Archive for the ‘What’s At No. 100?’ Category

What’s At No. 100? (February 1971)

Wednesday, February 24th, 2021

Well, the Billboard Top Ten from the last week in February 1971 – fifty years ago – doesn’t hold many surprises:

“One Bad Apple” by the Osmonds
“Mama’s Pearl” by the Jackson 5
“Knock Three Times” by Dawn
“Rose Garden” by Lynn Anderson
“If You Could Read My Mind” by Gordon Lightfoot
“I Hear You Knocking” by Dave Edmunds
“Sweet Mary” by Wadsworth Mansion
“Amos Moses” by Jerry Reed
“Mr. Bojangles” by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
“Me & Bobbie McGee” by Janis Joplin

Man, there are a bunch of short titles in there. That list might set a record for the Top Ten with the fewest words in its ten titles: Thirty, making for an average of three words per title.

That, of course, says nothing about the quality of the records, which is pretty good, as I sort it out. (As always, I’m confronted by the quandary: Do I assess these records as I would have when the chart was new, or do I look at them from today’s perch? I end up doing a little bit of both, I imagine.)

What did I like back then? I liked the records by Anderson and Lightfoot. I liked “Sweet Mary,” “Mr. Bojangles” and “Bobbie McGee.” And fifty years later, only “Rose Garden” isn’t as good as it used to be.

I liked “I Hear You Knocking,” but I didn’t understand why the vocal sounded as if it were pinched somehow, and I really didn’t get why Edmunds hollered out what seemed like random names during the instrumental. I recognized only one of the names – Chuck Berry – and that one only vaguely. I could have used the record as a road map to learn more about music if I’d only paid attention or had someone to ask, I guess. I like it a lot more today, knowing what Edmunds was up to, than I did then.

“One Bad Apple” and “Amos Moses” didn’t do it for me when I was seventeen. I’ve changed my mind about the Jerry Reed single but not about the Osmonds’. The Dawn record was a hoot in 1971; when it played on the jukebox in St. Cloud Tech High’s multi-purpose room, kids would use their fists on the lunch tables to knock three times themselves. It’s a nice memory today. I don’t recall hearing “Mama’s Pearl” back then at all. And from 2021, it’s just okay.

What, then, do we find when we drop to the bottom of that Hot 100, which came out on February 27, 1971?

We find “Super Highway” by Ballin’ Jack, a record that kind of fits into the “back to the land” ethos that permeated a lot of tunes at the time, or if not “back to the land” at least offered a critique of society’s tendency to trade land for asphalt.

The chorus, specifically, tugs at me:

Super highway tearing through my city
Super highway tearing through my town
Super highway tearing through my country
Super highway, got to tear it down

We seem in the United States these days to at least be starting to reckon with how our culture has treated the cultures of people of color. Whether that turns into a long-term effort is, of course, an open question. But among the topics I’ve seen raised lately in news coverage and in online gathering spots is how the routing of the Interstate Highway system literally tore apart inner-city communities of color.

Here in Minnesota, St. Paul’s Rondo neighborhood – the center of Black culture in the city – was shredded when I-94 was routed through the city in the late 1950s and early 1960s. I think a similar thing happened, though not to the same degree, when the western segment of I-35 was routed through South Minneapolis. And Ballin’ Jack was singing about it – or something very much like it – fifty years ago.

Ballin’ Jack was, according to Joel Whitburn’s Top Pop Singles, an interracial jazz-rock group from San Francisco. “Super Highway” was the group’s only single to hit the Hot 100, topping out during a four-week run at No. 93. The single was a very tight edit of a longer track on the group’s first album, a self-titled effort that hit No. 180 on the Billboard 200.

The album track starts with a slow introduction that kills the track before it begins to rock, while the single kicks from the start, sort of like what happened not quite a year earlier with the punchy radio single of Pacific Gas & Electric’s “Are You Ready” and the slowly starting album track.

Here’s the single of “Super Highway,” which would have been a fine piece of horn band rock if the writers had developed the lyric – which is way too repetitive – a lot more.

