Posts Tagged ‘David Bowie’

‘Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes . . .’

Thursday, June 16th, 2011

A quick look at the Billboard Hot 100 for June 16, 1990, revealed a few records I remember and a lot of stuff I don’t. Having left higher education a year earlier – and the contact with students and current music that came along with teaching – I’d lost track of who was doing what, and I wasn’t all that much interested in the Top 40.

I still listened to radio, though, maybe more than ever during the spring and early summer of 1990, as I spent a lot of time in my car, driving from my home in Conway Springs, Kansas, to my newspaper offices in two other small towns. And despite the country music prevalent in nearly every establishment where I shopped, ate lunch or bought gas in those three small towns, I’d found a decent classic rock station in nearby Wichita; it was rewarded with the first button on the car radio.

One mid-June morning, as I was driving the back road between Conway Springs and Cheney, the classic rock station cued up David Bowie’s “Changes,” a record I’d not heard for a while. I don’t recall it from 1972, when it went to No. 66, but I do remember it from the Atwood Center jukebox when it was reissued in late 1974 and went to No. 41. My friends at The Table and I had played it a few times on the jukebox, and I enjoyed it that summer morning as my Toyota rolled toward my office in Cheney.

And when the record ended, it began again, right from the start. A glitch at the station, I thought, and I pushed a button for a new station, one that got me to the door of my office. Two hours later, having gone through the mail and written a few pieces for the next week’s edition, I left the office, likely heading to the high school to take a photo. As I drove away, I pushed the first button on the radio. And the station was still playing Bowie’s “Changes.”

I switched stations and pondered things for a moment. Not being entirely dim, I guessed that the station was changing its format and was using Bowie’s song to prepare its audience (or to warn its audience to find another station). As the day and evening went on, I checked the station a few more times: Still Bowie.

Before I headed off to Cheney the next morning, I checked again, and Bowie was gone from the airwaves. The station had switched to Top 40. The new format got a bit of play in the car for the next few days, but I wasn’t impressed with much that I heard, and I changed the button in my car to a station whose format was probably called Adult Contemporary. And I was much happier with that.

I heard “Changes” the other day, and that, along with the look at the mid-June Billboard Hot 100, made the tune for today’s post an easy choice. If I get here tomorrow, it’s likely to be with a look at the chart from June 17, 1967.

Lesley, Paul, Charlie, Jackson & David

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

July muddles along. It’s been a quiet month, one perfect for gardening, reading and digging into some newly acquired music. Perhaps the most fun of those has been digging into box sets of the music of Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters, both of which arrived in June; their sheer size has made absorbing them lengthy processes.

The easiest of the new musical arrivals to process was an anthology that’s part of a series on the Hip-O label: No. 1’s, ’60s Pop. None of the twenty tracks on the disc is very rare; they range from Little Eva’s 1962 hit, “The Loco-Motion” to “In the Year 2525,” the Zager & Evans hit from 1969. What the CD’s arrival did allow me to do was to rip new files of many of its tracks at a better bitrate than I’d previously had. One of those was Lesley Gore’s anthem, “It’s My Party,” which was still on the charts on this date in 1963, sitting at No. 27, on its way down the chart after peaking for two weeks at No. 1. (Interestingly enough, her own answer record, “Judy’s Turn To Cry” was sitting at No. 11.)

And here’s a television appearance of Gore lip-synching to “It’s My Party.” It’s evidently from the episode of the syndicated music program Hollywood A Go Go recorded on December 25, 1965. (Others on that episode were the Association, the Dixie Cups, Bobby Freeman, Donna Loren, Simon & Garfunkel and the Sunrays.)

So what other records were at No. 27 on this date over the years?

In 1968, it was “Don’t Take It So Hard” by Paul Revere & The Raiders. This was the record’s peak; it stayed at No. 27 for one more week and then began to drop down the charts. I can’t show the video here, but here’s the link to the page at YouTube.

On this date in 1973, the No. 27 record was “Behind Closed Doors” by Charlie Rich. A week earlier the record had peaked at No. 15. Later in the year, Rich would have his biggest hit when “The Most Beautiful Girl” was No. 1 for two weeks and topped both the country and adult contemporary charts for three weeks.

Five years later, a two-sided single from Jackson Browne’s live album, Running On Empty was in spot No. 27 on the Billboard chart. “Stay/The Load-Out” would peak two weeks later at No. 20, where it spent two weeks before tumbling back down the chart. I don’t have the edited single, nor can I find a video of it, but here’s a live version of “The Load-Out/Stay” from a 1978 performance in Shepherds Bush Theatre at the BBC Television Centre in London.

Jumping ahead yet another five years, we find the seventh Top 40 hit for the enigmatic David Bowie at No. 27. “China Girl” would peak at No. 10 during the last week of August 1983.

And there, we’ll call a halt to this morning’s exercise. The No. 27 record on this day in 1988 was Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car,” which we’ve talked about here before, and – this morning, at least – I’m not interested in pushing on into the ’90s. I’ll be back in two days with a Saturday Single.