On Friday we started listening to the American Top 40 show from February 26, 1972, and we left off in the middle. Here’s the rest.
19. “Anticipation”/Carly Simon. I like this much better now than I did in 1972, when I had no way to understand what Carly was singing about.
17. “Day After Day”/Badfinger and 16. “My World”/Bee Gees. Dang, there were a lot of pretty records on the radio back then.
Before playing “Day After Day” Casey answers a trivia question: which song debuted the highest on the Hot 100 but never got any higher than its debut position? Turns out it was a 1957 record by the Mello-Tones called “Rosie Lee,” which came on at #24 and immediately started down. (Surely the mark has been broken since, but I don’t know.) Before playing “My World,” Casey remarks that AT40 is heard in “15 foreign cities” and on over 350 Armed Forces Radio Network outlets. Not bad for a show about 18 months old.
The extra that closes out the second hour is “You’ve Got a Friend” by James Taylor, and it includes a story about Taylor’s prize pig Mona, which won ribbons at a show on Martha’s Vineyard. This seemed so absurd that I had to look into it, but sure enough, it really happened—and in 2013, a tragic dimension of the story was revealed.
14. “Bang a Gong”/T. Rex and 13. “Heart of Gold”/Neil Young. Casey reports on a T. Rex concert that sent 33 crazed fans to the hospital and suggests that T. Rex mania is reaching Beatles/Stones proportions in England. Meanwhile back at home, I was buying another T. Rex single, having snagged “Hot Love” the previous summer. I bought “Heart of Gold,” too, and lots of other singles that winter. I count six of the top 20 that I owned on 45s.
10. “Sweet Seasons”/Carole King. I can’t remember a time, in 1972 or anytime since, when I didn’t love hearing this song.
7. “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”/Robert John. My brother and I used to go around our house approximating Robert John’s yodel. Our mother must have been so pleased.
5. “Down by the Lazy River”/Osmonds. The week I am turning 12, I already know that I want to be on the radio—and that a hot-sounding record with a cold opening sounds insanely great off a jingle.
3. “Precious and Few”/Climax. The week I am turning 12, I already am writer enough to admire “Quiet and blue like the sky / I’m hung over you.”
Before “Precious and Few,” Casey answers a listener question about the most non-American acts ever to appear in the Top 10 in the same week. It’s the week of May 8, 1965. With the British Invasion in full rage, nine of the top 10 are by foreign acts: Herman’s Hermits (who have two), the Beatles, Wayne Fontana and the Mindbenders, the Seekers, Petula Clark, Freddie and the Dreamers, the Rolling Stones, and Sounds Orchestral. What Casey doesn’t mention is the outsider at the party, the lone American group, an example of the sort of trivia that will interest me many years hence: Gary Lewis and the Playboys.
1. “Without You”/Nilsson. Gary Wright’s opening piano is timid and stately at the same time, like someone shyly stepping into a cathedral. But that’s the last timid thing about the record.
The end of February 1972 was the second semester of sixth grade. I might have had a birthday party at some point that month, or maybe I got to have a friend or two come out to the farm and stay overnight. The details are lost. Only the music endures.
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