Chart Digging, December 1969

Friday, December 18th, 2020

Having played around the other day with the albums from this week in 1969, I thought we should look at the Hot 100 for that week as well. Here are the Top 10 records from the third week in December 1969:

“Leaving On A Jet Plane” by Peter, Paul & Mary
“Someday We’ll Be Together” by Diana Ross & The Supremes
“Down On The Corner/Fortunate Son” by Creedence Clearwater Revival
“Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye” by Steam
“Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head” by B.J. Thomas
“Come Together/Something” by the Beatles
“Yester-Me, Yester-You, Yesterday” by Stevie Wonder
“Take A Letter, Maria” by R.B. Greaves
“Holly Holy” by Neil Diamond
“And When I Die” by Blood, Sweat & Tears

Wow. There’s not a one of those I wouldn’t welcome anytime. If forced to trim two records from those twelve, I’d likely take out “Down On The Corner” and “Take A Letter, Maria,” but only because I had to.

Maybe I love those records in large part because they were among the first batches of records I ever heard rise to the top in the Top 40. I started listening sometime in August 1969 and by December, I had gotten used to the cycle: New record shows up and catches my ear, so I wait for the next time I hear it, and it gets the same reaction from lots of other listeners and climbs up the ladder.

I dunno. But it seems that the records from, oh, the first year-plus of Top 40 listening – August 1969 to December 1970 – belong to me more than records from any other time of my life. There would be a few exceptions, sure, for stuff that came along later during the years I call my sweet spot, but after 1970, I’m not sure I could find a Top Ten in which every record was something I liked.

Has that appreciation for those twelve records lasted for fifty-one years? Let’s look at the iPod and see. Well, ten of the twelve are there. Missing are the B.J. Thomas and Blood, Sweat & Tears records. They should have been there.

Let’s take a look now at the bottom of the chart, at No. 100, and see what we find. It’s a record in its first week on the chart that would enter the Top 40 in early February 1970 and eventually peak at No. 7.

And even my mother liked it. Sometime in February or March 1970, she’d hear it coming from my radio as she came upstairs and stop and listen in the doorway for a moment. Then, as she headed to do whatever it was she was doing, she said something like “Why can’t more of your music be like that?”

Here are the Hollies and “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother.”

What’s At No. 100? (LPs, October 1971)

Thursday, October 29th, 2020

Not long ago, we bounced around the charts from the autumn of 1970, a neat and clean fifty years ago. We’re going to move up a year to 1971, when the charts should be nearly as interesting but without that nifty round number.

We’ll start today with the Billboard 200, the album chart, and in coming days, we’ll look at the Hot 100 and the Easy Listening chart from the last week of October of 1971.  Here’s the top ten from the album chart from forty-nine years ago this week:

Every Picture Tells A Story by Rod Stewart (1991)
Imagine by John Lennon (1972)
Shaft by Isaac Hayes (1989)
Santana III
Tapestry by Carole King (1983)
Every Good Boy Deserves Favour by the Moody Blues (1977)
Carpenters (1980)
Teaser & The Firecat by Cat Stevens (1995)
Ram by Paul & Linda McCartney (1971)
Who’s Next (1988)

As you can see by the years listed in parentheses, nine of those ten albums eventually found places on my shelves, some early, some late. I don’t know why the Santana album never did.

And even though I only owned one of those albums at the time the chart was released – I’d gotten Ram for a high school graduation present in June 1971 – I think I’d heard portions of all of those by the end of the academic year in the spring of 1972. New music was all around me, on my radios, across the street at Rick’s, in the dorms where I hung out with my friends, and at the St. Cloud State radio station.

And at that time, I likely would have rated Ram, the Moody Blues album, and maybe Imagine as the best albums in that chart. Now? I’d likely put Tapestry at the top of the list by a good margin, then Who’s Next and the Rod Stewart album. At the bottom of that very good list would likely be the album by the Carpenters along with Imagine and Ram.

Well, let’s check out the iPod, which as much as anything reflects my current listening. Eight tracks from Tapestry are among the 2,700-some in the iPod, and so are five tracks from Ram, four from the Cat Stevens album, three each from Every Picture . . . and Every Good Boy . . ., two from the Carpenters’ album, and one from Who’s Next. John Lennon, Isaac Hayes and Santana are shut out. (And “Shaft” will be added to the device by the end of the day.)

So are there any lessons or conclusions to be drawn there? Probably not, except to acknowledge that all those college women whose copies of Tapestry I heard as I walked along dormitory hallways during my freshman year at St. Cloud State knew their stuff. (And to note that despite the glory of its title track and the decent quality of one or two other tracks, Imagine wasn’t nearly as good as a lot of folks – including me – wanted it to be.)

