Archive for the ‘Chart Digging’ Category

What’s At No. 68?

Thursday, August 20th, 2020

I can’t resist today’s date: 8/20/2020. So we’re going to play Games With Numbers and turn those numerals into sixty-eight, and then we’ll check what was at No. 68 in the Billboard Hot 100 on this date during the seven years that make up my sweet spot, the years 1969 through 1975.

So, during the third week of August 1969, when the No. 1 record was “Honky Tonk Women” by the Rolling Stones, what was parked at No. 68? Well, it’s a record I don’t think I’ve ever heard: “I Do” by the Moments. The R&B trio from Hackensack, New Jersey, was eight months away from breaking through with the sweet “Love On A Two-Way Street,” and “I Do” went only to No. 62 in the Hot 100 (and to No. 10 on the Billboard R&B chart). Listening this morning, it sounds shrill.

A year later, the third week of the eighth month of 1970 found Bread’s “Make It With You” at No. 1. Our target spot down the chart was occupied by a short version of one of my favorite tracks from that summer fifty years ago: A cover of Neil Young’s “Down By The River” by drummer Buddy Miles & The Freedom Express. The link is to the single version, which I don’t recall hearing; Rick and I heard the album track – a much better piece of work – on WJON during late evenings in his screen porch that season. We’ve caught the record at its peak; it would go no higher than No. 68.

Sitting at No. 1 forty-nine years ago this week was the Bee Gees’ “How Can You Mend A Broken Heart.” The No. 68 record during that week in 1971 was one of the two hits I recall from my college years to feature a banjo solo: “Sweet City Woman” by the Stampeders, a trio from Calgary, Alberta. (“Dueling Banjos” from the movie Deliverance is the other I recall; there are likely more.) The Stampeders’ record went to No. 8 in the Hot 100 and to No. 5 in the magazine’s Easy Listening chart. And you know, you can do lots worse than love and tenderness and macaroons.

On to 1972, when the No. 1 record as August 20 went past was “Brandy (You’re A Fine Girl)” by the Looking Glass (and its mention brings back radio memories as Rick, Gary and I drove to Winnipeg, Manitoba). As we drove, we likely also heard the A-side of the single at No. 68 that week: “Burning Love/It’s A Matter Of Time” by Elvis Presley. (I don’t know that I’d ever heard the B-side until today.) “Burning Love” was Presley’s last big hit in the Hot 100, as it peaked at No. 2. (He would still have Top Ten hits on the Easy Listening and Country charts.) On the Billboard Easy Listening chart, the record – with “It’s A Matter Of Time” listed as the A-side, according to Joel Whitburn’s top adult songs book – went to No. 9.

“Brother Louie” by the Stories sat atop the Hot 100 as the third week of August 1973 ended and the fourth week began. Down at our target slot that week was the title track from Alice Cooper’s current album, “Billion Dollar Babies.” I admit that I’ve listened to very little of Cooper’s work over the years, and in 1973, I was, I guess, pointedly ignoring it as gauche or something. The record had guest vocals from Donovan, but still disappointed, peaking at No. 57, considerably lower than Cooper’s last few singles.

Perched at No. 1 as the third week of August 1974 passed was “(You’re) Having My Baby” by Paul Anka and Odia Coates. Hoping for better, we drop down to our target at No. 68 and find “Finally Got Myself Together (I’m a Changed Man)” by the Impressions, a record I do not recall and honestly doubt that I’ve ever heard until today. It’s a sweet soul/R&B side, underlaid with the social awareness that ran through much of Curtis Mayfield’s work. The record peaked at No. 17 in the Hot 100 and spent two weeks on top of the Billboard R&B chart.

Forty-five years ago this week, as August 1975 spooled out, the No. 1 record was “Fallin’ In Love” by Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds. Sixty-seven spots further down the chart, we find, again, the Impressions, this time with “Sooner Or Later,” a tale of romantic consequences told with an irresistible groove. The record went no higher on the Hot 100, but went to No. 3 on the R&B chart.

Saturday Single No. 701

Saturday, August 15th, 2020

Of all the books about music on my shelves – and there are many, encompassing biographies, histories, chart references and more – the one that’s least used, I would guess, is The Billboard Book Of No. 2 Hits.

Written by Christopher G. Feldman, the book catalogs the records that have peaked at No. 2 on the magazine’s main singles chart(s) from 1955 through 1999. (Yeah, it’s more than twenty years out of date now, but since the focus of this blog is generally the years, oh, from 1965 to 1977, that doesn’t matter.) Feldman provides a brief history of the record and notes which record (or records) kept it from reaching the top of the chart.

(The book starts in 1955 because – and I don’t know why I’m explaining this to readers who most likely already know it – that was the year when “Rock Around The Clock” by Bill Haley & The Comets became the first rock & roll record to reach No. 1 on any of the magazine’s charts, kind of a Big Bang for chart geeks.)

The first entry in Feldman’s book is for “Melody Of Love” by Billy Vaughan & His Orchestra, which hit No. 2 during the first week of March 1955 on both the Best Seller and Disc Jockey charts. Vaughan’s instrumental version was one of five covers of the 1903 song (some with newly written lyrics) to chart in 1955. It was blocked from the top spot by the McGuire Sisters’ “Sincerely.”

The year with the most records peaking at No. 2 was 1969 with sixteen, three of them – “Proud Mary,” “Bad Moon Rising” and “Green River” – by Creedence Clearwater Revival. (CCR also peaked at No. 2 twice in 1970 with “Travelin’ Band” and “Lookin’ Out My Back Door,” but remarkably never hit No. 1.)

And because we looked at a chart from 1977 yesterday, I’m just going to list the records that peaked at No. 2 that year and see what we can find for a single this morning. The records from 1977 in Feldman’s book are:

“Fly Like An Eagle” by Steve Miller
“I’m In You” by Peter Frampton
“Your Love Has Lifted Me (Higher & Higher)” by Rita Coolidge
“Float On” by the Floaters
“Keep It Comin’ Love” by KC & The Sunshine Band
“Nobody Does It Better” by Carly Simon
“Boogie Nights” by Heatwave
“Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue” by Crystal Gayle

Two of those – the singles by Frampton and Coolidge – were in the chart we looked at yesterday. A few of the others, I’ve featured before. But it seems I’ve never, in this blog’s thirteen-plus years, featured a record by KC & The Sunshine Band. So, okay. “Keep It Comin’ Love” was at No. 2 for three weeks in October 1977, kept from the top spot by “Star Wars Theme/Cantina Band” by Meco and “You Light Up My Life” by Debby Boone. And it’s today’s Saturday Single.

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.)

No. 40 Forty Years Ago

Friday, August 7th, 2020

We’ll dabble in 1980 today, a year we don’t often visit. (The search function at the right side of the page tells me we’ve featured the year just twenty-eight time since we set up our own site on the ’Net nearly 1,600 posts ago.)

Why so few? Well, it was about that time, as I’ve noted here before, that Top 40 music began to speak less and less to me, and I certainly had less time to listen, anyway, being busy with reporting and husbanding.

So, let’s take a look at the Billboard Hot 100 from August 9, 1980. I’m relatively sure most of the records in its Top Ten will be familiar, but I’m not at all certain how favorably they will be remembered. Then we’ll play Symmetry and see what was sitting at No. 40 forty years ago this week.

Here’s the Top Ten from August 9, 1980:

“Magic” by Olivia Newton-John
“It’s Still Rock & Roll To Me” by Billy Joel
“Little Jeannie” by Elton John
“Take Your Time (Do It Right) (Part 1)” by the S.O.S. Band
“Sailing” by Christopher Cross
“Shining Star” by the Manhattans
“Emotional Rescue” by the Rolling Stones
“Cupid/I’ve Loved You For A Long Time (Medley)” by the Spinners
“Coming Up (Live At Glasgow)” by Paul McCartney
“Upside Down” by Diana Ross

Well, they’re all familiar, though I had to head to YouTube for a reminder of the S.O.S. Band’s single and, oddly, the Stones’ record.

Did I like any of those records forty years ago? The Elton John single was all right, as was the Christopher Cross, and I kind of like the Newton-John and Manhattans records, too. I thought “It’s Still Rock & Roll To Me” was wooden and silly, and the Spinners’ medley was a long distance from their greatness only a half-decade before. The McCartney/Wings record didn’t matter, and although I wasn’t fond of “Upside Down,” it turns out today to be an earworm of great power.

Do any of them matter today? Only one. “Sailing” is the only one of those ten records among the 2,700-some in the iPod. Having been reminded of “Little Jeannie” and “Magic,” I might drop them into the device.

Now, on to our other task, checking out the record that was at No. 40 forty years ago.

Well, it’s a record that I recall hearing back then, though I haven’t thought about it for years: “Someone That I Used To Love” by Natalie Cole. The record was in its eighth week on the chart, and would hang around for another thirteen weeks, peaking at No. 21. That was also where it peaked on the magazine’s R&B chart. It did much better on the magazine’s Adult Contemporary chart, peaking at No. 3.

Saturday Single No. 699

Saturday, August 1st, 2020

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘You Don’t Hold Me So Well . . .’

Friday, July 24th, 2020

We’ve spent some time during the past fortnight in the Billboard easy listening and album charts from July 1970, and I thought it might be interesting this morning to look at the KDWB survey from late July of that year to see what it was I was really listening to as I made my way through my last high school summer.

Here’s the Top Ten from KDWB’s 6+30 survey from July 27, 1970:

“Band Of Gold” by Freda Payne
“(They Long To Be) Close To You” by the Carpenters
“Mama Told Me (Not To Come)” by Three Dog Night
“Go Back” by Crabby Appleton
“Tighter, Tighter” by Alive & Kicking
“Teach Your Children” by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
“Song Of Joy” by Miguel Rios
“Question” by the Moody Blues
“Make It With You” by Bread
“O-o-h Child” by the Five Stairsteps

I wasn’t doing much during the summer of ’70. I worked the four days of the state trap shoot for $60, probably tried to pass my driver’s license test a couple of times – it took me five tries, the fifth one coming in October of 1970 – and otherwise hung around in various places with Rick and in the basement rec room with him or by myself, listening to my slender but growing LP collection.

August would bring two-a-day football practices (I would be the head manager), but that was still at least a week away fifty years ago this week.

But each of those ten records was part of the soundtrack of that summer, and they remain vivid. (All of them save “Teach Your Children” are in my day-to-day listening in the iPod.) Some of them I heard frequently in the years to follow, others less so. I’d guess the one I heard least was the Crabby Appleton; when I got my first ’Net-worthy computer in 2000 and started collecting mp3s and scavenging for music, finding “Go Back” was one of those moments of “Good lord, I haven’t heard that for years!”

“Go Back” wasn’t a huge hit nationally for the California band, peaking only at No. 36 in the Billboard Hot 100, but it did much better in the Twin Cities, peaking at No. 4 on KDWB and at No. 5 on WDGY.

Having found it sometime between 2000 and 2007, I included it eleven years ago in my Ultimate Jukebox. And here it is again.

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.”

‘In Apartment 21 . . .’

Friday, July 17th, 2020

Looking once more at the Billboard Easy Listening chart from fifty years ago this week – published July 18, 1970 – we move below the Top Ten and see several familiar titles:

No. 12: “Silver Bird” by Mark Lindsay
No. 21: “Snowbird” by Anne Murray
No. 23: “United We Stand” by the Brotherhood of Man
No. 30: “Teach Your Children” by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
No. 32: “Apartment 21” by Bobbie Gentry
No. 35: “Solitary Man” by Neil Diamond

Having noted those, it’s clear that there are far more singles in that chart that are unfamiliar or only vaguely familiar (though some members of my audience, far better versed than I in chart lore, likely would recognize more of those titles than do I). Anyway, five thoughts jump out at me as I look at that list of six singles:

First, I really liked Mark Lindsay’s work in 1969 and 1970. “Silver Bird” was the second single from Lindsay I recall hearing on my radio, either from the Twin Cities’ KDWB or from WJON across the railroad tracks in St. Cloud. The other was “Arizona,” which was released and hit the charts in late 1969. When I hear either one of those singles now, fifty years later, I’m immediately pulled back to my room or the front porch on Kilian Boulevard.

To be honest, “Arizona” is the more potent of the two; I wanted to find my way into radioland and go rescue that seemingly bewildered flower child, but “Silver Bird” also tugged at me. It would eventually peak at No. 7 on the Easy Listening chart and at No. 25 on the Hot 100. (During the winter of 1969-70, “Arizona” got to Nos. 16 and 10, respectively.

Of course, Lindsay – lead singer for Paul Revere & The Raiders – had a few other solo hits, but “Silver Bird” and “Arizona” are the two that stay with me.

An Anne Murray hit came through the television speakers the other day as part of a commercial, prompting me to say to the Texas Gal, “You know, I have no idea why, but I have never really liked Anne Murray’s music.” She concurred. Now, there’s nothing specifically wrong with “Snowbird,” which was No. 1 for six weeks on the Easy Listening chart and peaked at No. 8 on the Hot 100. And there’s nothing specifically wrong with “Love Song,” “Danny’s Song,” “You Won’t See Me,” “I Needed You” or any of the rest of Murray’s broad catalog.

It’s just that all of her work has left me pretty much untouched. I had one of her LP’s – 1980’s Somebody’s Waiting – at one time, but I’m pretty sure it went in the Great Sell-Off before we moved to the condo, and the only Murray track on the digital shelves is “Danny’s Song.” And I’m not sure why.

The titles of “United We Stand” and “Solitary Man” produce a similar reaction in my head. Seeing the first immediately brings me a cascade of strings followed by the female vocal: “There’s nowhere in the world that I would rather be than with you, my love . . .” And just seeing the title “Solitary Man” brings me Diamond’s bleak “Melinda was mine till the time that I found her . . . holding Jim, loving him.”

Some records do that. With most, I see the title and can summon up in my head the sound of the record, but there are some that are on a kind of autoplay: I see the title and I hear the song. And it has little to do with how much I like the records. These two aren’t particular favorites, though there’s nothing wrong with them.

I should note that “United We Stand” peaked at No. 15 on the Easy Listening chart and No. 13 on the Hot 100, while “Solitary Man” peaked at Nos. 6 and 21, respectively on its reissue. The Diamond record had gone to No. 55 on the Hot 100 on its earlier release in 1966.

“Teach Your Children” brings back an odd memory. In 1988, a teaching colleague at Minot State University asked me to take part in a desert island-type program he ran on the university’s public radio station. The concept is familiar: What ten tracks would I want to have on a desert island? I don’t recall all ten of my selections, although I have a tape of the show somewhere. I do remember “Layla” was one, as was Pink Floyd’s “Us and Them.” And so was “Teach Your Children.” The odd thing is that when I got around to creating my Ultimate Jukebox in 2009, “Teach Your Children” was nowhere to be found, meaning it went in just more than twenty years from my Top Ten to nowhere in the top 240. Odd.

Just for the record, the Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young single peaked at No. 28 on the Easy Listening chart and at No. 16 on the Hot 100.

Reading Bobbie Gentry’s name and the title of her “Apartment 21” reminds me that I’ve never written anything about the box set The Girl From Chickasaw County: The Complete Capitol Masters, which sits on a shelf just a few feet from where I write. There are two reasons for that. First, when I got the set, the ink was so fresh on the pages that just opening the book – much less reading it – gave me severe headaches. Second, I think I’ll be disappointed: From very brief explorations of the book, it seemed that detailed discographic information about Gentry’s work was absent: No session information, no catalog numbers, none of the things I’ve come to expect from an elaborate box set. Now that the ink will be less of a problem, I should dig into the set and see if those first impressions were correct.

As to “Apartment 21,” it’s a decent single from the Fancy album, and it peaked at No. 19 on the Easy Listening chart and at No. 81 on the Hot 100. Like the album itself, it’s got smoother edges than the early work that made Gentry a star as it tells the tale of a musician watching the days go past on the road and in the haven of her apartment.

Rain on my Sunday shoes
Pick up the daily news
Looks like tomorrow’s blues
But it’s better than none

Call on the telephone
Knowin’ that he’s not home
I’ll put on the Rollin’ Stones
And I can have me some fun

Start up a flight of stairs
Stand up and comb your hair
Try not to change things
More than you can withstand

Get into something new
That’s made for a year or two
Pick up the pieces
Where you think they might land

Every day goes, another day’s gone
Hate to say so but I’m getting older
Day by day

Take off all your clothes
Stand up and wipe your nose
Cry for your daddy
You lost so long ago

Jump on another plane
Today it’s all the same
You can catch me in Boston
’Cause that’s how it goes

I’m here in apartment 21
Stop by and have some fun
Say “How you doin’,
You old son-of-a-gun?”

Look at a photograph
Lord, don’t it make you laugh
For all those changes
What have you done?

And I say,
La la la, la la la, la la la la
La la la la, la la la, la la la la
La la la, la la la, la la la la
La la la la, la la la, la la la la

Sit down and write a song
Wait till the days grow long
And wait for the autumn wind
To blow me away

‘I Can Take Or Leave It . . .’

Wednesday, July 15th, 2020

Here are the top ten easy listening records from fifty years ago this week, as noted in the July 18, 1970, edition of Billboard:

“(They Long To Be) Close To You” by the Carpenters
“My Marie” by Engelbert Humperdinck
“A Song Of Joy” by Miguel Rios
“I Just Can’t Help Believing” by B.J. Thomas
“One Day Of Your Life” by Andy Williams
“She Cried” by the Lettermen
“Que Sera Sera (Whatever Will Be Will Be)” by Mary Hopkin
“Overture From Tommy” by the Assembled Multitude
“Make It With You” by Bread
“Song From M*A*S*H” by Al DeLory

I have no memory of four singles in that Top Ten. I know, of course, the song “Que Sera Sera,” but I don’t recall Hopkin’s version. “My Marie” is a blank to me. As I write, I’m thinking I might know “One Day Of Your Life,” maybe from a commercial. And “She Cried” rings faint bells although I do not know if I am recalling the version by the Lettermen. It’s time to go to YouTube.

I like “My Marie,” the tale of a husband off to do something risky to get his family out of poverty – “But if I’m not back there with you/By the time the sun goes down/Take the train, change your name/And get the children out of town” – but it’s still unfamiliar.

Still unfamiliar, too, are the singles by Hopkin and Williams. As to “She Cried,” the Lettermen’s version might be the one I recall. I took a listen to the 1962 version by Jay & The Americans, but that’s not one I remember.

Five of the other six in that top ten are records I recall from working at the 1970 state trap shoot on the gun range out southeast of St. Cloud. (I told the tale of that job long ago; you can find it here.) And all five of those – the singles by Rios, Thomas, the Carpenter, the Assembled Multitude and Bread – are among my current listening in the iPod. And the last of those ten to be accounted for – Al DeLory’s “Song From M*A*S*H” – will be in the iPod before the sun sets today.

DeLory’s version of the theme from the 1970 film M*A*S*H – the television series went on air in 1972 – seems to be the only version of the tune that’s charted. (I might have missed some, but I’ve checked under “Song From M*A*S*H,” “Theme From M*A*S*H,” and “Suicide Is Painless,” which is the actual title of the tune composed by the recently departed Johnny Mandel and Mike Altman.) It peaked at No. 7 on the easy listening chart and got to No. 70 on the Hot 100.

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?”