Archive for the ‘Single’ Category

Default Mode

Thursday, January 23rd, 2020

I’m hardly here this morning. The head cold I managed to pick up at Urgent Care Saturday is settling in nicely, and I wore myself out with several essential chores yesterday. So I’m going to default to seeking out today’s date – January 23 – in the RealPlayer. We’ll see what we get. (A reminder: I likely have recording dates for maybe five percent of the tracks in the program.)

And our search brings us fourteen tracks. The tunes range temporally from “It’s Moving Day,” recorded by Charlie Poole & The North Carolina Ramblers on January 23, 1930, to the Temptations’ “The Way You Do The Things You Do,” which was laid down on January 23, 1964.

The other names in the brief list include Lead Belly, Artie Shaw, Howlin’ Wolf, Louis Jordan, Muddy Waters, Nat King Cole, Claude King, Ann Cole, Tony Bennett, and a few that are not as recognizable.

And it comes to mind that we don’t often listen to Nat King Cole around here. Nothing wrong with the music; it just tends to get pushed to the back of the shelf by other stuff. So we’ll pull him forward today. Here’s “Can’t I?” with Cole accompanied by Billy May & His Orchestra. It was recorded on this date in 1953, peaked at No. 16 on the Billboard airplay chart (going nearly as high on the sales and juke box charts), and went to No. 7 on the magazine’s R&B jukebox chart (if I’m reading the data correctly).

It’s a nice piece.

‘Doctor, Doctor . . .’

Tuesday, January 21st, 2020

You know how it is with plans.

Saturday’s post plans disappeared when I woke up that morning with a case of gout. The word conjures up visions of a bewigged upper-class Englishman seated near a fire with his ailing foot elevated. The reality, I learned when I tried to walk on my left foot that morning, is exceedingly painful.

We spent about four hours at the Urgent Care clinic that day, learning about the ailment and sitting in a waiting room half-filled with parents and children who were no doubt sharing their viral miseries with everyone. I was advised to use steroids and ibuprofen to ease my pain and to consult about further treatment with my regular doctor, Dr. Julie, whom I will see Friday.

I’ve learned a lot already – won’t list the details here – and will learn more later this week, but since late Saturday afternoon, there has been no pain.

But I have picked up another case of plugged head and sniffles, no doubt courtesy of one or more of Saturday morning’s ailing urchins. And this morning, I head out to my clinic so the lab can draw blood ahead of my appointment Friday. It’s a doctor week.

And here’s the garage “Doctor Doctor” by Gary Walker & The Rain. It’s from 1968’s Album No. 1. I’ll be back later this week.

‘How Can I Go On Living . . .’

Friday, January 17th, 2020

Since we dabbled around the other day in the Billboard 200 album chart from mid-January 1972, I thought we’d stay in that same time period and check out the magazine’s easy listening chart, the chart now called Adult Contemporary. Here are the top fifteen records from that chart as of January 15, 1972:

“American Pie” by Don McLean
“Cherish” by David Cassidy
“It’s One Of Those Nights (Yes Love)” by the Partridge Family
“Anticipation” by Carly Simon
“I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing (In Perfect Harmony)” by the Hillside Singers
“Without You” by Nilsson
“The Harder I Try (The Bluer I Get)” by the Free Movement
“Sunshine” by Jonathan Edwards
“An Old Fashioned Love Song” by Three Dog Night
“All I Ever Need Is You” by Sonny & Cher
“Joy” by Apollo 100
“500 Miles” by Heaven Bound with Tony Scott
“My Boy” by Richard Harris
“Friends With You” by John Denver
“Brand New Key” by Melanie

Well, at least three of those ring no bells for me by title, which is a little odd, considering that 1972 falls smack in the middle of what I call my sweet spot. I don’t recall the singles by the Partridge Family, the Free Movement, or John Denver. The Heaven Bound single is ringing faint bells; I have a hunch it’s shown up in this space before. And a quick bit of research shows that I spent a couple of posts in 2012 digging into the single and other versions of the Hedy West song “500 Miles.”

