Archive for the ‘Games With Numbers’ Category

‘You Ain’t Never Been . . .’

Tuesday, September 13th, 2016

Responsibilities accumulate and errands call. That’s okay; as some younger folks call it these days, that’s adulting. And I’m feeling better today than I did last week. Not entirely back, but closer than I was.

So to keep things brief here but still find some music I’d not heard before (or at least hadn’t thought about for a long time), I ducked into the Billboard Hot 100 from this date in 1975, and played with the numbers today’s date gave me: 9-13-75.

I didn’t expect anything new at Nos. 9 or 13, and I was right. At No. 9, I got “Run, Joey, Run” by David Geddes, a record that I try not to think about, and at No. 13, I got “That’s The Way Of The World” by Earth, Wind & Fire, a record that I’m happy to think about but one that’s eminently familiar.

So Odd and Pop and I turned our gaze to No. 75 in that long-ago chart and found Jessi Colter’s: “You Ain’t Never Been Loved (Like I’m Gonna Love You).” I’d never heard it, so as it played, I hit the books and the charts. It turns out that some of the info in the weekly charts I got from a board or forum long ago conflicts slightly with the information in my reference library. That on-line compilation – in which I have found some errors over the years – indicates that “You Ain’t Never . . .” is a double-sided single, with “What’s Happened To Blue Eyes” on the flip.

But the listing of the Hot 100 at the Billboard website lists only “You Ain’t Never . . .” at No. 75 for the week in question. In Top Pop Singles, Joel Whitburn shows “You Ain’t Never . . .” entering the Hot 100 on September 6 and peaking at No. 64, with “Blue Eyes” coming into the chart on October 11 and peaking at No. 57. Whitburn’s listing seems to indicate that “Blue Eyes” was the A side, and in fact, “Blue Eyes” went to No. 5 on the magazine’s country chart and “You Ain’t Never . . .” did not hit the country Top 40.

If there’s a mystery there, I’ll not be unraveling it this morning. And having listened to both of the tracks this morning, I find “You Ain’t Never Been Loved (Like I’m Gonna Love You)” to be a better record, one that I like pretty well on first listen. So here it is, and I’ll be off to take care of my world.

Saturday Single No. 507

Saturday, August 20th, 2016

There’s been some hoopla in recent weeks about the fiftieth anniversary of the release of the Beatles’ Revolver album. (And it’s been deserved hoopla at that: I’d put Revolver second among the Beatles’ oeuvre behind only Abbey Road and somewhere in the top dozen of the greatest albums of all time.) So I thought I’d check a few radio station surveys from August 20, 1966, and see what a few of the hits were fifty years ago today, when kids who bought Revolver the day it came our had been listening to it for a couple weeks.

(Of course, American kids were listening to an abridged and diminished version of the album, as Capitol sliced three tracks from the album and scrambled the original order of the ones remaining, which means that most listeners in the U.S. didn’t hear the album as it was originally envisioned until the group’s catalog was reissued on CD.)

So what was on the radio fifty years ago, based on a limited look? We’ll check out three station surveys and look at No. 8 and No. 20 (based on today’s date) and also take a look at No. 1.

First up is the WCTC Sound Survey out of New Brunswick, New Jersey, not all that far from New York City. The No. 8 record there was Donovan’s “Sunshine Superman,” which at the time was sitting at No. 10 in the Billboard Hot 100. At No. 20 in New Brunswick was the Mamas & The Papas’ “I Saw Her Again,” which Billboard had at No. 24. The No. 1 record on the Sound Survey fifty years ago today was the Lovin’ Spoonful’s “Summer In The City,” which also topped the Hot 100.

Not far away from me during that week fifty years ago – about 140 miles – WEBC in Duluth, Minnesota, offered “The Northland’s Original and Only Fabulous Forty Survey.” Parked at No. 8 was “Somewhere, My Love” by the Ray Conniff Singers (No. 19 in the Hot 100), while the No. 20 record on WEBC was Bryan Hyland’s “The Joker Went Wild” (No. 21). The top record in the Northland during that long-ago week was “Little Red Riding Hood” by Sam the Sham & The Pharaohs (No. 3 in the Hot 100).

