Archive for the ‘Chart Digging’ Category

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.

Saturday Single No. 575

Saturday, January 27th, 2018

Here’s the Billboard Top Ten from January 27, 1968, a date that’s somehow managed to slip fifty years into the past:

“Judy In Disguise (With Glasses)” by John Fred & His Playboy Band
“Chain Of Fools” by Aretha Franklin
“Green Tambourine” by the Lemon Pipers
“Woman, Woman” by the Union Gap featuring Gary Puckett
“Bend Me, Shape Me” by the American Breed
“Hello Goodbye” by the Beatles
“Spooky” by the Classics IV
“Daydream Believer” by the Monkees
“I Heard It Through The Grapevine” by Gladys Knight & The Pips
“If I Could Build My Whole World Around You” by Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell

Did I know those at the time? Most of them, probably. Maybe not the two bits of R&B at the bottom of that Top Ten. Did I know the artists? Probably not, except in the case of the Beatles, inescapable as they were.

And just for the fun of it, I head to the very bottom of the Hot 100 from that date fifty years ago, and I find an artist with whose work I was very familiar: Al Hirt. But I don’t recall the single, a cover of Jay & The Techniques’ “Keep The Ball Rollin’.”

I have to acknowledge that by the time 1968 rolled around, I wasn’t buying any more of Hirt’s albums, though I still listened to the three I already had. But with the stereo still in the living room – Dad’s work on the basement rec room wasn’t quite finished in January 1968, if my memory serves me – listening to records wasn’t the daily occurrence it would soon be.

And it wouldn’t have mattered if I had been buying Hirt’s albums: From anything I can find on the ’Net this morning, Big Al’s version of “Keep The Ball Rollin’” didn’t show up on an LP until 1970, when Al’s Place came out on the RCA/Camden label.

Additionally, had I heard Hirt’s new single on the radio, I likely would not have been impressed: My love for his music came from his work on the standards of what we now call the Great American Songbook and his work on show tunes and movie themes. (There were a few exceptions to those sources on the three albums of Hirt’s I had at the time, and those were my least favorite tracks. Even “Java,” Hirt’s biggest hit, and the track that had led me to Hirt’s music in 1964, was to me one of the lesser tunes on Honey In The Horn, the first Hirt album I owned.) And to hear Hirt cover a pop single from the previous year – a tune I would have recognized – would have made me think that Al was pandering to the masses (though I would not have had those words in 1968).

As it turned out, the masses didn’t notice. Hirt’s music no longer had much popular appeal. His take on “Keep The Ball Rollin’” is one of those Hot 100 rarities: It spent one week at No. 100 and then disappeared. It was his last Hot 100 hit, although two later releases bubbled under.

The record still seems slight, fifty years later. Nevertheless, Al Hirt’s cover of “Keep The Ball Rollin’” is today’s Saturday Single.

‘Ho-Sanna, Hey-Sanna . . .’

Tuesday, January 23rd, 2018

Tracks from iTunes were running randomly the other evening as I puttered on one thing or another, and up popped the tune “Everything’s Alright” by Yvonne Elliman from the 1970 rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar.

The inclusion of that track and three others from the Andrew Lloyd Weber/Tim Rice creation – the Overture, “I Don’t Know How To Love Him” by Elliman and “Superstar” by Murray Head (with The Trinidad Singers) – in iTunes and the iPod was a recent thing. During my most recent stocking of the iPod after the crash of my external hard drive, I idly saw the folder for Jesus Christ Superstar in the J folder and without much thought pulled into the iPod those four tracks.

They’d been on the digital shelves for a long time. I likely found the 1970 rock opera offered at one blog or another not long after my 2006 discovery of music blogs. Its acquisition was a small portion of my lengthy project of replicating digitally my record collection from the early 1970s, but once the JCS mp3s were safely tucked away on my digital shelves, I never purposely listened to them. I imagine that one time or another a track or two might have popped up while the RealPlayer was rolling on random, but I don’t recall. I think my view of the production – an album I played frequently back in the basement rec room during the early 1970s and on occasion during the years since I left St. Cloud in 1977 – was that it was nice to have on hand but no more than that.

And then came “Everything’s Alright” the other evening, except the track began with a clank or a clunk or a thunk, some kind of sound that did not belong there. Nor was the sound the result of poor splitting; the clunk or thunk did not belong to the end of the preceding track, “What’s the Buzz/Strange Thing Mystifying.” But as I listened to that track, I noted other noise that marred it, too. Irritated, I deleted the entire album and decided that, once we’ve finished moving, I would buy the CD set online.