Having checked out the iPod, let’s go to the mid-point of the Billboard 200 from forty-nine years ago this week, and see what album sat at No. 100 during the last week of October 1971. And we find a serving of R&B courtesy of the Isley Brothers: Givin’ It Back.

The album leads off with a nine-minute medley of Neil Young’s “Ohio” and Jimi Hendrix’ “Machine Gun.” That’s followed by covers of James Taylor (“Fire & Rain”), Bob Dylan (“Lay, Lady, Lay”), War (“Spill The Wine”), Stephen Stills (“Love The One You’re With” and “Nothing To Do But Today”), and Bill Withers (“Cold Bologna”).

Givin’ It Back peaked at No. 71. Here’s “Love The One You’re With.”

What’s At No. 100? (August 1977)

Friday, August 14th, 2020

Thinking, as we did a week ago, of years that we don’t often dabble in, we’re going to take a look at 1977 today. It’s a year we’ve featured only fifty times since setting up our own website ten years ago.

What was going on in mid-August of 1977? I was renting a small mobile home in the little burg of Sauk Rapids (just north of St. Cloud) finishing a minor in print journalism at St. Cloud State, thinking about newspaper employment, and reconnecting with the young woman who would in a year become the Other Half, as we’d taken an eight-week break from each other that summer.

So where was I getting my music? My bedroom radio was tuned to a Sauk Rapids FM station called WHMH, which I guess was programmed as adult contemporary; the radio in the kitchen was tuned to WJON, which I listened to mostly in the late evenings. I’d brought a few of my albums from Kilian Boulevard and borrowed Mom and Dad’s portable stereo and had it sitting on top of the refrigerator. And in the offices of the University Chronicle, where I was the arts editor, the radio was most often tuned to KCLD, a St. Cloud Top 40 station.

That means the Billboard Top Ten from August 13, 1977, should not be unfamiliar. We’ll start there and then drop down and check out No. 100.

“I Just Want To Be Your Everything” by Andy Gibb
“I’m In You” by Peter Frampton
“Best Of My Love” by the Emotions
“(Your Love Has Lifted Me) Higher & Higher” by Rita Coolidge
“Do You Wanna Make Love” by Peter McCann
“My Heart Belongs To Me” by Barbra Streisand
“Easy” by the Commodores
“Whatcha Gonna Do?” by Pablo Cruise
“You & Me” by Alice Cooper
“You Made Me Believe In Magic” by the Bay City Rollers

I recall, without prompting, hearing seven of those during that distant summer, all except the McCann, Streisand and Bay City Rollers singles. I know I’ve heard the McCann since, and don’t much care for it. For the other two, a trip to YouTube may help. And it took only a few seconds for me to remember the Streisand record, and I think I like it more than I did then. The Bay City Rollers record, well, it’s not bad as I listen forty-three years later, but I don’t remember it.

Of the seven I do recall, the only ones I truly liked in 1977 were “Easy” and “Whatcha Gonna Do?” The Andy Gibb and Emotions records were fine and still are, but the Frampton, the Coolidge and the Cooper didn’t grab me then, and of those, only the Coolidge record, I’d guess, might catch my attention now.

So how many records from that Top Ten are in my current listening? A look at the iPod’s contents finds the tracks by Andy Gibb, the Commodores and Pablo Cruise. The records by the Emotions and Streisand may join them.

And now, on to our other business of the day, checking out the No. 100 record in that Billboard chart from forty-three years ago. And it turns out to be the Eagles’ “Life In The Fast Lane,” falling fast from No. 60 the previous week. It had peaked at No. 11.

The Eagles, for some reason, have hardly been mentioned in this space. “Tequila Sunrise” showed up in a random game in 2013, and “Take It To The Limit” was included in the Ultimate Jukebox in 2010. Why so little attention? I have no idea. I like the band’s work, for the most part, and there’s nothing in their catalog that makes me skip to the next track. And nine of their records are in the iPod. It’s a mystery, I guess.

And here’s another mystery: The Eagles’ studio version of “Life In The Fast Lane” is not available at YouTube. So here’s Joe Walsh’s performance of it as a member of Ringo Starr’s first All Starr Band in 1989. Joining Ringo and Joe onstage were Levon Helm, Dr. John, Rick Danko, Nils Lofgren, Billy Preston, Clarence Clemons and Jim Keltner. (Zak Starr also played in this concert when his dad was at center stage.)

