Posts Tagged ‘B.J. Thomas’

Saturday Single No. 631

Saturday, March 2nd, 2019

We took a brief look earlier this week at the Billboard Hot 100 from this week in 1971 – No. 48 Forty-Eight Years Ago – winding up with a very familiar and very loved record, Brewer & Shipley’s “One Toke Over The Line,” as our feature. This morning, we’re going to look at the first week of March 1971 at the Twin Cities’ KDWB.

Here’s the Top Ten in the station’s 6+30 for March 1 of that year, forty-eight years ago yesterday:

“D.O.A.” by Bloodrock
“One Bad Apple” by the Osmonds
“She’s A Lady” by Tom Jones
“If You Could Read My Mind” by Gordon Lightfoot
“Have You Ever Seen The Rain” by Creedence Clearwater Revival
“Sweet Mary” by Wadsworth Mansion
“Mr. Bojangles” by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
“For All We Know” by the Carpenters
“Watching Scotty Grow” by Bobby Goldsboro
“Mama’s Pearl” by the Jackson 5

Well, that’s a wide-ranging ten. I love the Lightfoot, the Creedence and “Sweet Mary.” I like “For All We Know” and “One Bad Apple.” I’m a little better than okay with “Mr. Bojangles” and “She’s A Lady.” ‘Mama’s Pearl” means nothing to me, either way. I dislike “D.O.A.” And I detest the Goldsboro record with the kind of fervor I feel for “Seasons In The Sun.”

But we’re going to go random, playing games with numbers and making today’s date – 3/2/19 – into 24 and see what was at No. 24 in that first 6-30 of March 1971.

And we come up with a B.J. Thomas record whose title sparks no memories: “No Love At All.” And of course, as the first chords of the record come up at YouTube, I recognize them, and as the song plays on, I remember hearing it and liking it as a seventeen-year-old who was pretty damned lonely. “Even the sad love is better than no love at all,” Thomas told me from my old RCA radio.

But from the perspective of forty-eight years, taking in my experiences and those of many friends with lots of loves, I’m not sure I can buy anymore all of what the song is selling:

Read in the paper nearly day
People breakin’ up and just walkin’ away from love and that’s wrong
That’s so wrong

A happy little home comes up for sale
Because two fools have tried and failed to get along
And you know that’s wrong

A man hurts a woman and a woman hurts a man
When neither one of them will love and understand
And take it with a grain of salt

Oh, now believe that
A little bit of love is better than no love
Even the bad love is better than no love
And even the sad love is better than no love at all
Got to believe that
A little bit of love is better than no love
Even the bad love is better than no love
And any kind of love is better than no love at all

No love at all is a poor old man
Standin’ on the corner with his hat in his hand
And no place to go, he’s feelin’ low

No love at all is a child in the street
Dodgin’ traffic and beggin’ to eat on a tenement row
And that’s a long row to hoe

No love at all is a troubled young girl
Standin’ on a bridge at the end of the world
And it’s a pretty short fall

Now people believe me
A little bit of love is better than no love
Even the bad love is better than no love
And even the sad love is better than no love at all
Got to believe that
A little bit of love is better than no love
Even the bad love is better than no love
And any kind of love is better than no love at all

Oh, you got to believe me
A little bit of love is better than no love
Even the bad love is better than no love
And even the sad is better than no love at all

It all depends, I guess, on how one defines “bad love,” and it seems to me there are some scenarios in there that are best moved past. But I guess that just as one shouldn’t expect one’s therapist to sing like a recording artist, one shouldn’t expect a singer to provide entirely useful counseling.

“No Love At All” peaked at No. 10 on KDWB three weeks later. In Billboard, the record peaked at No. 16. And it’s today’s Saturday Single.

A Field Of 43s (And One 44)

Tuesday, July 26th, 2011

Heading home the other day, I drove along the frontage road that parallels U.S. Highway 10 not far from our house. There’s a stretch there that bears watching for a driver, with lots of vehicles turning onto and off of the frontage road from various businesses: You’ll pass a bank, a tire place/tune-up garage, the main entrance to a mobile home park, a used car dealer, a Dairy Queen, a Kentucky Fried Chicken outlet and finally, a porn shop.

Being the height of the warm season – and with Highway 10 being one of the main routes from the Twin Cities to the northern part of the state, where many folks have vacation homes – the frontage road is appreciably busier at this time of year than others, especially where the two fast food joints sit side-by-side. Vehicles entering and exiting the two parking lots – with drivers distracted by appetites and possibly small children – make for a mini-jam.

And as I sat in the mini-jam the other day, I noticed the license plate on the car in front of me. It was an Idaho plate. About three years ago, I wrote about my one-time hobby of keeping track each year of the out-of-state license plates I saw, and I noted that the two rarest plates to see in Minnesota were those from Hawaii and Idaho. As I looked at the plate with its “Famous Potatoes” legend, I was tempted for an instant to resume that hobby from my teen years.

