Top 5: Hopes Up Too High

Quick note before we begin: Yesterday we set an all-time traffic record at this site—nearly 3,300 hits, about four times more than our previous busiest day in history. It’s due to that Facebook meme about posting the #1 song on the day you were born, which has thousands of people around the world googling specific dates and hitting “One Day in Your Life” posts. Thank you, Internet. We now join our regular programming, already in progress.

As 1973 dawned, I was in the seventh grade. I remember only three things about that winter: I was equipment manager of the basketball team, I was silently in love with a little brunette in my math class who wouldn’t have acknowledged my existence if I’d set myself on fire, and I was mainlining Top-40 radio during every non-school hour. The first week of January wasn’t a bad time to be listening to WLS—or to WDRC in Hartford, Connecticut, for those in that part of the country. Some of the most famous records of the 1970s were running the chart—“Crocodile Rock,” “You’re So Vain,” “I Am Woman,” “Superstition”—along with a few other songs that would never leave my own personal hot rotation.

1. “Me and Mrs. Jones”/Billy Paul (holding at 1). “We gotta be extra careful/That we don’t build our hopes up too high.” I heard it, but I sat there in math class ignoring it. “Me and Mrs. Jones” is irresistible from the first microsecond. If you don’t dig it, I don’t want to know you.

2. “In Heaven There Is No Beer”/Clean Living (up from 10). Clean Living was from western Massachusetts, and “In Heaven There Is No Beer” was big in the Northeast but stalled short of the Billboard Top 40. I knew it as a song performed by Midwestern polka bands; I wouldn’t hear of the Clean Living version until I discovered it years later in a box of records at a radio station. For a brief time in the mid 80s, I closed my Friday radio shows with it.

6. “It Never Rains in Southern California”/Albert Hammond (down from 3). “It Never Rains in Southern California” is another example of the producer’s art executed at the highest level, with an introduction that stops a listener in his tracks (and entices a DJ to talk), and a gorgeous arrangement throughout. It’s got the feel of a happy singalong song, although it’s actually pretty desperate: “Don’t tell ’em how you found me/Give me a break, give me a break.”

26. “Do It Again”/Steely Dan (debut). I remember hearing “Do It Again” during its chart run, but Steely Dan didn’t make much of an impact on me until “Reelin’ in the Years.” It wouldn’t be until Aja that I declared them my favorite band of all time, which they still are.

Hit to be: “Last Song”/Edward Bear. As I sat in math class pining for the unattainable girl, it was easy for me to imagine myself in “Last Song,” leaving a light on in case she ever came home to me. Which the girl in the song isn’t going to do, any more than the brunette was going to.

A few years ago at a blog I no longer contribute to, I did NFL playoff predictions, and I have continued that tradition here, off-topic though it may be. If you care about those, they’re on the flip.

Cincinnati at Houston. Neither of these teams is going to the Super Bowl. The Bengals have a history of being unable to get out of their own way, and the Texans have been terrible lately. This game could be entertaining, like the Keystone Cops and the Marx Brothers are entertaining. Texans 23, Bengals 17.

Detroit at New Orleans. As a Packer fan, I’d take a rematch with the Lions next week in Green Bay in a second—because it would mean the Saints were knocked out, and they’re the only team in the entire NFC or AFC playoff field I’m afraid of. Not gonna get my wish. Saints 35, Lions 21.

Atlanta at New York Giants. There’s always one game in the first round that I have no idea how to pick, usually because it’s the least interesting one to me. This is that game. I’ll take the home team and prepare to be wrong. Giants 26, Falcons 23.

Pittsburgh at Denver. Is it acceptable for an atheist to pray that Tim Tebow, the most grotesquely overhyped athlete in my lifetime of following sports, doesn’t find a way to win this game? Let’s find out. Steelers 28, Broncos 10.

Enjoy the games, everybody.

2 responses

  1. So that’s what people are doing on FB these days, eh?
    Relatively few people seem to know that Wikipedia has week-by-week lists of Number One singles and albums. If they did, you wouldn’t get as many hits, though.
    (No one ever seems to care about albums in this sort of meme — only singles. Maybe the meme will circle around to the album one of these days.)

    I like to imagine a group of FB friends (I think they’d be members of the High School Class of ’95) eagerly looking up their birthday Number Ones and all trudging back to report, “Debby Boone.” “Debby Boone.” “Debby Boone.”

  2. The electric sitar on Do It Again is on my short list of great solos in pop songs. Oh, and the fleugel horn (?) on Tower of Power’s So Very Hard to Go. Oh, and the……

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