April 5, 1983, is a Tuesday. Headlines on the morning papers include the maiden voyage of the space shuttle Challenger, launched yesterday on the sixth mission of the shuttle program; the death of actress Gloria Swanson at age 84; and the upset win by North Carolina State over Houston in the finals of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. Today, President Reagan vetoes the Mashantucket Pequot Indian Claims Settlement Act, extends the term of the Presidential Commission on Drunk Driving through the end of the year, and appoints Allen Davis ambassador to Uganda. Chattanooga, Tennessee, sets an all-time record with 3.36 inches of rain, while El Paso, Texas, sets an snowfall record for a single day in April with 6.5 inches. The Board of Commissioners of Orange County, North Carolina, adopts an ordinance prohibiting the keeping of wild animals. The ordinance exempts the teaching and research facilities at the University of North Carolina.
Today is the second day of the new major-league baseball season with nine games scheduled. After 5 1/2 seasons in Cincinnati, pitcher Tom Seaver returns to the New York Mets and outduels Steve Carlton and the Philadelphia Phillies 2-0. John Candelaria of the Pittsburgh Pirates strikes out 10 St. Louis Cardinals in a 7-1 win; it will be the most by any Pirates pitcher on Opening Day until 2013. The defending American League champion Milwaukee Brewers lose to California 3-2; the Chicago Cubs and Montreal Expos are postponed by bad weather in Chicago; they will open tomorrow. Shows on NBC tonight include The A Team, Remington Steele, and St. Elsewhere. CBS shows the TV movie The Return of the Man from UNCLE. On ABC, it’s Happy Days, Laverne & Shirley, Three’s Company, and Ryan’s Four, a medical-show pilot starring Tom Skerritt, Lisa Eilbacher, and Tim Daly. It won’t become a regular series.
Danny Rapp, lead singer of Danny & the Juniors, commits suicide in Arizona. Future pro football player Will Buchanon and future pro golfer Brendan Steele are born. Huey Lewis and the News play Austin, Texas, R.E.M. plays Nashville, and the Beach Boys play Halifax, Nova Scotia. Rush plays Buffalo and Prince plays Denver. On the current Cash Box chart, the top five are largely unchanged from the previous week. “Billie Jean” by Michael Jackson is #1 for the fourth week in a row; “You Are” by Lionel Richie and “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me” by Culture Club swap #2 and #3 spots; “Hungry Like the Wolf” by Duran Duran and “Back on the Chain Gang” by the Pretenders round out the top 5. There’s one new entry in the Top 10: “Jeopardy” by the Greg Kihn Band. The biggest move within the top 40 is made by Bob Seger’s “Even Now,” moving from #38 to #28; “I Won’t Hold You Back” by Toto is up from #40 to #32, and Michael Jackson’s “Beat It” moves from #22 to #15. The hottest record on the entire chart is David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance, reaching #34 in its second week on.
In a small one-bedroom apartment in Dubuque, Iowa, a calendar hangs on the kitchen wall. Today, there’s a note: “Opening Day: baseball.” On the upcoming Saturday, April 9, there’s another: “Opening Day: marriage.” The couple sharing the apartment differs on how funny the notes are: the young man thinks they’re hilarious, but his intended bride is less amused by them. Thirty years hence, she will continue to put up with him, with everything that’s funny and everything that isn’t, and he will consider himself very fortunate indeed.
March 22, 1972, is a Wednesday. The big headline on the morning papers is Ed Muskie’s Illinois primary win over Eugene McCarthy and George McGovern yesterday. Congress passes the Equal Rights Amendment and sends it to the states for ratification. Later today, Hawaii will become the first state to ratify. In Montana, a convention adopts a new state constitution and sends it to the voters. The United States Supreme Court rules in the case of Eisenstadt v. Baird, striking down a Massachusetts law forbidding the sale of contraceptives to unmarried people. It will be considered an important case in establishing a right to privacy. The National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse issues its report, which recommends relaxing marijuana laws, including the decriminalization of simple possession. The Nixon Administration opposes the commission’s conclusions, and it will not implement its recommendations. Nixon nominates a number of federal judges; the New York Central Railroad closes a number of stations. New York Congressman Ogden Reid announces that because the Republican Party has moved to the right and he can’t support Nixon for reelection in November, he will become a Democrat. An article in the Wall Street Journal announces that Playboy publisher Hugh Hefner plans to launch another magazine, Oui, which will have a “European slant.” In Wisconsin, a law goes into effect lowering the age of adulthood, including the drinking age, from 21 to 18. Future pro athletes Shawn Bradley (basketball), Cory Lidle (baseball), and Elvis Stojko (figure skating) are born.