But no, I won’t do that. I’ve got my adult manias to feed now. Like noticing that Idaho was the forty-third state admitted to the Union and wondering what tunes were No. 43 on this date, ending with one of those years when I was looking for a license plate from Idaho.

We’ll start with 1956: The brief biography of Don Robertson in Joel Whitburn’s Top Pop Singles is pretty impressive. Robertson was born in Peking (now Beijing), China, in 1922 and was raised in Chicago. A pianist/composer, he was one-half of the pop duo The Echoes and wrote their best-known single “Born To Be With You,” which topped out at No. 101 in 1960. (The Chordettes took the song to No. 5 in 1956, and it’s been recorded by many artists and groups since.) Robertson also wrote, Whitburn notes, several of Elvis Presley’s hits and – with Hal Blair – Lorne Green’s No. 1 hit from 1964, “Ringo.” He’s also credited by Whitburn with creating the Nashville piano style. And fifty-five years ago this week, his “Happy Whistler” was the No. 44 song in the U.S. (Wait, I can hear you say. We were looking for songs that were No. 43. Yes, we were, but the Billboard Hot 100 for August 1, 1956, lists two songs tied at No. 42. Instead of trying to break the tie, I took the next song down the list.) Robertson has one other single listed in Whitburn’s book: His version of the “Tennessee Waltz” bubbled under at No. 117 in the summer of 1961.

Getting back to our original intent, the No. 43 tune during this week in 1959 was a sprightly ditty titled “Keep It Up” from Dee Clark, who is likely best known for “Raindrops,” his 1961 hit that went to No. 2. Clark, who hailed from Blytheville, Arkansas, racked up ten Hot 100 hits between 1958 and 1963. “Keep It Up” was his second-most successful single, getting to No. 18. Whitburn notes that before becoming a solo performer in 1957, Clark sang in groups known as the Hambone Kids, the Goldentones, the Kool Gents and the Delegates. Clark last showed up near the chart in 1965, when his “T.C.B.” went to No. 132.

In the autumn of 1961, Jimmy Dean had a No. 1 hit with “Big Bad John,” his tale of tragedy and heroism in a coal mine. The next spring, Dean’s “P.T. 109,” an account of the heroic actions of then-President John F. Kennedy during a World War II naval engagement, went to No. 8. In the summer of 1962, Dean’s “Steel Men” combined working class tragedy and real life events, relating the tale of the collapse of a bridge under construction in British Columbia, Canada. The collapse, which took nineteen lives, according to Wikipedia, resulted in the completed bridge being named the Ironworkers Memorial Second Narrows Crossing. Dean’s record about the event, which was at No. 43 forty-nine years ago this week, didn’t fare as well as his previous efforts, reaching only No. 41. Dean would have four more hits in the Hot 100, with “Little Black Book” from the autumn of 1962 doing the best by reaching No. 29.

Between 1956 and 1980 (with some admittedly long gaps), Roy Orbison notched thirty-eight records in or near the Billboard Hot 100. During the last week of July 1965, the record at No. 43 was Orbison’s “(Say) You’re My Girl,” which is kind of a herky-jerky tune, one that I’d call idiosyncratic. The record went only to No. 39, and for the rest of his long career, the lower reaches of the Top 40 was about the best that Orbison did, until “You Got It” went to No. 9 in early 1989, shortly after Orbison’s death in late 1988.

Billy Vera’s name is most familiar to music fans, I’d guess, from “At This Moment,” his 1987 No. 1 record with his R&B backing group, The Beaters. But he’s had some success as a songwriter and in early 1968, he and Judy Clay hit the Top 40 with their duet “Country Girl – City Man,” which went to No. 36. That summer, Vera released his version of the divorce-themed “With Pen In Hand” and saw it get as high as No. 43, which is where it sat during the last days of July. The more successful version of the tune was by Vicki Carr, whose single went to No. 35. (I was surprised for an instant – and then, after some thought, not so surprised – to see that the song was written by Bobby Goldsboro.)

In an era when numerous hit records touched on or clearly promoted the Christian faith – the best example, offhand, might have been Ocean’s “Put Your Hand In The Hand,” which went to No. 2 in May of 1971 – perhaps the most moving of those records was “Mighty Clouds of Joy” by  B.J. Thomas. I’d not heard it for years until this morning, and the faith expressed is one I don’t share, but I still found it musically thrilling, as I did forty years ago when I occasionally heard it coming out of the radio speakers. As July ended in 1971, the record was sitting at No. 43 on its way to No. 34, one of twenty-five records Thomas placed in the Hot 100. His best performing records were two that reached No. 1: “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head” was No. 1 for four weeks in early 1970, and “(Hey Won’t You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song” topped the chart for a week in 1975.