I took a look this morning at historical events that have taken place on June 30, the midpoint of the year. As usual, Wikipedia had a lengthy list, but only one of the items in that list caught my attention: The Tunguska Event. Thought now to have been triggered by a meteor, the 1908 explosion in a remote part of Siberia was about a thousand times more powerful than the atom bomb the U.S. would drop on Hiroshima, Japan, in World War II. About eighty million trees were blown over by the explosion, which has been the subject of numerous studies and fancies over the years. I remember reading about the event and being fascinated by it when I was a kid.
As interesting as the Tunguska Event is (to me, anyway), reading about it again this morning brought me no closer to finding a song for a Saturday morning. So I looked for tracks recorded on June 30 over the years. I have a few for which I have that kind of detail, including four by the Coon Creek Girls, who were quite busy in Chicago on this date in 1938. But I decided to pass.
And I’ve decided to mark the midpoint of the year by using another one of my favorite tools: We’ll look at the record that was No. 30 in the Billboard Hot 100 on June 30 during six different years, and select our Saturday Single from those six. We may get lucky or we may not, but let’s go dig . . .
As 1962 reached the half-way point, the No. 30 record was Dion’s “Lovers Who Wander,” coming back down the chart after peaking at No. 3. It was the third Top Ten hit for Dion after he split from the Belmonts and went out on his own: “Runaround Sue” went to No. 1 in the autumn of 1961, and “The Wanderer” went to No. 2 in February of 1962. Dion would gather five more Top Ten hits, with the last being the immortal “Abraham, Martin and John” in late 1968. All together – with the Belmonts and on his own – Dion would have thirty-nine records in or near the Hot 100.
Sitting at No. 30 as June ended in 1965 is a record I’m sure I’d never heard before: “You Really Know How To Hurt A Guy” by Jan & Dean, which was on its way to a peak of No. 27. A trip to YouTube finds a Spectorian trip through a romantic break-up, with Jan & Dean sounding pretty good. Online scans tell me that Jan Berry produced the record, and I’m sure we’d find the names of members of the famed Wrecking Crew on the session logs. The record was one of thirty that Jan & Dean put in or near the chart between 1958 and 1967; “Surf City” (No. 1 in 1963) and “Dead Man’s Curve” (No. 8 in 1964) are, of course, their monuments.
We move into 1968, and we find that as the year entered its second half, the No. 30 spot on the Billboard chart was held down by a lesser-known record by Diana Ross & The Supremes: “Some Things You Never Get Used To.” The record would go no higher, the second straight record by the trio to stall before hitting the Top Twenty (“Forever Came Today” peaked at No. 28 in the spring of 1968), but as history tells us, the group was not nearly finished. The next Supremes’ single was “Love Child,” which went to No. 1, and many more hits – five of them in the Top Ten – were yet to come. The final tally? Forty-six records in or near the Hot 100, with twelve of them going to No. 1.
It seems that, more often than not, when I do one of these numerical tricks, John Denver pops up. This time, it’s not so bad as it could be, as Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads” – probably the last John Denver records I truly liked – was sitting at No. 30 as 1971 turned the mid-year corner. The record – Denver’s first hit – was on its way to No. 2. Between 1971 and 1984, Denver would put thirty-six records in or near the Hot 100, with four of them going to No. 1: “Sunshine On My Shoulders,” “Annie’s Song,” “Thank God I’m A Country Boy” and “I’m Sorry.”
In the first four years of this little exercise, we’ve run across four greatly successful acts. Does that continue as we head into June of 1974? Yes, to a degree. Holding down spot No. 30 on the Billboard chart as June turned to July that year was “Taking Care of Business” by the Bachman-Turner Overdrive. This was the group’s third single to hit the chart, and it would eventually peak at No. 12, setting the stage for the group’s only Top Ten hit, “You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet,” which would go to No. 1 in November 1974. BTO wound up with twelve records in or near the Hot 100 between 1973 and 1979.
Our last year to check out this morning is 1977, and the No. 30 song at the end of June that year was the Emotions’ funky “Best of My Love,” which was on its way to No. 1, where it sat for five weeks. The group had been putting records in or near the chart since 1969, with their previous best result coming from “So I Can Love You,” which went to No. 39. Two years after “Best of My Love” hit, the Emotions’ last charting single – their thirteenth overall – found them teaming up with Earth, Wind & Fire for the No. 6 hit “Boogie Wonderland.”
So there we are: Six acts, the least of which was far more successful than most performers can dream of. Of the six tracks we ran across today, the one I liked the most was Jan & Dean’s “You Really Know How To Hurt A Guy,” but I don’t have the record in my stacks, and the only high quality video of the tune at YouTube chops off the song’s ending. That disappoints me.
But there is a good alternate: As I said above, “Take Me Home, Country Roads” is one John Denver record I do like. So it’s this week’s Saturday Single.