On TV tonight, guests on the PBS series Soul! are Harry Belafonte and Sidney Poitier. NBC presents a Hallmark Hall of Fame production of Harvey, starring Jimmy Stewart, and follows it with a repeat of Night Gallery. CBS broadcasts an episode of The Carol Burnett Show; Burnett is also a guest on ABC’s Password this week. ABC’s primetime lineup includes The ABC Comedy Hour, featuring a group of impressionists known as the Kopykats, who include Rich Little, Frank Gorshin, Fred Travalena, and Charlie Callas. On ABC after the late local news, Dick Cavett’s guests include Diahann Carroll, Fran Tarkenton, and Michigan Congressman John Conyers. Joe Cocker and Dave Mason play Philadelphia, the Grateful Dead plays New York City, Black Sabbath plays Detroit with opening act Yes, the Mahavishnu Orchestra plays Los Angeles, and Emerson Lake and Palmer plays Long Beach, California.
At WISM in Madison, Wisconsin, the new Music Guide comes out tomorrow, with morning DJ Clyde Coffee pictured on the cover. “A Horse With No Name” by America will hold at #1 for another week; “Puppy Love” by Donny Osmond moves up to #2. The biggest mover in the Top 10 is “I Gotcha” by Joe Tex, moving from #8 to #5. Two songs will debut in the Top 10: “First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” by Roberta Flack (#7, up from #14) and “Rockin’ Robin” by Michael Jackson (#8, up from #18). “Jungle Fever” by the Chakachas is up 10 spots, from #27 to #17. Four songs are new in the Top 30: “Day Dreaming” by Aretha Franklin, “Give Ireland Back to the Irish” by Wings, “Betcha By Golly Wow” by the Stylistics, and “The Family of Man” by Three Dog Night.
About an hour south of Madison, a sixth-grader is immersed in the second-semester grind of Mr. Schilling’s class at Northside School, with Easter vacation sparkling in the near distance. He’s gone to Northside since the middle of second grade, so the place is as familiar as the weather. Outside the classroom, he’s likely turned his attention to baseball spring training now that the state basketball tournament is over, but he also obsessively follows the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks as they wind down the regular season before their pursuit of a second straight championship. He frequently listens to Bucks games on the radio, and more frequently listens to WLS, which has already made clear to him who he is and what he’s supposed to be.
January 25, 1977, is a Tuesday. The weather across the country is generally pretty good for the depths of winter, although Cleveland and Detroit get some snow. Among many actions during his first week in office, President Carter continues to address natural gas shortages around the country, and he has rescinded President Ford’s order lifting price controls on gasoline. Top administration officials must now drive themselves to work instead of taking government limousines. Today, Budget Director Bert Lance announces a plan to award taxpayers a $50 rebate for each exemption they claim, to help stimulate the ecomomy. The Senate confirms Griffin Bell as Carter’s attorney general, and Joseph Califano is sworn in as Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare. In Racine, Wisconsin, teachers go on strike. Movie stuntman Dale Van Sickel dies at age 69, and in Waterloo, Wisconsin, an early-morning house fire kills three children aged 3, 8, and 10. The National Hockey League all-star game is played in Vancouver; the Wales Conference team beats the Campbell Conference team 4-3. At the Prange-Way department store in Madison, Wisconsin, bicentennial glassware is closeout priced—six 15-ounce glasses for $2.99, one dollar off. A local appliance store invites customers to a demonstration of the new Litton microwave oven. About an hour south of Madison, a farm wife with three sons aged 16, 14, and 10, not known for being an early adopter of new technology, will soon get one for her kitchen.
