Archive for the ‘1976’ Category

Saturday Single No. 532

Saturday, March 18th, 2017

I’m going to make this quick this morning, as I’m headed out in a few moments to the health station our clinic operates at a nearby supermarket. I’ve decided that the sinus infection that’s been hanging on for a week requires professional intervention.

So I’m going to let the iTunes player here in the EITW studios do the work for me. I’ll let it roll on random for six tracks and then take whatever the seventh track is for our Saturday Single. Here we go for the first six:

“One Of These Nights” by the Eagles (1975)
“Levon” by Elton John (1971)
“Walking On A Wire” by Lowen & Navarro (1990)
“Raining On Sunday” by Keith Urban (2002)
“Working At The Car Wash Blues” by Jim Croce (1973)
“Golden Years” by David Bowie (1976)
“Jessie’s Girl” by the Chipmunks (1982)

And finally, we land on some sweet Boz Scaggs: “We’re All Alone” is the closing track to Silk Degrees, one of my essential albums since not long after it was released in 1976. And it’s today’s Saturday Single.

Be well, all.

The Starship Sampler, Part 2

Thursday, February 23rd, 2017

Last week, we took a look at the top singles listed by St. Cloud’s WJON in its Starship Sampler dates February 6, 1976. (The sampler images were, as I noted, a gift from regular reader Yah Shure.) Today, we’ll take a look at the list of “St. Cloud’s Top Albums” on the back of the sampler and see what we can glean from that list. (The scan is here).

Here are the top ten albums (with a couple of titles corrected).

Desire by Bob Dylan
Fool For The City by Foghat
Alive by Kiss
History by America
Abandoned Luncheonette by Hall & Oates
Captured Angel by Dan Fogelberg
Face The Music by the Electric Light Orchestra
Eric Carmen
Still Crazy After All These Years by Paul Simon
Chicago IX, Chicago’s Greatest Hits

That would be a decent seven hours or so of listening, with a few caveats from my side of the speakers. Seven of those records eventually showed up in the vinyl stacks; the ones that did not were the ones by Foghat, Kiss and the Electric Light Orchestra. (No Foghat or Kiss ever showed up among the vinyl; three other albums by ELO eventually did, and the Foghat album is present on the digital shelves.)

So, are any of those essential as albums in these precincts? As albums, I see only one: Abandoned Luncheonette. It’s a little startling to see a 1973 album on a 1976 survey, given that the entry of the re-release of “She’s Gone” into the Billboard Hot 100 was still five months in the future, but from the sweet “When The Morning Comes” through the funk-to-rock-to-hoedown epic “Everytime I Look At You,” it’s a joy.

Dylan’s Desire comes close, missing the cut because of the eleven-minute tale of gangster Joey Gallo. So does the Paul Simon album, missing the cut for no particular reason.

But perhaps, as we did the other day, it might be instructive to check out the 3,825 tracks in the iPod and see how well these albums are represented. Five tracks show up from the Hall & Oates album: “When The Morning Comes,” “Had I Known You Better Then,” “Las Vegas Turnaround (The Stewardess Song),” “I’m Just A Kid (Don’t Make Me Feel Like A Man),” and, of course, “She’s Gone.”

I find four tracks from Still Crazy After All These Years: The title track, “50 Ways To Leave Your Lover,” and two duets, “Gone At Last” with Phoebe Snow and “My Little Town” with Art Garfunkel. The only track present from Dylan’s Desire is “Black Diamond Bay,” though I may find room for “Hurricane.” America’s hits album is represented by “A Horse With No Name” and “Don’t Cross The River,” and I could throw “Sandman” in there.

As to the Electric Light Orchestra album, the iPod holds versions that appear to be single edits of “Evil Woman” and “Strange Magic,” and the Chicago hits album is sort of represented there: I have the single version of “Make Me Smile” in the iPod, but I got it from the CD release of Chicago, the silver album. (The album offered edits of “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?” and “Beginnings,” but I go with the full-length versions.)

