Saturday Single No. 580

Given the ways the days and dates intersect on the calendar as the years go by, sometimes there are stretches of years when a specific date – like today’s: Saturday, March 3 – are kind of rare. In the stretch of years I call my musical sweet spot – the years from, oh, 1968 through 1975 – there is just one time when March 3 fell on a Saturday: 1973.

I could, as I have sometimes done, look to earlier or later years in search of a single for a Saturday morning. March 3 fell on a Saturday in 1979, a year that holds little interest musically, and in 1962, which does hold more interest but will be saved for another day.

So off to 1973 we go. The top ten in Billboard on this date forty-five years ago was:

“Killing Me Softly With His Song” by Roberta Flack
“Dueling Banjos” by Eric Weissberg and Steve Mandell
“Last Song” by Edward Bear
“Could It Be I’m Falling In Love” by the Spinners
“Crocodile Rock” by Elton John
“You’re So Vain” by Carly Simon
“Love Train” by the O’Jays
“Also Sprach Zarathustra (2001)” by Deodato
“Rocky Mountain High” by John Denver
“Don’t Expect Me To Be Your Friend” by Lobo

Well, there’s nothing there that falls in the “no, please don’t” category, but the only ones that I truly love are the singles by the Spinners and the O’Jays. I do like “You’re So Vain,” but it’s on a second tier, and I liked “Killing Me Softly . . .” when it came out, but I’ve long since gotten tired of it.

And, as we generally do, we’re going to look deeper at this particular Hot 100. Instead of playing Games With Numbers or getting too fancy, though, we’re just going to look at Nos. 40, 70 and 100 and see what we find.

At No. 40, we find a cross-over from the world of country: “Soul Song” by Joe Stampley, a Louisiana boy who – according to Joel Whitburn in Top Pop Singles – had sixty-one hits on the country chart between 1971 and 1979, with four of those going to No. 1. “Soul Song,” which peaked on the pop chart at No. 37, was his only record on the Hot 100. I likely heard it back then, but I don’t recall it. Listening this morning, I find it kind of dull and repetitious. Not my deal.

Candi Staton gives us some groovin’ advice when we get to No. 70: “Do It In The Name Of Love.” The biggest hit for the Alabama-born Staton, of course, was 1976’s “Young Hearts Run Free,” which went to No. 20 on the Hot 100 and was No. 1 on the R&B chart. “Do It In The Name Of Love” has a good funky vibe to it, but then, so did a couple thousand other singles in 1973. It peaked at No. 63 on the Hot 100 and at No. 17 on the R&B chart.

At the bottom
of the Hot 100 forty-five years ago today was “We Did It” by Syl Johnson, an R&B performer who was born in Mississippi and raised in Chicago. “We Did It” was one of seven records Johnson placed in or near the Hot 100, none of which reached the Top 40. (He had twelve records in the R&B Top 40, with his greatest success being his 1975 cover of the Talking Heads’ “Take Me To The River,” which went to No. 7.) Like the Staton record, “We Did It” has a good groove, this one provided by Willie Mitchell’s production. It peaked at No. 95.

So, where does that leave us? Well, the No. 100 record sounds pretty damn good this morning what with the groove and the horns and all, and that’s enough to make “We Did It” by Syl Johnson today’s Saturday Single.


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