there it was, and a quick click on the #JohnBarry hashtag shows me that what appears to be the vast majority of Barry’s work is now officially available at YouTube. I will have to do some digging there soon.
Whenever I write anything about Bobby Womack, I always feel as if I don’t know enough about the man or his work to write anything substantial. Today is no different, even though I know more about him and have heard more of his stuff now, thanks to a little bit of concentrated effort in the past few months. Anyway, what we have this morning is “Natural Man” from Womack’s 1973 album Facts Of Life. It’s a gender-flipped version of the Gerry Goffin/Carole King song “(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman,” best known for the 1967 hit version by Aretha Franklin. It doesn’t seem to work, but then covering a classic is risky territory, and doing so with a gender-flip seems to make things all the more awkward. Womack’s delivery is fine, as usual. But it just feels, well, odd.
Speaking of covers of classic records, we close our expedition this morning with Ellie Greenwich taking on “Chapel Of Love” from her 1973 album Let It Be Written, Let It Be Sung. Greenwich, of course, wrote the song with Jeff Barry and Phil Spector, and the Dixie Cups had a massive hit with it in 1964, with the record sitting at No. 1 for three weeks. For her own album, Greenwich and co-producers Steve Tudanger and Steve Feldman take the song in an interesting direction, with bare-bones instrumentation and layered and entwined vocals, coupled with some ringing bells in the middle. It works for me.
Forty years ago this week, as I was spending my final quarter of college before my internship leaning about film-making, documentary film, marketing and the governments of Eastern Europe and the U.S.S.R, this was the Top Ten in the Billboard Hot 100:
“Bad Blood” by Neil Sedaka
“Calypso/I’m Sorry” by John Denver
“Miracles” by Jefferson Starship
“Lyin’ Eyes” by the Eagles
“Ballroom Blitz” by the Sweet
“Dance With Me” by Orleans
“Feelings” by Morris Albert
“Ain’t No Way To Treat A Lady” by Helen Reddy
“They Just Can’t Stop It The (Games People Play)” by the Spinners
“Who Loves You” by the Four Seasons
The only one of those I truly detested then (and still dislike now) is “Ballroom Blitz.” “Feelings” then and likely now falls into the annoyance category (though it’s been so long since I heard it that I have no idea how I’d react to it). The rest would be a very good stretch of listening, headlined by two of my all-time favorites, “Dance With Me” and “Miracles.”
And all of them except “Ballroom Blitz” were regular listening on the jukebox as I spent most of my free time at The Table in St. Cloud State’s Atwood Center. (At least until the end of October, when I met the young woman who would one day become the Other Half.)
But what was on the other end of the Hot 100, buried deep in the Bubbling Under section? Well, on the very bottom during that week forty years ago was “(If You Want It) Do It Yourself” by Gloria Gaynor, which I do not recall from then and find less than interesting now. But just one step up, at No. 109, we find the Mystic Moods, once named the Mystic Moods Orchestra.
As I’ve noted before, quoting All Music Guide, the Mystic Moods Orchestra, was “[o]ne of the choice audio aphrodisiacs of the ’60s and ’70s,” mixing “orchestral pop, environmental sounds, and pioneering recording techniques into a unique musical phenomenon.”
By the mid-1970s, the group had dropped the word “orchestra” from its name and had adapted funk into its easy listening format. That adaptation may have occurred earlier, but it certainly took place by 1974, when the group released the album Erogenous. And on that album was “Honey Trippin’,” the single I found sitting one spot removed from the bottom of the Bubbling Under section forty years ago this week, in October 1975.
Listening to it is a little like listening to, oh, I dunno. It’s almost funky but not quite, you know, so maybe call it Funky Lite. Whatever you call it, “Honey Trippin’” by the Mystic Moods is this week’s Saturday Single.
I took a look yesterday at the Billboard Hot 100 that was released this week in 1975, and since yesterday’s date – 9/24 – added up to thirty-three, I took a close look at No. 33. It turned out to be “Do It Any Way You Wanna” by the People’s Choice, a Philadelphia-based R&B dance group.
The funky boogie chant went to No. 11, the best performance of the three Hot 100 hits for People’s Choice. (“I Likes To Do It” went to No. 38 in 1971, and “Nursery Rhymes [Part I]” went to No. 93 in 1976.) And I thought I should see how many titles on the digital shelves start with the words “do it.”
There are twenty-four of them. The simple “Do It” shows up three times at the top of the alphabetical list: Once in 1971 from Aphrodite’s Child, the Greek progressive rock band of the late 1960s and early 1970s, once in 1969 from the Doors, and once in 1972 from Jesse Winchester. At the other end of the alphabetical listing we find “Do It, Fluid,” a 1974 offering by the Blackbyrds. None of those four grip me very hard.