Led Zeppelin announces an upcoming American tour, set to open in Texas at the end of February. (Dates will be postponed when Robert Plant comes down with laryngitis.) Queen plays Ottawa, Ontario, KISS plays Terre Haute, Indiana, ELO is at the Cow Palace in San Francisco, and the Atlanta Rhythm Section appears at the Bottom Line in New York City. Tom Waits appears on the daytime TV show Dinah!, where he performs “Step Right Up” from his album Small Change. David Brenner co-hosts The Mike Douglas Show this week; today, guests include Phyllis Diller, actor David Doyle, and film director Dino DeLaurentiis. On primetime TV, NBC’s lineup includes Police Story, and CBS airs episodes of M*A*S*H, One Day at a Time, and Kojak, but most viewers are watching the third episode of Roots, which ABC has scheduled on eight straight nights to get it over with, fearing it will be a ratings disaster.
On the Cash Box survey dated January 22, 1977, “Car Wash” by Rose Royce is in its second week at #1. New in the top 10 are “Blinded by the Light” by Manfred Mann’s Earth Band at #7 and “New Kid in Town” by the Eagles at #10. Al Stewart’s “Year of the Cat” makes the biggest move within the top 40, up to #22 from #32. Hot new songs include “Dancing Queen” by ABBA, “Hard Luck Woman” by KISS, and “Carry on Wayward Son” by Kansas, but the hottest is the new Fleetwood Mac single, “Go Your Own Way,” up to #28 from #45.
Perspective From the Present: I am incapable of any kind of perspective on this week. Some things in our lives we can’t be remotely objective about, and this week is one of them. But that’s not why I wrote this post. The other night, I met my Internet friend Randy Raley in the real world for the first time. I’m a fan of his blog (which has six years of archives for you to get lost in, and I recommend you do so), and he’s a fan of this one. Randy says he especially likes these One Day in Your Life posts, so that was excuse enough to write one.
To read more about the music of January 1977, click here.
Once more, my friends, once more . . . .
December 23, 1976, is a Thursday. It’s a cold day in the Midwest, with temperatures in the single digits above zero in many places and strong winds driving wind-chills near 40 below. The forecast for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day contains a slight chance for snow. Newspapers report 36 new cases of paralysis linked to the swine-flu vaccine. Yesterday, Monty Hall taped his last episode of Let’s Make a Deal. Today, president-elect Jimmy Carter completes his cabinet selections by naming Joseph Califano to be Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare. While appointing a special energy adviser, Carter says he may consider creating a cabinet-level Department of Energy. Also working on a transition is Dane County, Wisconsin, district attorney-elect Jim Doyle, who defeated the incumbent DA in the September primary and then won office in November.
Future major league pitcher Brad Lidge, future NHL star Scott Gomez, and future NFL kicker Kris Brown are born. Five games are scheduled in the National Hockey League; the Chicago Black Hawks have the night off after losing to Buffalo 4-to-2 last night. Before the game, the team fired Billy Reay, who had coached the Hawks since 1963. Hit movies in theaters include King Kong, Clint Eastwood’s The Enforcer, The Pink Panther Strikes Again, Silver Streak, and Andy Warhol’s Frankenstein. Car buyers in Madison, Wisconsin, can get an Oldsmobile Omega Brougham, loaded, for $5188, then drive it to Fuzzy Thurston’s Left Guard restaurant for the Thursday night filet special, which costs $3.95. On ABC tonight, the Sweathogs get the Christmas spirit on Welcome Back, Kotter, and it’s Christmas Eve in the 12th Precinct on Barney Miller. The CBS lineup includes The Waltons, Hawaii Five-O, and Barnaby Jones. On Tomorrow, Tom Snyder welcomes musician Van McCoy and DJ Norm N. Nite to discuss disco music.
