Chart 5: What Is America?

Although ARSA lists them as a Top 40 station, WTIG in Massillon, Ohio, was solidly on the soft-rock side. There’s no way to deny it when the rockin’est thing on your survey (dated June 27, 1976) is “Silly Love Songs,” and your list includes Bobby Goldsboro’s dreck-fest “A Butterfly for Bucky” alongside records by Tony Orlando and Dawn and Anne Murray that nobody remembers now. WTIG does have some of the songs that gave my favorite summer its flavor—“Shop Around,” “Get Closer,” “Afternoon Delight,” and “Shannon” among them— but the lower reaches of its chart is populated by oddballs. And as the Bicentennial approached, WTIG was pretty much all in.

20. “Every Time I Sing a Love Song”/John Davidson (up from 22). The ubiquitous TV personality scored seven hits on the adult contemporary chart between 1966 and 1977 without once making the Hot 100. “Every Time I Sing a Love Song” was his most successful single.

24. “Eleanor Rigby”/Wing and a Prayer Fife and Drum Corps (up from 25). This is a not-entirely-horrible version of the Beatles’ original by the outfit that scored with an entirely insufferable disco version of “Baby Face” earlier in 1976.

28. “States Medley”/DCA Experience (first week on). So here’s some of that Bicentennial flavor. The DCA Experience was a studio group that released an album called Bicentennial Gold: 200 Years of Hits on the Private Stock label. It features many, many familiar American songs, including “You’re a Grand Old Flag,” “Dixie,” “Anchors Aweigh,” and “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” sequenced for disco dancing if I had to bet on it. “States Medley” consists of the only three songs on the album not in the public domain: “Oklahoma” (from the musical), “California Here I Come,” and “Deep in the Heart of Texas.” It does not seem to be available in listenable form on the Internet, which makes me sad.

29. “What Is America?”/Shad O’Shea (first week on). O’Shea was a prominent Cincinnati DJ who purchased the famous King record label in the mid 1970s and kept it alive recording novelties like this. Exactly what this is, I can’t say. Although there’s a surprising number of O’Shea records at YouTube, “What Is America?” isn’t among them. But I’m sure we can guess fairly accurately what it’s like.

Pick of the Week: “Where Evil Grows”/Poppy Family. What this is doing here, I have no idea. “Where Evil Grows” had been a modest Top-40 hit late in 1970, and it shouldn’t have taken five years to make it to Massillon. But I dunno.

WTIG is the only station at ARSA that charted the DCA Experience and Shad O’Shea records, and I’m curious as to how long they stayed on the air after July 4, 1976. My guess is that they were gone almost immediately, because America wanted the Bicentennial gone, too, as quickly as possible. Although there’s a perfectly good argument that the day should have marked the beginning of the celebration, the Fourth was actually the end of it. Bicentennial merchandise would be on clearance within weeks, and although CBS continued its famous series of prime-time Bicentennial Minutes (which had begun in 1974) through the end of December, by that time, the whole thing was a distant memory.

5 responses

  1. Oh great, now you’ve given me a DCA Experience quest…

  2. to celebrate the Bicentennial towns around here painted fire hydrants to resemble patriot characters or other cartoon-like characters. The paint is all faded now.

    According to Randy Shilts’ book on the AIDS epidemic, “And the Band Played On,” the Bicentennial celebration played a large part in the spread of the disease. So it seems, unfortunately, the day lived on longer than thought.

  3. I was sixteen in 1976; why did that have to be one of the LAMEST years of music EVER? I started discovering Jimi Hendrix, CSN, Neil Young, Bob Dylan to combat the drivel.

  4. I think you will quickly get an argument here that 1976 is most definitely NOT one of the lamest years for music. And I’m two years your senior.

  5. Yeah, my old radio colleague Hunter (we’ve recently reconnected via the FB) has yet to fully grok the depths of my 1976-mania. He was my boss for a while during my first classic-rock radio days, and it was while working for him that I first decided it was better to ask forgiveness than permission. Not because he wouldn’t give me permission, but because it saved time. :-)>

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