What’s At No. 100? (Album Edition)

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2020

We spent some time last week looking at the Billboard Easy Listening chart from the third week of 1970. It’s time, I thought, to look at the top ten albums from the Billboard 200 from fifty years ago, by now the fourth week of that long-ago month and then to play an album version of “What’s At No. 100?”

Here’s that Top Ten, published July 25, 1970:

Woodstock soundtrack
Let It Be by the Beatles
McCartney by Paul McCartney
Self Portrait by Bob Dylan
Blood, Sweat &  Tears 3
ABC by the Jackson 5
Déjà Vu by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
Closer to Home by Grand Funk Railroad
Live At Leeds by the Who
Chicago II

At the time that Top Ten came out, two of those albums were already in my box of LPs in the basement rec room: Let It Be and the silver-jacketed album Billboard calls Chicago II. (The 1970 LP edition and the 2002 CD reissue, both on my shelves, call the album simply Chicago.) In October 1970, Déjà Vu would join them.

Eventually, five of the remaining seven would make their ways during the years 1987 to 2000 onto the LP shelves. The two that have never been here are the Jackson 5 and Grand Funk Railroad albums (although two tracks from the Jackson 5 album and the title track from the Grand Funk Railroad album are in the digital stacks.)

And tracks from seven of those albums are among the 2,700 tracks currently in the iPod (with Déjà Vu, Chicago, and Let It Be most represented). It’s easier to list the three that don’t have any tracks among my day-to-day listening: The albums by the Who, the Jackson 5 and BST.

Now on to our putative main business, checking out the album at No. 100. Turns out to be album I’ve never owned nor been much interested in, but it was home to one of my favorite singles of 1970, “Reflections Of My Life,” a No. 10 record that gave the album its title (at least in the U.S.A.): Reflections Of My Life by the Marmalade.

The album version of the track runs longer than the single I recall hearing from my RCA radio (and there may be more differences than length), and – as usually happens – I do not see any videos of the single version at YouTube. Nor do I have the single, so we’ll listen to the album track as offered by the Marmalade’s account at the website:

And since we’re dabbling with the Billboard 200 today, I thought we might as well drop all the way to the bottom and see what was lurking at No. 200. There, we find an album that I occasionally saw during my record digging days in the 1990s but that I always passed by for something else: Struttin’ by the Meters.

A single from the album, “Chicken Strut,” showed up a couple of months ago when we were playing “What’s At No. 50?” so we’re just going to give a listen to the flip side, “Hey! Last Minute.”

A Quick Look at No. 100 (July 1970)

Friday, July 3rd, 2020

Having been sidetracked by household duties this morning, I was going to let things slide here, but I nevertheless took a look at the Billboard Hot 100 from the first week of July 1970, fifty years ago.

And, as I do, I took a quick look at No. 100, and I was startled to see “Eve Of Destruction” by the Turtles. Really? In 1970?

I mean, the world wasn’t puppies and roses in 1970 by any measure, but Barry McGuire’s No. 1 hit with the song came in 1965, and five years in pop music and radio terms is an eternity. And things got even more strange when I looked at versions of the song at Second Hand Songs because the Turtles were among the first to record the song in 1965.

The website lists songs by release and lists McGuire’s version as the first released in August 1965. Then comes P.F. Sloan in September, and in October, the Turtles’ version came out on their It Ain’t Me, Babe album (as did a version by a Danish group called Sir Henry & His Butlers).

So the question hangs in the air: Why release an album track from 1965 as a single in 1970, especially of such a topical (and idiosyncratic) song? Whatever the reason was, it didn’t work, as the record spent two weeks at No. 100 and then sank from sight. (It was the Turtles’ last record to hit the Hot 100. In November 1970, “Me About You” bubbled under for three weeks, peaking at No. 105).

Here’s the Turtles’ “Eve Of Destruction.”

And I’m going to offer here the heavily accented cover from 1965 by Sir Henry & His Butlers. I’m especially amused by the enunciation of the letter “v” with a “w” sound (“wiolence” and “woting” instead of “violence” and “voting”). It reminds me of life with my host family in Denmark; during the autumn of 1973, my host mother Oda would see me reading the International Herald-Tribune on Tuesdays and – knowing of my interest in Minnesota’s professional football team – would ask me, “How did the Wikings do this week?”

