During our Independence Day observance Thursday, one of the Billboard Hot 100 charts we examined was from July 4, 1976. (That’s not a royal “we,” as Odd and Pop were perched on my shoulders, having returned from their summer vacation in Funkytown.) I noted that the top spot in that chart was occupied by “Afternoon Delight” by the Starland Vocal Band and then went further down the chart to Nos. 17 and 76 (Neil Diamond’s “If You Know What I Mean” and Heart’s “Crazy On You”).
And in the two days since then, I’ve glanced at the same chart a few more times and realized that the chart came at a turning point, one that didn’t seem like such a big deal at the time: That July was when I moved out of my folks’ house on Kilian Boulevard over to the North Side of St. Cloud. And scanning the titles of many of the records on that chart – released on July 10, 1976 – reminds me of that move.
So what are some of those records?
Well, “Afternoon Delight” is one. Beyond that, there were these: “Moonlight Feels Right” by Starbuck (sitting at No. 13 during the first full week of July 1976); “I’m Easy” by Keith Carradine (No. 26); “You’ll Never Find Another Love Like Mine” by Lou Rawls (No. 37); “I’d Really Love to See You Tonight” by England Dan & John Ford Coley (No. 40); “This Masquerade” by George Benson (No. 44); and “Lowdown” by Boz Scaggs (No. 70). There might be more (and I do wish that Thin Lizzy’s “The Boys Are Back In Town” had worked its way into my soul that summer, but that would come some years later). Even with a few records overlooked, however, those are the records that make up the bulk of the soundtrack when I think back about that first move.
It wasn’t a difficult move, either logistically or emotionally. I didn’t own a lot of stuff, and I was just moving across town. I knew two of the other three guys in the house – they’d been in Denmark with me a little more than two years earlier – and I was still in school at St. Cloud State. It wasn’t like the dislocation of moving to a new job in a new city, something I experienced a year-and-a-half later when I moved to Monticello and the weekly newspaper there.
But it nevertheless was a turning point, and seeing the titles of some of the records in that chart brings back glimpses of that time: My first cat came along sometime in early July, rescued by my then-girlfriend while working at a summer theater near Alexandria, northwest of St. Cloud. I got my first coffee-pot and claimed a few old pots and pans from the folks to add to kitchen on the North Side, preparing to cook regularly for myself for the first time. And there was the odd feeling that arose at the end of the first school day after the move, when going home in the afternoon took me on a different route, not across the Mississippi to the East Side but west past downtown and the Polish Church and then north to just short of the railroad yard.
Oddly enough, one of my most vivid memories of those first weeks on the North Side comes from my first trip to the nearby Red Owl, when I stocked my own larder for the first time. There were decisions to make that I’d never anticipated. Chunk or grated tuna? In water or in oil? What had Mom always bought? I’d never paid attention. I opted for grated in water, which worked out just fine for creamed tuna on toast. I also had to decide what brand of coffee to buy. The folks drank Sanka, and decaf has never been my choice; I settled on Butter-Nut, which I liked well enough for a few years. And as silly as it may sound, I was more than pleased to finally choose my own toothpaste. For years, I’d used Crest because Mom and Dad liked it. I hated it, and I recall a sense of satisfaction when I pulled a tube of Pepsodent off the shelf for the first time.
So where is all this going? I’m not sure, beyond sharing the realization that those first days of July 1976 were more important to me than I seem to have realized before. And as I look at the titles of the records listed above, one of them reminds me more than any other of my first weeks on the North Side that summer, not because I had the kind of relationship it described (although I was hoping) but because as I look back to July of 1976, it seems that when the radio was on, I was hearing Lou Rawls.
That’s why Lou Rawls’ “You’ll Never Find Another Love Like Mine” is today’s Saturday Single.