Posts Tagged ‘George Benson’

‘Sitting At No. 100 . . .’

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

It’s time for a little bit of chart digging. We’re going to look at four Billboard Hot 100 charts released on July 8 over the years – 1967, 1972, 1978 and 1989 are the years that come up when I sort out the files (well, so do 1995 and 2000, but I’m not interested) – and see what records sat at No. 100 on those four dates. If there was a Bubbling Under section, we’ll take a quick look at what record brought up the rear and see what we can find out about that.

Right off the top, we get a classic. Sitting at No. 100 on July 8, 1967, was “Gentle On My Mind” by Glen Campbell. It was the first week in the chart for Campbell’s cover of John Hartford’s tune, and the record would stall out four weeks later at No. 62 (No. 30 country). Capitol re-released the single a little more than a year later, and in November 1968, the record hit No. 39 (without re-entering the country Top 40). I’ve always tended to think of “Gentle” as Campbell’s first big hit, but by late 1968, the singer had already hit the Top 40 (and No. 2, 1 and 3, respectively, on the country chart) with “By The Time I Get To Phoenix,” “I Want To Live” and “Dreams Of The Everyday Housewife.”

Sitting at the very bottom of the chart and bubbling under at No. 135 on that July day forty-seven years ago was the original version of “My Elusive Dreams” by Curly Putman. The Alabama singer-songwriter’s version would go one notch higher, but a little higher on that same chart (and eventually peaking at No. 89), was a version of the tune by David Houston and Tammy Wynette that would go to No. 1 on the country chart. Sadly, I can’t find a version of Putnam’s original single; he seems to have re-recorded it in recent years, but I’m not interested in that. (Bobby Vinton in 1970 and Charlie Rich in 1975 would release versions of “My Elusive Dreams” that each hit the pop, country and adult contemporary charts.)

When we dig into the very bottom of the Hot 100 from July 8, 1972, we run into a band that’s been mentioned at least twice in this space over the years, now with a slight change of name. Sitting at No. 100 is “Country Woman” by the Magic Lantern. The band from Warrington, England, had previously called itself the Magic Lanterns and had hit No. 29 in late 1968 with “Shame, Shame.” “Country Woman” came out on Charisma, the band’s third label; previous releases had come out on Atlantic and Big Tree. The record, the last the band would get into the chart, peaked at No. 88.

My files show no Bubbling Under section in the July 8, 1972, Hot 100.

Our first two stops at No. 100 found records on the way up; when we look at the Hot 100 from July 8, 1978, we find a record about to leave the chart: George Benson’s “On Broadway” had peaked at No. 7 (No. 2 R&B and No. 25 AC) in mid-June and had then tumbled back down the chart. Benson’s cover of the Drifters’ 1963 hit was the second of his eventual four Top 10 singles: “This Masquerade” went to No. 10 (No. 3 R&B and No. 6 AC) in 1976, “Give Me The Night” would go to No. 4 (No. 1 R&B and No. 26 AC) in 1980, and “Turn Your Love Around” would go to No. 5 (No. 1 R&B and No. 9 AC) in 1982. Benson’s last chart presence came when 1998’s “Standing Together” bubbled under at No. 101, giving Benson a total of twenty records in or near the Hot 100.

There were only ten singles bubbling under that July 7, 1978, chart, and sitting at No. 110 was “I Just Want To Be With You” by the Floaters. The Detroit R&B group had hit big a year earlier when “Float On” went to No. 2 (No. 1 for six weeks on the R&B chart), but the second time was no charm, as “I Just Want To Be With You,” which actually sounds pretty good to me this morning, bubbled under for five weeks and got no higher than No. 105. (I have to be honest: I don’t remember “Float On” at all. As large as its national profile was, the record either did not dent the playlists of the stations I was listening to that summer of 1977, which were KDWB in the car and WJON in the evenings, or it just made no impression on me.)

And as we get to the Billboard Hot 100 from July 8, 1989, we again find a week when nothing bubbled under. And the last entry in the chart, No. 100, is the last presence in the charts for the London trio Wang Chung: “Praying To A New God.” The record had peaked at No. 63 and would be gone by the next week’s chart. The group is far better remembered, of course, for its three Top 20 hits: “Dance Hall Days,” No. 16 in 1984; “Everybody Have Fun Tonight,” No. 2 in 1986; and “Let’s Go,” No. 9 in 1987. I was familiar with those three, likely because I was in grad school at Missouri and teaching and working at St. Cloud State during those years. But I don’t at all remember “Praying To A New God,” and I think that’s okay. Here’s the official video for the record:

Summer Songs, Part Three

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

We left off our series of posts about summer-defining songs a couple of weeks ago with 1975’s “Wildfire” and “I’m Not Lisa.” (The first two posts are here and here.) After that year, I spent two more summers at St. Cloud State before heading off to the world of work.

I wrote earlier this summer about how it felt to move away from Kilian Boulevard during the summer of 1976, and I noted in that post that Lou Rawls’ “You’ll Never Find Another Love Like Mine” was one of the defining sounds of that season. And it was, as its strains take me back to the creaky house on St. Cloud’s North Side where I spent the next nine months. But there are a few other songs – heard on radio and jukebox – that also pull me back to the summer of 1976.

Some of them are “Silly Love Songs” by Wings, “Afternoon Delight” by the Starland Vocal Band, “Moonlight Feels Right” by Starbuck, “I’d Really Love To See You Tonight” by England Dan & John Ford Coley and “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” by Elton John & Kiki Dee. But the record that surprised me the most this morning with its visceral tug as I browsed the Billboard Hot 100 from July 10, 1976, was “This Masquerade” by George Benson.

Benson’s single doesn’t take to me any specific place or moment, but it feels like the summer of 1976: Moving away from home, taking graduate courses, taking an inventory of library equipment with my long-gone pal Murl, being delighted and confused by having a long-term relationship for the first time. It’s all there under the sound of Benson’s jazzy guitar and subdued vocal.

A year later, I was still spending my days on campus, now having changed my aim from graduate work to a minor in print journalism. My summer course load was all about writing: Writing stories for two editions in a newspaper workshop, writing a three-times a week newscast for a television workshop, writing a script by adapting a short story for a film workshop,* and writing and editing pieces for the arts section of the college paper, the University Chronicle.

By the time that season came around, I was living in a small mobile home that I rented from Murl. My social life was varied, as my girlfriend and I took a break from each other that year that began sometime around the beginning of May and ended in August, when we reunited. It was a busy summer, my last for some time as a student. So what songs take me back there?

Consulting once again the Billboard Hot 100 from mid-summer – this one from July 9, 1977 – I see some resonant titles: “Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac, “Gonna Fly Now” by Bill Conti (which I heard only at the theater and on the stereo in my home but not on the radio), “Easy” by the Commodores, another record by England Dan & John Ford Coley, “It’s Sad To Belong” and “Ariel” by Dean Friedman. (That last is an odd companion to the others, yes, but I heard it the other day on the Seventies channel offered by our cable company, and I was startled by how quickly it tugged me back to the summer of ’77. Maybe it was the “peasant blouse with nothing underneath.”)

The record that yanks me back hardest, however, to that summer of writing and dating and living by myself for the first time is one that’s been featured here in this space at least once and probably more than that: “Smoke From A Distant Fire” by the Sanford/Townsend Band:

I was going to rummage around in the memory chest and see if any of the thirty-five summers since 1977 had such an elemental connection with records, radio and song. But for most of my life after 1977, I was working for a living (in more recent years, being a househusband) and spent little enough time listening to radio. And not even a summer in graduate school in 1984 provides memories linked vividly enough with music. So it’s best to end this exercise here after looking at the ten summers from 1968 through 1977. I’ll be back later this week, possibly with “Yellow,” the next segment of Floyd’s Prism.

*The story I adapted, “The Chaser” by John Collier, was first published in 1940 and continues to be one of the best short stories I’ve ever read. I’d found it in an anthology I’d rescued one summer from the discard pile at St. Cloud State’s library, and because of its elegant use of language, I’d always thought that with the right production it would make a hell of a short film. From what I see online, it was adapted for Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone in 1960, which doesn’t surprise me. I do have two regrets about my adaptation and the rather good film that came out of it: First, miscommunication between me and the folks who did the credits resulted in Collier’s name being omitted from our film, and second, I have somehow managed to lose my copy of the film.