Sorting the tracks by year, we follow a path from Richard “Groove” Holmes’ “Do It My Way” from 1962 to Keb Mo’s “Do It Right” from 2014. Both of those are pretty good, but if we have to choose one, we’ll listen to Holmes’ track:
The most frequent title is “Do It Again,” which shows up five times. I have two copies of the Beach Boys’ “Do It Again,” one tagged as a single and the other tagged as coming from the album 20/20. I’m not sure there’s any difference. I also have Steely Dan’s 1972 track “Do It Again,” Richie Havens’ 1976 cover of the Steely Dan tune, and a passable 1996 country tune with that title by singer Lari White.
Beyond those, here’s the “do it” harvest:
“Do It (’Til You’re Satisfied)” by B.T. Express, 1976.
“Do It All Over Again” by J. Vincent Edwards, 1970
“Do It For Mother” by Whistler, 1971
“Do It Good” by Bill Withers, 1971
“Do It In The Name Of Love” by Candi Staton, 1972
“Do It In The Rain” by Buster Benton, 1977
“Do It Just For Me” by Genya Ravan, 1978
“Do It Now” by Bessie Banks, 1963
“Do It Now” by Ingrid Michaelson, 2012
“Do It Right” by Bobby Womack & Peace, 1972
“Do It To ’Em” by the Big Town Boys, 1968
“Do It To Me” by the South Side Movement, 1975
There are some good ones among the twelve tracks in that last list. (There are also some that leave me cold.) Here’s one of the good ones, chosen for no reason other than that I like it: “Do It In The Name Of Love” by Candi Staton from her self-titled 1972 album.
As we drove down the Interstate Saturday en route to meet friend and regular commenter Yah Shure for lunch, the radio offered us ZZ Top’s “Sharp Dressed Man.” I wondered out loud whether I should have included the record or the group’s “Legs” in this blog’s long-completed Ultimate Juke Box or the following series of posts called Juke Box Regrets.
Having decided that including ZZ Top’s “La Grange” in the long project was likely enough Texas boogie, I told the Texas Gal that one of my goals in life is still to drive through the streets of La Grange, Texas, with my car audio blaring out “China Grove.”
“Or the other way around?” she asked with a chuckle. That would do, too, I told her. And then she asked “But what about Luckenbach?” I said I wasn’t sure what to do about any visit to that city, and we began listing song titles that include the names of cities in Texas. It didn’t take us long to come up with a good list, and I’ve continued the work this week. So here’s a six-stop musical tour of the Lone Star State.
We’ll cross into the state from the Oklahoma panhandle, probably because someone told us to get of out Dodge City, just a ways north and east in Kansas. So the first major city we come to, smack-dab in the middle of Texas’ own panhandle is Amarillo. And it’s “Amarillo” by Emmylou Harris that starts off our musical tour. She’s lost her fellow, but not to another woman: “Oh I lost him to a jukebox and a pinball machine,” she sings.
The song, written by Harris and Rodney Crowell, was the opening track to Harris’ 1975 album, Elite Hotel. The album went to No. 1 on the Billboard country chart and to No. 25 on the Billboard 200. And we’re on our way south, noting that we could have listened to a couple of other tunes instead: “Midnight In Old Amarillo” by Cindy Cashdollar (2004) or “Amarillo By Morning” by George Strait (1982).
But we head south to Lubbock and then make our way southeast to Abilene, which George Hamilton IV said, in his 1963 cover of Bob Gibson’s 1957 song, was “the prettiest town I’ve ever seen.” Hamilton’s “Abilene” was a pretty major record, sitting on top of the country chart for four weeks and reaching No. 4 on the Adult Contemporary chart and No. 15 on the Hot 100.
The record was one of thirty-one that Hamilton got into the country Top 40 between 1960 and 1973. I have to admit that his work is mostly unfamiliar to me, and I may correct that. While in Abilene, we could also have listened to Bobby Bare’s 1963 cover of the same song, Dave Alvin’s similarly titled but entirely different song from 1998 or Lightnin’ Hopkins’ “Way Out In Abilene,” which showed up for me on a 1973 album titled Legacy of the Blues, Vol. 12.
We head east along Interstate 20, now getting into parts of Texas I’ve seen, even if I don’t know them well. Eventually, we make it to the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, and the first tune we come across is the 1984 single “Does Fort Worth Ever Cross Your Mind” by George Strait. His gal has gone to Dallas, not far away in miles, but far enough in culture. My take on the two cities – and the Texas Gal generally agrees – is that Dallas is a city that mixes Eastern and Southern cultures in a kind of uneasy truce, while Fort Worth, just thirty or so miles away, is a Western city, and the gap between the two is greater than the distance.