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.”

What’s At No. 100? (June 1972)

Wednesday, June 10th, 2020

It’s been a while since we looked a chart from 1972, so let’s pull up the Billboard Top Ten from June 10 of that year – exactly forty-eight years ago today – and then head to the bottom slot in that week’s Hot 100.

Here’s the Top Ten:

“The Candy Man” by Sammy Davis, Jr.
“I’ll Take You There” by the Staple Singers
“Oh Girl” by the Chi-Lites
“Song Sung Blue” by Neil Diamond
“Sylvia’s Mother” by Dr. Hook & The Medicine Show
“Nice To Be With You” by Gallery
“The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” by Roberta Flack
“Morning Has Broken” by Cat Stevens
“Outta-Space/I Wrote A Simple Song” by Billy Preston
“(Last Night) I Didn’t Get To Sleep At All” by the 5th Dimension

Well. That’s not a very inspiring set of eleven singles. The only one of those that grips me very hard at all these days is “I’ll Take You There.” The Chi-Lites’ single was a favorite back then, and I still like the singles by Neil Diamond, Gallery and Roberta Flack (although that last wore its welcome out in 1972 and is still on some form of repetition probation).

None of the others matter one way or the other except for “The Candy Man,” which approaches “Seasons In The Sun” territory on the “The First Time Ever I Heard The Record I Hated It” scale. I turned nineteen that year, and the presence at No. 1 of the “The Candy Man” in the spring and then Chuck Berry’s “My Ding-A-Ling” in the autumn taught me at that early age to be skeptical of the tastes of the masses.

So how many of those records matter to me today? Normally, we’d take a look here at the contents of my iPod. But since I got a new computer and had to reload things, the iPod is being balky, so we’ll look at the iTunes library and its 2,800-or so tracks, which remains a work in progress. How many of those eleven singles are in my day-to-day listening?

Right now, four: The records by Gallery, Robert Flack, Cat Stevens and the Billy Preston A-side are there. Likely joining them as the library is re-seeded will be the Staple Singers, the Chi-Lites and Neil Diamond. The 5th Dimension? Maybe.

Now, on to our supposed main business here: The record at No. 100 forty-eight years ago today. And we come across one of Petula Clark’s last records to make the Hot 100, her cover of Mary Wells’ No. 1 hit from 1964, “My Guy.” Clark’s cover went to No. 70 in the Hot 100 and to No. 12 in the Billboard Easy Listening chart.

Clark would have two more records in the Hot 100: Her cover of Noel Paul Stookey’s “Wedding Song (There Is Love)” would go to No. 61 in the autumn of 1972, and “Natural Love” would get to No. 66 in 1982. Both of those would hit the Easy Listening chart (at Nos. 9 and 24, respectively), and “Natural Love” would be Clark’s only entry on the country chart, going to No. 20.

Here’s her take on “My Guy.”

What’s At No. 100 (May 1971)

Wednesday, May 27th, 2020

We’re gonna look around in late May of 1971 today, forty-nine years ago. It was that week or the next – my memory fails me and I don’t want to dig for documentation – when I put on a blue cap and gown and graduated from St. Cloud Tech High School. (I also wore an orange and black woven cord, signifying that I was graduating with honors, a fact that baffled me and surprised and pleased my parents.)

Here’s the Billboard Top Fifteen from May 29, 1971:

“Brown Sugar” by the Rolling Stones
“Joy To The World” by Three Dog Night
“Never Can Say Goodbye” by the Jackson 5
“Wants Ads” by the Honey Cone
“It Don’t Come Easy” by Ringo Starr
“Put Your Hand In The Hand” by Ocean
“Bridge Over Troubled Water/Brand New Me” by Aretha Franklin
“Sweet And Innocent” by Donny Osmond
“Me And You And A Dog Named Boo” by Lobo
“Chick-A-Boom (Don’t Ya Jes’ Love It)” by Daddy Dewdrop
“Rainy Days And Mondays” by the Carpenters
“Love Her Madly” by the Doors
“If” by Bread
“Superstar” by Murray Head & The Trinidad Singers
“I Don’t Know How To Love Him” by Helen Reddy

There’s some good radio in there. Let’s take them five at a time:

Three of the first five are five-star records: “Brown Sugar,” “Joy To The World,” and “It Don’t Come Easy.” And the other two – the Jackson 5 and the Honey Cone singles – are not far behind. But then, this was a time when top 40 radio was my musical focus, and it’s hard to separate the times from the music that was the soundtrack for those times. And my senior year of high school, though it had its challenges, was a pretty good time.

