Archive for the ‘Saturday Single’ Category

Saturday Single No. 724

Saturday, February 13th, 2021

Sometimes I think my pal Yah Shure knows more about this blog than I do.

Earlier this week, I wrote about finding a February 1976 survey at the Airheads Radio Survey Archive. Yah Shure read the post, dug a little bit at ARSA, and then he left a note here:

Well, this is either an amazing coincidence, or the “Lee Tucker” who contributed this survey to ARSA copied it directly from your blog, whiteray. It’s the very same WJON survey I scanned in 2017 and sent you, which you then subsequently posted and wrote about.

I’d also sent those scans to my fellow WJON alum, J.J., who was working at the station in 1976. Your “meh” assessment matched what we’d both thought about that lineup of songs.

So I went and dug into my Documents folder, and yep, the survey scans were in a folder in the blog files.

And this isn’t the only time in recent months that Yah Shure has reminded me of essentially a duplicate post that ran here connected to something he provided me. I wrote in October about not recalling at all the 1971 record “New Jersey” by the duo of England Dan & John Ford Coley. At that time, Yah Shure reminded me that I’d written pretty much the same post back in 2016, about a year after he’d provided me with a collection of ED & JFC’s early work, including “New Jersey.”

Well, all I can say is that it’s hard to keep track of the content of 2,500-some posts and 1,500-some CDs. And even though the unplanned repetitions are kind of “oops” moments., I’m glad to know about them.

So I went looking this morning for tunes that have the word “again” in their titles. The RealPlayer offered 733 tracks, but some of them find the word in their album titles or have words like “against” in their titles, which trims the usable number of tracks down to something like 650. No matter.

I let the player roll on random while I wrote and researched, and it eventually fell onto a track that I recall from my vinyl madness days on Minneapolis’ Pleasant Avenue: “Come Back Into My Life Again” from Cold Blood’s 1974 album Lydia, titled for the group’s lead singer, Lydia Pense.

My search function tells me that I’ve offered the track once before, in 2009, but since this post is essentially about doing things again, that’s okay. The song was written by Billy Ray Charles, and the website discogs lists Lydia as the only record – album or single – on which it’s appeared. I find that hard to believe, but AllMusic seems to say the same, and the record is not listed at Second Hand Songs.

Anyway, here’s “Come Back Into My Life Again” from Cold Blood’s 1974 album Lydia. It’s today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 722

Saturday, January 30th, 2021

I’ve been seeing a number of similar posts of Facebook lately that deal with No. 1 records. They say things like “The story of your life is determined by the record that was No. 1 on” either your seventh or tenth or fourteenth birthday.

(The posts don’t instruct readers which chart to use – Cashbox, Billboard, or another – but I assume that most folks use Billboard. I will.)

My birthday falls in early September, so let’s take a look at the three that have been mentioned on Facebook:

The No. 1 record on my seventh birthday, in 1960 – seems awful early to have one’s life’s story determined – was “It’s Now Or Never” by Elvis Presley. I know it was a love song, but in the context of determining the life story of a second-grader as he struggled with getting his assignments done on time, it’s sounds pretty fatalistic. There was evidently no point in looking ahead toward third grade and Miss Kelly and the cute girl who would move to town from Redwood Falls.

The No. 1 record when I turned ten, the month in 1963 when I began fifth grade with Mr. Lydeen, one of the four or so most important teachers of my life, was “My Boyfriend’s Back” by the Angels. Well, “He went away, and you hung around, and bothered me every night” sounds like it could have been a romantic modus operandi for a fifth-grader (if you change “night” to “afternoon”). But I think the gods of the 45s got this one wrong (I hope, or somewhere down the road yet, I’m gonna be in trouble.).

When I turned fourteen and started ninth grade at South Junior High, the No. 1 record was Bobbie Gentry’s “Ode To Billy Joe.” Rather than assume this meant I was destined to do a suicidal bridge-jump somewhere along the line, I’d rather interpret this pairing of birthday and record to mean that my life is going to unfold like a Gothic Southern mystery. I don’t think it has; I’m far too Midwestern for that, so that’s another miss.

But let’s take a look at three other birthdays that might have carried portents, as they marked important moments in my life:

I began my senior year of high school in September 1970, and the No. 1 record on my birthday as we headed back to the classrooms was “War” by Edwin Starr. That fits short-term, yes, as that school year brought me into conflict with a sophomore boy whose girlfriend I desperately wanted to date. But as a portent for my life, I think it misses.

On my twentieth birthday, I landed in Copenhagen to start my third year of college and eight-plus months of being away from home for the first time. I thought perhaps I should find out which record had been No. 1 in Denmark at the time, but in messing with the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, the closest I could get was to learn that the top Danish single of the year was “Rør Ved Mig” by Lecia & Lucienne, which translates, or so says an online tool, to “Touch Me.” So we’ll skip that, even though I love the record. So, what was No. 1 on the Hot 100 as I flew east? “Brother Louie” by Stories, which – if it’s a marker for my life – seems to mean I’m gonna cry.

The last important birthday during my younger years, I’d guess, was my thirtieth, which fell right about the time I began graduate school at the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism. I was making a life change, so the No. 1 single of the time might have brought some insight as to how that change was going to go. After all, “Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)” by the Eurythmics sounds like it might portend pleasant times. But to my ears, there’s always been a subtext of unease in the record, a hint that those dreams might not be so sweet after all.

So what does all that mean? Nothing, of course, except as a time-waster. And which of those do we want to hear on a Saturday morning? None of the first three, I’d say, and I’ve offered “Rør Ved Mig” here several times over the years. We’ll pass on “War” and, I guess, on Stories.

So “Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)” from 1983 is today’s Saturday Single. Maybe you can catch the undercurrent I always hear.

Saturday Single No. 721

Saturday, January 23rd, 2021

Earlier this week, we glanced at the top ten singles in the Billboard Hot 100 from January 25, 1975, and were decidedly unimpressed. I thought that today might be a good time to see if the top ten albums from that week made me feel any better. Here they are:

Greatest Hits by Elton John
Fire by the Ohio Players
Miles Of Aisles by Joni Mitchell
Dark Horse by George Harrison
Heart Like A Wheel by Linda Ronstadt
Relayer by Yes
Back Home Again by John Denver
AWB by the Average White Band
War Child by Jethro Tull
Goodnight Vienna by Ringo Starr

I look at that Top Ten, and I feel like I should find it interesting. I don’t. Six of those albums eventually found their ways onto my LP stacks over the years. The best was probably the Elton John album, but after years of listening to the hits and to the albums from which those hits came, I tend to think that a listener is better hearing the hits in their original settings nestled among very good album tracks (some of them better than the singles).

For various reasons, I never thought much of the Mitchell album, and the albums by the Ohio Players and the Average White Band also left me unmoved. Heart Like A Wheel was good, but not as good as other Ronstadt albums, so it stayed pretty much on the stacks, and Goodnight Vienna was mediocre Ringo.

When Dark Horse pops up in these kinds of things, I’m always surprised that I’ve never owned it. I like Harrison’s solo work, maybe more than I liked the solo work of the other Beatles, and there was a fair amount of Harrison’s stuff on the LP stacks before the Great Vinyl Sell-Off the other year. But not Dark Horse. And I’ve never bought the CD or even sought out a digital version of the album.

Which leaves the albums by Yes, Jethro Tull and John Denver, none of which I’ve ever owned. Maybe I’ve missed out on something over the years, but I paid no attention to those albums and little attention to Yes or Tull over the years. And I’ve resolutely ignored almost anything Denver released after 1971.

So, I owned none of those albums when this chart was published in 1975, and none of them has endeared me to itself over the years. (Am I grumpy as I write this on a cold and soon to be snowy Saturday? Perhaps.)

Well, sorting out what’s written here, if we ignore the Elton John hits album, the best thing in that Top Ten is the Ronstadt album. (I said it was good but not as good as other Ronstadts I had.) So, let’s dip into Heart Like A Wheel and pull out my favorite track. That would be Ronstadt’s cover of Lowell George’s “Willin’.” It’s today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 720

Saturday, January 16th, 2021

As it often does as I sit here on the seventh day of the week, the tune “Come Saturday Morning” popped into my head today.

Written for the 1969 film The Sterile Cuckoo, the song was first recorded by the film’s star, Liza Minelli, as the title track of an album released in February 1969, according to Second Hand Songs. The film came out in October 1969, and it was the Sandpipers’ cover of the song that was used on the film’s soundtrack and released as a single. The record went to No. 17 on the Billboard Hot 100 and to No. 8 on the magazine’s Easy Listening chart.

Other covers followed, of course, and a few of them have ended up on the digital shelves here, by artists like Joe Reisman & His Orchestra & Chorus, the Fifty Guitars Of Tommy Garrett, the Mystic Moods Orchestra, and Mark Lindsay, one-time lead singer for Paul Revere & The Raiders.

Other familiar names show up on the list of covers at Second Hand Songs with Johnny Mathis, Tony Bennett, Patti Page, Robert Goulet, Ray Conniff and Scott Walker found among the vocal list, and artists like Percy Faith, Andre Kostelanetz, Peter Nero, Roger Williams, and Jackie Gleason listed among the instrumental covers of the song. The most recent of all of those was Walker’s take on the song, which came in 1972, and more followed.

Only five of the thirty-eight versions of the song listed at SHS have been released later than 1974: Vocal versions by Charles Tichenor (1996) and a female vocalist called Rumer (2010), and instrumentals by the Keith McDonald Trio (1986), Jim Hudak (2000), and the Dave McMurdo Jazz Orchestra (also 2000).

So there are lots of versions to sample and choose from. But I’m going to take the easy way out and find Peter Nero’s version of the tune because he’s one of the very few artists I’ve written about who has left a note here. (He responded a few years ago to a post about “The Summer Knows,” the theme from the movie Summer of ’42.) Nero’s version of “Come Saturday Morning” is from his 1970 album I’ll Never Fall In Love Again, and it’s today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 717

Saturday, December 26th, 2020

And the holiday is over.

It was a pleasant one here, with plenty of goodies and with gifts between the Texas Gal and me parceled out one-at-a-time every few days or so starting about December 10 (a pattern we fell into about fifteen years ago and have liked).

There are plenty of goodies left: about a third of a charcuterie tray – meats and crackers and cheese – is yet in the fridge, as is at least two-thirds of a large lasagna. And even the cats have leftover treats, courtesy of the new family just to our east; sixteen-year-old Sydney stopped by yesterday afternoon with a stocking full of cat treats. We’ll have to ask the newcomers what brand the goodies are, as the cats seem to like them a great deal.

We Zoomed for a while yesterday afternoon, checking in with my sister and her husband and my nephew in the Twin Cities suburb of Maple Grove and with my niece and her husband and their two toddler boys in a Chicago suburb. And we made phone calls to the Texas Gal’s sisters and to a few other folks we know who were alone for the day.

So even though we went nowhere, it was a busy sort of day, and it’s left an odd sort of weariness, perfectly suited, I guess, for the odd sort of year we’re having. So, as the morning mist outside my window begins to differentiate itself from the cloud cover, I’ll ask the RealPlayer to sorts its 82,000-some tracks for the word “odd.”

We don’t get a lot to work with, which does not surprise me, and what we do get is not inspiring. So I’m going to turn to the most odd thing I’ve come across in recent months.

Adriano Celantano is an Italian multi-talent: actor, director, producer, singer-songwriter. In 1972, according to what I’ve read, he had the idea to write a song with lyrics that sounded English but were actually nonsense. So he wrote and produced “Prisencólinensináinciúsol,” enlisting his wife, Claudia Mori, for some vocal parts.

Wikipedia says: “Celentano’s intention with the song was not to create a humorous novelty song but to explore communication barriers.” The website quotes Celantano: “Ever since I started singing, I was very influenced by American music and everything Americans did. So at a certain point, because I like American slang – which, for a singer, is much easier to sing than Italian – I thought that I would write a song which would only have as its theme the inability to communicate. And to do this, I had to write a song where the lyrics didn’t mean anything.”

That’s a little more high-minded that what I’ve read elsewhere, which is that Celantano thought that English-sounding lyrics were so popular in Italy that he figured he could have a hit with a record of gibberish if it just sounded like English.

Either way, it worked. “Prisencólinensináinciúsol” went to No. 5 in Italy and in the Netherlands, to No. 2 on the Belgian Wallonia chart and to No. 4 on the Belgian Flanders chart, and to No. 6 in France. The Germans, however, didn’t seem to get the joke, as the record went only to No. 46 in West Germany.

It’s kind of a hoot, so here’s “Prisencólinensináinciúsol” in its basic form. There is a video out there from an Italian television show setting the record in a large dance routine, with Mori’s lyrics lip-synced by Italian actress Raffaella Carrà, and that’s kind of fun, but for now, the original is today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 716

Saturday, December 19th, 2020

At times over the years, I’ve used one post or another here as kind of a note on a bulletin board, something to remind me to start a new project or to pick up on a series of posts interrupted and since set aside. This is one of those posts.

It’s been ten months since I added to the series of posts intended to examine the catalog of the Moody Blues. I dug into the group’s 1972 album, Seventh Sojourn, in February, just before the world went askew, and have never gotten back to that project, never examined the next stop in the group’s journey, 1978’s Octave.

But I reckon that delay is all right. After all, it took the group six years to get from Sojourn to Octave. If I can do so in a little more than ten months, well, that’s not too bad. So sometime in the next week, that long-delayed project should resume.

As a teaser, I’m offering here the track that might be the second-best the album has to offer. I’m not exactly where “One Step Into The Light” fits among the tracks from Octave. Musically, it’s very much like late 1960s Moodies stuff (which may or may not be a good thing), and lyrically, it lapses into the kind of mysticism that left a lot of people either laughing or leaving the room during those late 1960s days:

One step into the light
One step away from night
It’s the hardest step you’re gonna take
The ship to take you there is waitin’ at the head
Of the stairs that lead up through your opened mind

Above the dark despair
Shines a light that we can share
Close your eyes and look up in between your brows
Then slowly breathing in
Feel the life force streaming in
Hold it there, then send it back to him

All the old things are returning
Cosmic circles ever turning
All the truth we’ve been yearning for
Life is our savior, savior, savior
Save your soul

The river of living breath
Is flowing through the sun
He was there before the Earth began
The world will drag on you
Use his love to pull you through
Find the mission of your life and start to be

All the old things are returning
Cosmic circles ever turning
All the truth we’ve been yearning for
Life is our savior, savior, savior
Save your soul

There’s one thing I can do
Play my Mellotron for you
Try to blow away your city blues
Your dreams are not unfound
Get your feet back on the ground
The truth will set us free, we cannot lose
We cannot lose
We just have to choose

But still, there is – to my Moody-friendly ears – a kind of stately grandeur about “One Step Into The Light.” And that, along with its utility as kind of a Post-It note to remind me of my task next week, makes it today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 715

Saturday, December 12th, 2020

“This is an odd phone call,” my sister said the other day. “I’m dis-inviting you two for Christmas dinner.”

It wasn’t unexpected. The Texas Gal and I had already decided that we were going stay home on Christmas. And it wasn’t distressing, either, to be dis-invited. It makes perfect sense. We have our very small set of people we see – and then only briefly – during these Covid times, and my sister and her husband and their son have their pods (a usage I’ve begun to see more and more frequently but one I’ve not employed until this moment).

“That’s fine,” I said. “We’d pretty much decided to turn down any invitation, but you’ve come in ahead of us. What will we not be having for Christmas dinner?”

They’re having a ham dinner purchased in full from one of their nearby grocery stores. We’re planning – we think – lasagna, baked in a large pan that was a Christmas gift from my sister and her husband to us more than fifteen years ago, not long after the Texas Gal and I set up housekeeping together.

And as I told my sister that this week, the length of time we’ve owned that pan startled me, and that reminded me of the flexibility of time, how it bends and stretches and turns in its own ways, leaving those of us who use it to measure our lives baffled and bemused.

Fifteen years ago, we were midway through our time in our second apartment, the one in St. Cloud in the complex called Green Gable, just yards from the house where we would eventually live for more than nine years. In some ways – and this is not by any means a deep thought – it feels as if the time in that apartment was just moments ago. Still, I was forty-nine when we first moved there; now I am sixty-seven. We’d been together a little less than three years at the time; now we’ve been married for thirteen.

When we were first merging our households in 2001 and it became evident that the task of moving my stuff to her apartment was beyond our abilities and we’d need to hire the task out, she said to me, offhandedly, “Well, you’re almost fifty, you know.”

The comment, true though it was, startled me. I was forty-seven, but I’d never thought of myself as being close to that milestone. My reaction amused her, and the comment has come with us through the years, being updated every once in a while. These days, she tells me, “Well, you’re almost seventy, you know.”

And I am. And as this odd year of Covid plays out its last month, I think of years together, which is a grace I often thought I’d never have with anyone. And I think that lasagna for Christmas sounds perfect.

There are, as might be expected, no tracks on the digital shelves that include the word “lasagna” in their titles. As for “time,” there are too many to sort rationally, so I’ll just fall on one of my favorite tracks by Eric Andersen, whether it actually speaks to my thoughts above or not.

Here’s “Time Run Like A Freight Train” from Andersen’s 1975 album Be True To You. It’s today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 714

Saturday, December 5th, 2020

A few months ago, when the counter on this (generally) weekly feature hit 700, I referred to it as a “Ruthian number.” Today’s number is, of course, even more so. (I likely don’t have to explain it, but just in case: During his career, Babe Ruth hit 714 home runs.)

In tribute, I could post something by the 1970s group Babe Ruth, but I’ve never found the group’s music very compelling (even though a very dear friend loved Babe Ruth’s work back in our college days).

A better thought, though, is to post something from the best Ruth I know of in music. After all, the Babe was the best Ruth in baseball. Actually, the Babe was the best player in baseball history and remains so, even eighty-five years after his last game. (The rest of the top five? Willie Mays, Walter Johnson, Honus Wagner and Oscar Charleston.)

So, the best Ruth in music? Actually, that’s pretty easy: Ruth Brown.

We could go back to her seminal work for Atlantic in the 1940s and ’50s, but I think we’re going to land on something from one of her last albums, the 1997 release R+B=Ruth Brown. Here, with Bonnie Raitt, Brown takes on “Gonna Move To The Outskirts Of Town,” today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 713

Saturday, November 28th, 2020

I’ve mentioned before how some dates resonate with me, how I’ll look to the calendar and see, for example, January 25 and remember in vivid detail a long-ago (and unhappy) January 25. I doubt if I’m alone in that; I assume the same thing happens to other folks.

Today, November 28, is one of those days. It was forty-three years ago today that I – twenty-four years old and not at all sure of myself – walked into the offices of the Monticello Times and took up desk space as a reporter. My beats, to start, would be sports at Monticello High School and at the high school in the nearby city of Big Lake; school news from the high schools, junior high schools and elementary schools in the two cities, and features.

In a very short time, I’d add to my plate coverage of the Wright County Sheriff’s Department (which provided police service to the city of Monticello), and of the Big Lake Police Department and of the sheriff’s department in Sherburne County.

The following spring, I’d add coverage of city government to my duties, attending meetings of the city councils in both Monticello and Big Lake, and covering through phone interviews the board meetings in Monticello and Big Lake townships. I’d do fewer features.

My first day at the Times included an interview with the owners of the new Milky Whey cheese shop in the hamlet of Hasty, introductions and lunch at Monticello High School, and – if I recall things rightly – coverage of a girls basketball game that evening. Sometime during the day, I posed at the typewriter at my boss’ desk so readers could get a look at the new guy who’d end up hanging around for almost six years. (My desk was backlit, said the photographer.)

GPE, 11-28-77I think back to that slender young man as he entered the world of professional journalism. His earliest plan – no more than a vague idea, to be honest – had been to become a television sports reporter and play-by-play guy. Then he spent more time writing in college than he did learning how to shoot film, and after some initial resistance, he embraced print reporting. (He realized he liked to write long pieces, and the byword of broadcast reporting is brevity, so . . .)

As I walked into the Times office that morning in November 1977, I was still unformed (although I would have been horribly insulted had anyone told me that). I had an immense amount to learn about journalism, about small-town living, about life in general. A lot of those lessons came my way during the nearly six years I spent at the Times, lessons for which I am – more than forty years later – grateful.

After those nearly six years, I moved on to grad school, to teaching, to reporting at other papers. I took with me a box full of plaques, a clutch of skills, and a cluster of friendships that remain strong to this day. That’s a pretty good haul for a first job.

There’s nothing that speaks to me in the two Billboard Hot 100s that bracket that long-ago November 28, so I’m going to turn to one of the three LPs I bought later that week. Thursdays – the day after we went to press – were light days at the newspaper, so I drove the thirty miles to St. Cloud that afternoon, did some shopping and had dinner with my folks, handing them as I arrived copies of that week’s newspaper, including – I’m pretty sure – a piece with my byline on the front page.

That evening, back in my rented mobile home just outside of Monticello, I no doubt played the records I’d bought in St. Cloud that day, and it’s pretty likely that I went to sleep with the Moody Blues’ Days Of Future Passed on the turntable. So here’s what was probably the last thing I heard on that long-ago Thursday, my first day as a published journalist: It’s “Nights In White Satin” from 1967, and it’s today’s Saturday Single.

Saturday Single No. 712

Saturday, November 14th, 2020

Trying to keep things picked up around here, about once a week, I head into posts from years past and replace – if I can – videos that have been deleted. Doing so also has the benefit of reminding me of topics I planned to follow up, ideas that have been swept away by my inattention and simple time.

That brought me yesterday to a 2015 post about the song “He Did Me Wrong But He Did It Right,” written by Patti Dahlstrom and Al Staehly and recorded by Patti for her 1975 album Your Place Or Mine. In 1978, Bobbie Gentry covered the song as the B-side to a promo release of the Jimmy Hughes song “Steal Away.”

The promo turned out to be, from what I can tell, the last new recording Gentry ever released, which was interesting enough, so in that 2015 post, I offered videos of Gentry’s cover and Patti’s original. (It seems odd to use Bobbie Gentry’s last name and Patti Dahlstrom’s first name, but Patti and I are friends because of this blog and exchange emails occasionally. Gentry, as you might imagine, has never contacted me.) It was the video for Patti’s version of the song I replaced yesterday; the fan-made video I’d originally used was deleted, so I dropped in Patti’s official version.

And I saw that I’d written at the end of that post five years ago that I’d noticed one other cover of the song available on YouTube and promised to share it later that week. Later that week, however, I wrote that the video – by a soul trio called Hodges, James & Smith – had disappeared. And that was that, at least five years ago. But I did a quick search yesterday and found not one, but two other videos of “He Did Me Wrong . . .”

The first was from Evelyn Rubio, a Mexican-born singer and sax player who recorded the song for her album Crossing Borders, released in May 2020. I didn’t care at all for her vocal style, so I left before the sax break I assumed would be there, and moved on to the version from Hodges, James & Smith.

The website Discogs tells me that the trio of Pat Hodges, Denita James and Jessica Smith was the idea of producer William Stevenson. They released four albums, the first two – 1973’s Incredible and 1975’s Power In Your Love – on 20th Century and the others – 1977’s What’s On Your Mind? and 1978’s What Have You Done For Love? – on London. The only chart action I can find for the trio came from a 1977 disco medley of “Since I Fell For You” (a No. 4 hit for Lenny Welch in 1964) and “I’m Falling In Love” (written by Stevenson), which went to No. 96 on the Billboard Hot 100 and to No. 24 on the magazine’s R&B chart. (You can find the medley as both an album track and an extended disco mix at YouTube.)

The trio’s version of “He Did Me Wrong, But He Did It Right” was an album track on Power In Your Love, and it sounds just like 1975, as it should. Is it a great record? Probably not, but it’s a decent take on the song. And, just like I promised five years ago, here it is, as today’s Saturday Single. (Whoever made the video got the title wrong.)