Archive for the ‘Chart Digging’ Category

One Chart Dig: June 1975

Tuesday, June 19th, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One Chart Dig: June 15, 1968

Friday, June 15th, 2018

A few days ago, I featured by default the No. 100 record in a Billboard Hot 100 from 1971. As I was scrolling down the screen toward the bottom of that chart, I was concerned that I’d find a dismal record, or at best, mediocrity.

I got lucky, stumbling into a Stephen Stills record that I’ve always liked. And this morning, I thought, “Well, that’s a strategy that might work on a frequent basis. So let’s try it again.”

So we – Odd, Pop and I – cast our line into the depths of the Hot 100 from June 15, 1968, fifty years ago today. And we weren’t quite as lucky. But we’ll get to that in a bit. First of all, let’s look at the Top Ten in that long-ago chart:

“Mrs. Robinson” by Simon & Garfunkel
“This Guy’s In Love With You” by Herb Alpert
“Mony Mony” by Tommy James & The Shondells
“Yummy Yummy Yummy” by the Ohio Express
“MacArthur Park” by Richard Harris
“Tighten Up” by Archie Bell & The Drells
“Think” by Aretha Franklin
“A Beautiful Morning” by the Rascals
“The Good, The Bad & The Ugly” by Hugo Montenegro, His Orchestra and Chorus
“The Look Of Love” by Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66

That’s a pretty good Top Ten. I can do without “Mony Mony” and “Yummy Yummy Yummy,” and I’ve gotten a bit tired of “Tighten Up” over the years, but the other seven are fine, and if together those seven tilt the list toward easy listening, well that’s okay here.

As usual when writing about stuff before the summer of 1969, I should note that I only heard any of these by default, when either my friends or my sister were listening to the radio while I was around. But all of these records – save perhaps “Think” – were familiar to me during that summer between junior high school and high school.

But I don’t think I’d ever heard that week’s No. 100 record until I sought it out this morning. It’s “Congratulations” by Cliff Richard, an artist whose stardom baffles me.

I know he was a big deal in England, with – says Wikipedia – sixty-seven Top Ten singles, second only to Elvis Presley. And he didn’t do badly here, with twenty-one records in or near the Hot 100 between 1959 and 1983. Three of those hit the Top Ten: “Devil Woman” in 1976 and “We Don’t Talk Anymore” and “Dreaming,” both in 1980. I liked “Devil Woman,” but the other two did very little for me, just like anything else I’ve ever heard from Richard.

I especially don’t get the appeal of “Congratulations,” which went to No. 1 in the United Kingdom and in five other European nations. If I weren’t in a generally good mood this morning, I’d label it “insipid.” As it is, I’ll settle for “unpleasant.” But fishing on the bottom of the ocean – something we will do again – can be risky. So here’s “Congratulations.”

One Chart Dig: June 12, 1971

Tuesday, June 12th, 2018

By this time during June 1971, I was mowing grass every day, riding across the lawns at St. Cloud State, sometimes enjoying it but mostly worried that I was going to have some kind of accident. That worry slowed me down, and I did not cut as much grass as my supervisor expected, so by mid-summer, I was transferred to the janitorial crew, which was fine with me.

Anyway, during June I’d come home with the roar of the lawnmower in my ears – no protective headgear for us in those long-ago days – and it would be an hour or two before the sound subsided, which was usually right around dinner time. Once I could hear, I’d turn the radio on in my room or stack a few LPs on the stereo in the basement and kick back for the evening.

So what did I hear? Here’s the Billboard Top Ten from June 12, 1971, forty-seven years ago today:

“Want Ads” by the Honey Cone
“Brown Sugar” by the Rolling Stones
“Rainy Days & Mondays” by the Carpenters
“It Don’t Come Easy” by Ringo Starr
“Joy To The World” by Three Dog Night
“It’s Too Late/I Feel The Earth Move” by Carole King
“Sweet & Innocent” by Donny Osmond
“Treat Her Like A Lady” by the Cornelius Brothers & Sister Rose
“I’ll Meet You Halfway” by the Partridge Family
“Bridge Over Troubled Water/Brand New Me” by Aretha Franklin

Well, from nearly fifty years later, that’s a pretty good set; I’d still wince at the Donny Osmond, but I’d likely enjoy the Partridge Family single more now than I did then.