The next five are a little tougher. The Ocean record no longer speaks to me, and I never liked Donny Osmond’s single. Daddy Dewdrop was a hoot, but not one with legs, and the Lobo record, well, I don’t mind hearing it, but it’s not a big deal. The A-side of the Aretha record is a great performance, but I found it later and don’t remember it at all from 1971. (My digging at Oldiesloon seems to say that the record did not get into the survey at the Twin Cities’ KDWB’s but I’m not sure.)

Finally, the five records at Nos. 11 through 15: I liked all five and still do, though the order in which I’d rank them has changed in nearly fifty years. Back in 1971, I likely put “Love Her Madly” at the top of that small heap; today, I’d put either “If” or “Rainy Days And Mondays” there. And seeing the Helen Reddy record in a springtime chart feels odd. I heard it on the radio, sure, but I heard it a lot more the next autumn coming from many rooms in the two women’s dorms I visited at St. Cloud State, so it feels like a college-time record more than one that comes from my high school days.

Usually, at this point I check the records in the chart against my iPod, but I got a new computer last week and I am still in the process of reloading about 3,900 tracks into iTunes and the iPod from the 80,000-some in my main music files. So we’ll see which ones are among the 2,900 or so in the device right now and I’ll make some notes as to which of the remainder will get there, too.

Right now, of the top five, the Stones, Ringo and Three Dog Night are in the device. Honey Cone and the Jackson 5 will follow.

None of the second five are in the iPod, but Lobo likely will be, once I get to the “L” folder, and the Aretha A-side might, depending on my mood, when I get to “F.” Donny Osmond, Daddy Dewdrop and Ocean? No.

From the final set of five, “If” and “Superstar” have already made the cut. The Carpenters and the Doors likely will follow. I did the second half of the alphabet first this time, so I’ve already passed on the Helen Reddy single, but I may change my mind. I did pull in four of her tracks already (“Ain’t No Way To Treat A Lady,” “Angie Baby,” “Don’t Make Promises,” and “Somewhere In The Night”).

And then, there’s our nominally main business today: Checking out the single at No. 100 in that long-ago chart. And it’s “Love Means (You Never Have To Say You’re Sorry)” by the Sounds Of Sunshine. We’ve run across it before. Finding it inspired the following (edited a bit):

The Sounds Of Sunshine were actually three brothers from the Los Angeles area – Walt, Warner and George Wilder – and the sound they offered on their only hit record owed a lot to the Lettermen and the Sandpipers (and probably a few other vocal groups that don’t come to mind at the moment).

For a one-shot hit, the record did pretty well, peaking at No. 39 in the Hot 100 and at No. 5 on the Adult Contemporary chart. The album from which the single was pulled got to No. 187 on the Billboard 200.

The source of the song – written by Warner Wilder – is, of course, the most famous line from the movie Love Story, a 1970 film “about a girl who died” co-starring Ryan O’Neal and Ali McGraw. In the film, after the two lovers have a spat, McGraw’s character tells O’Neal’s, “Love means never having to say you’re sorry.”

The line became the 1970s equivalent of a meme: It was impossible to avoid and to ignore. Originated by Erich Segal, who wrote both the screenplay and the novel on which the film is based, the famous line is, however, bullshit.

Now, pop culture offers all sorts of twaddle to its audiences as wisdom. Listeners, viewers and readers can, if they are so moved, pull epigrams or advice on living well from almost any bit of pop culture ephemera. (Well, “Disco Duck” might be a stretch.) And if those epigrams help those pop culture consumers make their ways through the crabgrass of life, that’s just fine.

But I think that a large swath of the Baby Boomer demographic closed Segal’s book or walked up the theater aisle during the closing credits of the movie with the thought circling through their minds that maybe love really does mean never having to say you’re sorry. I wonder how many college relationships foundered because one or the other of the individuals involved held to the wisdom of Segal and McGraw during a disagreement when a simple “I’m sorry” would have repaired a lot of damage.