Then I wondered, do I really need it? Would I still enjoy it? Or was its attraction one of time and place, the era of Hippie Jesus and my first years of listening to rock and pop and all their relatives?

So I borrowed the set from the library and began listening to it in the car as I ran a lengthy set of errands Saturday and went to and from church on Sunday. I’m not quite finished – “Trial Before Pilate (Including The 39 Lashes)” was playing as I got home from church Sunday – but one thing is apparent: Even twenty or so years removed from my last listening and forty-some years removed from repeated listening, I still know every line and every instrumental turn of the album.

That in itself is not surprising; the album imprinted itself on my brain when I was seventeen. How, though, does it sound at sixty-four? As was pointed out by critics when the album came out, its grasp on theology and history is spotty, and Rice’s lyrics can still startle one with modern-day references and still sometimes land smack in the middle of hippie mysticism. I recognize without too much concern the historical and theological fuzziness, and I don’t mind the modern vernacular or the hippie mysticism one bit. As to the music, it’s better than I remembered, superb instrumentally and vocally.

So is it essential? Well, it’s been 48 hours since I last heard any of the album, and for most of my waking hours in that time, the album’s instrumental themes and motifs as well as bits and pieces of the lyrics have been tumbling through my brain:

What’s the buzz? Tell me what’s a-happening . . .

I dreamed I met a Galilean, a most amazing man.
He had that look you very rarely find, the haunted, hunted kind . . .

Ho-sanna, hey-sanna, sanna-sanna-ho . . .

You have set them all on fire.
They think they’ve found the new Messiah
And they’ll hurt you when they find they’re wrong . . .

Will no one stay awake with me? Peter? James? John?

Listen to that howling mob of blockheads in the street!
A trick or two with lepers, and the whole town’s on its feet . . .

If you knew all that I knew, my poor Jerusalem . . .

Every time I look at you, I don’t understand
Why you let the things you did get so out of hand.
You’d have managed better if you’d had it planned.
Why’d you choose such a backward time and such a strange land?

So, yeah, when we get settled on the North Side, I think I’m going to add the CD set to the collection. (As it happens, the vinyl is still on the shelves; it survived last year’s sell-off.)

Back in the early 1970s, of course, Jesus Christ Superstar was a massive hit. The rock opera – the stage and screen versions came later – spent 101 weeks on the Billboard 200 starting in November 1970 and was No. 1 for three nonconsecutive weeks during the first half of 1971. The album was the source of three singles in the magazine’s Hot 100: Elliman’s “I Don’t Know How To Love Him” went to No. 28 in the spring of 1971; her follow-up, “Everything’s Alright,” stalled at No. 92 that autumn. And Head’s “Superstar” went to No. 14 in early 1971 as a reissue; it went only to No. 74 when first released in early 1970, before the album came out.

Here’s Head and The Trinidad Singers with “Superstar.”

One Chart Dig: January 20, 1973

Friday, January 19th, 2018

Here’s the Billboard Top Ten from January 20, 1973, forty-five years ago tomorrow:

“You’re So Vain” by Carly Simon
“Superstition” by Stevie Wonder
“Me & Mrs. Jones” by Billy Paul
“Crocodile Rock” by Elton John
“Your Mama Don’t Dance” by Loggins & Messina
“Rockin’ Pneumonia – Boogie Woogie Flu” by Johnny Rivers
“Clair” by Gilbert O’Sullivan
“Superfly” by Curtis Mayfield
“Why Can’t We Live Together” by Timmy Thomas
“Oh, Babe, What Would You Say” by Hurricane Smith

And, as might be expected, those ten records slap me right into the middle of my sophomore year at St. Cloud State, sparking memories of music theory classes, of Cokes with a young lady who worked the main desk at the Learning Resources Center, of lengthy bull sessions in the office of the small TV studio next door at the Performing Arts Center, of a cross-country skiing weekend in Wisconsin with the Luther League from Salem Lutheran, and of trying to figure out where I belonged.

In that last category, three things come to mind. It was about this time when I realized I no longer fit in with the group of kids I’d hung around with for much of my freshman year and quit trying to spend time with them. It was around the middle of January in 1973 when a young woman in my philosophy class invited me to join her for coffee at Atwood Center after class to meet her friends, a group of people that turned out to be The Table, the center of my on-campus life for the next several years. And it was around this time when a friend of mine from church asked me to go to a meeting one evening and take notes for her, a meeting set up to assess students’ interest in spending the next academic year in Fredericia, Denmark.

So even though I felt lost and uncertain as the month began – and even though I never got past friendly Cokes after work with the girl from the main desk – I can look back at January of 1973 and see from 2018 a hinge on which my life pivoted.

Looking through the rest of the Hot 100 from that long-ago time, I don’t see any records that really speak to those days (though I do note that Shawn Phillips’ “We” – a record that showed up in the Atwood Center jukebox during the autumn of 1974 and became one of the touchstones of my life – was sitting at No. 92 in the second of its three weeks on the chart).

So I looked for something I might never have heard that sounds good, and I found, parked at No. 66, “Daytime Night-time” by Keith Hampshire, a native of England who grew up in Canada. I don’t recall the record at all, though if I’d heard it back in 1973, I probably would have liked it, what with the piano in the intro, the horns throughout, and the vocal very reminiscent of David Clayton-Thomas. It peaked at No. 51 during the second week of February.

Saturday Single No. 573

Saturday, January 13th, 2018

I filled out one of those Facebook list things this week, giving details about my senior year in high school: Did you know your life partner (no), were you a jock or a nerd (the latter), do you remember the mascot (Tigers), do you remember the school song (“March Straight On, Old Tech High”) and about fifteen other questions that I answered from the perspective of the St. Cloud Tech Class of 1971.

I’ve written before about that year, how that was when I began to read science fiction and astronomy books, when I spent a good portion of time wooing a cute sophomore girl whose attentions were focused elsewhere, when I began to play the guitar, and when I began – in large part because of my unrewarded romantic efforts – to write verse that sometimes worked as lyrics.

And this morning, I wondered what the Billboard Top Ten albums looked like as January and my senior year approached their midpoints in 1971. Here’s the list, along with the dates the LPs came to my shelves.

All Things Must Pass by George Harrison (August 15, 1981)
Abraxas by Santana (April 1, 1989)
Stephen Stills (August 1971)
The Partridge Family Album
Greatest Hits by Sly & The Family Stone (October 3, 1997)
Jesus Christ Superstar (August 1971)
Pendulum by Creedence Clearwater Revival
Live Album by Grand Funk Railroad
John Lennon/Plastic Ono Band (July 14, 1990)
Led Zeppelin III (March 10, 1999)

I’m not surprised by the absence of the albums by the Partridge Family and Grand Funk Railroad (not only did I not buy those two specific albums, but I never bought any LPs by the two groups), but I am a little startled at the absence of Pendulum. The LP log shows that I acquired every other Creedence album from 1968’s self-titled debut to 1973’s Mardi Gras plus two greatest hits albums. Not sure why I jumped over Pendulum.

Obviously, the two most important to me in that list were the Stephen Stills album and Jesus Christ Superstar. I desperately wanted All Things Must Pass, too, but the price of a three-disc album was out of my reach at the time. I found a passable used copy in 1981, as noted in the list above, and then replaced it with a better copy in the 1990s.

As to the other four albums in that top ten, the purchase dates pretty clearly show that by the time I got around to them in 1989 or later, it was when I was assembling an archive rather than a collection. Of those four, I liked Abraxas and the hits album from Sly & The Family Stone the most; the Lennon/Plastic Ono Band album and the Zep album had a few tracks each that I liked much more than the rest of what they offered.

So as my music source evolved in the past twenty years to CDs, which of those ten albums showed up? Well, two of them: All Things Must Pass and Stephen Stills. Anthologies suffice for Lennon, Led Zeppelin and Creedence, and there are blank spaces for the other five of those ten albums in that long-ago list.

Of course, for much of the last eighteen years, I’ve collected a lot of digital music as well. The only album not represented in the 69,000 mp3s here in the EITW studios is the one by Grand Funk. I have a few tracks from the Lennon/Plastic Ono Band album in the digital stacks, most of what was offered by the Sly & The Family Stone hits album and complete digital copies of the remaining seven albums.

As I’ve done with similar entries here over the past couple of years, I’ll finish off this exercise by seeing which tracks from those albums show up among the exactly 3,700 tracks on the iPod today. It’s not really close. Nothing from the Lennon/Plastic Ono Band or the Grand Funk albums shows up, and I find one track each from Led Zeppelin III and the Partridge Family album and two each from Abraxas and Pendulum. Six hits show up from Sly & The Family Stone, and four tracks show up from Jesus Christ Superstar.

Right now, there are nine tracks from All Things Must Pass in the iPod (although, as I have a fair amount of space open, the remaining tracks from the main portions of that album will likely be added). But all ten tracks from Stephen Stills show up today, and that’s not at all surprising to me. As I think I’ve noted here at least a few times over the years, Stills’ first solo record is one of my essential albums.