In southern California, some listeners were taking their cues from the KIST List sent out by KIST of Santa Barbara. Sitting at No. 8 in the KIST List that week was “Guantanamera” by the Sandpipers (No. 27 in the Hot 100), while the No. 20 spot was occupied by “Tar & Cement” by Verdelle Smith (No. 38). The No. 1 record on KIST fifty years ago today was “Psychotic Reaction” by Count Five, which would not enter the Hot 100 for another three weeks.

Looking at the three records from those three surveys brings something that’s rare and possibly unique. Usually, when I do these survey digging posts, I have some repeat records listed among the three to five stations I choose pretty much by whim. Today, we have nine different records. I don’t think that’s happened before, but if it has, it’s been rare.

We usually drop the No. 1 records, but I’m pretty impressed with the folks at KIST, who had “Psychotic Reaction” at No. 1 before it entered the Hot 100, so that one will be considered for today’s spotlight. Among the other eight records, most are familiar. I don’t remember hearing Hyland’s “The Joker Went Wild” before today, and I thought it was pretty slight. The rest I know, most of them well. The least-known of those in these precincts is probably “Tar & Cement.”

And there’s something else to consider this morning: In more than ten years of blogging about popular music, I have never once until today mentioned either Verdelle Smith or Count Five. And given that I want something with a little more bite to it this morning, here’s “Psychotic Reaction” by Count Five, today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 495

Saturday, May 7th, 2016

So we’ll cast our glance at the Billboard Hot 100 from May 7, 1966, exactly fifty years ago today, and see what we can find. And yes, we’ll play some games with numbers, taking today’s date – 5/7/16 – and turning it into No. 12, No. 23 and No. 28 to find a single for a Saturday.

But we’ll start with a quick look at the No. 1 record of the week, which turns out to be “Monday, Monday,” by The Mamas & The Papas, the second charting record for the quartet (“California Dreamin’” had gone to No. 4 in early 1966). They’d have seven more Top 40 hits and a bunch more in and near the Hot 100 before the magic ran out. They were, it seems to me, one of those groups – like the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and the best of the Motown groups – than even an unhip kid could not miss in the mid-1960s. I remember hearing their stuff and liking it long before I was a dedicated Top 40 listener.

Sitting at its peak of No. 12 fifty years ago today was a record I do not remember ever hearing until this morning, “Try Too Hard” by the Dave Clark Five. I imagine I did hear it somewhere, but it clearly made no impression. Nor did anything by the Dave Clark Five. I have none of the group’s LPs although I imagine some of their singles are on some of the various anthologies, but those tracks certainly weren’t the reasons for buying the collections. And I find only two mp3s by the group on the digital shelves, and both of those came my way in the portions of the massive Lost Jukebox collection I found somewhere in the wild. I clearly never cared for or about the Dave Clark Five, and I doubt that will change now.

The record parked at No. 23 fifty years ago today is one that I did hear back then and still like today: “A Sign Of The Times” by Petula Clark, coming down the chart after peaking at No. 11 (and at No. 2 on the magazine’s Adult Contemporary chart). I remember hearing – probably because of her presence on the AC chart – and liking everything Petula from 1964’s “Downtown” through her last Top Ten hit, “Don’t Sleep In The Subway,” in mid-1967. I guess you could call her one of my faves: I’ve got maybe five of her LPs on the shelves and about fifty mp3s tucked away in the chips, including a 1975 cover of Mocedades’ “Eres Tu,” which is one of those songs I collect in as many versions as possible.

And at No. 28 in the Hot 100 from fifty years ago today, we find an Elvis Presley track from one of the many movies Elvis starred in that are pretty lightly regarded these days (and likely were similarly regarded when they came out): the title track from Frankie and Johnny. It’s another record I don’t recall ever hearing, interesting to me for two reasons: The record features a faux Dixieland arrangement, and Elvis sings the old song about a cheating lover in the first person, taking the role Johnny as he does Frankie wrong. It’s a little odd, but it’s not awful. It didn’t do all that well, either, as it had already peaked at No. 25.

So, three records to choose from, two of which I’d never heard before. Well, there are days like that. I do like the Petula Clark record, but it’s very familiar. And choosing between the other two, I find that I really don’t like the Dave Clark Five. So here’s Elvis Presley’s take on “Frankie and Johnny,” today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 481

Saturday, January 23rd, 2016

It’s time to go digging in the Billboard pop charts in search of a single for a Saturday morning. Six times during the years that generally interest us here, the magazine has put out its weekly pop chart on January 23. So we’re going to look at those charts, check out which single was at No. 23, and then choose one of those for our weekly treat.

