Posts Tagged ‘Johnny Cash’

And At No. 33, We Find . . .

Thursday, March 3rd, 2011

It’s been one of those weeks: Medical appointments for both of us, a quick trip to Little Falls for me, a research paper for the Texas Gal, an impending visit – routine, we think – by the city rental inspector, and some planning for a weekend trip to see a concert. And we’re both feeling a slight bit frazzled.

So instead of working real hard to find something to write about this morning, I let the calendar do the lifting, as I sometimes do. It’s March 3, or 3/3, so I decided to look at some tunes that were No. 33 on 3/3 over the years.

During this week in 1959, the 33rd spot in the Billboard Hot 100 was occupied by Johnny Cash’s cautionary tale, “Don’t Take Your Guns To Town.” The tale of Billy Joe’s deadly visit to a cattle town had peaked at No. 32 and was on its way back down the chart, one of fifty-nine Hot 100 singles Cash would notch during his career. On the country chart, the record spent six weeks at No. 1.

During the first week of March in 1963, Marvin Gaye’s first Top 40 hit was encouraging listeners either to dance or to get out on the highway and catch a ride out of town. “Hitch Hike” was at No. 33 forty-eight years ago this week, heading for a peak position of No. 30. The record, the second of an eventual fifty-nine Hot 100 hits for Gaye, went to No. 12 on the R&B chart.

Fifty-nine charting hits, like Cash and Gaye each marked, is a lot. But four years later, in March of 1967, the No. 33 record in the Hot 100 was one from the record holder for the most charted hits ever. Elvis Presley’s “Indescribably Blue,” as melodramatic a record as there is, was the ninety-eighth of an eventual 165 charting hits for Presley. It went no higher than No. 33.

Another performer who racked up an impressive total of chart hits was in the 33rd spot in the Hot 100 when March 3, 1971 rolled around. Gladys Knight’s “If I Were Your Woman” was on its way back down the chart after peaking at No. 9 (and its writers – Clay McMurray, Gloria Jones and Pam Sawyer – get bonus points for the correct use of the subjunctive with the word “were”). The record was the twenty-first of an eventual forty-eight records in the Hot 100 for Knight, forty-six of those – if I’m reading things correctly – coming with the Pips.

The first week of March in 1975 finds another major chart machine in the thirty-third spot in the Hot 100, as Chicago’s “Harry Truman” was on its way to No. 13. The ode to the thirty-third (there’s that number again!) president of the United States was a nostalgic post-Watergate expression of dissatisfaction with the direction of the country. It was also the nineteenth of an eventual fifty charting hits for Chicago.

And we’ll end today’s exercise in 1979. Sitting at No. 33 during the week of March 3, 1979, was “Shake It,” the fifth of six charting hits for Ian Matthews. The first three of those hits had come with his group Matthews Southern Comfort; he had also been a founding member of the British folk-rock group Fairport Convention. As well as peaking at No. 13 in early 1979, “Shake It” shows up in a couple of different places in pop culture, according to Wikipedia: It was used in the opening moments of the 1980 movie Little Darlings, and it can be heard on a radio during the video game The Warriors.

“And A Thousand Miles Behind”

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

My list is long and my tank is empty. But, as reluctant as I am to leave this space blank on those mornings when I normally offer something, I listened to the tune running in my head and went in search of cover versions. I might write about the tune in the future, but today’s a good time to start thinking about it. So here’s a cover of Bob Dylan’s “One Too Many Mornings” from the 1986 album Heroes by Johnny Cash and Waylon Jennings.

Johnny Cash Pulls A Surprise

Thursday, April 8th, 2010

Once again, I’m astounded by the things one can find on YouTube.

I was scanning the Billboard Hot 100 for the week ending April 11, 1970, looking for something I could write about that wouldn’t crash into tunes I have planned for the Ultimate Jukebox (which, as readers no doubt are aware, is very heavy on music from 1970).

Here’s the Top Ten from that date:

“Let It Be” by the Beatles
“ABC” by the Jackson 5
“Instant Karma” by John Lennon
“Spirit In The Sky” by Norman Greenbaum
“Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Simon & Garfunkel
“Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)” by Edison Lighthouse
“House of the Rising Sun” by Frijid Pink
“Come and Get It” by Badfinger
“Easy Come, Easy Go” by Bobby Sherman
“The Rapper” by the Jaggerz

It’s a fun Top Ten, and as it turns out, only one of those tunes is tagged for the Ultimate Jukebox. But they’re all very familiar, and I thought I’d dig a little deeper and see what treasures might be found in deeper portions of this particular musical harbor. So, as today is April 8 – 4/8 – I dropped below the Top 40 and checked out No. 48 in the Hot 100.

It turned out to be “Easy To Be Free” by Rick Nelson, a song that was part of Nelson’s 1970 live album, Rick Nelson in Concert (The Troubadour, 1969). (Whether the single was the live version or a studio version, I don’t know.) The record was in its sixth week in the Billboard chart and its second week at No. 48. I looked ahead a week, and by that time, the record had fallen entirely off the chart.

Intrigued – I have the live album but honestly, I haven’t listened to it often enough to pull the song from my memory – I went to YouTube to see what I could find. And I found a clip from the April 29, 1970, episode of The Johnny Cash TV Show with Nelson and the Stone Canyon Band performing “Easy To Be Free.”

After that, Nelson sits down next to Cash and the two slide into a relaxed version of Doug Kershaw’s “Louisiana Man.” And then there’s a pleasant surprise. I wrote a few weeks ago about how much I liked the CD of selected performances from Cash’s show, which aired from 1969 t0 1971. I think I’m going to have to get the DVD set, too.

Afternote: The notes on the back of my vinyl version of Nelson’s live album – a reissue – seem to indicate that the version of “Easy To Be Free” that was released as a single was, in fact, a studio version. Has anyone out there heard it? And here it is:

Rick Nelson – “Easy To Be Free” [1970]