Saturday Single No. 680

March 7th, 2020

This will be quick and easy this morning, as I am late getting going. I’ve not said much – if anything – about it, but both the Texas Gal and I have been battling colds pretty much since the beginning of the year, feeling fine for two days and then feeling utterly miserable for the next two. Anyway, miseries led us to sleep in today, and I have an appointment very soon with bacon and pancakes.

So I’m going to head to the Airheads Radio Survey Archive and look at the “Fabulous Forty” survey from the Twin Cities’ KDWB for the first week in March 1965, fifty-five years ago. We’ll look at the top five, and then play Games With Numbers on today’s date – 3-7-20 – and fall onto the No. 30 record in the survey for our listening this morning.

So, fifty-five years ago this week, here was KDWB’s top five:

“This Diamond Ring” by Gary Lewis & The Playboys
“You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’” by the Righteous Brothers
“King Of The Road” by Roger Miller
“Downtown” by Petula Clark
“The Jolly Green Giant” by the Kingsmen

I was in sixth grade at the time, and I recall hearing all of these coming out of various radio speakers. I wasn’t really listening, but I couldn’t help hearing. And I liked them all except for the Kingsmen’s record, which I thought was really dumb. And all of those top four are among the 3,900-some tracks on the iPod, which puts them in my day-to-day listening even after fifty-five years.

Okay, so let’s head to No. 30 on that long-ago survey. And we find a record that, to be honest, should be among my regular listening: “Hurt So Bad” by Little Anthony & The Imperials. I first knew the song via the 1969 cover by the Lettermen. (Their album, Goin’ Out Of My Head, was one of my sister’s records.) And as I sit here more than fifty years removed from both versions, I have to say that Little Anthony takes the song to levels of despair that the Lettermen likely couldn’t approach. Still, I prefer the cover. (It could be that I want my suffering to be at least a little stoic and not so demonstrative.) But there’s no denying that the original is a great record.

I’m not going to sort out where the Little Anthony record peaked on KDWB, but it went to No 10 in the Billboard Hot 100 and to No. 3 on the magazine’s R&B chart. And it’s today’s Saturday Single.

How Many Clarences?

March 6th, 2020

I was checking the date of an entry in Clarence Clemons’ discography this morning, so I entered “Clarence” in the search box of the RealPlayer and clicked. And as the program searched, I wondered exactly how many tracks I have by people named Clarence.

It turns out to be seventy.

Almost half of those tracks – twenty-nine – are from Clemons, including three albums: Rescue with the Red Bank Rockers (1983), Hero (1985), and A Night With Mr. C (1989). One track from Rescue – “Savin’ Up” – is duplicated on the 1997 album One Step Up/Two Steps Back: The Songs of Bruce Springsteen, and there are single tracks from the soundtrack to the 1985 movie Porky’s Revenge! (“Peter Gunn Theme”) and from the live album that came out of the 1989 tour of Ringo Starr’s first All-Starr Band (“Quarter To Three”).

But there are other Clarences as well, like R&B singer Clarence Carter. He shows up seventeen times, represented by the 1969 album The Dynamic Clarence Carter and some singles on the Fame and Atlantic labels. Those singles include his two biggest hits, “Slip Away” (1968), which went to No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 and to No. 2 on the magazine’s R&B chart, and “Patches” (1970), which went to No. 4 on the Hot 100 and to No. 2 on the R&B chart. There’s also a 1969 single, “Snatching It Back,” which peaked at No. 31 on the pop chart and went to No. 4 on the R&B chart, and a duplicate of “Road Of Love” from the Dynamic album because the track also shows up on the first Duane Allman anthology (1972).

Clarence Williams, a jazz pianist, shows up with his Blue Five on four tracks from the 1920s. He and his group backed Sippie Wallace on “Baby, I Can’t Use You No More” (1924), Eve Taylor on “Papa De-Da-Da” (1925), and Ethel Waters on “Get Up Off Your Knees” (1928). And there’s a 1925 recording of Williams and His Blue Five (including Louis Armstrong on cornet) performing “Cake Walking Babies (From Home).”

Fiddler Clarence “Tom” Ashley shows up five times in the late 1920s and early 1930s, performing “Coo Coo Bird,” “Dark Holler Blues,” “House Carpenter,” “My Sweet Farm Girl,” and “Corrina, Corrina.”

There are four tracks from Clarence “Gatemouth” Brown, one from 1955 (“Rock My Blues Away”) and three from tribute albums from the late 1990s and early 2000s. On those tracks, the venerable blues and R&B singer takes on Led Zeppelin’s “Rock ’n’ Roll,” the Rolling Stones’ “Ventilator Blues,” and Robert Johnson’s “When You Got A Good Friend.”

I’ve also got a couple of tracks from Clarence “Frogman” Henry: the well-known “Ain’t Got No Home” (1956) and “The Lady With The Hat Box” (1957).

Then there are Clarences I don’t know well who have managed to sneak into the digital stacks: Clarence Garlow, Clarence Reid, Clarence Samuels, Clarence Palmer (with the Jive Bombers), and the duo of Clarence & Calvin.

And somewhere, I ran across the track “Right On” by Clarence Wheeler & The Enforcers. It’s from the group’s 1970 album, Doin’ What We Wanna. I found it on the 2006 four-disc set What It Is! Funky Soul & Rare Grooves, and it’s a good workout for a Friday:

Lists, Again

March 3rd, 2020

I’m working on a couple of music lists these days. One is on Facebook, where a friend tagged me in one of those things that come around every once in a while.

The idea is to post, without comment, covers of albums that have influenced you – twenty of ’em in twenty days. I’m not planning ahead on this one, just winging it, and I’m five days in. I’ve done ten in ten days before, so I can likely predict what the next five will be, but after that, it could be interesting.

Here are the first five, and I doubt whether they’ll surprise anyone who’s read this blog for any length of time:

Honey In The Horn by Al Hirt
Goldfinger soundtrack by John Barry
Abbey Road by the Beatles
Den Store Flugt by Sebastian
The Band

(A recap: Sebastian is a Danish singer/songwriter who, I think it’s safe to say, has become over the years a Danish national treasure. Den Store Flugt is his second album, released in 1972, and it’s the one that my Danish host brother encouraged me to buy and bring back to the States as my time in Denmark was drawing to a close in the spring of 1974.)

At the same time, I’m working on a list of about twenty-five tracks for the guest DJ program at WXYG-FM, the album rock station based in Sauk Rapids, just northeast of St. Cloud. I sent an early version of the list to the station’s “do everything” guy, Al Neff, and we’re negotiating.

I knew Al a little bit many years ago when I was teaching at St. Cloud State as an adjunct faculty member. My office was adjacent to the offices of KVSC-FM, the university’s student-run station, where Al was either music director or program director. On occasion, as I worked on lectures or grading in my office, I got called into discussions in the radio station office. Al and I reconnected a couple of years ago when I noticed he was affiliated with WXYG, and since then, we’ve spent some pleasant hours talking over beer and deep-fried pickles.

Al’s first response to my list noted that he’d allow me three artists who aren’t normally played on the station, probably a reaction to my listing tracks from the first two albums in the list above. And he said he had to pass on tracks by Bobbie Gentry and Marlena Shaw. (He actually added a third pass on a group he called too obscure, but I sent him a note saying that was a hard cut, even as I yielded on Bobbie and Marlena. He said I could keep the third track.)

I won’t reveal what’s on the list for the WXYG program. Again, long-time readers could likely guess at least ten of the twenty-one tracks that currently remain on the working list. I’m going to make an adjustment or two and then ship the second version of the list back to Al.

And here’s the Marlena Shaw track I’ve pulled from contention for the WXYG program. It’s been here before as part of my long-ago Ultimate Jukebox, but that was about ten years ago, which is eons in blogtime. It’s “California Soul” from Shaw’s 1969 album, The Spice Of Life.

Saturday Single No. 679

February 29th, 2020

There’s only one thing to do here today.

I’ve known jb, the proprietor of the fine blog The Hits Just Keep On Comin’, since sometime in 2007, first as a presence in the music blogging community and then, starting in 2009, as a presence in the real word. He and his Mrs. have, over those years, shared several weekends with the Texas Gal and me, some here in St. Cloud, one in the Twin Cities, and several in Wisconsin, where they live near Madison. And he’s visited us here when his work – which involves travel – brings him nearby.

So the four of us have noted each other’s birthdays as years pass. But I don’t know if I’ve ever marked jb’s birthday here in this space. But then, I’ve only had three previous chances to do so. He is, you see, one of those rarities, a child born on February 29. And as far as I know, he’s the only person I’ve ever met who was a Leap Day baby.

(I’m sure there were others who came through my life who were. Simple math tells me that one out of every 1,461 people walking through the mall or attending a concert at the Paramount Theatre downtown would have a February 29 birthday. But I’ve never known who they were.)

Anyway, in literal terms, my good friend jb turns fifteen today. In practical terms, well, you can do the math. And to mark the day, what else can I do but share an appropriate record by a band from his home state of Wisconsin? (Well, I can also wish him good beer, but he’ll take care of that by himself.)

Here’s “Birthday,” a cover of the Beatles’ tune by the Underground Sunshine. It was the only hit for the group from Montello, Wisconsin, peaking at No. 26 on the Billboard Hot 100 in September 1969. (A release later that year, “Don’t Shut Me Out,” bubbled under at No. 102.) And in jb’s honor, the Underground Sunshine’s cover of “Birthday” is today’s Saturday Single.

No. 45, Forty-Five Years Ago

February 28th, 2020

Dropping into 1975 for a game of Symmetry this morning, I have absolutely no idea what we’ll find, but I’ll likely know it well. (I think so, at least. It would be fun, though, for our excavation to find something utterly new. I’ll settle, though, for not lame.)

Here were the top ten records in the Billboard Hot 100 during the week that February turned into March in 1975:

“Best Of My Love” by the Eagles
“Have You Never Been Mellow” by Olivia Newton-John
“Black Water” by the Doobie Brothers
“My Eyes Adored You” by Frankie Valli
“Some Kind Of Wonderful” by Grand Funk
“Lonely People” by America
“Pick Up The Pieces” by the Average White Band
“Lady Marmalade (Voulez-Vous Coucher Avec Moi)” by LaBelle
“Nightingale” by Carole King
“Lady” by Styx

Eight of those rated on the plus side in 1975; I never cared much for the Grand Funk or Styx singles. In fact, nothing I ever heard from Styx ever clicked with me although I never dug too deeply into the band’s work. Grand Funk? Well, I liked “Closer To Home” and “Bad Time” – the latter of which takes me back viscerally to New Year’s Eve 1974 – and liked “We’re An American Band” when I finally heard it long after its release. But “Some Kind Of Wonderful” left me cold.

As to the other eight in that mix, the best is the LaBelle single; it was the only one of those ten to make it into my long-age Ultimate Jukebox, and, of course, it’s one of the 3,900-some tracks currently in the iPod, which is how I measure current relevance.

Which of the other nine in that aged top ten are still in my current listening? Well, five of them. Missing are the records by Grand Funk, the Average White Band, America, and Styx. (And the absence of “Lonely People” surprises me just a hair, but I don’t think I’ll bother to add it.)

Our other business, of course, lies lower down in that chart, and at No. 45 we find an up-tempo piece of funk that I must have heard before: “Once You Get Started” by Rufus (featuring Chaka Kahn) is actually on the digital shelves here, having arrived as part of the album Rufusized. And the record reminds me of the question once posed here: When was the first usage of the phrase “party hearty”? I dabbled with that question in a post in 2012, but “Once You Get Started” was not one of the records I considered. (I think “Do It, Fluid” by the Blackbyrds was likely recorded earlier than “Once You Get Started,” but I do not know, and I will leave the question for others to research in more depth.”)

Anyway, “Once You Get Started” kicks and might itself be elevated to the iPod. Back in 1975, it went to No. 10 on the Hot 100 and to No. 4 in the Billboard R&B chart.

‘Sunrise’

February 25th, 2020

I’m up early enough this morning to look through the window near my desk and see the sun just beginning to rise above the welter of branches on the eastern end of the block. This calls, of course, for an investigation into how many times the word “sunrise” shows up among the 79,000-some tracks in the RealPlayer.

The answer is forty-four, but as usual, some of the tracks that show up must be winnowed out, like both sides of a 1968 single by the group The Sunrise Highway and four releases on the Sunrise label from 1929 and 1930: “I’m Thinking Tonight Of My Blue Eyes” by the Carter Family, “New Chattanooga Blues” by the Allen Brothers and two by Joe Stone, “It’s Hard Time” and “Back Door Blues.” We also lose a version of “Lonesome Blues” that Bob Dylan recorded on February 1, 2002, in Sunrise, Florida.

But that leaves us with plenty of tracks to mess around with as the sun climbs higher through the branches down the block, and we’ll look at a few of them. There are numerous duplicates to ponder. For example, there are four versions of “Blues Before Sunrise,” one each from Elmore James, Muddy Waters, Eric Clapton and B.B. King. We’ll pass on all of them.

There are also two versions each of the Broadway tune “Sunrise, Sunset” (from Ferrante & Teicher and John Gary) and the big band standard “Sunrise Serenade (a 1939 version by Glenn Miller and a 1944 cover by Frankie Carle, who originally wrote the melody for the song). We’ll come back to one of those later.

We also find nine tracks titled just “Sunrise,” and we’ll highlight just one of them, the one found on the Grateful Dead’s 1977 album Terrapin Station. It’s notable because it was written and sung by Donna Godchaux, wife of Dead pianist Keith Godchaux. The song has been acknowledged, says Wikipedia, “as a tribute to the band’s recently deceased road manager, Rex Jackson.”

John Gary was a 1960s vocalist whose name rings louder in my memory than it does in the singles charts. He has two records listed in Joel Whitburn’s Top Pop Singles: “Soon I’ll Wed My Love” went to No. 89 in the Hot 100 in 1964 and “Don’t Throw The Roses Away” bubbled under at No. 132 in 1965. They both hit the magazine’s Easy Listening chart as well, reaching Nos. 19 and 21, respectively, and Gary had three other records in that chart during the Sixties: “Don’t Let The Music Play” (No. 24 in 1966), “Everybody Say Peace” (No. 10 in 1967), and “Cold,” which reached the chart in November 1967 and later was No. 1 for two weeks.

But I recall Gary’s name, I think, from the promotional Christmas albums that my dad brought home from the tire stores in many 1960s Decembers. We had none of Gary’s own albums – he had fourteen of them reach the Billboard 200 between 1963 and 1969 – in the house on Kilian Boulevard, so I’m not sure how I would have otherwise known his name back then. Our focus this morning is on his take on “Sunrise, Sunset” from the 1964 musical Fiddler On The Roof. The song was overwhelmingly present in the mid- to late-1960s, and it’s been some time since I’ve actually listened to it. Gary’s version was released as a single on RCA Victor in 1964, and is quite nice.

Gothic Horizon was the British folk duo of Andy Desmond and Richard Garrett from Hertfordshire. Discogs.com calls the group’s output “bright and breezy folk music.” The first of the duo’s two albums – The Jason Lodge Poetry Book – somehow ended on the digital shelves here, no doubt courtesy of a blog offering, and it’s on that 1970 album that we find the delicate-to-the-point-of-being-fey “Wilhelmina Before Sunrise.” I do have a fondness for pale Britfolk of that era, and “Wilhelmina Before Sunrise” falls nicely into that niche.

Saturday Single No. 678

February 22nd, 2020

Here’s a piece I ran in this space ten years ago today. It’s been edited slightly.

One of the classic small-town fund-raisers is the fish fry. During the years I lived in Monticello, the Other Half and I would occasionally make our way to the American Legion club at the west edge of town and join our friends and neighbors at long tables. The menu was always deep-fried fish – probably haddock, maybe cod – with french fries and cole slaw.

We’d nibble on our dinners, sip coffee and chat with whoever ended up sitting nearby. Occasionally, I’d field questions or complaints about something the newspaper had published that week. Otherwise, we’d maybe talk about the city’s plans to redevelop downtown, the upcoming school board election or the prospects for the high school’s teams – still called, amazingly enough, the Redmen – in the coming winter tournaments.

But as we sat at the tables for the Rotary Club’s annual fish fry forty years ago this evening, we talked about none of that. All anybody wanted to talk about was a bunch of college kids, kids with names like Broten, Johnson and Eruzione; Callahan, Craig and Pavelich; Morrow, Verchota and Suter and eleven more. And we talked about Herb Brooks, the hockey coach who’d molded those twenty American college kids into a hockey team that had defeated the legendary team from the Soviet Union 4 to 3 in an Olympic medal-round game late that afternoon.

I’ve never asked anyone, but I’ve always wondered how sparse the crowd was for the first hour or so of the fish fry that evening. The hockey game began at four o’clock Central Time – officials for the ABC network, which was broadcasting the Olympics from Lake Placid, N.Y., tried to have the game switched to seven o’clock, but Soviet officials refused – and was likely over a little after six o’clock. That’s when we made our way to the Legion club for dinner, as I’d been listening to the game on a distant radio station, struggling to make sense of the play-by-play through a forest of static.

I imagine that many others had done the same, as it seems in memory that we were among a large group of diners who showed up about the same time. Those already dining were already talking about hockey or related topics, like why ABC – which planned to air a tape of the game that evening – didn’t show the game live at four o’clock. And there were grumbles at the Soviet officials who refused to allow the game to be moved from late afternoon to the evening. (Wikipedia notes that such a shift would have meant a four a.m. start for the game in Moscow.)

But most of the time, it seems – in the soft light of a memory now forty years old – we were shaking our heads and marveling at what those twenty American kids and their coaches had done that afternoon. After all, the Soviet team had won five of the six gold medals in hockey since 1956 (with the U.S. winning in 1960 in Squaw Valley, Calif.). Since those 1960 games, the Soviets had gone 32-1-1 over the next four Olympic tournaments and the preliminary round at Lake Placid. Games between the Soviet teams and the professionals of the National Hockey League had started in 1972, and during the two most recent series, the Soviets were 7-4-1 against the NHL’s best. In addition, in the last exhibition game for the U.S. Olympic team before the competition at Lake Placid, the Soviets had defeated the U.S. team in New York City by a 10-3 score.

So I don’t recall talking to anyone during the preceding days who thought that the U.S. boys – who’d won four and tied one of their preliminary round games – could beat the Soviets. Watching the five earlier games had cued us – hockey fans and those who were only vaguely familiar with the sport alike – that the U.S. team might be something special. And it was, advancing to the medal round with what seemed like a good chance for silver or at least bronze.

But those American kids surprised everyone: the experts in the sporting world who’d conceded the gold medal to the Soviet team from the start; the delirious crowd in the Lake Placid arena that afternoon; and those of us all across the country who would sit in their living rooms and watch the taped game that evening. The kids probably even surprised their own coach, Herb Brooks. And there’s no doubt that they surprised the supremely talented members of the Soviet Union’s Olympic hockey team.

There were overtones to the hockey game, of course: The general sense of unease in the U.S. at the time and the international rivalry between the U.S. and the Soviet Union – heightened by the Soviets’ 1979 invasion of Afghanistan – all made the U.S team’s victory a template for something more than a hockey game. But even as only a hockey game, it was enough. And that’s what we chewed on that evening at the Rotary fish fry, forty years ago tonight.

And here’s a video of the last minute of the game and the celebration that followed.

Survey Digging (February 1970)

February 21st, 2020

We’re going to knock around in 1970 again this morning, as it’s been about seven weeks since we looked at a KDWB survey from that year, now a half-century in the past. Here’s the top twelve from the station’s “6+30” survey from February 23, 1970:

“Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Simon & Garfunkel
“He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” by the Hollies
“No Time” by the Guess Who
“Ma Belle Amie” by the Tee Set
“Travelin’ Band/Who’ll Stop The Rain” by Creedence Clearwater Revival
“Thank You (Falettin Me Be Mice Elf Again)/Everybody Is A Star” by Sly & TheFamily Stone
“Venus” by the Shocking Blue
‘Honey Come Back” by Glen Campbell
“Walk A Mile In My Shoes” by Joe South
“Walkin’ In The Rain” by Jay & The Americans
“Arizona” by Mark Lindsay
“Oh Me Oh My (I’m A Fool For You)” by Lulu

There are a few memories there. The Lulu record is, as readers might recall, tied to my romantic ambitions of the time, and the Guess Who record – as I noted here about three weeks ago – is tied to a trip to see a Minnesota North Stars hockey game.

The thing that comes back when I ponder “Bridge Over Troubled Water” is my purchasing in early February the sheet music for the Paul Simon-penned song and working to master Larry Knechtel’s brilliant piano arrangement. (I became fairly proficient at it, a proficiency I am attempting to resurrect fifty years later, so my young vocalist friend from church and I can perform it some Sunday. It goes slowly.)

Then, there was a classmate named Jill, who sat near me in French class. In the fall, she would be heading off to St. Cloud Apollo, the city’s new high school, while I would remain at St. Cloud Tech. That spring, she signed my yearbook by quoting the Tee Set’s record: “Ma belle amie! Apres tous les beaux jours je te dis ‘merci, merci!’” (I next saw her twenty years later when she played the role of waitress Trudy Chelgren on the television series Twin Peaks.)

The other eleven entries from the top of KDWB’s “6+30” for that week are just records I heard on the radio. Some I liked a great deal – the records by the Hollies and by Mark Lindsay fall there – and others were just okay, like the A-side of the Sly & The Family Stone record (I did love the B-side) and the Glen Campbell record.

In other words, that was a good hour’s worth of listening. So I ask, as I tend to do, how many of those seventeen records matter fifty years later?

Well, fourteen of those seventeen records are in the iPod and thus part of my day-to-day listening. The absentees? “Thank You (Falettin Me Be Mice Elf Again),” “Honey Come Back,” and “Walkin’ In The Rain.” And I see no need to add them.

So what was at the bottom of that long-ago survey? At No. 36, we find “Take A Look Around” by the group Smith, the follow-up to the hit “Baby It’s You,” which went to No. 1 on KDWB in November 1969. “Take A Look Around” didn’t fare as well, peaking at No. 22 on KDWB’s last survey of March 1970.

(Nationally, the pattern followed: “Baby It’s You” peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100, and “Take A Look Around” got to No. 43.)

Here’s “Take A Look Around.” It’s a decent record.

A Long-Ago Life

February 18th, 2020

Sometimes, in digging into my family tree at Ancestry.com, I find something so mind-boggling that I can’t imagine anyone living the life I am researching.

Over the weekend, I was looking into the life of one Magdalena (possibly Magnolda) Wachtler (1818-1885), who was born in an independent Hungary and died a subject of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. She was born in a village called St. Johann, a German-speaking village. Adjacent to St. Johann was the German-speaking village of St. Peter.

The villages were located in far northwest Hungary, about sixty miles from Vienna, Austria, in an area that was ethnically German until after World War II, when they were renamed as Szentjános and Szentpéter (later combined into one city named Jánossomorja) and were populated, one assumes, with ethnic Hungarians.

The history of the area fascinates me, as does the history of any of the areas of Germanic and Nordic Europe where my ancestors lived. But as I noted above, I was looking specifically into the life of Magdalena Wachtler, who was the sister of my great-great-grandfather, Paul Wachtler, and thus my great-great-great-aunt. The bare bones of Magdalena’s story sadden me.

In November of 1838, when she was twenty, Magdalena married Martinus Natz from the nearby city of Lébény, where she lived the rest of her life. Over the years, they had twelve childen:

Katherina No. 1, 1839-1850
Anna, 1842-1921
Stefan, 1844-1920
Janos, 1846-1847
Mathias, 1847-1854
Theresa, 1849-1854
Katherina No. 2. 1850-1852
Josephus, 1851-?
Marton, 1854-1854
Martinus (twin), 1855-?
Elizabeth (twin), 1855-1855
Johann, 1858-1905

I can find no death dates (so far) for Josephus or Martinus, although I know that Martinus survived into adulthood, as I’ve found records for his marriage and the names of his children. I’ve found no such records for Josephus, and I almost have to assume that he died in childhood.

So Magdalena and Martinus had twelve children, and likely only four who lived to adulthood. I know that childhood was full of many more perils in the middle of the Nineteenth Century, perhaps especially in rural Central Europe, but still . . .

And what happened in 1854? Was there an accident of some sort that took three of the children? A fire? An epidemic? I dug a little more, and the death dates for the three children who died that year are different, so I lean toward the latter (and that might also account for Elizabeth’s death in 1855). I’ve found a list of epidemics in Eastern Europe online, and there was a major cholera outbreak in portions of what is now Poland in 1854. It’s not unreasonable to think that the outbreak extended into Central Europe, including Hungary. That calls for more research.

Anyway, maybe all of that was seen as normal, but looking back from more than 150 years later, Magdalena Wachtler Natz’s life seems to have been one of nearly unmitigated sorrow. I hope I’m wrong.

Saturday Single No. 677

February 15th, 2020

Searching for inspiration this morning, I went to the Airheads Radio Survey Archive, thinking vaguely of checking some surveys from this date in 1980. I wasn’t truly sold on the idea, as 1980 was about when I’d lost interest in most current music. Still, a dull idea is better than no idea, so I pulled up the page where the website lists its collected surveys and clicked the link that puts them in historical order.

And near the bottom of the page, I saw a familiar set of call letters: KFAM.

KFAM was one of the two AM stations serving St. Cloud in the 1960s. Located on the southwestern edge of town, it offered pretty much what WJON did: News and sports, some talk, and some middle-of-the-road music. (I wrote briefly once about my acquaintance with Peter Jay, the man who did play-by-play in the 1960s for the St. Cloud State basketball team; his work went out over the air on KFAM.)

KFAM is long gone. The AM side of the station is now KNSI (for New, Sports, Information), although I do not know when the call letters changed. The FM side, which offered beautiful music during the late 1960s and early 1970s, went Top 40 right around 1975 and changed to KCLD.

It turns out that there are six KFAM surveys at the ARSA site: Four consecutive from 1948, one from 1949, and one from 1954. So let’s look at that first survey, dated October 23, 1948, a survey that the website says was compiled by KFAM disc jockey Dudley Dane.

None of the names in the survey are at all familiar to me:

“I’m Gonna Tear Down The Mailbox” by Montana Slim
“Hair Of Gold, Eyes Of Blue” by Art Lund
“Chime Bells” by Elton Britt
“A Tree In The Meadow” by John Laurenz
“Twelfth Street Rag” by Pee Wee Hunt
“You Call Everybody Darlin’” by Anne Vincent
“Buttons & Bows” by Betty Rhodes
“When I Was Young And Handsome” by Texas Jim Robertson
“Ev’ry Day I Love You (Just A Little Bit More)” by Blue Barron
“Underneath The Arches” by Andy Russell

Some of those names and records show up in Joel Whitburn’s Billboard Pop Hits, which covers the pop charts from 1940 to 1954, and some don’t.

There’s no sign of Montana Slim, and Texas Jim Robertson is listed only as working with the Fontane Sisters. (He has his own listing, with the Panhandle Punchers, in Whitburn’s Top Country Hits, but “When I Was Young And Handsome” is not among the records there.)

Elton Britt’s “Chime Bells” went to No. 6 on the country charts but is not listed in the pop hits book. Britt also had several other hits on the country charts.

And Blue Barron & His Orchestra have ten records listed in the pop hits, but “Ev’ry Day I Love You (Just A Little Bit More)” is not among them.

That leaves six records from that long-ago survey that are listed in the Whitburn book as having reached the Billboard charts:

Lund’s “Hair Of Gold, Eyes Of Blue” went to No. 20. Laurenz’s “A Tree In The Meadow” went to No. 18. Russell’s “Underneath The Arches” went to No. 13. Rhodes’ “Buttons & Bows” went to No. 9. Vincent’s “You Call Everybody Darlin’” went to No. 6. And Hunt’s “Twelfth Street Rag” was No. 1 for eight weeks.

So, Pee Wee Hunt. He was born in Ohio in 1907 and died in Massachusetts in 1979. Wikipedia says he was “the co-founder and featured trombonist with the Casa Loma Orchestra, but he left the group in 1943 to work as a Hollywood radio disc jockey before joining the Merchant Marine near the end of World War II. He returned to the West Coast music scene in 1946. His “Twelfth Street Rag” was a three million-selling, number one hit in September 1948.”

And all of that means that “Twelfth Street Rag” by Pee Wee Hunt & His Orchestra is today’s Saturday Single.