Strait’s record went to No. 1 on the country chart, one of an incomprehensible number of country hits in his column. (My copy of the Billboard Book of Top Country Hits goes through 2005, and Strait’s total at the time the book came out was eighty; All Music lists at least twenty country hits for Strait since then.) As we leave Fort Worth, we’ll skip Dallas and head south, but as we do, we can listen to Lee Hazlewood’s ‘Fort Worth” from 1968 and what seems to be an obscure single by Steely Dan from 1972 titled “Dallas.”
About ninety miles out of Fort Worth, we reach Waco and the Brazos River, where Billy Walker’s bandito was urging himself on in 1964’s “Cross The Brazos At Waco.”
The record went to No. 2 on the country chart and bubbled under the Hot 100 at No. 128. “Cross The Brazos . . .” was one of thirty-eight records Walker put into the country Top 40 between 1954 and 1976. As we cross the Brazos and prepare to leave Waco, we can listen to Ronnie Dunn’s “How Far To Waco” from his 2011 solo album.
The road bends slightly to the southwest, and 180 miles later, we find ourselves in San Antonio. Bob Wills & His Texas Playboys released two versions of one of his most famous songs: “San Antonio Rose” in 1938 had a traditional string band arrangement, while “New San Antonio Rose” in 1940 added horns and some odd vocal embellishments, but the two were essentially the same song.
As we head through San Antonio, we choose the instrumental “San Antonio Rose” by pianist Floyd Cramer. The 1961 single was the most successful of the records we’re listening to today: It went to No. 8 on both the country and pop charts and to No. 3 on the adult contemporary chart. There are no doubt other tunes about San Antonio, but they’re not on the digital shelves here, and as we drive southwest out of town, we listen to versions of Wills’ tune by Patsy Cline and Leon Russell.
Our last stop today is another 150 or so miles to the south: Laredo, right on the Rio Grande, celebrated in one of the great traditional American songs. The version of “Streets of Laredo” that we hear today is by Willie Nelson, found on his 1968 album Texas In My Soul. Oddly enough, no version of the song has hit the country Top 40, but a version by Johnny Cash bubbled under the Hot 100 at No. 124 in 1965. (The tale of “Streets of Laredo,” as gathered at Wikipedia, is quite interesting.)
And if we’re in a mood for some different Laredo music as we reach the Rio Grande, there’s always the “Nuevo Laredo Polka” by Gilberto López, a 1950 track. And casting regretful thoughts toward records about El Paso, Houston, Brownsville, Galveston and more, we come to a stopping place.
Sometime yesterday afternoon, my pal jb – the whiz behind the blog The Hits Just Keep On Comin’ – found another website where I can lose myself for a few hours. Now, it’s not like I needed another such site – I already indulge my ADD tendencies in too many places on the Web – but when I saw how Rebeat describes itself, I knew I was lost, or would be soon:
REBEAT is a digital blog/magazine primarily dedicated to mid-century music, culture, and lifestyle. We say “primarily” because the category is so broad, and the mid-century influence is felt in waves rippling through time.
The specific piece from Rebeat that jb offered at Facebook was an appreciation by Sharon Lacey of country singer Bobbi Gentry on her 70th birthday, a piece that noted that Gentry hasn’t been seen or heard since the early 1980s and that went on to review Gentry’s life and career, assessing Gentry’s six albums (and her one-album collaboration with Glen Campbell) along the way.
I’ve got those seven albums, and I generally agreed with Lacey’s assessments. The piece offered a few bits about Gentry’s life that I’d not known, like the fact that she was once married to performer Jim Stafford, but the most intriguing bit of new information for me came near the end of the piece, when Lacey noted that Gentry’s last single, a 1978 release that went nowhere, was “Steal Away/He Did Me Wrong, But He Did It Right.”
It took me a second. I know “Steal Away.” It’s a tune that Jimmy Hughes wrote and took to No. 2 on the Billboard R&B chart in 1964 although I know Etta James’ 1968 version and Johnny Taylor’s 1970 cover better. And it turns out that I have Gentry’s 1978 version, which is pretty good.
What grabbed my eyes, though, was the B-side: “He Did Me Wrong, But He Did It Right.” I found it at YouTube:
While the track played, I clicked a few links and verified what I was pretty certain of: “He Did Me Wrong, But He Did It Right” came from the pen of my friend Patti Dahlstrom and her friend Al Staehely and was a track from Patti’s 1975 album Your Place Or Mine. (It’s also on the 2010 CD, Emotion: The Music Of Patti Dahlstrom.) Here’s Patti’s version:
So I’m going to go lose myself in Rebeat for a while today and see what other gems I can find that I either have forgotten or never knew about. In a related vein, I already know that there’s at least one more version of Patty’s and Al’s tune out there, but I think we’ll leave that, along with a surprise, perhaps, for tomorrow or Friday.