From The Castaways To . . .

So I glanced at the Billboard Hot 100 from November 13, 1965, a date that slid past while I was busy seventh-grading, perhaps even as I was making a mouse out of paper mache while my pal Brad made a kangaroo that he named Aloysius. (The mouse never got a name, turning out more as an abstract idea of a mouse than anything like a real mouse. Neither did the mouse get put on display for parents night while Aloysius did. Such were the stakes in the seventh-grade Paper Mache League.)

But as we papered and mached in November of 1965, Minnesota’s Castaways were trying to follow up their No. 12 hit of late summer, “Liar, Liar.” The Minnesota label Soma released “Goodbye Babe,” and forty-nine years ago today, “Goodbye Babe” showed up in Billboard for the first time and was bubbling under at No. 125.

The record bubbled under for another five weeks and got as high as No. 101, and that was the last the Billboard charts saw of the Castaways. But the group’s drummer, Dennis Craswell, started calling himself Denny and wound up behind the kit for the Twin Cities band Crow, which had a No. 19 hit with “Evil Woman Don’t Play Your Games With Me” in early 1970. “Evil Woman” was one of the highlights of my 1970 radio listening although I’ve read many times that the members of Crow were mighty pissed after the folks at Amaret buried Crow’s sound under a lot of added horns.

“Evil Woman” sat at No. 19 for two weeks in January 1970, and the upper portions of the Hot 100 for both of those weeks look like lists I could have made if I had been keeping track of the sounds that came out of the old RCA radio on my nightstand. By that time, Aloysius and the mouse no longer mattered; junior year of high school found me with other concerns, at least one of them quite lovely as she played her violin. Many of the records I heard during the first months of 1970 spoke to that specific concern. Other records, romantic though they might have been, left me with no specific object in mind. Eddie Holman’s “Hey There Lonely Girl” was one of those, and it was No. 20 during the second of the two weeks “Evil Woman” sat at No. 19.

I heard Holman’s record often as it climbed to No. 2, having no idea that it was a cover of Ruby & The Romantics’ version from 1963, which went to No. 27. I also had no idea that during the same weeks when I heard Holman’s plaintive single, there was a girl in Texas a little more than three years younger than I who heard the same record and wondered who would offer to ease her loneliness, and when. She found out, eventually.

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