Well, maybe not all that many. I don’t know. I’m sure there were those who thought “Love means never having to say you’re sorry” was a sweetly romantic idea, but I’d also like to think that most of those folks realized that what works in the movies rarely works in real life. For my part, I was not all that experienced in what worked in love at the time, but even at seventeen, I knew that a philosophy of no apologies would be more nearly lethal than nurturing to a romantic coupling.

Ah, well, it’s a line from a movie that inspired Warner Wilder to write a pretty song. If we dismissed all the songs based on bullshit, then the pop charts would be a lot shorter and not nearly as much fun.

That’s probably much more than you wanted this morning. Here’s the Sounds Of Sunshine single:

No. 46 Forty-Six Years Ago

Wednesday, May 20th, 2020

We’re going to fire up the Symmetry machine this morning and jump back to the third week of May in 1974. Why then? Because it was during that week – on May 21, to be precise – that I returned to Minnesota after my college year in Denmark. I don’t think I’ve ever looked to see what was atop the Billboard Hot 100 at the time (And if I have, it was evidently so long ago that another look won’t hurt.)

Here’s the Top Fifteen as of May 18, 1974, three days before our St. Cloud State contingent got onto a Finnair jet in Copenhagen to come home.

“The Streak” by Ray Stevens
“Dancing Machine” by the Jackson 5
“The Entertainer” by Marvin Hamlisch
“The Loco-Motion” by Grand Funk
“The Show Must Go On” by Three Dog Night
“Bennie & The Jets” by Elton John
“Band On The Run” by Paul McCartney & Wings
“Midnight At The Oasis” by Maria Muldaur
“(I’ve Been) Searching So Long” by Chicago
“You Make Me Feel Brand New” by the Stylistics
“TSOP (The Sound Of Philadelphia)” by MFSB feat. The Three Degrees
“I Won’t Last A Day Without You” by the Carpenters
“Tubular Bells” by Mike Oldfield
“Help Me” by Joni Mitchell
“Just Don’t Want To Be Lonely” by the Main Ingredient

Let’s take these five at a time. The top five has three sure station-turners (assuming one would ever hear them on an oldies station while in the car these days): the singles by Stevens, Grand Funk and Three Dog Night. None of Stevens’ work has aged well in this corner of the universe; “The Loco-Motion” shows Grand Funk at its sludgiest and most boring; and “The Show Must Go On” just feels silly, not nearly up to the level of Three Dog Night’s work from the years 1969 to 1971.

That leaves two of those five: “Dancing Machine” and “The Entertainer.” They aren’t gems, but hearing them once in a while is fine.

The next five are a different matter altogether. Any of those can pop into my ear anytime they want, even the Chicago, despite some of the things I’ve said about the band’s mid-Seventies work. My favorite among those would be “Midnight At The Oasis,” which was the fuse for my fascination with Muldaur’s oeuvre: Between vinyl and CD, I have six of her albums; those albums and more make up the more than 200 tracks from Muldaur on the digital shelves.

The bottom five of the list above is not quite as stellar: I don’t mind the Carpenters’ single, but it’s not something I seek out; and I cannot recall the last time I heard the “Tubular Bells” single. I do recall listening to Oldfield’s Tubular Bells album on occasional Sunday mornings in Missouri as I read newspapers from Columbia, Kansas City, St. Louis, Chicago and New York. The album is probably still here – and both sides of the single are likely on the digital shelves – but I don’t really go looking for any of it.

On the other hand, “TSOP,” “Help Me,” and “Just Don’t Want To Be Lonely” are welcome here any time at all.

So let’s use our usual measuring stick on those fifteen. How many of them are among the 3,900-some tracks on my iPod and thus are among my day-to-day listening? Well none of the top five are there, and four of the second five are, all except the Stylistics’ single. Two of the bottom five – the Mitchell and Main Ingredient tracks – are there, and “TSOP” should be.

So all in all, that’s not a bad Top Fifteen.

And now to our other business. What was at No. 46 forty-six years ago? Well, these things sometimes happen, as we land on a record that I didn’t like then and I still don’t like: John Denver’s “Sunshine On My Shoulders.” The record was on its way back down the chart after peaking at No. 1 at the end of March. At least I wasn’t around when the record was in heavy rotation on the radio. Here it is: