‘Teach Me Tonight’

November 6th, 2019

The standard “Teach Me Tonight” had popped up here a few times over the years before the 1954 version by Dinah Washington became last Saturday’s featured single. Back in 2013, as I looked at records that sat at No. 22 on February 2 over the years, I wrote:

At No. 22 in that long-ago [1955] chart, we find the DeCastro Sisters with their first Hot 100 appearance and the first appearance in that chart of the classic “Teach Me Tonight,” a tune written in 1953 by Gene De Paul and Sammy Cahn. The DeCastro Sisters, who were born in Cuba, weren’t the first to record the song – jazz singer Janet Brace was – but the DeCastros’ version went to No. 2, making it the best-charting of the more than sixty recordings of the tune since the mid-1950s. (The most recent version of the song to chart came from Al Jarreau [No. 70] in 1982.)

And Phoebe Snow’s version of the tune from 1976 came up during as I reminisced about the jukebox that got many of my quarters during time spent in the snack bar at St. Cloud State’s Atwood Center. (Snow’s version was released on a single but did not chart.)

But that’s about it. And Second Hand Songs tells me that there are at least 251 versions of the tune out there to explore. We’ll start that exploration today with the original version by Janet Brace.

And we start with some confusion. A note at Wikipedia mentions Brace’s recording of the song entering “the Billboard chart on October 23, 1954, and eventually reaching No. 23.” But neither Brace’s version nor Brace herself are listed in Joel Whitburn’s Pop Hits: Singles & Albums, 1940-1954. Two versions of the song are listed in the book: The above-mentioned No. 2 version by the DeCastro Sisters and Jo Stafford’s cover, which hit the magazine’s charts in November 1954 and peaked at No. 15.

Anyway, here’s Brace’s original version:

And, while we’ll dig into names familiar and not in upcoming posts, I thought I’d close this post with a foreign language version (since I tend to like those). So here’s one in Czech: “Vím už co to znamená” by Eva Pilarová (which offers the chorus in English). It was released – according to Second Hand Songs – in 1961.

Saturday Single No. 664

November 2nd, 2019

When we look on the digital shelves here in the EITW studios for tracks recorded on November 2, we find more than we anticipated as well as a broader variety of styles and genres than might be expected.

Our harvest starts in 1939 with “Jersey Belle Blues” by Lonnie Johnson. The Bluebird release recorded in Chicago was a piano-based blues ostensibly lamenting the loss of livestock:

My nights is so lonely, days is so doggone long
My bedroom is so lonely, every doggone thing is wrong
You know I ain’t had no milk and butter since my Jersey Belle been gone

We shift to New York City in 1954, when Dinah Washington recorded two tracks for the Mercury label that have ended up here: “Teach Me Tonight” and “I Just Couldn’t Stand It No More.” The first of those two was a sizable hit for Washington in early 1955, placing in the top eight on three of the various R&B charts Billboard compiled at the time, with its peak performance being No. 4 on the Best Seller chart. “I Just Couldn’t Stand It No More” wound up as a B-Side to Washington’s “The Show Must Go On,” which did not reach the charts.

Tony Bennett pops up on our November 2 list with “Love Look Away,” recorded in 1958. Released as a single by Columbia, the lush ballad has the velvet-voiced stylist rejecting love: “After you go, I cry too much. Love, look away, lonely though I may be. Leave me and set me free.” The record did not chart.

Country singer Tommy Collins had some sizeable hits for Capitol on the Billboard country chart in the mid-1950s, reaching No. 2 with “You Better Not Do That” and No. 4 with “Whatcha Gonna Do Now” in 1954 and getting to No. 5 with “It Tickles” in 1955. He charted again with a track recorded on November 2, 1965; “If You Can’t Bite, Don’t Growl” – another light-hearted record, this one on Columbia – went to No. 7 on the country chart in early 1966. It bubbled under the Billboard Hot 100 for seven weeks, peaking at No. 105.

The insistent “(I Know) I’m Losing You” by the Temptations is another track recorded November 2. Written by Norman Whitfield, Eddie Holland and Cornelius Grant and produced by Whitfield, the record was No. 1 for two weeks on the Billboard R&B chart and peaked at No. 8 on the Hot 100. (One of my regrets as a music listener is that the first version I heard of the song was the 1970 cover by Rare Earth instead of the original version by the Temptations.)

The last tune we’ll think about this morning is a Bob Dylan track titled “Nobody ’Cept You.” It comes from the 1973 sessions in Los Angeles that Dylan held with The Band for the Planet Waves album. The box set notes from The Bootleg Series, Vols. 1-3 indicate that “Nobody ’Cept You” was headed for the album but was knocked out at the last minute by “Wedding Song.” To me, that seems like a poor decision, but then, I’ve never liked “Wedding Song” and would have much preferred the sprightly love story of “Nobody ’Cept You” for the admittedly uneven album.

So, seven tracks to consider this morning. I think we can dismiss without quibbles the Lonnie Johnson and Tommy Collins tracks, as well as the Dinah Washington B-side. And as good as the Tony Bennett track is, it is a little overdone. Then, even though the Dylan tune is a bit of a rarity, I likely post his stuff too often, as least as compared with the Temptations and Dinah Washington.

Let’s do some digging: Since moving to my own site in early 2010, I’ve posted two tracks by Washington and eight tracks by the Temptations alone plus four additional tracks by them with the Supremes. In contrast, I’ve posted tracks by Dylan – with and without The Band – twenty-two times.

That decides it. “Teach Me Tonight,” recorded November 2, 1954, by Dinah Washington is today’s Saturday Single.

The Moody Blues in 1969, No. 2

October 30th, 2019

As was noted the last time we talked about the Moody Blues in the context of their two 1969 albums (a discussion found here), I noted a couple of tracks that I thought missed the mark on To Our Childrens Childrens Children and promised to do the same for the other album from that year, On The Threshold Of A Dream.

Well, as I listen to Threshold, I’m reminded of a discussion I’ve seen or heard many times over the years, most recently among the members of a Facebook group devoted to music of the 1970s: An artist or group releases its debut album to acclaim, having spent at least a couple years putting together the material, and is then expected to produce another album in a very short time, resulting in a less-than-stellar effort. I think, to an extent, the same thing happened with Threshold, sandwiched as it was between 1968’s In Search Of The Lost Chord and To Our Childrens Childrens Children, released later in 1969: The work on Threshold kind of pales in comparison to the albums that bracket it.

Now, as I noted when I discussed it (here), I wasn’t all that impressed with Lost Chord when I first heard it in 1972, and it’s still not high on my list. But I’ve come to realize in the last few months of heavy Moody Blues listening that at least the songs on Lost Chord, though flawed, are interesting. The songs on To Our Childrens Childrens Children are generally interesting, though – as I noted in that post a little more than a week ago – I have a few quibbles with some of them.

But the songs on the album between those two albums – On The Threshold Of A Dream – are for the most part dull. They’re competently arranged and played, but as I ran the album through the CD player a few times and then played individual tracks sitting at my desk, I found myself less and less interested in the album. Nothing on what was Side One in the LP configuration grabs hold of me positively, and only the first track on what was Side Two does so: “Never Comes The Day,” which I find one of the group’s best efforts ever.

After “Never Comes The Day,” another few tracks meander by until we get to “The Dream,” which does commands my attention because it’s another one of those spoken word tracks the Moodies liked to throw out in the early years:

When the white eagle of the North is flying overhead
The browns, reds and golds of autumn lie in the gutter, dead.
Remember then, that summer birds with wings of fire flaying
Came to witness spring’s new hope, born of leaves decaying.
Just as new life will come from death, love will come at leisure.
Love of love, love of life and giving without measure
Gives in return a wondrous yearn of a promise almost seen.
Live hand-in-hand and together we’ll stand on the threshold of a dream.

Heavy, man.

The album closes with “Have You Heard (Part One),” “The Voyage” and “Have You Heard (Part Two),” all of which ends with about a minute of not quite white noise slowly fading into silence. And I imagine that all of it seemed quite astounding and deep in a college dorm room in 1969. Or maybe it sounded mostly silly and pretentious then, too.

A lot of folks were listening to the two 1969 albums: On The Threshold Of A Dream spent 136 weeks on the Billboard 200, peaking at No. 20 , and To Our Childrens Childrens Children was on the chart for forty-four weeks, peaking at No. 14. But only one single from the two albums charted: “Never Comes The Day” lurked near the bottom of the magazine’s Hot 100 for four weeks, peaking at No. 91. I’d say it deserved better.

I gave In Search Of The Lost Chord a letter grade when I discussed it (a C-), so I suppose I had better keep doing that as I wander through the rest of the Moody Blues’ catalog. On The Threshold Of A Dream earns a C- as well, and To Our Childrens Childrens Children gets a C, mostly because it has better songs (and because, having learned in the last week that the album was a response/tribute to the Apollo 11 moon landing, I now hear its introductory track as a little less ludicrous).

Here’s “Never Comes The Day,” the best track on either of the two 1969 albums (though “Gypsy” from To Our Childrens Childrens Children comes close).

Note: I’m bothered by the missing apostrophes in the title of To Our Childrens Childrens Children, but the title – as ill-advised as it might be – is the title.

Saturday Single No. 663

October 26th, 2019

As of today, we’ve been married twelve years now, the Texas Gal and I. She’s been a Minnesota (or at least a Texan in exile) for nineteen years this month. And in just a few months, we’ll mark twenty years since our avatars popped up on the same day in the listings of a Lycos chat room devoted either to social issues or music. (We think it was the former, but we frequented both, so we’re not entirely sure.)

We thought about those tales of years the other day as we sat on the couch ignoring something on TV, and we agreed that it doesn’t feel like twelve years since we walked out of the Stearns County Courthouse as married folks; nor does it feel like nearly twenty years since we met. That, I guess, proves two truisms: My dad’s long-ago warning that time would go faster and faster the older I got, and the universal warning that time flies when you’re having fun.

Conversely, it seems as if we’ve been in each other’s lives forever (and karmically, we think that’s so for this life and others that have gone on elsewhen).

Here’s what I posted here twelve years ago, as we reached one of those markers noted in today’s first paragraph:

Sometimes the Texas Gal and I look at each other and marvel that we ever met, that our lives took the turns they did to bring us together, first in a small corner of the Internet and then – in a leap that took courage and faith for both of us – in a small corner of Minnesota.

Other times, we smile and acknowledge that, well, where else could we have ended up? As I’ve written before, we find the places and the people we are meant to find, no matter how crooked our paths might have been. And she and I are where we belong.

We’re not young, but there were reasons – ones we’ll never know – that our meeting was delayed until midlife. We find solace in knowing that the lives we led before we met are what made us each who we are. Those lives – we hope – have provided us with some level of wisdom that has guided us during the seven years we’ve known each other and will continue to guide us.

If this sounds solemn, it is. This afternoon, we’re going to go down to the courthouse, where we’ll formalize the marriage that took place long ago in our hearts. It’s something we’ve been planning to do for a while, and it’s time.

So here are some of the songs that have been important to us during the past seven years (with one ringer that I threw in). This is a Baker’s Dozen for the Texas Gal, who from today on will be my wife.

“Loving Arms” by Darden Smith from Little Victories, 1993
“Kiss Me” by Sixpence None the Richer from Sixpence None the Richer, 1998
“Rest of My Days” by Indigenous from Circle, 2000
“Don’t Dream It’s Over” by Crowded House, Capitol single 5614, 1988
“I Knew I Loved You” by Savage Garden from Affirmation, 1999
“If I Should Fall Behind” by Bruce Springsteen from Lucky Town, 1992
“Precious and Few” by Climax, Carousel single 30055, 1971
“Truly Madly Deeply” by Savage Garden from Savage Garden, 1997
“This Kiss” by Faith Hill from Faith, 1998
“Levee Song” by Darden Smith from Little Victories, 1993
“Two of Us” by the Beatles from Let It Be…Naked (recorded 1969)
“Wedding Song” by Tracy Chapman from Telling Stories, 2000
“Into the Mystic” by Van Morrison from Moondance, 1970

All of those still matter to us, though we hear some of them much less frequently than the others. But it’s Saturday, and we must choose one. It comes down, then, to either the first of that list or the last, perhaps the first two recordings we chose as ours. (I think I introduced her to Darden Smith and “Loving Arms,” and I know she pointed us toward Van Morrison and “Into the Mystic.”)

I think I know what her choice would be, so I’ll defer to that. Here’s Van Morrison’s “Into The Mystic,” today’s Saturday Single.

No. 50 Fifty Years Ago

October 25th, 2019

It’s time for another game of Symmetry, and today, we’ll go back to the last week of October in 1969 during my first autumn as a dedicated Top 40 listener. We’ll take a look at the top of the chart and then drop down to No. 50.

The top five records in the Billboard Hot 100 released fifty years ago today were:

“I Can’t Get Next To You” by the Temptations
“Hot Fun In The Summertime” by Sly & The Family Stone
“Sugar, Sugar” by the Archies
“Jean” by Oliver
“Suspicious Minds” by Elvis Presley

As most top fives from that season would be, that’s a nice eighteen or so minutes of music. I don’t recall the Temptations’ single getting as much airplay as a No. 1 record would get. And it turns out the record is absent from all the autumn 1969 surveys from the Twin Cities’ KDWB that are offered at the Airheads Radio Survey Archive. And that leaves me wondering how many No. 1 singles over the years failed to reach the station’s survey. Can’t be many.

As to the other four, I recall hearing all of them often and liking them all. My favorite among them is “Suspicious Minds,” which I think is the best post-1950s single Elvis ever released, maybe the best ever. (I’m not going to wade into it today.) And four of the five – all except “Sugar, Sugar” – are among the 3,900 or so on my iPod, meaning they’re still among my current listening.

But how about our other business? What was sitting at No. 50 fifty years ago today? Well, it’s not in the iPod, and it’s not one I recall. It’s “Time Machine” from Grand Funk Railroad, the first Hot 100 hit from the band from Flint, Michigan. It would rise two more spots and peak at No. 48. The band’s first Top 40 hit would be “Closer To Home (I’m Your Captain),” which went to No. 22 in 1970, and the trio would hit No. 1 in September 1973 with “We’re An American Band” and in May 1974 with “The Loco-Motion.”

Here’s “Time Machine.”

The Moody Blues in 1969, No. 1

October 22nd, 2019

As I’ve noted in earlier posts – without actually saying so, I imagine – I came late to the Moody Blues (as is true of most pop-rock music), only beginning to listen to them in the early 1970s. The first of their albums that I was aware of at the time of its release was 1971’s Every Good Boy Deserves Favour, and the first Moodies album I acquired close to the time of its release was 1972’s Seventh Sojourn.

So I missed the band’s deepest forays into what I call “hippie mysticism,” which is my stereotypical shorthand for the ethos that led college students and others of their age during the very late 1960s and very early 1970s to utter murmurs of admiration for the deep ideas they garnered from the LPs on their turntables. That’s caricature, of course, but I heard enough folks around me during my first two years of college (during the early 1970s) telling me how deep the Moody Blues’ albums were, how filled with insights each song was, to wonder if I was missing something.

The sources of those murmurs and assessments were four albums: In Search Of The Lost Chord from 1968, On The Threshold Of A Dream and To Our Childrens Childrens Children, both from 1969, and A Question Of Balance from 1970. The first of those four was discussed her not quite two weeks ago, and we’ll take on A Question Of Balance in the near future. This week, we’re going to briefly tackle the middle pair of those four albums.

Why briefly? First of all, I know those two albums less well than most of the rest of the group’s catalog. I missed them when they came out, and they were the last two of the Moody Blues’ original releases to find their ways to the vinyl shelves, arriving there during the summer of 1998. (I played both once and placed them on the shelves, probably vowing to get back to them, a vow unkept until this year.) And they were among the last CDs to arrive here on the North Side during this summer’s spree.

And briefly, too, because – being far removed from the late 1960s and also being a far more critical listener than I was then – I don’t find the two albums to be much more than collections of mostly pleasant and occasionally impressive songs. Both, seemingly, were considered “concept albums” when they were released, but I’m not sure what the topics under discussion were. Maybe that means I’m just shallow. Maybe it means that I need to listen to the two albums over and over and over. Or maybe it means that the two albums are just collections of (generally) good songs with a couple of tricks used that seem to set the tables and the bind the things together.

Both start with silly introductions: To Our Childrens Childrens Children starts with a track called “Higher and Higher” that gives us a crescendo of instruments and voices starting from nothing and truly going higher and higher for ninety seconds until the band kicks in underneath a spoken verse:

Blasting, billowing, bursting forth
With the power of ten billion butterfly sneezes
Man with his flaming pyre
Has conquered the wayward breezes

Climbing to tranquility
Far above the cloud
Conceiving the heavens
Clear of misty shroud

Maybe it was far out in 1969, as we said back then. (Yeah, I called things “far out” for about two weeks.) But it seems lame now (and probably did back then to those less impressionable). But however much it limps, it’s a far better start than the conversation between an unformed youth and a computer that starts On The Threshold Of A Dream. “In The Beginning,” as the conversation is called, is just silly and painful to listen to.

Both of those introductions kind of sour the modern listener on both albums, I think (having listened to both entire albums about four times each in the last couple months). Using the “skip” button on a CD player at the beginning of each album gives that modern listener a much better experience.

There are still some misses: The two-part “Eyes Of A Child” and the split “I’d Never Thought I’d Live To Be A Hundred/Million” on Children would each have been served better, I think, as single tracks. And “Candle Of Life” on the same album offers majestic music accompanied by lyrics that had to have seemed trite even at the moment they came out of John Lodge’s pen:

Something you can’t hide
Says you’re lonely
Hidden deep inside
Of you only
It’s there for you to see
Take a look and be
Burn slowly, the Candle of Life

Something there outside
Says we’re only
In the hands of time
Falling slowly
It’s there for us to know
With love that we can go
Burn slowly, the Candle of Life

So love everybody and make them your friends
So love everybody and make them your friends

But the music is lovely. So listen to “Candle Of Life” and stop back here later in the week when we’ll look at a few missteps from On The Threshold Of A Dream and note a few tracks on both albums that I think rise above their general qualities.

One Hundred Years Ago

October 18th, 2019

In October 1919:

President Woodrow Wilson sustained a serious stroke on October 2. He was an invalid until his death in 1924.

The Dutch airline KLM was formed. As of this year, it is the oldest airline flying under its original name.

The Cincinnati Reds won the World Series, five games to three, over the Chicago White Sox. In 1920, it was discovered – confirming long-standing rumors – that eight of the White Sox either took part in or knew of a conspiracy to throw the series. The eight were permanently banned from baseball.

Estonia adopted a radical land reform, nationalizing 97 percent of agrarian lands, most of which belonged to Baltic Germans.

Adolf Hitler gave his first speech for the German Workers’ Party.

The Coronado Vanderbilt Hotel was opened in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

An election took place in the duchy of Luxembourg; due to constitutional amendments earlier in the year, women were allowed to vote for the first time.

Over President Wilson’s veto, the U.S. Congress passed the Volstead Act, which set out the enforcement terms of Prohibition as called for by the Eighteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

And on October 18, in North Branch Township of Minnesota’s Isanti County, George Otto Erickson was born. He’s shown here in a 1964 picture taken at Gull Lake, near Nisswa, Minnesota.

George Erickson, Gull Lake near Nisswa, Minnesota, June 13, 1964

Here’s the record that was No. 1 on the day my dad was born: “A Pretty Girl Is Like A Melody” by John Steel:

(Historical data from Wikipedia.)

No. 41, Forty-One Years Ago

October 15th, 2019

We’re playing Symmetry again today, looking back forty-one years to the autumn of 1978 and seeing what record was at No. 41 at October’s mid-point.

A quick glance at the top five in the Billboard Hot 100 released on October 14, 1978 – forty-one years ago yesterday – shows five records that are familiar but not loved:

“Kiss You All Over” by Exile
“Hot Child In The City” by Nick Gilder
“Boogie Oogie Oogie” by A Taste Of Honey
“Don’t Look Back” by Boston
“Reminiscing” by the Little River Band

I know all of those – though I’m oddly a little fuzzy on the Boston record – but none of them matter much to me. That, I think, is a function of age and busyness. I was twenty-five and working long hours at a job I loved during my first autumn at the Monticello Times. I listened to the radio during some evenings at home and in the car as I drove to and from interviews. But it was background, not foreground. No one at work was saying anything like, “Hey, did you hear the new record by Boston?”

So, none of those five rate very high on any list I might make. All of them are on the digital shelves here, which means I don’t detest any of them. None of them were included in the 228-record Ultimate Jukebox I offered here long ago (and only five records from 1978 were included). Two of them – “Reminiscing” and, oddly, “Boogie Oogie Oogie” – are in the iPod.

So though I didn’t notice it at the time, by the autumn of 1978, music had become far less central to my life than it had been (and far less central than it would, happily, become again).

So let’s get to what was supposed to be our main business today: Checking out the record at No. 41 on that Hot 100 from mid-October 1978. And we fall into instrumental disco weirdness: Parked at No. 41 is “Themes From The Wizard Of Oz” by Meco.

The record was the third by Pennsylvania-born Domenico Monardo to hit the Hot 100: “Star Wars Theme/Cantina Band” had spent two weeks at No. 1 during October 1977, and “Theme From Close Encounters” had peaked at No. 25 in early 1978.

After “Themes From The Wizard Of Oz” peaked at No. 35, Meco would see “Empire Strikes Back (Medley)” go to No. 18 in 1980, and – amid a series of similar but less successful releases (including a couple records tabbed as novelties by Joel Whitburn) – “Pop Goes The Movies (Part One)” would go to No. 35 in 1982.

But hey, it’s fun, it’s got a good beat, it’s easy to dance to . . . and it was 1978.

Saturday Single No. 662

October 12th, 2019

All right, it’s time for some Games With Numbers. We’re going to take today’s date – 10-12-19 – and turn that into 41, and then we’re going to check out the records at No. 41 on few Billboard Hot 100s from this week over the years to find a tune to feature this morning. Since we’re fifty years out from 1969 – a year favored greatly here – we’ll head to October of that year and then move five years away in both directions for a couple of other years as targets: 1964 and 1974.

As we generally do when we play these games, we’ll check out the No. 1 and No. 2 records from those weeks along the way.

We’ll start in 1964. The record sitting at No. 41 in a chart released fifty-five years ago this week was “I Like It,” the fourth charting record for the Merseyside group of Gerry & The Pacemakers.

Two of the group’s singles had reached the Billboard Top Ten earlier in the year: “Don’t Let The Sun Catch You Crying” had gone to No. 4 during the first weeks of summer, and “How Do You Do It” had reached No. 9 during the first week of September. Oddly, the same week that “How Do You Do It” (b/w “You’ll Never Walk Alone”) entered the Hot 100, so did the group’s “I’m The One,” which had “How Do You Do It” as its B-side.

That seems strange, and I’ll need someone wiser than I in the ways of record companies to explain. In any case, “I’m The One” stiffed at No. 82, leaving “I Like It” as the follow-up to that odd set of releases. Actually a re-release of a 1963 single that did not chart, “I Like It” went to No. 17.

It’s an okay record, but then, the only thing I ever loved by Gerry & The Pacemakers was “Ferry Cross The Mersey,” which I heard a fair amount at home in early 1965 because my sister bought the record. So “I Like It” seems a little pale to me.

Sitting at No. 1 and No. 2 in the Hot 100 released October 10, 1964 were, respectively, “Oh, Pretty Woman” by Roy Orbison and “Do Wah Diddy Diddy” by Manfred Mann.

Five years later, the record at No. 41 was one that I’ve written about before: “Don’t It Make You Want To Go Home” by Joe South. In a meditation on how music reflects the desire to return to a better time and/or place, I wrote:

Joe South’s 1969 lament, “Don’t It Make You Want To Go Home,” mourned the changes brought to his home place – and by extension, the entire south – by the so-called progress of that decade, which replaced orchards with offices and meadows with malls (and the orchards and meadows continue to disappear to this day, of course, not just in the south but all across the country).

The era during which Joe South sang – those volatile years from, say, 1965 to 1975 – was one of displacement for a lot of folks. Many of those who were displaced, of course, had not one bit of use for rock or soul or any of their relatives; they instead found their solace in gospel music or in the country stylings of Buck Owens and Merle Haggard and their contemporaries. But the sense of longing wasn’t limited by genre. It’s not an accident that one of the better singles of the Beatles, the best group of the time – or any time, for that matter – told us all to get back to where we once belonged. We all wanted to go home.

Oddly enough, for a record of such subtle power during a time of confusing change, “Don’t It Make You Want To Go Home” did not make the Top 40. It peaked right where it sat fifty years ago yesterday, at No. 41.

Parked at No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, during that week were “Sugar, Sugar” by the Archies and “Jean” by Oliver.

Five years after that, at October 1974 hit the one-third point, the record at No. 41 was a profession of faith and a prayer for endurance that crossed over from the country chart and provided its singer with her only pop hit. Marilyn Sellars (who turns out to have been born in the college town of Northfield, Minnesota) put a couple of records into the Country Top 40 in the mid-1970s.

The one we’re concerned with today is “One Day At A Time,” which, forty-five years ago today, was a week past its pop peak at No. 37. Written by Marijohn Wilkin and Kris Kristofferson, “One Day At A Time” peaked on the country chart at No. 19. For the record, Sellars’ other country hit, a plaint of lost love titled “He’s Everywhere,” went to No. 39 in early 1975.

Sitting at No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, during this week in 1974 were “I Honestly Love You” by Olivia Newton-John and “Nothing From Nothing” by Billy Preston.

So, given those three to consider, there’s not much question about which direction we’ll go this morning. Almost by default, Joe South’s “Don’t It Make You Want To Go Home” is today’s Saturday Single.

‘In Search Of . . .’

October 11th, 2019

During the autumn of 1972, having completed my Beatles LP set, I turned to explore other music, selecting four albums in a record-club buying binge: Sticky Fingers by the Rolling Stones, Retrospective by the Buffalo Springfield, a live album by Mountain and In Search Of The Lost Chord by the Moody Blues.

In the forty-some years since, the least-played album of those four is that last, the Moody Blues’ first foray into mysticism backed by the Mellotron (which gave them sounds orchestral and more with which to work). Released in 1968, it was also – to my ears – the worst of the group’s albums until the 1990s. I recall the first time I played it, lazing on the green couch in the basement rec room, hearing the spoken word track “Departure” as it led off Side One:

Be it sight, sound, the smell, the touch.
There’s something inside that we need so much
The sight of a touch, or the scent of a sound
Or the strength of an oak with roots deep in the ground.
The wonder of flowers, to be covered, and then
To burst up through tarmac to the sun again
Or to fly to the sun without burning a wing
To lie in the meadow and hear the grass sing
To have all these things in our memories’ hoard
And to use them
To help us
To find . . .

And then came laughter taking the place, I’ve assumed, of the words “the lost chord.” One of the lyric sites I use offered “God” as the laughter-covered word. Maybe. All I know is that as “Departure” played on my stereo for the first time, I was baffled and not at all entranced. The rest of the album – picking up right after “Departure” with “Ride My See-Saw” – was just okay. “Legend Of A Mind” with its “Timothy Leary’s dead . . .” was a bit silly, and the creaking doors in “House OF Four Doors” were overkill. I was not blown away as I had been a year or so earlier when I’d heard the group’s Question Of Balance across the street at Rick and Rob’s house.

There were some nice moments: “Ride My See-Saw” does rock, and “Voices In The Sky” and “The Actor” are lovely and elegant. And on my listening this week, the closer, “Om,” is not so odd as it seemed that autumn evening in 1972.

But my interest in exploring the rest of the Moody Blues’ catalog stopped when I heard In Search Of The Lost Chord. It engaged again a few months later at Christmastime, when Rick gave me the group’s most recent album, Seventh Sojourn, which was much more accessible to the nineteen-year-old me.

So I ducked back a year and listened with friends to bits and pieces of the 1971 album Every Good Boy Deserves Favour and eventually bought that album – along with Days Of Future Passed – in the late 1970s, just about the time the group came back from its hiatus with Octave, which I bought immediately.

So In Search Of The Lost Chord was a rocky start. How did it do on the charts? According to Joel Whitburn, the album went to No. 23 on the Billboard 200, and one single – “Ride My See-Saw” – went to No. 61 on the Hot 100. It’s my least favorite of the group’s early albums (those released before the group’s 1970s hiatus). I’ll give it at best a C-minus.

Here’s “Ride My See Saw” (led off by the last cackling laughter of “Departure”).