Shut out on the iPod are the albums by Kiss, Foghat, Carmen and Fogelberg.

I’m not at all sure what that proves, but I find it interesting that the Hall & Oates album pleases me these days more than the Dylan, a judgment that I’m not sure I’d have made twenty or thirty years ago.

Here’s “Had I Known You Better Then” from Abandoned Luncheonette.

The Starship Sampler

Friday, February 17th, 2017

In one of those things that occasionally bedevil all of us in this digital world, I found myself for about two weeks unable to access my Yahoo! email account, the one that’s used for this blog and for offers to meet incredibly scrumptious women. When whatever gunked up the Intertubes cleared up – and I imagine it was a combination of digital Yahooligans and my own errors – I found a gift from regular reader and friend Yah Shure:

He sent along scans of the WJON/WJJO Starship Sampler from February 9, 1976, detailing thirty-eight top singles on each of the two St. Cloud stations – WJON was Top 40 (or near enough) and WWJO was (and still is) country – along with a list of 30 featured pop/rock albums on the back cover of the sampler. (Yah Shure had intended me to have the sampler in time to write about it on February 9, but whatever went wrong with my email put a dent in that idea, so we’re a little more than a week late, which seems like no big deal after forty-one years.)

The two stations, of course, were right around the corner and across the railroad tracks from my folks’ place on Kilian Boulevard (and they’re still there in a newer building, just down Lincoln Avenue from our current place). For many years, WJON was one of the stations that gave me my evening Top 40 fix. Oddly enough, at the time of this particular sampler, that wasn’t the case: I was living in the Twin Cities, finishing an internship in television sports and getting my Top 40 from KDWB.

Still, it’s fun to know what the folks I left behind me in the Cloud were listening to, even though not much of it is surprising. Here is WJON’s Top Ten from that long-ago week:

“Convoy” by C.W. McCall
“I Write The Songs” by Barry Manilow
“Saturday Night” by the Bay City Rollers
“50 Ways To Leave Your Lover” by Paul Simon
“Evil Woman” by the Electric Light Orchestra
“Squeeze Box” by the Who
“All By Myself” by Eric Carmen
“Fox On The Run” by Sweet
“Breaking Up Is Hard To Do” by Neil Sedaka
“Winners & Losers” by Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds

(I’m going to leave the country side of the sampler alone today except to note that “Convoy” was also No. 1 there.)

The only one of the pop Top Ten I did not recall was “Winners & Losers,” and a trip to YouTube did not impress me. The record, which went to No. 21 on the Billboard Hot 100, was HJF&R’s follow-up to the group’s No. 1 hit, “Fallin’ In Love,” which I also thought was a little flabby. (I’m not alone there. Yah Shure noted in a later email that both “Fallin’” and “Winners” were releases on the Playboy label, the group’s new home, and he noted that “their Playboy output was like listening to their Dunhill singles, minus any air in the tires.”)

The only surprise that Yah Shure pointed out on the Top 40 side of the sampler was the presence of Michael Murphey’s “Renegade” at No. 34, a decent enough record but one that I don’t recall at all. We both expressed amused bafflement that “The White Knight” by Cledus Maggard & The Citizens Band – a sort of rough-edged “Convoy” wannabee – sat at No. 26 on WJON. And he noted – half kidding, I think – that he was surprised that station owner Andy Hilger hadn’t “put the kibosh” on the station’s airing the Who’s naughty joke, “Squeezebox.”

Beyond that, the sampler was pretty much what you’d expect from early February 1976. There were a good number of records I recall fondly, some I love, some I don’t care about, and some I dislike. Beyond “Renegade,” there was only one I did not recall: David Ruffin’s “Walk Away From Love,” which sat at No. 19. A trip to YouTube refreshed my memory, and it fell into the “don’t care” category.