That takes care of the radio. What would I hear if I headed to the rec room and the stereo? Here are the rock albums I’d acquired so far in 1971:

The Beatles (The White Album)
Crosby, Stills & Nash
“Yesterday” . . . and Today by the Beatles
Ram by Paul & Linda McCartney
Pearl by Janis Joplin

I was still working on my Beatles collection, but was beginning to branch out, too. By the end of the year, I’d have a few more albums by the Fab Four as well as albums by the Doors, Jethro Tull, Stephen Stills and Three Dog Night. I’d also acquire the original version of Jesus Christ Superstar and The Concert for Bangla Desh.

But to get back to that Billboard Hot 100 from forty-seven years ago today, I was going to play Games With Numbers with today’s date – 6/12/18 – and check out the records at Nos. 18, 24, 30 and 36. But only one of those four interests me – “Don’t Pull Your Love” by Hamilton, Joe Frank and Reynolds at No. 30 – and I’ve heard it recently.

So I dropped to the bottom of the chart, and at No. 100, I found a Stephen Stills record that I liked a fair amount: “Change Partners,” which also showed up on Stills’ second solo album. I recall hearing it that summer, but probably not often, as the record stalled at No. 43.

Saturday Single No. 593

Saturday, June 2nd, 2018

So my little music history game on Facebook has made its way to 1980, and this morning, I offered the No. 38 record in the Billboard Hot 100 from thirty-eight years ago, which turned out to be “Love Stinks” by the J. Geils Band.

Well, it could have been a lot worse. Looking at the Top Ten from that week in 1980, we find:

“Funky Town” by Lips, Inc.
“Coming Up/Coming Up (Live at Glascow)” by Paul McCartney & Wings
“Biggest Part of Me” by Ambrosia
“Don’t Fall In Love With A Dreamer” by Kenny Rogers with Kim Carnes
“Call Me” by Blondie
“The Rose” by Bette Midler
“Against The Wind” by Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band
“Hurts So Bad” by Linda Ronstadt
“Cars” by Garu Numan
“Little Jeanie” by Elton John

For me, that’s a dismal assortment, with eight records that I wouldn’t miss if I never heard them again. The two keepers, the only two of those ten that show up among the 3,938 tracks on the iPod, are “Funkytown” (mostly because it’s a Minnesota production) and “Call Me.”

As I wander further down that Hot 100 from the first week of June 1980, I see the time when I began – as I’ve noted here before – to look for a different format to satisfy my musical appetite. I eventually found it partly in the adult contemporary format offered by the Twin Cities station KSTP-FM, but the next few years found me listening to country and pop jazz and a few other things on the radio. On the turntable, I listened to my old favorites and some recent stuff that was rapidly heading into the oldies category.

Then there were a few months sometime around 1980 when the Other Half’s boss loaned us a stack of LPs from her husband’s extensive collection of Big Band music. For most of a summer, when we weren’t watching TV or listening to the radio (even the AC format wore on both of us at times), the house was filled with the sounds of the 1930s and 1940s. We were surprised how much we liked it, and we bought a few LPs – hits packages from Glenn Miller, Tommy Dorsey, and Duke Ellington – and they went into an informal rotation on the stereo.

But to get back to that 1980 Hot 100: As I scroll down I do see some things I liked then and still like, records by Boz Scaggs, Pure Prairie League, the Manhattans, Carole King, Fleetwood Mac, the Eagles, and a few more. And I see a lot of stuff I’m not sure I’ve ever heard.

So I’m going to just drop to the bottom of the Bubbling Under portion of the chart, where we find “Into the Night” by Benny Mardones at No. 110. The record, which would eventually peak at No. 11, is one I have never mentioned, just as I’ve never mentioned Benny Mardones during these past eleven-plus years. (“Into the Night” was re-released in 1989 and went to No. 20 on both the Hot 100 and the Adult Contemporary chart.)