Given that, you’d think my favorite track from the album would have been plugged in here or there numerous times over these nearly eleven years. But it’s only been mentioned and shared once, back in the summer of 2007. And it’s a song of hope. All that made it an easy choice to make Stills’ “We Are Not Helpless” today’s Saturday Single.

‘Shooting Star’

Tuesday, January 9th, 2018

I was glancing this morning at the Billboard Hot 100 from the second week of 1968, staying in our recent mode of fifty years ago. I was thinking about doing a post about the Bottom Ten from that list, a selection of records that would start with “United (Part 1)” by the Music Makers and end with “Funky Way” by Calvin Arnold.

(Joel Whitburn tells me in Top Pop Singles that the Music Makers evolved into M.F.S.B., which is not a surprise after seeing that the record, which Whitburn notes is an instrumental version of the Intruders’ “(We’ll Be) United,” was written and produced by Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff and was released on the Gamble label. As to “Funky Way,” Whitburn has less information, noting only that Arnold was a Detroit-based performer. Neither record did much, with “United (Part 1)” peaking at No. 78 and “Funky Way” getting to No. 72.)

But one of the records in that Bottom Ten diverted my train of thought. I was pretty sure I’d written before about the record at No. 93, “A Little Rain Must Fall” by the Epic Splendor. And, in fact, I had, in a Chart Digging post in late January 2011. Having refreshed my memory about the Epic Splendor, I idly clicked past that post down to the next post, one written a couple days earlier, and I found myself re-reading my tale of some college friends who claimed to have gone into a bar in a rural area west of Minneapolis during the autumn of 1975 and encountered Bob Dylan, who got on stage and sang a few songs with a local performer.

In that post, I pondered what song I’d want to sing with the Bard of Hibbing if I ever got such an unlikely opportunity. I settled on “Shooting Star,” a melancholy memoir from the 1989 album Oh Mercy.

Still looking for a topic for this morning, I checked out my post from January 9, 2008, ten years ago today, a post in which I looked at what the world had been listening to in 1989 and what I was listening to that same year. The two lists were markedly different, which should be no surprise to anyone who knows me or who’s read even a few things here. And one of the tracks listed in my version of 1989 in that post was “Shooting Star.”

Bemused, I wondered how often I’ve mentioned “Shooting Star” in the nearly eleven years I’ve been throwing stuff at the wall here. It turns out to be three times. The third time was in a March 2009 post as I considered which ten tracks I’d play as my first ten if I had a radio show. For what it’s worth, here’s that list:

“(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” by Blue Öyster Cult
“Don’t the Moon Look Sad and Lonesome” by Joy of Cooking
“You Don’t Have To Cry” by Crosby, Stills & Nash
“Bare Trees” by Fleetwood Mac
“Valdez In The Country” by Cold Blood
“Anyday” by Derek & the Dominos
“A Woman Left Lonely” by Janis Joplin
“Blue River” by Danko/Fjeld/Andersen
“Shooting Star” by Bob Dylan
“The Promised Land” by Bruce Springsteen

So in the course of 2,000-and-some posts, I mention “Shooting Star” three times, and this morning, looking for other stuff, I stumble on two of those mentions. Clearly the universe is at work.

I went to YouTube. As might be expected, Mr. Dylan keeps a tight rein on his music, and only two tracks from Oh Mercy are available there: “Political World” and “Most Of The Time.” There’s no point in my making a video for “Shooting Star” and putting it up; it will be taken down shortly and I’ll get a little note from the website.

So let’s look at covers. The website Second Hand Songs lists four. I only checked out one of them, finding a pleasant take on the tune by the duo of Andy Hill & Renée Safier. It’s from their 2001 album of Dylan covers, It Takes A Lot To Laugh.

Before we listen, though, remember that I called the song a melancholy memoir? Here are the lyrics:

Seen a shooting star tonight
And I thought of you
You were trying to break into another world
A world I never knew
I always kind of wondered
If you ever made it through
Seen a shooting star tonight
And I thought of you

Seen a shooting star tonight
And I thought of me
If I was still the same
If I ever became what you wanted me to be
Did I miss the mark or overstep the line
That only you could see?
Seen a shooting star tonight
And I thought of me

Listen to the engine, listen to the bell
As the last fire truck from hell
Goes rolling by
All good people are praying
It’s the last temptation, the last account
The last time you might hear the sermon on the mount
The last radio is playing

Seen a shooting star tonight
Slip away
Tomorrow will be
Another day
Guess it’s too late to say the things to you
That you needed to hear me say
Seen a shooting star tonight
Slip away

And here are Hill and Safier: