Archive for the ‘1970’ Category

‘Sail On, Silver Girl . . .’

Wednesday, October 17th, 2018

We spent a pleasant evening with Rob and his sister Mary Ellen the other Saturday, taking in a show by a local group called the Fabulous Armadillos. The show, titled “What’s Going On – Songs From The Vietnam War Era,” was remarkable, with the very familiar tunes – starting with the Animal’s “We Gotta Get Out Of This Place” and ending with Ray Charles’ version of “America the Beautiful” – being performed as closely as possible to the original recordings.

(Interspersed between many of the tunes came memories and commentary from three veterans of the armed forces, two who served in Vietnam and one who served in Iraq, giving the evening a sense of gravitas.)

Performing the songs as closely as possible to the originals means, of course, finding local talent able to perform in a broad range of styles. I would guess the most difficult thing about a band like the Armadillos is finding vocalists. Not to downplay the instrumentalists – especially the guitarist of the group who replicated Jimi Hendrix’ famed Woodstock performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner” just before intermission – but somehow vocal matching seems harder.

Which is why I wondered a bit when one of the group’s vocalists took his place in a spotlight during the first half of the show and the keyboard player in the shadows behind him moved into the familiar and beautiful introduction to “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” It’s one thing for a keyboard player to master Larry Knechtel’s astounding piano arrangement, and it’s quite another to find a singer who can match Art Garfunkel’s range and purity of tone.

Of course (well, perhaps I shouldn’t be so matter of fact about it, but having seen the Armadillos a couple of times, nothing they do really startles me beyond, occasionally, the choice of material), he nailed it, leading to one of several standing ovations the crowd gave the band during the two-and-a-half hour show.

And since then, in odd moments, I’ve found myself thinking about and assessing Paul Simon’s masterpiece, and not for the first time. Nearly ten years ago, when offering the 228 tracks of my Ultimate Jukebox, I thought about “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” writing:

I suppose there’s little argument about which record was the best thing that Simon & Garfunkel ever did. “Bridge Over Troubled Water” is an extraordinary song and record. But as much as I’ve loved it over the years, I found myself uneasy sliding it in among the other records in this mythical jukebox. As well as looking for good records, I guess I was also looking for flow, for a collection of songs that would make interesting combinations and patterns as the tunes played. And I decided as I considered the work of Simon & Garfunkel that “Bridge” just brings a little too much weight along with it, stopping the show.

Well, it did stop the show the other week, at least for a few moments, and it touched a memory for me of a bicycle ride through the streets of Fredericia, Denmark, a ride that took place forty-five years ago this month. I was falling in love, and after spending an evening with the young lady, I was biking sometime after midnight to the home where I lived with my Danish hosts. As I wrote in a memoir a few years ago:

I was so enthralled, so immersed in the joy of falling in love, and one night, as I rode that big black bicycle home to Vejrøvænget, I sang the third verse of “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” the verse that goes, “Sail on, silver girl. Sail on by. Your time has come to shine – all your dreams are on their way. See how they shine.”

I could not make the young lady in question shine as much as she deserved. And, not quite fifteen years later, when the same verse became a beacon in another chance at love, another woman and I learned that maintaining the luster is hard work, and we failed. Even with all that attached to it, that third verse of the song is still my favorite, and – after truly listening to the song for the first time in a long time – I find myself loving the song again.

Here it is, the title track of Simon & Garfunkel’s brilliant 1970 album:

What’s At No. 100? (October 10, 1970)

Wednesday, October 10th, 2018

Time for another episode of What’s At No. 100? Today’s date – 10/10 – pretty much begged for that, and a quick look at my files of the Billboard Hot 100 showed that during the years we’re pretty much interested in around here, only twice did a Hot 100 get published on October 10.

The first was in 1964, and the second was in 1970. Now, the former of those two years would be a fun year to go digging around in, but the latter, well, anyone who knows me is aware that 1970 is a rich vein of gold in the mine of my memory. But before we go deep into the Hot 100 published forty-eight years ago today – and can it really be that long ago? – let’s look at that week’s Top Ten:

“Cracklin’ Rosie” by Neil Diamond
“I’ll Be There” by the Jackson 5
“Candida” by Dawn
“Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” by Diana Ross
“All Right Now” by Free
“Julie Do Ya Love Me” by Bobby Sherman
“Lookin’ Out My Back Door/Long As I Can See The Light” by Creedence Clearwater Revival
“Green-Eyed Lady” by Sugarloaf
“We’ve Only Just Begun” by the Carpenters
“(I Know) I’m Losing You” by Rare Earth

Now there’s a fine forty minutes or so of late-night listening, perhaps after minimal attention to the demands of my senior-year classes or maybe after a football game. There’s nothing there that would make me move the tuner dial or hit the button in the car in search of better sounds. I did like the B-side of the CCR record better than that A-side, which has always seemed just a little bit silly.

And, as often happens, I’m a little startled to see Sugarloaf’s “Green-Eyed Lady” in 1970. The record always sounds to me – nearly a half-century distant from those radio waves – as if it should fall in 1976, where it would be, for some reason, a companion piece to Lighthouse’s “One Fine Morning.” (It works the other way, too: When “One Fine Morning” pops up in my listening routine, I always think it belongs in 1970, next to the Sugarloaf single, or the longer album track.)

A thought occurred to me as I write this: As my late-night listening in the autumn of my senior year of high school came from WLS in distant Chicago, what did that station have as its Top Ten as October 10 passed by? The answer comes from Oldiesloon:

“Cracklin’ Rosie”
“All Right Now”
“I’ll Be There”
“Indiana Wants Me” by R. Dean Taylor
“Candida”
“Do What You Want To Do” by Five Flights Up
“Out In The Country” by Three Dog Night
“Looking Out My Back Door”
“(I Know) I’m Losing You”
“Julie, Do Ya Love Me”

Not all that different. Two of the three listed in the WLS Top Ten and not in the Billboard Top Ten are familiar. The Three Dog Night single is a favorite, but I can live without R. Dean Taylor’s hit (although I kind of liked it back then). I didn’t recognize by its title the record by Five Flights Up, but as soon as I heard the chorus this morning, it came back to me. I never heard it much – not surprising, as it only got to No. 37 in the Hot 100. And a quick glance at Oldiesloon makes me think that the record never reached the surveys of either of the Twin Cities’ Top 40 stations, KDWB or WDGY.

We’ll end the Chicago digression and get back to our business here, which is heading toward the bottom of that Hot 100 from  October 10, 1970, and seeing what’s at No. 100. And we run into a tuneful, tough and clanking instrumental by Brian Auger & The Trinity: “Listen Here.”

Not long ago, as our pal jb was visiting St. Cloud and we were driving near the St. Cloud State campus, a track by Auger with vocals by Julie Driscoll came on the car radio courtesy of WXGY in nearby Sauk Rapids. It was, I think, “Season Of The Witch.” (It could have been “Road To Cairo” or “This Wheel’s On Fire.”) And jb, who hangs his blogging hat at The Hits Just Keep On Comin’, motioned to the speaker and said something like “This stuff is almost forgotten, and I cannot figure out why!”

Nor can I.

“Listen Here” showed up as a nine minute-plus version on Befour, a 1970 album by Auger and his band. I don’t know if the single is an edit, a shortened remix or an entirely different recording, but here it is. It spent two weeks at No. 100, and was the only record Auger ever got into the Hot 100 (although the previously mentioned “This Wheel’s On Fire” – with vocals by Driscoll – Bubbled Under for four weeks and got to No. 106).

2,397,000

Thursday, September 20th, 2018

That’s a hefty number, 2,397,000 is. Where’d it come from?

Well this morning, I looked at the number of pages in the Word file for this blog. Since sometime early this year, I’d been stacking new posts on the top of the file, letting it get longer and longer until editing within it started to get a little unweidly.

The file was sitting at 139 pages with a word count of 58,575. It was time to start a new file. Back in the early days of this blog, I was zipping condensed files of albums to share here and at a couple of boards, so when I began writing blog posts, I called the first file “Zipped & Shared No. 1.”

(The zipping and sharing of files ended early in 2010, when WordPress escorted me from its premises for violations of its policies, just as Blogger had done some time earlier. Being out in the cold of Blogworld, as it were, spurred me to open my own domain, as well as to change the way I offered music: embedding or linking to YouTube videos, some of them my own creation. But I continued to title the Word files I used “Zipped & Shared No. XX.”)

Today, I opened a new file, one titled “Zipped & Shared No. 52.” And I wandered back into the folders that hold the first fifty-one similarly named files, wondering if the lengths of each individual file were about the same. They were, averaging something more than 47,000 words each. The vast majority of those counted words were, in fact, text for this blog, but there were some things counted as words that were detritus, stuff that shouldn’t count toward a blog’s word count.

That detritus included notes to myself about this post or that, lists of links to include in posts and the coding for the embedding of videos. So, in a ham-handed bit of statistical division – my statistics instructor at the University of Missouri School of Journalism would have winced – I took that average of 47,000-plus and sliced it down to 47,000.

Then I multiplied 47,000 times 51 – the number of filled Word files – and came up with 2,397,000. And that’s approximately the number of words I’ve written for this blog since early 2007.

Remember the detritus that includes notes to myself? There’s a little bit of that right at the top of each of the last twenty or so Word files. There’s a note reminding me that the width I use when I embed YouTube videos on the blog is 455 whatevers. That’s also where I keep examples of the three characters in the Danish alphabet that we do not have in the English alphabet – ø, æ, and å – in both lower and upper case. I also keep the entire Danish exclamation “Skål!” so I can post it on Facebook after the Minnesota Vikings win.

And there are four notes about blog posts. One of them reminds me that this year, I am rerunning the 2008 series First Friday – looking at the mad year of 1968 – only this time, it’s as First Wednesday. Another note reminds me that I should consider doing a blog post about the musical (and romantic) duo of Cymbal & Clinger. A third offers the Derek & The Dominos track “Keep On Growing” as a subject for one of my covers posts. And a fourth suggests the song “Guantanamera” as a topic for a similar post.

But I keep looking back at that number: 2,397,000. That’s a lot of words, sentences, paragraphs and posts, many of which were not nearly as good as I’d hoped they’d be.

So where do we go with that? There are about a hundred tracks in the RealPlayer with the word “words” in their titles. And after a quick scan of the titles possible for a tune, I’ve settled on “Encouraging Words” by Billy Preston, the title track from his 1970 album.

‘Let Me Run Down Your Fingers . . .’

Friday, September 7th, 2018

Looking back forty-eight years to the September 7, 1970, “6+30” survey from the Twin Cities’ KDWB, the top six records immediately start a playlist in my head:

“War” by Edwin Starr
“In The Summertime” by Mungo Jerry
“Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours” by Stevie Wonder
“Make It With You” by Bread
“25 or 6 to 4” by Chicago
“Solitary Man” by Neil Diamond

Decent records all, but I find things more interesting in the bottom six of that long-ago survey:

“Holy Man” by Diane Kolby
“Lay A Little Lovin’ On Me” by Robin McNamara
“All Right Now” by Free
“Soul Shake” by Delaney & Bonnie & Friends
“Long Long Time” by Linda Ronstadt
“Tell It All Brother” by Kenny Rogers & The First Edition

We’ve talked about the bottom three of those at one time or another here, and the one that grabs my attention this morning is the first entry in that list: “Holy Man.” Sitting at No. 31, it was new to the survey:

The record peaked at No. 12 on KDWB three weeks later, which is probably why I recall it. I wasn’t overwhelmed by the record, but when I saw it listed on that 1970 survey this morning, I remembered hearing it and liking it.

The record’s success at KDWB was an anomaly, as “Holy Man” made it to only No. 67 on the Billboard Hot 100. There were a few other stations around the country where the record did well, based on what’s available at the Airheads Radio Survey Archive. In Kansas City, “Holy Man” went to No. 11 on KHB’s “40 Star Super Hit Survey,” as it did on the “Big Thirty” at Salt Lake City’s KNAK. A few other stations saw the record peak in the top twenty. One of those was the Twin Cities’ WDGY, where it got to No. 19. (The highest ranking that the surveys at ARSA show for the record is a peak at No. 4 on 2SM in Sydney, Australia.)

“Holy Man” was the only charting single for Kolby, a native of Houston, Texas, although several others were released in the U.S. and elsewhere between 1970 and 1974. All but one of those singles ended upon her one released album, a self-titled effort that – oddly – was not released until 1973, three years after her one bit of chart success. The one non-album single listed at Discogs – “Ju Ju Woman” – is also pretty good.

Kolby died in 2016 at the age of 70. Her life and career are examined in a post from this past June at the blog Aquarium Drunkard.

Survey Digging, California Style

Friday, August 10th, 2018

Sometime after World War II, one of my dad’s five sisters – Evelyn – moved to California, where her husband – my Uncle Bill – got into some kind of advertising or promotion business in Los Angeles. They had two kids, a girl and a boy, each about a year older than my sister and me.

Sometime in the late 1950s, another aunt and uncle – Dad’s sister Francis and her husband – headed to California, too. They settled in Oxnard, where my Uncle Newell was a dentist. They, too, had a pair of kids, a girl and a boy, a bit closer in age to me and my sister but still a bit older than we were.

I used to daydream about a California vacation, about visiting those distant relatives in that golden state, about getting to know my cousins better, and about seeing all the things in California that I saw on television and in the magazines and movies. But a California vacation was out of the reach of a state college teacher’s salary in the 1960s and early 1970s, and anyway, Dad’s sisters and their husbands and their kids made their ways back to Minnesota every couple of years, so we didn’t really have to go all the way west to see our relatives.

Digression: As did many kids I knew, I dreamed of going to Disneyland. Every week as we watched the Disney television show – always in black and white on Kilian Boulevard – I’d see the shots of people having an incredibly fun time at the park in Anaheim. For whatever reason, the attraction at Disneyland that grabbed my attention the most was the Mad Hatter’s teacup ride.

Finally, when I was twenty-nine, I got to Southern California covering the Monticello High School Marching Band’s participation in Pasadena’s Tournament of Roses Parade. One of the band’s activities during the week we spent out west was marching in one of the daily parades at Disneyland, with pretty much an entire day of free time wrapped around that half-hour long parade. I headed to Fantasyland, home of the Mad Hatter’s teacups . . . and learned that Fantasyland was closed for a year-long renovation. I enjoyed the rest of the attractions at Disneyland. It was a fun day. But even now, thirty-some years later, when I see a picture of the Mad Hatter’s teacups, there’s a little twinge inside. End digression

Having taken a look earlier this week at what I was hearing on KDWB as the last weeks of summer 1970 played out (not all of which I remembered), I thought today, I would dig into the Airheads Radio Survey Archive and find a survey from this week from either Los Angeles or Oxnard and see what my California cousins heard coming from their radios.

I couldn’t find anything fitting the time frame from Oxnard, but I found the Boss 30 from Los Angeles’ KHJ for August 12, 1970. I don’t expect huge differences from what we were hearing back in the Midwest, but there might be one or two unexpected gems.

Here’s the top half of that week’s Boss 30:

“Make It With You” by Bread
“In The Summertime” by Mungo Jerry
“War” by Edwin Starr
“Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours” by Stevie Wonder
“Everybody’s Got The Right To Love” by the Supremes
“The Sly, Slick And The Wicked” by the Lost Generation
“Long Long Time” by Linda Ronstadt
“Westbound #9” by the Flaming Ember
“Tell It All, Brother” by Kenny Rogers & The First Edition
“Looking Out My Back Door” by Creedence Clearwater Revival
“Soul Shake” by Delaney & Bonnie & Friends
“Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” by Diana Ross
“Tighter, Tighter” by Alive & Kicking
“Only You Know And I Know” by Dave Mason

No real surprises there, except maybe the records by Dave Mason and by Delaney & Bonnie & Friends, both of which missed – by two or three places – the Top 40 in Billboard. Some of the other records that hit the Top 40 rank a fair amount higher here than they ever did in Billboard, most notably the records by the Supremes, the Flaming Ember, and the Lost Generation. But nothing looks horribly out of place.

Of the eight records that KHJ tagged as “hitbound,” three of them were new to the survey: “Julie, Do Ya Love Me” by Bobby Sherman (which I mentioned the other day and was pleased the next day or so to hear coming at random from the iPod), “Look What They’ve Done To My Song” by the New Seekers, and “Candida” by Dawn.

Entering the Boss 30 the previous week and tagged as hitbound were: “Joanne” by Mike Nesmith & The First National Band, “Hand Me Down World” by the Guess Who, ‘Summertime Blues” by the Who, “I (Who Have Nothing)” by Tom Jones, and “Cracklin’ Rosie” by Neil Diamond.

So there’s nothing real surprising there. What does surprise me – having dug into the blog archives as I’ve written – is that in more than eleven years and some 2,200 posts, it seems that I’ve only mentioned the tune “Only You Know And I Know” two or three times, and always in the context of the cover version released by Delaney & Bonnie in 1971. I’ve entirely ignored Mason’s original, which showed up on his 1970 album Alone Together. It went to No. 42 in Billboard and was obviously more popular than that at KHJ. So here it is:

‘Never Goin’ Home’

Tuesday, August 7th, 2018

Having messed up bigly in tracing Mungo Jerry’s “In The Summertime” at KDWB the other week (and I still can’t figure out how my search went so awry), I thought I’d dive into the data at oldiesloon again this morning and take a look at the KDWB 6+30 from August 10, 1970.

As the second week of that August rolled in, most scheduled summer activities – enrichment classes, music programs, the state trap shoot – would have been over.

But the three weeks of summer football practice for the Tech Tigers had most likely just started, with me tending to boxes of footballs, bins of scrimmage jerseys, a primitive medical kit, and more. And before and after practice, the radio in the locker room’s small training room was almost always tuned to KDWB. I heard a lot of KDWB at home, too, but there, evenings belonged to WJON across the tracks and late evenings belonged to Chicago’s WLS.

Anyway, here are the Top Fifteen from that KDWB 6+30, records I would have heard nearly every day:

“(They Long To Be) Close To You” by the Carpenters
“Make It With You” by Bread
“Ball Of Confusion” by the Temptations
“O-o-h Child” by the Five Stairsteps
“Ohio” by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young
“Tighter, Tighter” by Alive & Kicking
“Spill The Wine” by Eric Burdon & War
“Song Of Joy” by Miguel Rios
“War” by Edwin Starr
“Band Of Gold” by Freda Payne
“I Just Can’t Help Believing” by B.J. Thomas
“Big Yellow Taxi” by Neighborhood
“Go Back” by Crabby Appleton
“Mama Told Me (Not To Come)” by Three Dog Night
“Are You Ready?” by Pacific Gas & Electric

That’s a pure hour of bliss for me. At least today it would be, forty-eight years after the fact. At the time, I might not have been too thrilled by “Song Of Joy” and I vaguely recall that I tired rapidly of “Spill The Wine.”

Looking further down the survey, “In The Summertime” (the record that started this) was at No. 18, up from No. 27 the week before. Gene Chandler’s “Groovy Situation,” a record that popped up on my iTunes yesterday, was sitting at No. 27, up three spots from the previous week. And there were three new records in the 6+30: “Overture From Tommy (A Rock Opera)” by the Assembled Multitude was at No. 31, “Never Goin’ Home” by Owen B. was at No. 34, and Bobby Sherman’s “Julie, Do Ya Love Me” was at No. 36.

I’ve written about two of those three newcomers seemingly many times. The Assembled Multitude record was one of my favorites that season, and the Bobby Sherman record stays in my memory banks because years after the fact, I realized that there was a Julie who, if she didn’t truly love me, at least liked me a lot, and I never noticed.

I don’t remember the record by Owen B. and searching it out on YouTube this morning sparked no recognition. It turns out that Owen B. was a band from Mansfield, Ohio, that had one record reach the Billboard Hot 100: “Mississippi Mama” went to No. 97 over a two-week period in March 1970. “Never Goin’ Home” never made the Hot 100, and it didn’t stay on KDWB very long. The following week, the record had fallen to No. 35, and a week later, it was gone.

Among the surveys collected at the Airheads Radio Survey Archive, only one other station gave “Never Goin’ Home” any attention. That was WCOL in Columbus, Ohio, where the record went to No. 1 during the first week of July. And that’s not surprising, as Columbus is just sixty miles from Owen B.’s home of Mansfield.

(If you’re interested in learning more about Owen B., there’s a brief history of the band in a 2013 post – seemingly written by band member Tom Zinser – at the blog Rockasteria.)

What interests me this morning is how – and why – “Never Goin’ Home” got any attention at all at KDWB. From what I can tell, the record never got into the 30 Star Survey at WDGY, the Twin Cities’ other Top 40 station. And from listening to the record several times this morning, that was a good decision. I mean, it’s not a bad record, but nothing much separates it from a thousand other records of the time.

I’ll let you make up your mind:

Chart Digging: Four Julys

Wednesday, July 25th, 2018

It seems that there were only four times during the years that interest us here that Billboard published on July 25: 1960, 1964, 1970, and 1981. The gaps between years – one remarkably short and another remarkably long – came for two reasons. First, I think that the magazine shifted its publication date from Monday to Saturday, creating the four-year gap between the first two charts we’ll look at; and then, the insertion of Leap Year Day – February 29 – into 1976 shifted days, so that July 25 moved from a Friday in 1975 to a Sunday in 1976.

All of that leads us to confirm an idea hatched here some years ago that anything that happens because of February 29 does nothing but cause trouble. Anyway, we have four instances of a Billboard Hot 100 to examine this morning, and we’re going to play some Games With Numbers, turning today’s date, 7-25, into No. 32 and see what treasures may lie at that spot in those four charts. We’ll also, as we customarily do, check out the No. 1 record for each of those weeks. So let’s get underway:

During this week in 1960, when a six-year-old whiteray was wandering through the summer before second grade, he and his pals were probably unaware of anything on the Hot 100 except perhaps Brian Hyland’s “Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polkadot Bikini” because the title was fun to sing and it was a little bit daring. I’m not certain what my pals knew beyond that fifty-eight years ago, but I certainly was unaware that “Pennies From Heaven” by the Skyliners was sitting at No. 32.

In Top Pop Singles, Joel Whitburn describes the group from Pittsburgh as a doo-wop outfit, and that certainly held true for 1959’s “Since I Don’t Have You,” but the group’s cover of “Pennies From Heaven” sounds more like Vegas and the Rat Pack than an East Coast serenade from a brownstone’s step. The record had peaked the week earlier at No. 24 and was on its way down the chart. It was the last of three Top 40 hits for the Skyliners, although they kept trying, releasing singles into the late 1970s.

I wasn’t listening to KDWB at the time, of course, but from what I can see at Oldiesloon, “Pennies From Heaven” never reached the station’s survey.

The No. 1 record in the Hot 100 fifty-eight years ago today was Brenda Lee’s “I’m Sorry.” (And in my head, I hear Golden Earring.)

We jump ahead four years to the summer of 1964, when sixth grade (and an intense crush on a young lady who lived about ten blocks south on Kilian Boulevard) was approaching but still out of sight. Parked at No. 32 fifty-four years ago today was the classic “Chapel of Love” by the Dixie Cups, heading toward a three-week stay at No. 1. Do I remember it from then or just from repeated hearings over the years since? I have no idea (and that’s true of many records from before, oh, 1967 or so). Over the next year, the Dixie Cups placed five more records in or near the Hot 100, including the classic “Iko Iko,” which went to No. 20 in 1965. (That record, Whitburn notes, was a reworking of “Jock-O-Mo,” written and recorded in 1953 by James “Sugar Boy” Crawford & His Cane Cutters.)

At KDWB, “Chapel of Love” peaked at No. 3, parking there for three weeks.

The No. 1 record in the Hot 100 fifty-four summers ago this week was “Rag Doll” by the Four Seasons.

By the summer of 1970, the next time Billboard released a Hot 100 on July 25, I was a dedicated Top 40 listener, so one would expect familiarity at No. 32. And that’s just what we get with “In The Summertime” by Mungo Jerry. The record came from a skiffle band from England, with Ray Dorset on vocals, and it was seemingly everywhere that summer, reaching No. 3 in the Hot 100. (It also went to No. 30 on the magazine’s Easy Listening chart.) But I’m not altogether sure where I heard it, as the record never made the KDWB 6+30 survey, according to the lists at Oldiesloon. Well, no matter where I heard it, it seemed to be everywhere, and the lines “If her daddy’s rich, take her out for a meal. If her daddy’s poor, just do what you feel,” seem now to be awful advice.

As it happens, “In The Summertime” is a perfect one-hit wonder, as the group never had any other records reach the Hot 100 or even bubble under.

(As the note below from faithful reader Yah Shure makes clear, “In The Summertime” did get plenty of air play on KDWB, which is what I recalled. I clearly messed up the search somehow and did not trust my memory and look again. Note added August 7, 2018.)

The No. 1 record in the July 25, 1970, Hot 100 was “(They Long To Be) Close To You” by the Carpenters.

And from 1970, we jump to July 25, 1981, smack in the middle of one of the six summers I spent as a reporter for the Monticello Times. As I’ve noted many times more than once here, I was listening less and less to Top 40 during those days, first because I had less leisure time and also because I liked what I was hearing less and less. Still, I do remember that week’s No. 32 record, “America” by Neil Diamond.

One of three Top Ten hits from Diamond’s movie The Jazz Singer, “America” had peaked at No. 8 on the Hot 100 and spent three weeks on the top of the Adult Contemporary chart. (The other two hits from the movie were “Love On The Rocks,” which went to No. 2, and “Hello Again,” which peaked at No. 6.) Diamond, of course, had a lengthy list of records in the Billboard charts, with the 2009 edition of Top Pop Singles showing fifty-six records in the Hot 100.

There are no 1981 surveys from KDWB at Oldiesloon, nor are there any from WDGY, the Twin Cities’ other Top 40 station.

Sitting at No. 1 thirty-seven years ago today was “The One That You Love” by Air Supply.

One Chart Dig: July 1970

Tuesday, July 17th, 2018

Here’s what the top of the Billboard Hot 100 looked like in mid-July 1970, as I wandered through the last months before my senior year of high school:

“Mama Told Me (Not To Come)” by Three Dog Night
“The Love You Save/I Found That Girl” by the Jackson 5
“(They Long To Be) Close To You” by the Carpenters
“Band Of Gold” by Freda Payne
“Ball Of Confusion (That’s What The World Is Today)” by the Temptations
“Ride Captain Ride” by Blues Image
“Lay Down (Candles In The Rain)” by Melanie with the Edwin Hawkins Singers
“O-o-o Child/Dear Prudence” by the Five Stairsteps
“Gimme Dat Ding” by the Pipkins
“Make It With You” by Bread

I don’t recall ever hearing the B-sides of the Jackson 5 and Five Stairsteps singles. Otherwise, every one of these records echoes in my head today, forty-eight years after their time. Did I like them all? Actually, yes, even the juvenile silliness of “Gimme Dat Ding.”

My pal Mike – whose mother was soon to banish me from their home because of my approval of the Beatles – brought the Pipkins single over one Saturday morning. We headed to the rec room in the basement, and I tried to tape the single, but without suitable equipment, every take was ruined by household noise. Finally, we were seconds away from getting the job done when Rick – coming over from across the street – gave me his regular signal of his arrival by tapping three times on the basement window. In exasperation and amusement, we gave up.

With that, we’re going to leave that Top Ten behind and dive deep, checking out – as we’ve been doing recently – the very bottom of the Hot 100, the record parked this week in 1970 at No. 100. And there we find “Long Lonely Nights” by the Dells.

I expected a sad tune, but the hard hitting “Lonely nights!” intro – which seemed to promise something up-tempo – threw me. And after that bit of oddness, the record settled into a standard Dells joint: Harmonies and sad sounds, swirling strings and punchy horns, a little bit of spoken word melancholy. Then, at the end, we get an unsettling reprise of the up-tempo “Lonely nights!” It’s as if the Dells and producer Bobby Miller weren’t sure what kind of record they wanted to make.

And whether it was the odd mix of up-tempo and slow sounds or something else, the record didn’t do very well. It peaked at No. 74 in the Hot 100 and at No. 27 in the magazine’s R&B chart. Here it is:

Saturday Single No. 599

Saturday, July 7th, 2018

From the time I was seven – when I started taking piano lessons – to the time I moved from my folks’ house on Kilian Boulevard when I was twenty-two, I had access to a piano almost every day. There was a period of about four years, ending when I was sixteen, when I played rarely, but other than that, I played the piano at home in the evening and – during my college years – in the practice rooms at St. Cloud State’s Performing Arts Center during the day.

Even when I was in Denmark, I could play. My Danish family had a piano, and there was a piano in the lounge at the Pro Pace youth hostel where I lived for most of the last four months of that adventure. (I have vague memories of playing at several youth hostels during my major travels around Western Europe as well.)

Then during the summer of 1976, I moved to the drafty house on the North Side and, nine months later, to the mobile home I rented from Murl. I was still in school most of that time, so I could still play piano on campus, but it wasn’t nearly as convenient as walking into the dining room.

In late 1977, I moved to Monticello and then to other places and I didn’t get to play very often at all. In Monticello, I occasionally went to the Lutheran church the Other Half and I attended and played there. In Columbia, Missouri, I sometimes walked across campus to the University of Missouri’s performing arts building, and I made similar walks when I taught at Minot State in North Dakota and at Stephens College during a later stop in Columbia.

When I was in Jacques’ band during the late 1990s and early 2000s, I got to play a very good electronic keyboard every week. After a while the guys in the band pitched in and bought me a keyboard and sound module for my home, but then I was asked to leave the band, and over time, the touch of the keyboard they gave me deteriorated as did the quality of the module’s sound.

And then we moved to St. Cloud and I hardly ever played. The night before the closing of the sale of the house on Kilian in late 2004, I went over and said goodbye to the old Wegman upright, and from that night until the time I began playing at our church almost five years ago, I didn’t play at all.

I’ve played a lot since then, but it’s still required heading over to our church and making sure that nothing’s been scheduled for the meeting rooms there that my playing either the grand piano in the sanctuary or the Yamaha Clavinova in the office would disturb. So my playing has required scheduling.

That won’t be true any longer. Just this morning, one of these was assembled and installed in my half of the family room:

Korg LP-180

It’s a Korg LP-180, with a full 88 keys and about ten voices. My external speakers will be in on Monday, but even so, its own speakers sounded wonderful when I gave the keys their first whirl about twenty minutes ago. So what did I play?

Well, after noodling a bit to hear the various voices and to get a sense of the keys’ feel, I launched into the first piece of music I was able to pull from the radio and replicate on the Wegman without resorting to sheet music. That happened in the spring of 1972, and it was a major advance in my growth as a musician.

The piece? Jim Gordon’s lovely coda to Eric Clapton’s “Layla.” (I learned to play the first portion of the piece from sheet music shortly thereafter.) And though it’s nowhere near rare, and it’s no doubt been featured in this space more than once, Derek & The Dominos “Layla” from 1970 is 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.”