It’s not a bad record, as I listen to it this morning, and it’s today’s Saturday Single:

One Chart Dig: May 30, 1970

Wednesday, May 30th, 2018

With the Texas Gal on vacation for a couple days following the holiday, it’s been a lazy time here. But I thought I’d take a few moments during a humid afternoon to look briefly at the Billboard Hot 100 from May 30, 1970, forty-eight years ago today.

Sitting at No. 1 was Ray Stevens’ “Everything Is Beautiful,” a record I might have liked the first time I heard it. I soon tired of it, and today I find it trite and bathetic. But we rarely do much business around here with the top of the charts, and today, Odd, Pop and I are playing a quick bit of Games With Numbers and looking at the record parked at No. 30.

And we find a record that’s never once been mentioned here in more than eleven years and about 2,400 posts: “Soolaimon” by Neil Diamond. That’s a little odd, given that I like Diamond’s work enough that his name is among the artists listed in the side column of both this site and the Echoes In The Wind Archives, which collects posts from early 2007 into 2009.

“Soolaimon” came from the 1970 album Tap Root Manuscript, where it was part of “The African Trilogy (A Folk Ballet),” a suite that took up the entire second side of the LP. I do wonder today exactly how African the suite truly is, but that’s a question for another time and for others more qualified than I to answer. (And I fear getting caught up in questions like: Should current concepts like cultural appropriation be applied to artistic works from earlier – and different – times?)

But back to “Soolaimon” the single: I liked it well enough when it was on the radio, I liked it when I heard it across the street at Rick’s place, and I still liked it when I heard it from my own vinyl copy of the album, which I finally collected in Wichita, Kansas, twenty years after its release. (And as I write, I’m pondering whether I should shell out a few bucks to get the CD; I likely won’t.) So why have I never written about it? I have no idea.

As it happens, we’re catching the record on the anniversary of its peak, as it had been at No. 31 a week earlier and would return to that spot as June began. So, with all that, here’s Neil Diamond’s “Soolaimon.”

Saturday Single No. 592

Saturday, May 26th, 2018

I’ve been doing kind of a fun daily music post at Facebook lately. It started Monday when I saw someone post something about an event in 1968, that incredible year now fifty years gone. And I got to wondering, just for fun, what the No. 50 record in the Billboard Hot 100 had been fifty years ago on Monday. So I checked it out and found it was Jerry Butler’s “Never Give You Up,” a decent piece of Chicago soul.

And never being one to let a good idea go underworked, I kept at it, posting one a day:

Forty-nine years ago Tuesday, the No. 49 record was “Special Delivery” by the 1910 Fruitgum Company.

Forty-eight years ago Wednesday, the No. 48 record was “Everybody’s Out Of Town” by B.J. Thomas.

Forty-seven years ago Thursday, the No. 47 record was “Booty Butt” by the Ray Charles Orchestra.

Forty-six years ago Friday, the No. 46 record was “Immigration Man” by Graham Nash and David Crosby.

And forty-five years ago today, the No. 45 record was “I Knew Jesus (Before He Was A Star)” by Glenn Campbell.

I’ll probably keep on with the daily posts through the 1970s, or at least through 1978, which will have been forty years ago and will make the series total eleven posts. So I’m about halfway done. And this morning’s post is the first time that the date of the post and the date of the chart matched: The Glenn Campbell record showed up in the Hot 100 that came out on May 26, 1973, exactly forty-five years ago today.

It being Saturday, of course, I’m looking for a Saturday Single, so we’re going to dig a bit further into that chart from forty-five years ago. We’ll likely not find our single in the top of the chart, but here’s the Top Ten from that week:

“Frankenstein” by the Edgar Winter Group
“My Love” by Paul McCartney & Wings
“Daniel” by Elton John
“Tie A Yellow Ribbon Round The Old Oak Tree” by Dawn featuring Tony Orlando
“You Are The Sunshine Of My Life” by Stevie Wonder
“Pillow Talk” by Sylvia
“Little Willy” by the Sweet
“Drift Away” by Dobie Gray
“Wildflower” by Skylark
“Hocus Pocus” by Focus

That’s a mixed bag, to be sure. The singles by Dawn, Sylvia and the Sweet were never among my favorites, and I tired quickly of the Stevie Wonder and Focus singles. The rest were good records but none of them were anything I thought of as great. The best one here was “Drift Away,” and that didn’t make my top 250 when I put it together as the Ultimate Jukebox in 2010.

But let’s look lower. Since my Facebook post this morning looked at No. 45, let’s look at the records in other “5” positions in that forty-five year old chart:

No. 15 was “Funky Worm” by the Ohio Players
No. 25 was “Will It Go Round In Circles” by Billy Preston
No. 35 was “I Can Understand It” by the New Birth
No. 55 was “Shambala” by Three Dog Night
No. 65 was “Hey You! Get Off My Mountain” by the Dramatics
No. 75 was “Peaceful” by Helen Reddy
No. 85 was “Smoke On The Water” by Deep Purple
No. 95 was “Outlaw Man” by David Blue

Well, that’s an interesting mix: A fair amount of R&B, some pop, one classic riff and one utterly lost record.

That lost record, for those keeping score at home, is Blue’s “Outlaw Man,” which would move up one more notch to No. 94 and then fall out of the Hot 100 entirely. It was Blue’s only entry in the Hot 100, and it had been pulled from Blue’s 1973 album Nice Baby and the Angel, the fifth of seven albums Blue would release (none of which charted in Billboard.).

To top off that run of futility, Joel Whitburn notes in Top Pop Singles that Blue, who hailed from Providence, Rhode Island, had a brief life, dying while jogging in December 1982 at the age of forty-one.

Two of Blue’s seven albums and one additional track are in the digital stacks, and though I don’t know them well, I’ve enjoyed what I’ve heard of them. And because “Outlaw Man” popped up for attention today, it may as well be today’s Saturday Single.

‘We Have Lost The Time . . .’

Friday, May 18th, 2018

Well, it worked pretty well on Wednesday, so we’re going to glance this morning at a Billboard Hot 100 from May 18, selecting this time the one from 1974 that was released just as I was planning my return to Minnesota after almost nine months in Denmark. That’s forty-four years ago now, and it feels like, well, not quite like yesterday but certainly a lot more recent than forty-four years.

Anyway, playing Games With Numbers with that Hot 100 turns today’s date – 5/18/18 – to forty-one, so let’s take a look at the record that was sitting at No. 41 in that long-ago chart. It turns out to be Anne Murray’s take on the Beatles’ “You Won’t See Me,” heading toward a peak at No. 8 (and at No. 2 on the magazine’s Adult Contemporary chart).

I recall the single well, and I recall as well than I didn’t think much of it then. And I still don’t. The production has always sounded heavy-handed to me, with, well, a thickness to it that didn’t suit Murray’s voice well.

The fact is, very little of Murray’s work has ever appealed to me, so when her cover of “You Won’t See Me” hit the speakers back then, I either changed the radio station or ignored the jukebox for four minutes. And not a single track of hers is among the 72,000 files on the digital shelves here. Her stuff is not awful; it’s just not my deal.

But that’s the way it goes with Games With Numbers. Sometimes you hit a great one; sometimes you get something very foul; and sometimes, like today, it doesn’t really matter. But anyway, here’s Murray’s record:

‘Don’t Be Concerned . . .’

Wednesday, April 11th, 2018

A little while back, I looked at one of the Billboard Easy Listening charts from 1968 – fifty years ago – and was surprised to learn that I didn’t know as much as I thought I did.

I’ve been getting lessons like that for nearly sixty-five years, so my pride wasn’t wounded all that much. And, given a little more thought about how I came to hear easy listening tunes when I was in my early teens, I thought I’d take a look at another one of the magazine’s easy listening charts from the mid-1960s.

In that earlier post, I ascribed my exposure to – and my continuing love of – easy listening to the fact that we frequently listened to the Twin Cities radio giant WCCO at home. And we did. But there’s another source I didn’t think about as I wrote: my sister’s transistor radio.

I think I’ve told the tale, but if I did, it was some time back, so here goes: In either 1963 or 1964 – probably the latter – my folks gave my sister a transistor radio as a gift (Christmas, I think, though it could have been for her birthday). She evidently didn’t use it all that much, for not long afterward, my dad commandeered it for his nightstand, and every evening (save perhaps Saturdays), he would play the radio for about twenty minutes before we all closed up shop for the night.

And his station of choice was St. Cloud’s KFAM, an outfit located over on the south side that played easy listening music at that time of the evening. I clearly remember, for example, hearing Frank Sinatra’s “Summer Wind” – No. 1 on the easy listening chart for one week during October 1966 – coming from Dad’s transistor radio more than once. So I thought – even though it’s April – I’d take a look at that mid-October chart from 1966 and see what’s familiar and what’s not. Here are the top fifteen from that long ago Billboard Easy Listening chart:

“Summer Wind” by Frank Sinatra
“Born Free” by Roger Williams
“Summer Samba (So Nice)” by Walter Wanderley
“In The Arms Of Love” by Andy Williams
“Dommage, Dommage (Too Bad, Too Bad)” by Jerry Vale
“The Wheel Of Hurt” by Margaret Whiting
“I Can’t Give You Anything But Love” by Bert Kaempfert & His Orchestra
“Flamingo” by Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass
“Mas Que Nada” by Sergio Mendes & Brasil ’66
“A Time For Love” by Tony Bennett
“Free Again” by Barbra Streisand
“I’m Getting Sentimental Over You” by the Glenn Miller Orchestra
“Lookin’ For Love” by Ray Conniff
“Elusive Butterfly” by Jane Morgan
“Once I Had A Heart” by Robert Goulet

I think I do better with this set of fifteen than I did with the earlier grouping about six weeks ago. The top three are on the digital shelves here, as are “Mas Que Nada” and the record by Tony Bennett. I know “Dommage, Dommage,” likely from Vale’s version; I know “Elusive Butterfly” from Bob Lind’s original; and I know “I’m Getting Sentimental Over You” from multiple versions (chiefly the Tommy Dorsey recording from 1935). And for what it may matter, I did refer to Whiting’s record in a post last September.

The rest would be mysteries, even “Flamingo” and “Lookin’ For Love,” despite my enjoyment of the work of both Herb Alpert and Ray Conniff.

Having dipped a toe into most of the unfamiliar tunes in the list above, I find myself liking Morgan’s sprightly take on “Elusive Butterfly.” It turned out to be her most successful record on the magazine’s easy listening chart, reaching No. 9.

Morgan’s chart history is interesting: Massachusetts-born (in 1920) and Florida-raised, she had ten records in or near the Billboard Hot 100 between 1956 and 1967, and seven records in the magazine’s easy listening chart between 1965 and 1968, but – if I’m reading things correctly – only two records showed up in both charts. Her best-performing record was “Fascination,” credited to Jane Morgan & The Troubadors, which went to No. 7 in 1957 in one of the several charts Billboard compiled at the time.

Here’s her take on Bob Lind’s “Elusive Butterfly.”

Chart position corrected after first posting.

Album Chart Digging, March 1972

Wednesday, March 14th, 2018

Just for fun, I thought I’d look at the top ten albums in the Billboard 200 from this week in 1972, during a time when I was spending many of my free hours at St. Cloud State on the couches in the lounge at KVSC, the college FM radio station.

The station was still offering a rigid format of classical music during the day, shifting to an album rock/progressive rock format at 6 or 7 p.m., but during the day, staffers would take over the turntable in the vacant Studio B, where they’d cue up records from the rock library – or their own LPs – and pipe the sound into the lounge.

I didn’t hear all of the following ten albums forty-six years ago in the KVSC lounge, but I heard some:

Harvest by Neil Young
America by America
American Pie by Don McLean
Fragile by Yes
Nilsson Schmilsson by Nilsson
Paul Simon by Paul Simon
Baby I’m A-Want You by Bread
Music by Carole King
The Concert for Bangla Desh
Hot Rocks 1964-1971 by the Rolling Stones

That’s a pretty decent helping of music, although I’ve never cared much for the Nilsson album except for “Without You.” But only four of those albums, from what I remember, found their ways to our turntables for lounge listening or for airplay: American Pie, Harvest, Fragile, and The Concert For Bangla Desh.

I imagine we aired tunes included on the Stones’ anthology, too, but I don’t specifically recall hearing them. And the listing of American Pie should likely have an asterisk next to it; I remember a staffer bringing the album in one day so we could hear the full-length version of the title track. I know we were interested in the tune’s coded history of rock ’n’ roll, but we needed to be cool about it because McLean was on the pop charts. Of course, so was Neil Young, whose “Heart Of Gold” was No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 during this week in 1972, but that was somehow different.

As for me, I’d actually been enjoying The Concert For Bangla Desh for a couple of months when this Billboard chart came out, and most of the other albums on that list eventually landed on my shelves, though it took years, in some cases. The albums that didn’t make it to my vinyl stacks? Those by America and Bread. (Although they are currently on the digital shelves while the Nilsson album is not.)

Anyway, for purists and moral slackers alike, there was good stuff to find on the album chart forty-six years ago this week. If I were to pull one track from that week, well, I’ve raved enough here over the years about Leon Russell’s performance at The Concert For Bangladesh, and “Crossroads” from the McLean album has showed up a couple of times. So we’ll listen today to a track that I considered when I was compiling one-by-one a short list of tunes that should have been included in my long-ago Ultimate Jukebox: “It’s Going To Take Some Time” from Carole King’s her 1971 album Music.

Not What I Expected

Thursday, March 8th, 2018

Here’s what the Top Fifteen in the Billboard Easy Listening chart looked like fifty years ago this week:

“Love Is Blue” by Paul Mauriat
“(Theme From) Valley Of The Dolls” by Dionne Warwick
“Love Is Blue” by Al Martino
“To Each His Own” by Frankie Laine
“If You Ever Leave Me” by Jack Jones
“Don’t Tell My Heart To Stop Loving You” by Jerry Vale
“Winds Of Change” by Ray Conniff & The Singers
“Cab Driver” by the Mills Brothers
“We Can Fly” by the Cowsills
“Ame Caline (Soul Coaxing)” by Raymond Lefevre & His Orchestra
“In The Sunshine Days” by Tony Sandler & Ralph Young
“Kiss Me Goodbye” by Petula Clark
“Goin’ Out Of My Head/Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You” by the Lettermen
“Mission-Impossible” by Lalo Schifrin
“L. David Sloane” by Michele Lee

As this is the first time I’ve actually dived into a weekly round-up of the Billboard charts now called Adult Contemporary, I chose one from 1968 for a reason. I thought that, given the fact that most of the music I heard around the house during my youth came from the Twin Cities radio giant WCCO, I would recognize all or nearly all of the records at the top of what was then called the Easy Listening chart.

I was wrong. Very wrong.

Of those fifteen records, I would have – before this morning – recognized only four well enough to cite both title and performer: Those would be the records by Paul Mauriat, the Mills Brothers, the Lettermen and Lalo Schifrin.

I would have known, obviously, that the Martino record was a cover of the Mauriat tune; I would have recognized Warwick’s voice; I would have recognized the songs offered by Lefevre and Clark and recognized Clark’s voice; and I likely would have recognized Conniff’s work while admitting I’d never heard the song before, even though I collect his work when I find it.

(There’s a reason for that last. I’ve never heard “Winds Of Change” because it was never on one of Conniff’s albums; it was on the soundtrack album to the movie How To Save A Marriage And Ruin Your Life.)

Titles for those records mentioned in that paragraph would likely have eluded me. And the other records in that list of fifteen would have brought shrugs. (In the case of Michele Lee’s “L. David Sloane,” a very baffled shrug.)

This first experiment, then, in digging into one of the weekly Adult Contemporary charts has left me wondering how much I actually know. Did I just choose a bad week? Or do I know far less easy listening music – and far less about that music – than I thought?

Those questions hang in the air and will be answered as I try this experiment a couple times more in the months to come. In the meantime, let’s listen to the record that was probably my favorite out of those I knew at the top of the Easy Listening chart fifty years ago this week: The Lettermen’s live performance of “Goin’ Out Of My Head/Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You.” It went to No. 2 on the Easy Listening chart and to No. 7 on the pop chart.

A note: As we are still emptying and moving boxes, I lost track of the fact that yesterday was the first Wednesday of March. Thus, my monthly look back at 1968 via my monthly posts of ten years ago went missing. It will run tomorrow.