The interior pages from the February 9, 1976, Starship Sampler are here.

We’ll take a look at the list of “St. Cloud’s Top Albums” from February 9, 1976, early next week. And we’ll close today with a record that sat at No. 31 in the Starship Sampler that long-ago week, one that I like a great deal, and one that’s not been mentioned here since April 2007, Helen Reddy’s “Somewhere In The Night.”

Cold But Cozy

Thursday, January 5th, 2017

As it does nearly every January, the cold has settled in for a bit: Tuesday’s high was 5 degrees above zero (-15 for those keeping score in Celsius), yesterday’s high was zero (-18), and today, we’re supposed to top out at -4 (-20). It would be nice if I could stay in today, but I’ll have to head out at least twice: this morning to the liquor store for a few more boxes to pack LPs and this afternoon to the drug store for some prescriptions for the Texas Gal.

Okay, so it’s cold. That’s winter in Minnesota. (According to a ranking cited yesterday by WCCO in the Twin Cities, Minnesota ranks No. 1 on a Most Miserable Winter list.) And having spent fifty-eight of my previous sixty-three winters here (and two in equally cold North Dakota), I can deal with it: Dress in layers, watch the thermostat settings, make sure there’s plenty of windshield washer fluid – “blue juice” in day-to-day terms – in the car, wear a hat, and turn into the skid when the car starts to slide on the ice.

(After years of driving in potentially slick conditions, and after countless instances of my various cars fishtailing on icy roads, that last winter necessity has become an instinctive reaction. The day after Christmas – which was a day of freezing rain and snow – I was heading down Lincoln Avenue when I hit a very slick patch. The rear end of the car headed right, and I twitched the steering wheel to the right and straightened out so quickly that the little episode was over before I really had time to think about it. I found that a little spooky.)

I’ve seen predictions that this will be a colder than average winter. That’s going to place some stress on the Texas Gal, whose job requires her to be out of the office moving from place to place at least two days a week (and some stress on the utility bill). Beyond my concerns about both of those stressors, though, I’m fine with a cold winter. I survived the winter of 1976-77 in a house on St. Cloud’s North Side that did not have central heat, so assuming the furnace doesn’t give out, I can survive a colder-than-average winter here.

That winter of 1976-77 was a memorable one. I was out of college and out of work, paying something less than $40 a month to share a shabby four-bedroom house with two other guys. As I’ve noted here before, we had a large oil-burning stove in the living room and a smaller one in the kitchen, and that was it for heat. My room was above the living room, and was the warmest one in the house, and there were mornings when the temperature outside was -30 and the inside temperature huddled around 40. (Among my Christmas presents from my folks that winter was a small space heater for my room; the cats and I were grateful.)

I survived, getting through the winter, re-enrolling in school in February to add a minor in print journalism, and in April, moving to the adjacent small town of Sauk Rapids to rent a mobile home from my friend Murl.

Beyond being cold, the house on the North Side was ill-maintained, cramped and not very clean. I would not wish to live in those conditions again. And yet, I have mostly pleasant memories of the place. One of them finds me in my room on a chilly January evening, with the cats dozing on the bed. I’m seated at the table that served as a desk, clicking away at my Olivetti portable typewriter (with its Pica typeface instead of the more common Elite).

I have no idea what I was writing. Maybe an application for a job, perhaps a letter, or I might have been typing up my latest set of lyrics. Whatever it was, I was doing so with the radio on, tuned to WCCO-FM in the Twin Cities. And sometime during that evening, the radio offered me the faux swing/jazz sound of Dr. Buzzard’s Original Savannah Band.

“Whispering/Cherchez la Femme/Se Si Bon” peaked at No. 27 on the Billboard Hot 100 at the end of January 1977 and was the only Top 40 hit for the group that eventually evolved into Kid Creole & The Coconuts. (The record went to No. 1 on the magazine’s disco/dance chart, to No. 31 on the R&B chart and to No. 22 on the adult contemporary chart.) And though I don’t hear it often, when I do, it brings back memories of my cozy domesticity circa 1977: me and my cats, a typewriter, a space heater, and a radio.

‘Kill That Roach . . .’

Wednesday, August 3rd, 2016

I’ve dissected at least a couple of times the changes in my life during the summer of 1976 (here and here), a summer that is somehow now forty years in the past. I’ve written about how odd it felt at the start of that July to be living on the North Side of St. Cloud instead of my native East Side and about the questions and concerns that I carried along with my books and clothing as I moved from one side of the Mississippi River to the other.

And I’ve written about the music that brings back memories of that summer, reminders of that move and of my cramped room in my new home.

But one thing I didn’t really think about until very recently was the change in my music listening habits. When I was living at my folks’ place on Kilian Boulevard, my music source was – and this is an estimate – half from my LPs in the basement rec room, not very many of them very recent, and half from radios and/or jukeboxes in various other places: my room, friends’ homes, various restaurants and bars and Atwood Center at St. Cloud State.

But when I moved across town, I left my LPs at Kilian Boulevard. Yeah, there was a turntable in the living room in my new place, and the three guys who were living there had some albums on the bricks and boards nearby. But I’d visited the place enough to know that – like many low-rent residences occupied by students in college towns across the country – our place had pretty much an open door policy. Security had never been a major concern.

Now, I don’t know how many LPs had walked out the door of the place on Seventeenth Avenue under the arms of sticky-fingered visitors over the couple of years I’d been visiting off and on. But until I had a better idea of how widely ajar the place’s open door actually was – I didn’t know how diligently the doors were locked or who else out there might have keys – I wasn’t going to bring my albums over and risk having them wander out the door.

(As the guys I knew moved out, the number of albums on the living room shelves diminished, and it wasn’t until quite late in my tenure on Seventeenth Avenue that I brought over from the East Side maybe ten of my favorite LPs, scrawling my name on the top right corner of the front cover of each of them.)

Until then, I listened to the radio, sometimes when hanging out in the living room with the other guys and with whatever company we had, and sometimes when closeted in my room with my two cats (and on frequent occasion, my girlfriend). The radio in the living room was likely tuned to the FM side of a local Top 40 station or maybe to the Twin Cities’ album rocker KQRS. The radio in my room was generally tuned to WCCO’s FM station, which played a quirky mix of music that’s not easy to describe.

(Regular reader Yah Shure explained it this way a few years ago: “WCCO-FM’s hybrid format was an attempt to create a younger, hipper, more music-intensive version of its full-service-giant parent AM, which wasn’t a bad plan for a market that hadn’t yet fully awakened to the existence of the FM band. It was a current-based blend of soft rock, MOR, pop, singer-songwriter . . . even a touch of jazz lite. The non-rock hits were well represented, but FM 103’s overall musical scope was pretty adventurous, with plenty of album cuts and untested singles that fit a particular ‘sound,’ whether they’d charted or not.”)

So all of that was what I heard during those months on the North Side, a mix of mostly current stuff. And of course, a great deal of music I might not have heard then has come to me since, so most of the records listed in the Billboard Hot 100 from this week in 1976, are familiar. It’s more fun these days, however, to look for the unfamiliar. So, dropping down to the bottom of the chart, the Bubbling Under section, I find at No. 109, the next-to-last spot on the chart, a record that I’m pretty certain I’d never heard until this morning

That’s not unusual; despite my best efforts, there’s a lot of music out there that’s popped into the charts that’s never reached these ears. But a look at Joel Whitburn’s Top Pop Singles told me that there’s something remarkable about “Kill That Roach” by a Miami-based disco band called simply Miami.

What caught my eye about “Kill That Roach” this morning is that the record bubbled under the Hot 100 for thirteen weeks – all of August, September and October 1976 – and never got any higher than No. 103. Maybe I’m utterly sideways here, but I can’t imagine that too many records in the Hot 100 era bubbled under for that many weeks without breaking into the actual Hot 100.

It’s maybe nothing special, a dance record that’s in the same vein as many others of the time, but I wouldn’t have minded hearing it come out of the speaker late some night as my girlfriend and our cats kept me company on the North Side.

‘Can This Road Be Taken . . .’

Friday, April 1st, 2016

Things come together and things fall apart.

I read in the last week or so news accounts from the world of Crosby, Stills & Nash indicating that the journey of the three is over. Evidently David Crosby has said or done something that offended Graham Nash on such a basic level that Nash had said he’ll no longer work with Crosby.

It wasn’t surprising reading. The clashes and estrangements of the three men – Crosby, Nash and Stephen Stills – from one another over the years (and the same with the occasional fourth, Neil Young) are long the stuff of newspaper, tabloid and blogpost headlines. It’s been a dysfunctional family for years, one that occasionally gathered to make music, some of it great. The fact that the dysfunction has finally outweighed the benefits makes me wonder, honestly, how someone’s limits weren’t reached long ago.

The news of Nash’s pronouncement wasn’t something I planned to mention here. But this morning, I asked the RealPlayer to find me tracks recorded in April, wondering if I were lucky enough to find something recorded on some April 1 years ago. And the RealPlayer gave me, among many other tracks, an unreleased version of “Taken At All,” a song written by Crosby and Nash and released in a country-folk version on the duo’s 1976 album Whistling Down The Wire.

The unreleased version showed up on the 1991 box set CSN, credited to Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, and it was recorded at Criteria Studios in Miami on April 1, 1976, forty years ago today, which makes for a nice accident of timing.

This is me. Can you take another look?
Did I see you looking blindly at your book?
Is it all that you thought, that you thought it took?
Can it be taken, taken at all?

Were you looking for signs along the way?
Can you see by your lonely light of day?
Is this road really the only way?
Can this road be taken, taken at all.

We lost it on the highway
Down the dotted line
You were going your way
I was going mine

We lost it on the highway
Things were out of sight
You were going your way
Trying to make a light (along the way)

Can you see by your lonely light of day?
Is this road really the only way?
Can this road be taken, taken at all?
Can this road be taken, taken at all?

Saturday Single No. 484

Saturday, February 13th, 2016

Because we landed on the 1976 hit “Tangerine” by the Salsoul Orchestra yesterday, and because that year came to our full attention only three times during 2015, I thought we’d run a four-tune random 1976 draw this morning as we look for a single for the day.

We start with “You’re The Best Girl In The World” by Johnnie Taylor, a B-side from his album Eargasm. The A-side, “Disco Lady,” was the big single from the album, spending four weeks on top of the Billboard Hot 100 and six weeks on top of the magazine’s R&B chart. The album went to No. 5 on the Billboard 200. As to the track itself, it’s got chunky guitar, lots of cymbals, sweet strings, a good vocal, a nice saxophone break in the middle, some unexpected chord changes, and a tempo guaranteed to get you and your sweetie out onto the dance floor for a while. That’s a pretty good mix of stuff, and it’s a nice way to begin our search today.

We get a quick organ break followed by a chorus of doleful horns (with a bit of light single-string guitar on top) and then a weary voice:

Workin’ your whole life away
Hopin’ to get ahead some day
Tryin’ to keep what we got
and Lord knows we ain’t got a lot
Still, we’re doin’ alright.

“Doin’ Alright” comes from Tower Of Power’s album Ain’t Nothin’ Stoppin’ Us Now, and the weary vocal from Edward McGee, punctuated with back-up from singers Melba Joyce, Pat Henry and Ivory Stone and laid on the controlled work of the band’s renowned horn section, is honey to my ears this morning. The album had some success, reaching No. 42 on the Billboard 200.

“Sunshine Holiday” is a light, tropical excursion by Carolyn Franklin (sister of Aretha) from her last album, If You Want Me. Flutes, island rhythms on the bass, and light strings (and probably guitar) in almost a pizzicato style all give Franklin a sweet foundation for a frothy lyric that seems to do little more than list the benefits of such a vacation and invite the listener to come along. It’s over in a little more than two minutes, leaving the froth behind. Other tracks on the album were likely more substantial (I don’t know the record well), but from what I see online, the folks at RCA Victor didn’t hear a single, and the album didn’t make the Billboard 200.

The Faragher Brothers were in fact brothers from Redland, California. (Joel Whitburn in Top Pop Singles lists six brothers, but Wikipedia clarifies that by noting that four brothers began the group and recorded two albums; two other brothers joined in for the last two albums the group recorded.) Our stop this morning, “In Your Time,” is a track from the first of those four albums, the group’s self-titled debut. In one of two times I’ve mentioned the band before this, in 2007, I wrote, “It’s inoffensive pop rock with mellow vocals and a few horn flourishes, kind of a Pablo Cruise meets James Pankow of Chicago.” That still sounds about right, only “In My Time” seems to lack the horn flourishes. The album did not chart, nor did the first single from the album, “It’s All Right.” A second single, “Never Get Your Love Behind Me,” went to No. 46 on the Billboard Adult Contemporary chart.

We’ll dispense with the Carolyn Franklin and Faragher Brothers tracks right off the top. Long-time readers might think at this point that I’m going to pull the Tower Of Power track as our feature, and it’s true that I like “Doin’ Alright” a lot. But Tower of Power has been featured here at least fifteen times over these nine years (with the last half of 2009 and January 2010 to still be filed, and thus be easily searched, at the archives site), and Johnnie Taylor has been mentioned only four times and featured only once.

If the record weren’t a good one, I’d go with “Doin’ Alright.” But Taylor’s record has all of the virtues I listed above, and those are more than enough to make Johnnie Taylor’s “You’re The Best Girl In The World” today’s Saturday Single.

One Chart Dig: February 1976

Friday, February 12th, 2016

It’s a little bit disconcerting to realize that it’s almost forty years since I graduated from St. Cloud State. That happened at the end of February 1976, after my one-quarter internship in the sports department of an independent television station based in a Minneapolis suburb.

I know I’ve mentioned the internship frequently over the past nine years, just as I’ve mentioned fairly frequently the stunning redhead who was interning in the station’s promotions department and indicated a clear interest in me. There are reasons those things remain large in my rear-view mirror, I think.

First, I was good enough at the internship that after the first couple of months, I was occasionally – five or six times, I would guess – asked to assemble the entire evening sports segment and hand the script to the on-air talent. I was listed those five or six times as a producer in the broadcast’s credits, and that’s pretty heady stuff at the age of 22.

And the redhead? Well, even though I was seeing a young woman in St. Cloud, the other intern’s obvious interest in me was flattering and, frankly, gave me confidence in what we might call today my social game. I didn’t really follow up on her interest beyond a little flirtation, but it boosted my ego a little bit, and at that time, that was a good thing.

Anyway, that’s what comes to mind when I think of that February now forty years gone: Writing a script, choosing visuals for that script and taking a few minutes most days to grab a cup of coffee in the break room with that lovely young lady.

And, of course, music. There was none in the newsroom, of course. There, we had televisions that tracked our own programming and the programming of the three other stations in the market; music would have been a distraction. But I heard tunes driving between the station and my shared apartment in a nearby suburb, and my roommate and I – he was another young St. Cloudian, working his first job out of school – had the radio on a lot during those three months.

So the top ten in the Billboard Hot 100 from this week forty years ago was very familiar:

“50 Ways To Leave Your Lover” by Paul Simon
“Love To Love You Baby” by Donna Summer
“You Sexy Thing” by Hot Chocolate
“Theme From S.W.A.T.” by Rhythm Heritage
“Sing A Song” by Earth, Wind & Fire
“I Write The Songs” by Barry Manilow
“Love Rollercoaster” by the Ohio Players
“Love Machine (Part 1)” by the Miracles
“Breaking Up Is Hard To Do” by Neil Sedaka
“Evil Woman” by the Electric Light Orchestra

That was pretty much what we heard. At the Airheads Radio Survey Archive, there is a KDWB survey from February 10, 1976, and six of those ten show up in the top ten, with “You Sexy Thing” topping the survey. The Earth, Wind & Fire track and the bottom three from the Billboard Top Ten are gone. (Three of those four show up lower among the twenty-five records on the KDWB survey; the only one missing is the Miracles’ record.)

Taking their place were Eric Carmen’s “All By Myself” at No. 3, C.W. McCall’s “Convoy” at No. 4, the Who’s “Squeezebox” at No. 9, and Foghat’s “Slow Ride” at No. 10. The Carmen record is especially evocative of those days; there were at least two weekends when my roommate went back to St. Cloud and I was working, and I think I heard the record on the radio late at night both weekends, and yeah, I was a bit lonely.

But we’re going to find today’s nugget further down in the Hot 100 from forty years ago today, at – appropriately – No. 40. It’s “Tangerine” by the Salsoul Orchestra. (I took a look a few years ago at the song’s history in posts found here, here and here.) The record was the first of a couple of Top 40 hits for the Philadelphia-based orchestra (which included for a while, says Wikipedia, musicians who’d previously been part of Philadelphia International’s MFSB). Eight other records reached the Hot 100 or bubbled under it until the string ran out in 1979.

“Tangerine” peaked at No. 18, and went to No. 11 on the Adult Contemporary chart and to No. 36 on the R&B chart. And it no doubt got a lot of folks out of their chairs and out onto the dance floor.

What’s Being Watched?

Friday, November 20th, 2015

It’s been just more than four and a half years since I started putting my own videos up on YouTube. I started making my own videos because either the tunes I wanted to share here weren’t available at YouTube or because I didn’t care for the visuals that were available. And I decided to keep my stuff simple. As the audio is the point, my visual content is either a record jacket or label or a static visual I’ve created to illustrate the track.

(Most of the videos I make and upload to YouTube are for this blog. Every once in a while, there will be some back-and-forth on Facebook and I’ll make a video to throw into the conversation, but that’s happened maybe ten or fifteen times.)

It’s been interesting over these four-plus years to see which of my 346 videos attract the most interest. By a wide margin, the most-played piece I’ve put up at YouTube is “Bittersweet” by Big Head Todd & The Monsters, which as of this morning has been viewed 544,647 times. A total of 2,403 of those viewers have given the video/track a “thumbs up” and 72 folks have given it a “thumbs down.”

After that, the views drop off considerably, but the numbers are still pretty large. Here are the next ten:

“Love Has No Pride” by Bonnie Raitt, 99,661 views (426 thumbs up and 14 down)
“Rør Ved Mig” by Lecia & Lucienne, 95,321 (282 and 9)
“Don’t Try To Lay No Boogie Woogie On The King Of Rock & Roll” by Long John Baldry, 81,674 (547 and 14)
“Tangerine” by Eliane Elias, 79,843 (335 and 5)
“The Windmills Of Your Mind” by Michel Legrand, 78,556 (218 and 8)
“Misty” by Groove Holmes, 70,808 (181 and 2)
“Anything For Love” by Gordon Lightfoot, 68,557 (262 and 2)
“Ballad Of Easy Rider” by Roger McGuinn, 65,602 (277 and 3)
“Banana Boat (Day-O)” by Stan Freberg, 63,668 (437 and 2)
“Theme from ‘Summer of ’42’” by Michel Legrand, 60,926 (321 and 9)

It’s interesting that two of those top eleven are from Michel Legrand. And the presence of Stan Freberg in the top ten kinda tickles me.

I’ve put up as well a few long-form pieces and full albums. The most popular of those is the live version of “Nantucket Sleighride” by Mountain, which ranks thirteenth overall with 58,180 views (324 and 6) in the year-and-a-half it’s been up.

As in all counting statistics, longevity has its rewards. Most of those videos are from 2011 and 2012. The highest-ranked video from 2013 is Long John Baldry’s classic track (and I find it hard to believe there are fourteen folks who disliked it enough to give it a thumbs down). The highest ranked from 2014 is the Roger McGuinn track. The most-viewed video from this year is Billy Preston’s live version from The Concert For Bangla Desh of “That’s The Way God Planned It,” which ranks 33rd, having garnered 13,561 views (87 and 3) since it went up last March.

And we’ll close this with one of the videos I originally made to share on Facebook: Ray Conniff’s cover of Boz Scaggs’ “Lowdown” from Conniff’s 1976 album If You Leave Me Now. When I posted it at Facebook last March, jb of The Hits Just Keep On Comin’ noted that the similarities between Conniff’s instrumental track and Boz Scaggs’ original were a little bit disturbing. As of this morning, it’s had 166 views (1 and 0).

Saturday Single No. 452

Saturday, June 27th, 2015

So as the summer of ’15 turns the corner from June into July, my mind turns to summers past, trying to reckon if this summer’s heat is equal to that of last year’s, if its sunshine is as bright as that of twenty years ago, or if its pleasures are the same as those of forty years ago.

It’s sometimes tough to keep track of the years, just like anything is when enough similar items accumulate: When I was twenty, or even when I was forty, I knew what albums I had in my collection. When I was at the record store or the pawnshop or even the flea market and I ran across a record that looked interesting, I’d know without thinking about it whether it was already on the shelves at home.

These days, I don’t always know. The other day, the Texas Gal and I were wandering around a second-hand shop west of downtown. She looked over the fabric scraps and the recliners while I poked around the books and the CDs. In the latter place, I found a sealed copy of the Indigo Girls’ 1990 album Nomads Indians Saints. Thinking that I might not have a copy of it, I paid something like two bucks and brought it home. Of course, it was already on the shelf.

It’s no big deal. It was only a couple of bucks, and I’ll likely drop the extra copy off at the library bookstore, and the Friends of the Library can sell it for a buck. But it shows that the more one has of something, the harder it is to keep track of them. It’s true of records and CDs. And it’s true of summers.

A game I sometimes play with myself at quiet times is to recall what I was doing during various portions of my life: I might find myself lazing about in, say, October, and try to recall Octobers past. What was I doing in October 1969? Or October 1992?

I was playing that little game the other day with summers in mind. There are – as I’ve noted here before – some summers that have memories stacked on memories. But the nearer summers are to the present, the less they seem to stand out: For many, I recall where I was living and – in the years through 1999 – where I was working but little more than that. The summers since 1999 – for the most part – are even more indistinct. For someone who relies a lot on memory for his writing and for his navigation through life (though much less so now than in the past), that might be troublesome. But I’m not finding it so.

This summer, unless I’m horribly wrong, will be very much like the last several: We’ll water the garden and eventually pick tomatoes and cucumbers and more. We’ll grill a few times. We’ll spend a portion of as many evenings as we can in lawn chairs with beverages at hand. We’ll go to the farmers’ market downtown several times and maybe spend an evening at the county fair.

And if there’s nothing specific that makes this summer all that much different from the ones that have come before it, well, that’s fine. It’s summer, and it’s sweet no matter what, and that’s what I will remember during the next winter and all the seasons that follow it.

So here’s “Summer” by War. A single version of the tune went to No. 7 in 1976, but this is the version that showed up on the group’s greatest hits album that same year, and it’s today’s Saturday Single.