As to the other three, after a quick trip to YouTube, I find I do not recall the Partridge Family or Free Movement records at all, though they’re pretty good singles. And after a reminder, I do recall the John Denver record without pleasure.

And of the other eleven, how many of them matter today? I don’t really dislike any of them; I suppose I have the least affection for the Sonny & Cher record, but it doesn’t make me ill. So let’s take a look at the iPod and see how many of those eleven records are among the 3,900-some that make up my day-to-day listening.

Well, in the device we find the singles by McLean, Simon, Nilsson, Edwards, Three Dog Night and Apollo 100. And none of those really surprise me. After all, as I noted above, 1972 falls right in the middle of my sweet spot. Since I got my own corner of the ’Net in 2010, I’ve written about 1972 and its music 150 times (including today). The only years that have shown up here more frequently are 1972’s immediate predecessors: 1969 (178 times), 1970 (196 times) and 1971 (167 times). (The total number of posts, for what it’s worth, is 1,508, including today.)

All of that tells me something that is likely self-evident: I am a product of those years when my tastes were formed. So, I think, are we all. Our listening (and viewing and reading) habits may expand and modify, but they all build on the foundations of our youths.

As an example, I know a fair amount about the blues, its history and its variants, but I got there by going backwards from (among others) Eric Clapton and the early Rolling Stones. It’s probably not a stretch to say that my interest in the blues was seeded in large part by hearing the Stones’ “Love In Vain” and “You Gotta Move” and Cream’s “Rollin’ & Tumblin’” in 1971 and 1972 (though those seeds took years to sprout).

Well, I ramble. To get back to the fifteen records above, of those that are in my iPod, only two speak to me on a deeper level: the Nilsson and Carly Simon records, the first because a friend of mine used to sing it as I played piano and the second because of a day that came fifteen years later. So I thought I’d look at the remaining twenty-five records in that long-ago easy listening chart and see if any of those spoke to me.

And I find at No. 24 Beverly Bremers’ “Don’t Say You Don’t Remember,” a record I’ve mentioned only a few times over the years, which is a little odd, as it’s a lovely exercise in sorrow, sentiment and nostalgia (all among my major weaknesses) with a killer hook. The record peaked on the easy listening chart at No. 5 and went to No. 15 on the Hot 100.

No. 48, Forty-Eight Years Ago

Wednesday, January 15th, 2020

It’s time for another game of Symmetry, and today, we’re wandering back to January of 1972, a time when I was kind of figuring out college life. I was learning how to study, how to enjoy coffee, and how to put together a late-night, five-minute, top-of-the-hour newsbreak for St. Cloud State’s KVSC-FM that wouldn’t sound stupid being bracketed by Mason Proffit and Long John Baldry.

We’re going to change the game a little bit today, calling it Album Symmetry and instead of looking at the top singles, we’ll look at the album chart. The top ten albums in the Billboard 200 forty-eight years ago today were:

Music by Carole King
American Pie by Don McLean
Chicago at Carnegie Hall
The Concert for Bangla Desh
Led Zeppelin IV
Teaser & The Firecat by Cat Stevens
Tapestry by Carole King
All In The Family soundtrack
There’s A Riot Goin’ On by Sly & The Family Stone
Black Moses by Isaac Hayes

Eight of those eventually ended up on the vinyl stacks here. At the time this chart was released, two, maybe three, of those albums were in the cardboard box in the basement rec room: The Concert For Bangla Desh and Tapestry were for sure, but I’m not certain about the Cat Stevens album.

Tapestry and Teaser . . . were my sister’s LPs, and she’d take them with her when she got married and left Kilian Boulevard during the coming summer. I’d eventually get my own copies of those two records and copies of five more of the ten albums listed there. The only two that didn’t ever show up were the All In The Family soundtrack and the Isaac Hayes album. (The Isaac Hayes album is on the digital shelves, but oddly, the Sly & The Family Stone album is not; all of the others except the All In The Family soundtrack are there.)

So of those, how many matter today? Well, most of Tapestry is in the iPod, as well as selected tracks from Music, American Pie, The Concert For Bangla Desh, and the albums by Led Zeppelin and Cat Stevens. It’s the stuff that – if you’ve been reading this blog even semi-regularly – you’d expect to be there. So no surprises there.

But what about our ostensible purpose for being here today? What album sits at No. 48 on that chart released forty-eight years ago today?

Well, it’s an album that never had a chance of getting onto my shelves: Cheech & Chong. I heard the 1971 debut album by Cheech Marin and Tommy Chong often at friends’ places, and I laughed along with everyone else. But comedy albums have never been a big deal to me. In fact, the only comedy album I ever sought out for myself was Bill Cosby’s Wonderfulness, which my folks bought for me, most likely in 1967. (A few other comedy records have come and gone in box buys at flea markets and garage sales.)

Enough people elsewhere loved Cheech & Chong for it to get to No. 26 during a sixty-four week run on the chart. And here’s the opening bit from the album, a bit that lives on in a lot of people’s heads when they meet someone named Dave.

Back Business, One Year Later

Friday, January 10th, 2020

It was a year ago today that I had my back surgery, with Dr. McIver doing some clean-up and installing various pieces of hardware to stabilize things in my lumbar spine and to rid me of the horrendous pain I’d been feeling in my hamstrings for about two years.

Well, it all worked. The pain was gone as soon as I woke from surgery, and the pain from the surgery is greatly diminished, Still, there is some pain in my lower back. Two reasons for that:

First of all, I’m sixty-six. As Dr. McIver said during one of my post-op visits, “We can’t make you twenty again.”

And then, I don’t always get to the exercise room at the Senior Center as often as I should. And when I don’t, things stiffen up back there.

That’s what’s been happening during the past ten days, as the Texas Gal and I have been dealing with some kind of cold/body-ache bug. One day I feel fine and she’s down, the next day, she’s better and I’m not. I can tell early this morning that this is one of my “not” days, so I’m going to have to take it easy. I’ll read, practice some piano in preparation for church this coming Sunday, and putter with some mp3s I need to catalog.

As I started this, I told the RealPlayer to sort the 79,000-some mp3s on the organized shelves for files that have the word “back” in them, whether showing up in the title, the performer, the album title or maybe some appended notes. That brought us 1,442 files. And I’m going to sort those for running time and then click on random as many times as needed to land on something from my 1967-75 sweet spot with “back” in its title

And we find a track from Allen Toussaint’s 1975 album Southern Nights, “Back In Baby’s Arms.” I don’t see a single release listed at my normal reference spots, but the album bubbled under the Billboard 200 at No. 204.

And it’s a sweet bit of mellow New Orleans R&B with a couple of nice sax solos.

Looking Ahead To 1970

Thursday, January 2nd, 2020

Well, not that it’s a trenchant insight or anything, but the past keeps getting further away from us. For example, stuff that happened in 1990 – a year that still seems recent – now took place thirty years ago. My students from that year at Stephens College, a women’s college in Missouri, are now mostly in their early fifties, many of them likely grandparents. And yet, they remain in their early twenties in my memory.

Then there’s the year of 1970, long a benchmark for me – for both music and life – which suddenly (or so it seems) lies a half-century in the past. But its music – and the music of the years on either side of it, from about 1965 to 1975 – still seems vital to me (and to millions of others, too, based on the things I see and hear in the groves of popular culture).

So I guess we’ll keep digging here – Odd and Pop and I – into the music and times of my youth. And what better way to continue doing that than to look at what the year of 1970 would eventually bring as, we tuned our radios fifty years ago this week.

Here are the top ten records of 1970, as offered by Joel Whitburn in A Century Of Pop Music:

“Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Simon & Garfunkel
“I’ll Be There” by the Jackson 5
“Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head” by B.J. Thomas
“(They Long To Be) Close To You” by the Carpenters
“My Sweet Lord” by George Harrison
“I Think I Love You” by the Partridge Family
“Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” by Diana Ross
“War” by Edwin Starr
“American Woman” by the Guess Who
“Let It Be” by the Beatles

No surprises there.

But the list reminds me of lying on the sofa at home on January 1, 1971, listening and taking notes as the Twin Cities’ KDWB was counting down its own top hits of 1970. At Nos. 1 and 3 were “Bridge” and “Let It Be.” (And I’m not sure of the order of those two, as the piece of paper on which I took my notes has years ago gone its own way.) But at No. 2, I remember for certain, was the Partridge Family record, and I remember as well rolling my eyes in consternation.

Fifty years later, I’d be unconsterned, if that’s a word. “I Think I Love You” is, as I’ve realized over the years, a great record, so it was no surprise to see it the top ten in Whitburn’s book. (And it’s a record that’s provided me with a more vivid memory than have either “Bridge” or “Let It Be,” a memory I’ve related here before.)

So what do we listen to today? Usually, I’d find the No. 50 record from a year that’s now fifty years in the past, but Whitburn’s book only lists the top forty records of the year. So I think we’ll sort out by time the 4,183 records from 1970 in the RealPlayer, set the cursor in the middle and click ten times.

And we get José Feliciano covering the Beatles, taking on “She Came In Through The Bathroom Window.” It’s from his 1970 album Fireworks, which I used to hear across the street at Rick’s.

Tenth record added after first posting.

Still Moody

Tuesday, December 17th, 2019

Today was the day I was going to continue my assessment of the Moody Blues’ catalog and dive into their 1971 album Every Good Boy Deserves Favour. But my semi-annual cold with its assorted ailments has sapped my energy, and although I’ve likely listened to the album enough, I don’t have the energy to write about it at length.

Later in the week, perhaps, I can take another whack at it. In the meantime, here’s the best track from the album, likely an unsurprising choice (and one that’s been featured here before): “The Story In Your Eyes.” A single release of the track went to No. 23 on the Billboard Hot 100 in early October 1971, a month after the album peaked at No. 2 on the magazine’s album chart (where it sat for three weeks, blocked from the top spot by Carole King’s Tapestry).

‘She’s Lost The Sun . . .’

Thursday, December 12th, 2019

When I explored the Billboard Easy Listening chart from fifty years ago in a post here last week, many of the top fifteen records that I highlighted were among those I was hearing on the Top 40 at the time. That’s not surprising, of course. Crossover between the two charts was common. (I don’t know if that’s the case today. My interest in the Top 40 fades somewhere between twenty and thirty years ago. I’m old.)

One of the records on that Easy Listening chart from 1969 that caught my eye as I wrote was the Guess Who’s “Undun.” It was one of my two or three favorite records from the Canadian group during my high school days, topped only, I’d guess, by “No Time” (which did end up on my long-ago Ultimate Jukebox). And until it showed up on that long-ago Easy Listening chart last week, it hadn’t crossed my mind for a while. Nor had the larger catalog of the Guess Who. (Even though about ten of the group’s singles are in my iPod, they evidently don’t pop up often enough that I take notice.)

So I spent some time the other day checking the digital shelves for Guess Who material and ripping and sorting the 2003 two-CD Anthology released by RCA/BMG Heritage. I suppose I should just pop the CDs into the car’s player the next few times I head out on errands or drop them into the large stereo set that sits not far from my desk here in the EITW studios. But I just listened to a few of the resulting mp3s, “Undun” included.

“Undun” was, according to the listings in Joel Whitburn’s Top Pop Singles, the B-side of “Laughing,” which entered the Hot 100 in July of 1969 and peaked at No. 10. “Undun” followed its A-side into the Hot 100 in mid-October and was in the chart for ten weeks, reaching No. 22. On the Easy Listening chart, it peaked at No. 15, which is where it was in the fifty-year-old chart explored here last week. (It was the only record the Guess Who ever got into the Easy Listening chart.)

And in the Twin Cities, it looks like the record peaked at No. 22 on KDWB, where I got a good share of my Top 40 fix. So I let some memories wash over me as I listened to it the other day; the autumn of 1969 was a pretty good time.

And then I wondered about real easy listening versions of the song, recordings from folks like Ferrante & Teicher or Ray Conniff. Well, those folks didn’t record the tune, according to the information from Second Hand Songs, but I did find a version of the tune that scratched my easy listening itch: Hugo Montenegro included a cover of “Undun” on his 1970 album Colours Of Love.

‘Just Like The Wind Will . . .’

Tuesday, December 10th, 2019

We got about six inches of snow here yesterday morning, and this morning, the temperature is eight degrees below zero. Winter is here, and the weather reminded me of youthful fun at Riverside Park on the East Side, a large space wedged between Kilian Boulevard and Riverside Drive. The park has one of St. Cloud’s best sliding hills, a place that came to mind when I wrote this post in January 2009. I’ve revised it just a bit.

There are, as I’ve discussed before, many songs that take me back to a specific time and place, or remind me of a specific person, or both. That’s true, I’d guess, for anyone who loves music: some records trigger memories. Among such recordings for me are Pink Floyd’s “Us And Them,” which sets me down in the lounge of a youth hostel in Denmark; Orleans’ “Dance With Me,” which puts me in the 1975 version of Atwood Center at St. Cloud State; and Enya’s “Orinoco Flow,” which tugs me back to my duplex in Minot, North Dakota, on a winter’s night.

There are, I’m certain, hundreds of such songs, and every once in a while, one of them pops up on the radio, the stereo, the RealPlayer, or the iPod, and it triggers one of those long-ago associations for a moment or two. One happened when I was driving to the grocery store the other day.

I was listening, once again, to Kool 108 in the Twin Cities. The station, as it does every year, had played holiday music from Thanksgiving through Christmas. Even if one loves holiday music – and as I’ve noted here, I generally don’t – that’s way too much of a good thing. So I was hungry for oldies on the car radio this week, hungry enough that I even listened to “Help Me, Rhonda” all the way through instead of pushing the button for another station. And I’m glad I hung in there with the Beach Boys, for the following song took me back:

Holly holy eyes, dream of only me
Where I am, what I am, what I believe in
Holly holy
Holly holy dream, wanting only you
And she comes, and I run just like the wind will
Holly holy

Sing a song
Sing a song of songs . . .

It was early 1970, and Rick and I were at the sledding hill at Riverside Park, no more than a mile from our homes. We had a couple of new saucer sleds and were testing them out on the long hill, enjoying the times we wiped out as much as we enjoyed those times we made it upright to the bottom of the hill.

It was a cloudy Sunday, and the light that penetrated the cloud cover was fading; evening was approaching as we hauled ourselves up the hill for the last time that day. And as we got to the top of the hill, from somewhere came the sound of a radio for just a few seconds: Neil Diamond’s “Holly Holy.”

I’m not sure where the sound came from. In the parking lot at the top of the hill, a car with its radio on might have had a door open for just a moment, perhaps to admit tired sledders about to head home. That seems likely. But however it happened, we both heard the song as we went up the hill.

“Good song,” I said. It was okay, said Rick, not one of his favorites.

And almost thirty-nine years later, as I drove to the store, the strains of “Holly Holy” put me back there again: On that long hill in Riverside Park, cheeks red, glasses splashed with snowflakes, feet cold inside my boots, taking the first steps on the way to home and hot chocolate.

