Saturday Single No. 364

We’ve dipped twice into 1971 this week, so we’re going to stay there for one more shot this morning, taking a look at some radio station surveys at the Airheads Radio Survey Archive. The archive has, sadly, no surveys from November 2, 1971, but there are four surveys from the following day, from stations in Rochester, New York; Newport News, Virginia; and Modesto and Fresno, California.

We’ll drop the Fresno station for no particular reason and take a look at the No. 11 and 22 singles at the other three stations. We might find something interesting or we might find something over-familiar or truly lame. Whatever happens, we’ll find a Saturday Single.

We’ll start in Rochester at WBBF. Sitting at No. 11 in the station’s “Flower City Hits” was James Taylor’s “Long Ago and Far Away,” a single I’ve not thought about for years. Pulled from Mud Slide Slim & The Blue Horizon, it’s a record that seems to have been buried in memory by the weight of Taylor’s “You’ve Got A Friend” from earlier in 1971 and “Fire And Rain” from the year before.

The No. 22 record on WBBF during that long-ago November week was “I’d Love To Change The World” (listed as only “Change The World”) by Ten Years After. I heard this one the other day on WXYG as I headed down Lincoln Avenue, and I was once again bemused by the “Tax the rich, feed the poor, until there are no rich no more” couplet. I also considered – not for the first time – about how unacceptable the reference to “dykes and fairies” would be today. Social change happens glacially, but it does happen.

That’s it for the Flower City Hits, except to note that the No. 1 record on the November 3, 1971, survey was Isaac Hayes’ “Theme from Shaft.”

Moving to Virginia, we stop at WGH 1310 in Newport News and its “13 + 10” for that distant Tuesday in 1971. Sitting at No. 11 that week was “Inner City Blues” by Marvin Gaye. I know the five-minute-plus album track from What’s Going On, and although I don’t remember it, I’m sure I heard the single (with a running time of 2:58 on its label) coming from the radio in late 1971. Checking my files, I have only the album track, and that’s not surprising. What does surprise me this morning is the number of covers of the song I have on my digital shelves, including a seven-minute take from 1971 by saxophonist Grover Washington, Jr.

The No. 22 record at WGH during the first week in November 1971 was Bread’s sweet “Baby, I’m-A Want You.” That’s one of those records to which I never really paid much attention, even though I heard it over and over on the radio in 1971 and on my tape player in Denmark during the early months of 1974. Even though I paid little attention, “Baby, I’m-A Want You” – as many records do – insinuated itself into my head enough that I know every little swoop and dip.

We’ll move on to Modesto after noting that, just like at WBBF, the No. 1 record on WGH that week was “Theme from Shaft.”

Modesto station KFIV called its survey the “K 5 Hit 30.” Parked at No. 11 during the first week of November 1971 was Cat Stevens’ “Peace Train,” pulled from his Teaser & The Firecat album. The single was all over the radio, of course, and my sister brought the album home to Kilian Boulevard during that season. I was unimpressed and paid little attention to the single or the album. But like “Baby, I’m-A Want You” did, “Peace Train” slid itself inside my head from frequent hearing over the years (the same holds true for “Moonshadow” from Teaser as well), and when I was replicating my sister’s collection in the 1990s, Teaser joined the rest of the LPs on the shelf.

Dropping to No. 22, we find “Baby, I’m-A Want You” again. And all that’s left for us in Modesto is to note that the No. 1 record on the “K 5 Hit 30” for November 3, 1971, was Cher’s “Gypsys, Tramps and Thieves.”

So, we have five records to choose from this morning, none of them particularly surprising but none of them particularly lame, either. I did a quick search, and I learned that I’ve mentioned “Inner City Blues” only once during more than six years of blogging. And I found a video at YouTube featuring the Tamla promo 45, so all of that that makes it easy to decide that the single version of Marvin Gaye’s “Inner City Blues” is today’s Saturday Single.

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