Along the way, as we generally do, we’ll check out the No. 1 single for each week.

We’ll start back before the Space Age began, in January 1957. “I Dreamed” by Betty Johnson sat at No. 23, on its way to No. 9. It’s a peppy love song in which the singer has fantastic dreams and realizes that they all lead back to her guy. It was Johnson’s biggest hit in a chart career that lasted from 1956 into 1960. Three of her other titles hit the Top 40: “Little White Lies” went to No. 25 in the spring of 1957; “The Little Blue Man,” a novelty record, went to No. 17 in early 1958; and “Dream” went to No. 19 later that year. Sitting at No. 1 fifty-nine years ago today, in the ninth week of an eventual ten weeks at the top, was “Singing The Blues” by Guy Mitchell.

Sitting at No. 23 on this date in 1961 was Dion’s “Lonely Teenager,” heading down the chart after peaking at No. 12. With the Belmonts and on his own, Dion racked up thirty-nine singles in or near the Hot 100 (well, it was still called the “Top 100” when the first single hit) between 1958 and 1989. And he’s still working: I saw on his Facebook page that his new album, New York Is My Home, will come out next month. (The video for the title track, which he recorded with Paul Simon, is here.) And during this week in 1961, Bert Kaempfert’s “Wonderland By Night” was in the last of its three weeks at No. 1.

When we get to 1965, we find the Shangri-Las at No. 23 with “Give Him A Great Big Kiss.” The follow-up to the No. 1 hit from late 1964, “Leader Of The Pack,” “Great Big Kiss” was on its way to No. 18. The quartet from Queens would end up with thirteen records in or near the Hot 100 between 1964 and 1967, three of them in the Top Ten: “Leader Of The Pack,” “Remember (Walkin’ In The Sand)” (No. 5 in 1964), and “I Can Never Go Home Anymore” (No. 6 in 1965). Perched at No. 1 fifty-one years ago today, in the first week of a two-week stay, was Petula Clark’s “Downtown.”

Rare Earth was sitting at No. 23 in the Hot 100 from January 23, 1971, with “Born To Wander” making its way to No. 17. The record was the fourth of an eventual dozen in or near the Hot 100 between 1970 and 1978 for the Detroit group. Three of the group’s records made the Top Ten: In 1970, a live version of “Get Ready” went to No. 4 and “(I Know) I’m Losing You” went to No. 7; in 1971, “I Just Want To Celebrate” also peaked at No. 7. The No. 1 record as my senior year of high school hit the halfway point was Dawn’s “Knock Three Times,” in the first of three weeks in the top spot.

It took another eleven years before a Billboard chart came out on January 23, and, as this blog has often noted, my life and music had changed a fair amount by 1982. Parked at No. 23 on this date in that year was Billy Joel’s “She’s Got A Way,” which would go no further up the chart. Plenty of Joel’s work did go higher, of course, as he collected twenty-three Top Twenty singles among his forty-two records in or near the Hot 100 between 1974 and 1997. The No. 1 record thirty-four years ago today was Olivia Newton-John’s “Physical,” in the last of its ten weeks atop the chart.

We don’t often venture into the late 1980s here, and it was nice to find an old friend sitting at No. 23 on this date in 1988: “Everywhere” by Fleetwood Mac, was heading up to a peak at No. 14, just one of twenty-eight singles the Mac placed in or near the chart between 1969 and 2003. It was the sixteenth and final Top 20 hit (so far) for the group. The No. 1 record twenty-eight years ago today was Michael Jackson’s “The Way You Make Me Feel.”

So we have six to choose from, five of which I know well. If Betty Johnson’s “I Dreamed” had been a little less frothy, I might have gone that direction. I’ve never like the Shangri-Las all that much, and the Dion single is not among my favorites from him. Nor do I care much for Joel’s “She’s Got A Way.” That leaves Fleetwood Mac and Rare Earth as choices. Well, I like both singles, but the Mac has shown up in this blog about twenty-five times and Rare Earth less than five. (I have to estimate because the archival site, sadly, is still not finished.) So we’ll go with the group less featured.

