Here’s something we haven’t done for a while: Look at the top five songs on various charts 25, 30, 35, 41, and 50 years ago today.
WKCI, New Haven, Connecticut, week of March 13, 1987:
1. “Lean on Me”/Club Nouveau
2. “You Got It All”/The Jets
3. “Respect Yourself”/Bruce Willis
4. “Livin’ on a Prayer”/Bon Jovi
5. “Somewhere Out There”/Linda Ronstadt & James Ingram
Comment: Somebody should have talked Bruce Willis out of recording a song that would force comparisons between Mavis Staples and himself. As it is, he’s blown off his own record by duet partner June Pointer. Willis would be the single greatest example of somebody who made a record because he could and not because it was a good idea, if Shaquille O’Neal hadn’t made multiple rap albums.
KRLA, Los Angeles, week of March 12, 1982:
1. “Centerfold”/J. Geils Band
2. “Call Me”/Skyy
3. “That Girl”/Stevie Wonder
4. “Pac Man Fever”/Buckner & Garcia
5. “We Got the Beat”/Go Gos
Comment: “That Girl” was the best of four previously unreleased tracks on Stevie Wonder’s Original Musiquarium, a double-disc compilation that collects the highlights of Wonder’s 70s output. Two of the others, “Front Line” and “Ribbon in the Sky,” are quite good; “Do I Do” could be too, if it didn’t stretch the boundaries of human endurance by running over 10 minutes.
WYSL, Buffalo, week of March 14, 1977:
1. “Evergreen”/Barbra Streisand
2. “Year of the Cat”/Al Stewart
3. “Carry on Wayward Son”/Kansas
4. “The Things We Do For Love”/10cc
5. “Hotel California”/Eagles
Comment: I am pretty much completely irrational about the music in this season, even the stuff farther down the chart, like “Torn Between Two Lovers” and “I Like Dreamin’.” But “Year of the Cat” is legitimately great, and “The Things We Do For Love” should be heard on the radio today a lot more than it is. Plus, choosing this chart gives me an excuse to post this video of “Carry On Wayward Son,” which is filled with 70s awesomeness.
WARM, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, week of March 14, 1971:
1. “Love Story”/Henry Mancini, Francis Lai, Andy Williams
2. “Have You Ever Seen the Rain”-“Hey Tonight”/Creedence Clearwater Revival
3. “Sweet Mary”/Wadsworth Mansion
4. “Doesn’t Somebody Want to Be Wanted”/Partridge Family
5. “I Hear You Knocking”/Dave Edmunds
Comment: Since I’ve written about 1972 a couple of times in recent weeks, we’ll cheat here. With three versions of “Love Story” in the Hot 100 and another bubbling under in the spring of 1971, WARM’s decision to list all three as co-Number Ones is the only choice that makes sense. And on any list of great one-hit wonders of the 70s, Wadsworth Mansion has to be right near the top.
KEWB, San Francisco, week of March 10, 1962:
1. “Mashed Potato Time”/Dee Dee Sharp
2. “Midnight in Moscow”/Kenny Ball
3. “Tell Me”/Dick and Deedee
4. “Nut Rocker”/B. Bumble and the Stingers
5. “Hey Baby”/Bruce Channel
Comment: Another all-time classic, “Hey Baby,” turns 50. Its famous harmonica line was played by the young Delbert McClinton, whose career soon outstripped that of Channel. McClinton was a favorite of John Lennon’s, and so the Beatles must have been pleased to find themselves on a bill with Channel later in the spring of 1962. Check the photo of the actual survey to see if you can spot the not-yet-famous jock who was on KEWB 50 years ago.