It’s now been fifty years since “Holly Holy” was on the charts. It slipped into the Billboard Hot 100 in November 1969, and by mid-December, it was at No. 13, heading to No. 6 (and to No. 5 on the magazine’s Easy Listening chart).

And next month, it will have been fifty years since Rick and I trudged up the hill and caught just a snippet of the Neil Diamond record. I don’t know that we ever went sledding at Riverside again, but I’ve heard “Holly Holy” many times since (five times in the past year on the iPod alone, according to the device’s stats), and it remains one of my favorite Diamond records ever, another reminder that the music of 1969-70 – my junior year in high school – was one of the richest musical veins I’ve ever mined.

Saturday Single No. 668

Saturday, December 7th, 2019

So what were the easy listening stations playing fifty years ago this week? Here are the top fifteen from the chart now called Adult Contemporary that were listed by Billboard in its December 6, 1969, edition, fifty years ago yesterday.

“Leaving On A Jet Plane” by Peter, Paul & Mary
“Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head” by B.J. Thomas
“Try A Little Kindness” by Glen Campbell
“And When I Die” by Blood, Sweat & Tears
“A Woman’s Way” by Andy Williams
“Smile A Little Smile For Me” by the Flying Machine
“Make Your Own Kind Of Music” by Mama Cass Elliot
“Wedding Bell Blues” by the 5th Dimension
“Midnight Cowboy” by Ferrante & Teicher
“Early In The Morning” by Vanity Fare
“Love Will Find A Way” by Jackie DeShannon
“A Brand New Me” by Dusty Springfield
“I Guess The Lord Must Be In New York City” by Nilsson
“Goin’ Out Of My Head” by Frank Sinatra
“Undun” by the Guess Who

Nearly all familiar, as I would have guessed. Of that fifteen, there are only two that don’t immediately play on the turntable in my head: the Andy Williams and Frank Sinatra singles. I know “Goin’ Out Of My Head,” of course, but Sinatra’s take on it seems almost sleepy, with none of the urgency I hear in the original version of the song by Little Anthony & The Imperials (No. 6 in the Hot 100 in 1964) or even in the most successful cover of the tune, which was part of a medley by the Lettermen (No. 7 in 1968). When you’re less urgent than the Lettermen . . .

As to Williams’ “A Woman’s Way,” I don’t recall it at all, and my reaction to it this morning was “Wow!” Consider:

Oh, the measure of her man
Is in a woman’s eyes
She can make him something special
If she tries

From the moment she that she gives herself
Her life is not the same
It’s a woman’s way to live
So she proudly takes his name

For a woman’s life is empty
Until she finds her man
It’s a woman’s way to give all that she can

Different times.

A third record from that top fifteen that caught my eye this morning was Glen Campbell’s “Try A Little Kindness.” A couple months ago, the speaker at our Unitarian-Universalist Fellowship talked about the importance of kindness, and for once, the four of us that make up the musicans’ group were on topic, offering the Sunday morning gathering our version of the tune, written by Bobby Austin and Curt Sapaugh.

I thought briefly about making that our Saturday Single, but a quick check told me that it showed up here the week Campbell passed on in 2017, so we’ll search elsewhere. And none of the other records in that easy listening top fifteen, as much as I love many of them, call to me this morning. So we’re going to play Games With Numbers and turn today’s date – 12/7/19 – into 38 and see what’s at No. 38 in that fifty-year-old Easy Listening chart.

And we come across Bossa Rio, a Latin group from Brazil that placed two records in the Easy Listening chart in 1969 and 1970, with neither of them finding their ways into the Hot 100. The latter of the two, “With Your Love Now,” went to No. 15 during the summer of 1970. The earlier record, the one we’re interested in today, peaked at No 22 during an eight-week run on the chart that started in 1969 and continued into 1970.

The group sounds – perhaps inevitably – like Sérgio Mendes & Brasil 66. But that’s a nice sound on a Saturday morning. Here’s Bossa Rio’s take on the Beatles’ “Blackbird.”