The Beach Boys play Portland, Oregon, Blondie plays CBGB and Barry Manilow plays the Uris Theater, both in New York City, and AC/DC plays at a high school in Australia. At WLS in Chicago, “Tonight’s the Night” by Rod Stewart is #1 for a fifth straight week. “Nadia’s Theme” by Barry DeVorzon and Perry Botkin Jr. makes a strong move from #8 to #3, as does “Blinded by the Light” by Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, which goes from #20 to #13. The two biggest movers on the chart are both up 12: a live and edited version of “Free Bird” by Lynryd Skynryd (#30 to #18) and “Weekend in New England” by Barry Manilow (#42 to #30). The new #1 album in Chicago is the debut album by Boston, taking over the top spot from Frampton Comes Alive! A young radio geek in southern Wisconsin listens to all these songs and more, sometimes on WLS but more often on FM stations from Madison, Dubuque, Iowa, or Freeport, Illinois, and looks forward to what promises to be a most memorable Christmas.
Perspective From the Present: Newly minted District Attorney Jim Doyle would become Wisconsin’s attorney general and eventually serve two terms as governor (2003-2011). The Mrs. used to work in the same office with Billy Reay’s son. I would one day work for the Dubuque radio station I listened to. And I am still listening to a lot of the songs that were on the radio that December. In my head, and in my heart, I’m still there.
This blog is now going on hiatus for a while. We’ll be back when we’re back, and not a moment before.
I wish you a hopeful Christmas
I wish you a brave new year
All anguish, pain, and sadness
Leave your heart and let your road be clear
December 6, 1969, is a Saturday. In what is billed as college football’s “game of the century,” Texas comes from two touchdowns behind to defeat Arkansas 15-14. President Richard Nixon attends the game in Fayetteville, Arkansas, along with future president George H. W. Bush. There are two NFL games today: the New York Jets beat the Houston Oilers 34-26 and the San Francisco 49ers beat the Chicago Bears 42-21. The Bears’ record falls to 1-11-1 on the season. Sonny Liston is knocked out by Leotis Martin in Las Vegas; George Foreman fights on the undercard. The University of Dayton opens its new arena with a basketball game against Bowling Green. Future actress Torri Higginson and future stripper Alyssa Alps are born. The man who kidnapped Cindy Birdsong of the Supremes and two friends earlier this week turns himself in to police. NBC presents a Hallmark Hall of Fame special titled The Littlest Angel starring Johnnie Whittaker, Fred Gwynne, Cab Calloway, and Tony Randall. ABC’s lineup includes The Lawrence Welk Show. Among the shows on CBS tonight are Petticoat Junction, Mannix, and the special With Love From Hollywood starring Ann-Margret and her guest Lucille Ball.
Jethro Tull plays the Fillmore East in New York City, Led Zeppelin plays a show in France, and Pink Floyd plays one in Wales. Bill Cosby performs in Des Moines, Iowa, and the Monkees, now down to a trio of Davy Jones, Micky Dolenz, and Michael Nesmith, play their final show in that configuration, in Salt Lake City. Ten Years After plays Copenhagen and Janis Joplin plays Charlottesville, Virginia. The Rolling Stones, whose new album Let It Bleed was officially released yesterday, conclude their American tour at Altamont Speedway in California with Santana, Jefferson Airplane, the Flying Burrito Brothers, Crosby Stills Nash & Young, and the Grateful Dead. Delaney and Bonnie and Friends, with Eric Clapton and George Harrison on guitar, play the Empire Theater in Liverpool. It’s Harrison’s first performance in his hometown since 1965. Tomorrow’s show in London will be recorded and released next year as Delaney and Bonnie and Friends on Tour With Eric Clapton.
On the new Cash Box chart issued today, the Beatles hold the top spot for a third week with “Come Together.” “And When I Die” by Blood Sweat and Tears is at #2. Neil Diamond’s “Holly Holy” is the lone new song in the Top 10. The biggest mover in the Top 40 is “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head” by B. J. Thomas from #32 to #22, although two records make big leaps into the Top 40: “I Want You Back” by the Jackson Five is at #28 (from #50 the week before), and “Don’t Cry Daddy” by Elvis Presley is at #38 (from #55).
Perspective From the Present: The year 1969 was my first as a sports fan. I had endured the collapse of my beloved Chicago Cubs in September, and on this day I watched the Texas-Arkansas game. I would probably have looked in on the NFL games, too. I would have heard a few of the top songs of the week on the radio because my parents were inveterate listeners, but I wouldn’t have paid much attention to them, apart from “Try a Little Kindness” by Glen Campbell, which sticks in my memory but I don’t know why.
We have noted previously at this blog how many of the songs from the fall of 1969 carry darkness with them, starting with “Come Together.” There’s a profound sense of loss in Stevie Wonder’s “Yesterme, Yesteryou, Yesterday,” the various mysteries of “Cherry Hill Park” by Billy Joe Royal (just how much of a freak was Mary Hill, and why did she leave town so suddenly?), the sound of dancing skeletons in “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye,” and a looming disaster in “Eli’s Coming.” There are certainly other ways one might choose to hear that season, but all the evidence, from the top of the record charts to the stageside scene at Altamont, points into the dark.
The headline across page 1 of the Wisconsin State Journal dated Saturday, October 12, 1974, says, “Stock Market Closes Its Best Week Ever.” The Dow Jones Industrial Average gained nearly 74 points, the most ever to that point, and ended trading Friday at 658.17. Economic indicators were good; major banks had cut the prime interest rate to 11.5% and inflation was slowing. First Lady Betty Ford was out of the hospital after breast-cancer surgery. A jury was chosen to try Watergate figures including John Ehrlichman and H. R. Haldeman, and vice-presidential nominee Nelson Rockefeller was under fire for giving and receiving cash gifts totaling over $2 million since 1957. Game 1 of the World Series was scheduled for that afternoon, with the Oakland A’s facing the Los Angeles Dodgers. On TV, the great CBS Saturday night comedy lineup was in full flower, with All in the Family, a new show called Friends and Lovers, plus Mary Tyler Moore, Bob Newhart, and Carol Burnett. I would have stayed up late that night to watch Channel 15′s locally produced magazine show, Seen on 15. It was a place where cool people hung out, and I hoped it would make me cool by association.
“Nothing From Nothing” by Billy Preston was #1 on the Cash Box chart dated October 12, although “Earache My Eye” by Cheech and Chong was the record it seemed as though everybody wanted to hear over and over again. I was overdosing on “The Bitch Is Back,” the new single by Elton John, and I am pretty sure I had acquired his new album, Caribou, by this time. Further down the chart were songs I had not discovered yet. Some I wouldn’t hear until years later.
47. “Love Don’t Love Nobody (Part 1)”/Spinners (up from 57). Maybe it was because radio stations were already playing “Then Came You” and didn’t want to give another playlist spot to the Spinners, but the gorgeous “Love Don’t Love Nobody” never had the impact it deserved to.
Then all the things that we felt
Must eventually melt and fade,
Like the frost on my window pane
Where I wrote, “I am you,”
On Second Avenue
80. “Pretzel Logic”/Steely Dan (up from 89). Although a fair number of decent rock records were on the radio in this season—”Can’t Get Enough,” “Sweet Home Alabama,” “You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet,” “I Shot the Sheriff”—nothing so odd as this had much of a chance alongside the likes of Olivia Newton-John and Andy Kim.
100. “He Did Me Wrong”/Patti Dahlstrom (first week on). And also her last week on, which is better than she ever did on the Hot 100, where she never charted. For all things Patti Dahlstrom, I refer you to whiteray, the world’s preeminent expert in the field.
I first wrote the following paragraph in 2006, and I think I’ve repeated it at least once. But here it is again, because better than anything in the newspaper, any song, or any other cultural artifact, it describes what the fall of 1974 felt like. And if it’s not what it really felt like then, it’s how it feels in memory now, and that’s a distinction without a difference.
I was driving home in the dark after wrestling practice. I crested the hill east of the farm and started the slow climb up the next hill, where our farm was. For a moment, the farmstead in the distance resolved itself like a painting—a little oasis of warm light in an otherwise dark and vast night. I carried the picture in my head for years before I knew what it represented: It was a metaphor for the life we lived in that place, as a family while we were growing up. The world was a big place, not always easy to navigate, not always friendly—but we had our oasis of warmth and safety there, halfway up the hill. There were rocky times, as in every family—we let our parents down in various awful ways, and sometimes they were oblivious to the reality of our lives. But underlying all the temporary crises was the rock-solid assurance that in the long run, everything was going to be OK if we’d just hang on, both to that place and to the people who lived there. So we did, and it was.