That means that Rare Earth’s “Born To Wander” – a record I like plenty enough – is today’s Saturday Single:

Saturday Single No. 478

Saturday, January 2nd, 2016

As our pal j.b. at The Hits Just Keep On Comin’ has noted on occasion, our culture has a fascination with round numbers and anniversaries: Twenty years ago, thirty years ago, and so on. I have the same fascination (as does j.b., whose plan this year is to feature posts about 1976, his year of years). Not only do I like to look at round numbers, but I also like the numbers halfway in between: the fives.

So we’re going to look for our first Saturday Single of 2016 by using round numbers and those halfway numbers. We’re going to look at the Billboard Hot 100 for the first week of the year, starting in 1981 and heading back five years at a time to 1956 (when the chart was called the Top 100). We’ll check out one record on each chart (and look at the No. 1 record at the time, as well).

Thirty-five years ago, in 1981, the No. 35 record on the first chart of the year was the Eagles’ live version of “Seven Bridges Road,” on its way to No. 21. The No. 1 record that week was John Lennon’s “(Just Like) Starting Over,” in its third week at the top of the chart.

We go back five years from there, forty years ago, and the No. 40 record during the first week of 1976 was “Squeeze Box” by the Who, heading to No. 16. The No. 1 record as 1976 began was “Saturday Night” by the Bay City Rollers (and that’s the first mention of that group in the nearly 2,000 posts I’ve written for this blog).

As 1971 began, the No. 45 record was “The Green Grass Starts To Grow” by Dionne Warwick, closing in on its peak at No. 43. Sitting on top of the chart forty-five years ago was George Harrison’s double-sided single, “My Sweet Lord/Isn’t It A Pity,” in its second week at No. 1.

The No. 50 single in the first Hot 100 of 1966, fifty years ago, was “A Well Respected Man” by the Kinks, on its way to No. 13. The No. 1 record fifty years ago this week was “The Sound Of Silence” by Simon & Garfunkel. It would stay there another week.

The first Hot 100 of January 1961, fifty-five years ago, had “My Last Date (With You)” by Joni James at No. 55, heading for a peak at No. 35. Parked at No. 1 for the first of three weeks was Bert Kaempfert’s “Wonderland By Night.”

Our final stop is the chart from the first week of 1956, sixty years ago, when the No. 60 record was Dorothy Collins’ “My Boy – Flat Top.” The No. 1 record in that long-ago first week of January was Dean Martin’s “Memories Are Made Of This,” in the first of six weeks atop the chart.

So, we have three candidates that I know well and don’t particularly like (the records by the Eagles, the Who and the Kinks) and three candidates that I doubt I’ve ever heard (the records by Warwick, James and Collins).

Warwick’s record is a typical Burt Bacharach/Hal David joint, similar in style and production to almost any of the hits she had in the 1960s. Think “Do You Know The Way To San Jose?” or “Message To Michael” or “I Say A Little Prayer.” In other words, it’s a good record but nothing out of the ordinary except for the fact that I don’t remember ever hearing it before.

James’ single, “My Last Date (With You)” is a country-ish adaptation of (or answer to) pianist Floyd Cramer’s “Last Date,” which went to No. 2 in late 1960. The lyrics were added, according to Second Hand Songs, by Boudleaux Bryant and Skeeter Davis, and Davis’ version of the song went to No. 2 on the country chart and No. 26 in the Hot 100 in early 1961. James’ version, as I noted above, went to No. 35 in the Hot 100. It was the last of her eighteen records in or near the Billboard pop chart between 1955 and 1960, and Joel Whitburn notes in Top Pop Singles that James also had eight Top Twenty hits in 1952 and 1953.

Collins’ “My Boy – Flat Top” is a poppy and peppy celebration of a boyfriend with a severe crew cut; there’s a great sax break in the middle, but the record comes off as more of a novelty than anything else. Collins was the star of the television show Your Hit Parade! for most of the 1950s, and “My Boy – Flat Top” was the first – and most successful – of four records Collins put into the Billboard pop chart between 1955 and 1960.

Sifting all that out, I fall on the side of the adaptation/answer song. It’s not a great record, but it’s not bad, and it’s the best of the three that I’ve got to choose from, according to the rules I’ve set. So here’s Joni James’ “My Last Date (With You),” your Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 474

Saturday, December 5th, 2015

Well, I went to see the doctor yesterday about my back. Dr. Julie wasn’t available; I saw another doctor in her group or subset or pod or whatever they call it at the big complex just northwest of St. Cloud. He listened as I told him how it started and how it felt, then he poked my back at various places, pushed and pulled my legs in various directions, and thought for a moment.

Then he told me that it was basically a muscle strain gone wild, and he prescribed a series of pills – a descending quantity of a steroid for a week – and gave me some exercises to do.

I can take pills well, but I’m not all that good at staying with an exercise regimen. I’ll try, though. And it’s nice to pass on the good news that after twenty-four hours of pills and (a little of) the exercises, my back feels much better.

But given yesterday’s visit and other events, as well as the fact that the Texas Gal and I need to run some errands (one of which will no doubt include Chinese food), I have little to offer here. So I thought I’d grab four reference books and see which artist is the first mentioned on Page 474. And from there, we’ll find a single for today.

The New Rolling Stone Album Guide starts its “L” section on Page 474, and the first artist listed is k.d. lang. I have three albums by ms. lang on the digital shelves, so we have something to work with if we go that direction.

In Joel Whitburn’s Top Pop Singles, we find the Isley Brothers in mid-section at the top of Page 474. There’s plenty of Isley stuff on the digital shelves, so we’ll see.

The single ranked at No. 474 in Dave Marsh’s The Heart Of Rock & Soul is the 1956 hit “I’m In Love Again” by Fats Domino. There’s lots of Fats here, too.

And the album listed on Page 474 of the tome 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die is Motorhead’s No Sleep ’Til Hammersmith. That one is, probably unsurprisingly, not on any shelves here, digital or otherwise.

Well, I’ve featured the Isleys a lot over the years, as I have Fats. I’ve not done much with k.d. lang. Still, I’m of the mind that one should listen to Fats Domino whenever one has the chance. So here’s “I’m In Love Again.” It went to No. 3 in 1956, says Whitburn (No. 9 on the R&B chart). And it’s today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 456

Saturday, July 25th, 2015

My search feature told me this morning that among the Billboard Hot 100 charts that have been released over the years on July 25, one of them fell in 1970. I glanced at it, knowing as I did that every record near the top would likely be familiar, tunes I would have heard on KDWB (or on WJON or WLS after dark).

And I thought, “Why not just look at the KDWB survey instead?” So I stopped off at the Oldies Loon website and pulled up the station’s survey for July 27, 1970. (The survey is here.) And every record was more than familiar until I got right near the bottom of the survey, where Glen Campbell’s “Everything A Man Could Need” didn’t ring any bells. I checked it out on YouTube, was reminded that the full title was “Everything A Man Could Ever Need,” and then remembered hearing it and not being very impressed. Neither were the rest of KDWB’s listeners, as the record made it only as high as No. 28 on the station’s weekly surveys over a four-week run.*

So with a survey full of memories – as I’ve noted many times, the summer of 1970 was one of the best radio seasons of my life – what do I do this morning? I thought about playing some games with today’s date, and did a quick scan of the records that would be involved, those at Nos. 7, 15, 22, 25 and 32. And then I went back to No. 25, Bob Dylan’s “Wigwam.”

Back in the summer of 1970, I knew very little about Bob Dylan. I knew about “Lay Lady Lay” from the summer of 1969. I knew about “Blowin’ In The Wind.” I knew he was one of the big trees in the forest of folk and rock and pop music. I didn’t really know why.

But I loved the wordless “Wigwam,” which peaked at KDWB at No. 23 a couple of weeks later (and made it to No. 41 in the Hot 100). I know now, of course, that it came from Self Portrait, the ramshackle album that left most critics and fans baffled and annoyed at best. I know now a lot more about Bob Dylan. There are numerous albums of his that I admire more and enjoy more than I do Self Portrait. There are Dylan songs and Dylan recordings that I admire more than I do “Wigwam.”

But I still love the record, just like I did back in 1970. Because of that, and because it’s not ever been mentioned even once over the course of about 1,800 posts here, Bob Dylan’s “Wigwam” is today’s Saturday Single.

* “Everything A Man Could Ever Need,” from the movie Norwood, wasn’t a big hit nationally, either, making it only to No. 52 in the Hot 100. The record did get to No. 5 on the Billboard country chart and to No. 3 on the Adult Contemporary chart.

Saturday Single No. 448

Saturday, May 23rd, 2015

We’re going to play some games with numbers this morning, digging into some Billboard Hot 100s from a twenty-year span in search of a Saturday single. We’ll take today’s date – 5-23-15 – and add that up to 43, and then we’ll check out No. 43 in the Hot 100s for May 23 in the years 1987, 1981, 1976, 1972, 1969 and 1967.

Why, some may ask, are we beginning this in 1987, a year that rarely shows up here musically? (And many may not care.) Because May 23, 1987, was one of those dividing days, a day during which my life changed dramatically. First, and of lesser importance, it was the day that effectively ended my adjunct teaching time at St. Cloud State. I spent a good portion of the day sipping coffee in a St. Cloud restaurant, figuring out final grades for the students in my visual communications class. And then, that evening, I went to a friend’s party, where I met someone. By the time I drove home to Monticello in the early hours of May 24, my life had changed.

So off we go, starting with the Hot 100 released on May 23, 1987, where No. 43 was “Sweet Sixteen” by Billy Idol. More mellow and restrained than most of Idol’s charting work, the record was on its way up to No. 20. It’s catchy and sweet, but for some reason, the record unnerves me. I guess I’ve always had the sense that underneath the veneer of love, there’s an obsession for the young lady that might eventually find itself expressed in less-than-acceptable ways.

And in 1981, we fall directly on May 23 once more, and we find that the No. 43 record that week was “Say What,” by Jesse Winchester. The jaunty record was rising in the chart, heading for a peak of No. 32 (No. 12 on the Adult Contemporary chart), which would make it the only Top 40 hit in the long and mellow career of the late singer-songwriter. Running into “Say What,” which is a pretty good single, might be a sign, given my long-running affection for Winchester and his work, or it might just be a coincidence.

Things rock a little more when we go back to May 22, 1976, as we find “Crazy On You” by Heart sitting at No. 43. The first charting single for the Wilson sisters and their friends, “Crazy On You” was heading toward its peak at No. 35. (The Mushroom label reissued the single in 1977 after Heart had moved to the Portrait label on its eventual way to Epic; the reissued single went only to No. 52.) For some reason, I whiffed at the time on “Crazy On You” and its summertime follow-up, “Magic Man,” not catching on to Heart until “Dreamboat Annie” during the winter of 1976-77. I’ve since made up for that whiff.

And a decent bit of Stax soul greets us as we dig into the Hot 100 from May 20, 1972, when the No. 43 record was “I’ve Been Lonely For So Long” by Frederick Knight of Birmingham, Alabama. The record would peak at No. 27 (No. 8, R&B), giving Knight his only Top 40 hit. As I said, it’s a decent record, but the low bass parts contrast with the falsetto to make it sound – at some points, anyway – a little bit like a novelty.

And as we head back another three years, we go from an R&B singer with one Top 40 hit to a classic pop singer with twenty-seven Top 40 hits: “Seattle” by Perry Como was parked at No. 43 in the Hot 100 that was in play during this week in 1969. “Seattle” wouldn’t head too much higher; it would peak at No. 38 (No. 2, AC), but the song is etched deeply into my memory: One of Rick and Rob’s sisters was a big fan of the song and of the television series Here Come The Brides, which used the song as its theme, and I heard the record frequently when I was at their house. (According to Wikipedia, however, neither Como’s version nor the version recorded by Bobby Sherman – who starred in the show – was ever used on the show; when lyrics were added to the theme during the show’s first season, they were sung by “The New Establishment,” which one would guess was a group of studio singers.)

We finish our trek back today with a stop in the third week of May 1967, when the No. 43 record was “Melancholy Music Man” by the Righteous Brothers. I’m not sure that I’ve ever heard the record until this morning, and it sounds like – a little more than a year after “(You’re My) Soul and Inspiration” went to No. 1 – Bill Medley and Bobby Hatfield were throwing anything at the wall, as long as it had a Spectorish backing and some call-and-response vocals, to see what would stick. Well, “Melancholy Music Man” didn’t stick, as it moved no higher than No. 43. And I understand its failure: The record sounds like a mess.

So, with six candidates, where do we go? Well, long-time readers will know that as soon as Jesse Winchester showed up, anything that came after would have to be better than good to alter the outcome of today’s contest. And although I like “Seattle,” it’s just not good enough. That means that “Say What” by Jesse Winchester, is today’s Saturday Single.

(The video above uses the version of the tune from the album Talk Memphis. Whether it’s the same as the single, I don’t know.)

Saturday Single No. 446

Saturday, May 9th, 2015

With the morning melting away – I slept in a little bit and then the Texas Gal and I headed north a couple miles to Sauk Rapids for breakfast – I thought I’d just dip into the collection of Billboard charts and see what those released on May 9 might bring us for a Saturday morning tune.

During the span of years that interests us here, there were four such charts, falling in the years 1956, 1960, 1964 and 1970. We’ll be looking at the records that were at No. 59 (for 5/9), and just for fun, we’ll see what the No. 1 record was for each of those weeks.

We start with 1956, when Billboard was calling its major chart the “Top 100.” Sitting at No. 59 was “Without You” by Eddie Fisher, a romantic and somewhat overproduced (to even my pop-friendly ears) ballad that was making its way back down the chart after peaking at No. 41. Even without having looked yet, I’m pretty sure we’ll find something later in the time line that suits my ears and sensibilities better. The No. 1 record on that day fifty-nine years ago was “Heartbreak Hotel” by Elvis Presley, in the third of eight weeks it would spend in the top spot.

Moving ahead to 1960, we find a little bit of New Orleans in the No. 59 spot of the Hot 100 with Fats Domino’s “Tell Me That You Love Me,” which had jumped thirty-seven spots from its previous slot at No. 96. It would peak at No. 51. This one – a decent N’Awlins loper – is a good candidate, as I do love me some Fats. The No. 1 record on May 9, 1960, was another Elvis single, “Stuck On You,” which spent four weeks at No. 1.

And so we move on to 1964, when the No. 59 record on May 9 was “Three Window Coupe” by the Rip Chords, a Beach Boys sound-alike that was the Chords’ follow-up to their No. 4 hit, “Hey Little Cobra.” The coupe didn’t do nearly as well: The “toughest machine in town” peaked at No. 28. Parked at No. 1 fifty-one years ago today was Louis Armstrong’s “Hello, Dolly.” (Armstrong played a concert at St. Cloud State in 1966, which means that “Hello, Dolly” was certainly the first No. 1 hit I ever heard live. How many others have there been? I don’t know, but it seems as if that might be a good topic for a post here.)

As I’ve noted frequently, the year of 1970 ranks pretty highly in my list for life and music both. When May 9 rolled around, the No. 59 record was the two-sided single “California Soul/The Onion Song” by the duo of Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell. I’d not heard “The Onion Song” until this morning. It’s got a nice groove and a decent message, but it nevertheless stands on what has to be one of the more odd metaphors in the songbook of Valerie Simpson and Nickolas Ashford. As to “California Soul,” it reminds me of a genial difference of opinion I had with the late Paco Malo: The Gaye/Terrell version was his preference, while I leaned toward Marlena Shaw’s cover of the tune. In Joel Whitburn’s Top Pop Singles, the two-sided single is listed with “The Onion Song” first, with a peak of No. 50, while “California Soul” is shown as peaking at No. 56. (Whitburn notes that both tracks were among those on which Simpson sang the female lead because of Terrell’s declining health.) As to the No. 1 slot during that week in 1970, it was occupied for the first of an eventual three weeks by another double-side single: “American Woman/No Sugar Tonight” by the Guess Who.

Well, I was tempted by the Fats Domino single, and even the Rip Chords record has some attractions, but as soon as I saw the Marvin Gaye/Tammi Terrell single pop up, I knew where I was going. It’s been not quite a year since Paco Malo – the proprietor of the blog Goldcoast Bluenote – left us, and I miss him. So in his memory, here are Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell (actually Valerie Simpson) with Paco’s preferred version of “California Soul,” and it’s today’s Saturday Single:

Saturday Single No. 430

Saturday, January 24th, 2015

We’re gonna play some games with numbers and then dig around in my sweet spot again today, looking for a tune good for a Saturday morning. We’ll look at the Billboard Hot 100 that was in effect on January 24 during the years from 1969 through 1973, checking out which records were at No. 24. And from those five records, we’ll select one for today’s feature. (We’ll also – as we tend to do – check out which record was at No. 1, just for fun.)

As we start our little trip in a Hot 100 from 1969, we get some advice for the ladies from Tammy Wynette: “Stand By Your Man” sits at No. 24, heading up to No. 19 in the Hot 100, as well as to No. 11 on what is now called the Adult Contemporary chart and to a three-week stay at No. 1 on the country chart. I’ve referred to Wynette’s record only once before in eight years of blogging, when I told the tale of inadvertently stopping for a brew in what my friends and I quickly realized was a Viennese bordello where “Stand By Your Man” and Ricky Nelson’s “Hello Mary Lou” were the only records in English on the jukebox. That experience doesn’t mean I won’t choose the record as today’s feature, but it doesn’t earn it any bonus points, either. Sitting at No. 1 at the time was “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” by Marvin Gaye.

Heading to 1970, we find a Hot 100 released on January 24, forty-five years ago today, and sitting in spot No. 24 was “Ain’t It Funky Now (Part 1)” by James Brown. I doubt if I’ve ever heard the instrumental jam until this morning: The record never made it to KDWB’s “6+30 Survey” back in 1970, from what I can see at Oldiesloon this morning; it’s not in the digital files here; and it’s not one of the thirty tracks included on the James Brown anthology in the vinyl stacks. One can argue, I guess, that I have not paid James Brown enough attention, and that’s possible. In any case, “Ain’t It Funky Now (Part 1)” went no higher in the Hot 100 while peaking at No. 3 on the R&B chart. Sitting at No. 1 forty-five years ago today was “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head” by B.J. Thomas.

As the final weeks of my last January in high school rolled by in 1971, the No. 24 record on the Hot 100 was the double-sided “I Really Don’t Want To Know/There Goes My Everything” by Elvis Presley. I don’t remember hearing either of the sides on the radio back then although I know the B-side now, and I know I’ve heard the A-side at least once before this morning. Both tracks are from the 1971 album Elvis Country (I’m 10,000 Years Old), which made its way to the vinyl stacks here in 1998 and has been pretty much ignored since. The single went to No. 21 on the Hot 100, to No. 2 on the AC chart and to No. 22 on the country chart. (Elvis was the fifth performer to chart with “I Really Don’t Want To Know.” The others were Tommy Edwards in 1960, Solomon Burke in 1962, Esther Phillips in 1963 and Ronnie Dove in 1966.) Sitting at No. 1 during the fourth week of January 1971 was Dawn’s “Knock Three Times.”

And we move from records that don’t matter much to one that makes me cringe. Parked at No. 24 during the fourth week of January 1972 was David Cassidy’s remake of the Association’s “Cherish.” Never mind the emotional importance of the original record in my life: On musical merits alone – performance and production – Cassidy’s version of the tune was weak, a judgment I reaffirm whenever the record pops up on the Seventies Channel of our cable TV system. But that didn’t matter to the listening and/or record buying public back in 1972: Cassidy’s “Cherish” went to No. 9 on the Hot 100 and to No. 1 on the AC chart. Sitting atop the chart that week for the second of an eventual four weeks was Don McLean’s “American Pie.”

Nor does the fourth week in January 1973 bring us much joy, as the No. 24 record that week was Albert Hammond’s “It Never Rains In Southern California,” which I’ve targeted here before for what I’ve always heard as an awkward second line: “Didn’t think before decided what to do.” Then again, I have to admit that I’ve not paid any attention to the record while hearing it on a decent set of speakers. The single is in the vinyl stacks on a K-Tel compilation to which I likely gave short shrift when I played it after buying it in the autumn of 1988, and giving it a closer listening this morning, I’m willing to think that Hammond is actually singing “before decidin’ what to do.” And with that little bit of disdain out of the way, I’m willing to say that Hammond’s record, which went to No. 5 (No. 2, AC), is a decent record. The No. 1 record during that week in 1973 was Carly Simon’s “He’s So Vain.”

So there we have five candidates, none of which utterly thrill me. But given my likely mishearing of the Albert Hammond lyric for more than forty years, I really have no choice but to make Hammond’s “It Never Rains In Southern California” this week’s Saturday Single.*

*The single label of the Hammond record as shown at Discogs has a running time of 3:12, but we all know how that can go. “It Never Rains” was also the title track for Hammond’s 1973 album, where it clocked 3:55, so the above video is likely the album track (with the correct lyric, I should note with a red face).