Do What You Wanna Do

Here we are, about to trip off to the fall of 1970. Regular readers of this pondwater could reasonably guess we’d end up back there before October was out. This week I have been listening to the American Top 40 show from October 10, 1970, and—quelle surprise—there’s plenty in it to blog about.

—There’s the weird choice of extras in the first hour alone: Kyu Sakamoto’s 1963 hit “Sukiyaki” and the Tornadoes’ “Telstar” from 1962.  The show also included Paul Mauriat’s “Love Is Blue” and “The Three Bells” by the Browns as extras, although they were edited from the repeat and offered as optional segments for today’s affiliate stations to use as filler. In the second hour, Casey dusted off another instrumental, “More” by Kai Winding. The third-hour extra is what Casey terms the most-played track from the #1 album: CCR’s “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” from Cosmo’s Factory.

—There’s the fine soul music mixed with the MOR extras: Candi Staton’s superlative “Stand By Your Man,” Freda Payne’s “Deeper and Deeper,” and the forgotten “Do What You Wanna Do” by Five Flights Up, as well as songs by Aretha Franklin and Clarence Carter, plus Motown hits by the Four Tops and Edwin Starr, and the great “Express Yourself” by Charles Wright and the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band.

—There’s four very weird minutes with Hotlegs’ “Neanderthal Man,” on which the vocal track is buried so deep in the mix the song is essentially a percussion riff, albeit one that rose to #22.

—There’s the spectacular train wreck created by “Rubber Duckie,” from the Sesame Street soundtrack album, followed by 100 Proof Aged in Soul on “Somebody’s Been Sleeping.” But there were also some marvelous pairings: the Poppy Family’s “That’s Where I Went Wrong” followed by Simon and Garfunkel’s “El Condor Pasa”; Grand Funk’s “Closer to Home” back-to-back with “25 or 6 to 4”; and R. Dean Taylor’s “Indiana Wants Me” followed by Michael Nesmith’s “Joanne,” a transition so sweet that it elicited an “ohhhhh” from me when I heard it in the car—one that would have been denied listeners in 1970 because there was originally a commercial break between.

—Casey is pretty clearly winging it from notes on this show. He doesn’t say that “Look What They’ve Done to My Song” is by the New Seekers in either his intro or outro, although he does run down the mixed nationalities of the members at one point. Back-announcing “Out in the Country,” he name-checks both songwriters but fails to mention Three Dog Night.

—There’s a rockin’ good top 10 with Rare Earth (“I Know I’m Losing You”), Sugarloaf (“Green Eyed Lady,” and Casey says, “they call it jazz-rock”), CCR (“Lookin’ Out My Back Door”), and Free (“All Right Now”). But also “We’ve Only Just Begun” and “Julie Do Ya Love Me.”

—The top three is where the proceedings go from music to mythology: “Candida” by Dawn (#3), “I’ll Be There” by the Jackson Five (#2), and “Cracklin’ Rosie” by Neil Diamond (#1). In order, that’s the first record I ever loved, a cosmic valentine from someplace very close to Paradise, and one of the first 45s I ever owned.

Music from the fall of 1970 has always been very present in my life, always close to my heart, like a favorite Bible verse a person might use as a guiding star. It represents the season in which I started becoming what I am today: Top 40 fan, radio man, October obsessive, and ultimately philosopher geek, although the last two wouldn’t flower fully until later.

On our current trip around the sun, however, 45 years on, I find myself perceiving the distance. I don’t know why.

Perhaps it’s because 1970 really is a long-ass time ago.

3 responses

  1. After hearing “It’s Only Make Believe” by Glenn Campbell on this show, I viewed two documentaries: “The Wrecking Crew”, which gives considerable insight as to who played the music on a lot of hits of the 60’s and 70’s; and “Glenn Campbell: I’ll Be Me”, a sobering (and sad) look at Glenn’s struggle with Alzheimer’s Disease. Both are highly recommended. (And, boy, he could play guitar!)

  2. “Long Long Time” by Linda Ronstadt is one of the most amazing records ever made.

  3. Loved “The Wrecking Crew” and am glad that the story behind some of the greatest music I know was captured for posterity, with the story told by those who made the music. “I’ll be Me” is on my watchlist. I love listening to the AT 40 rebroadcasts, but am disappointed when the station plays the late 70s broadcasts instead of the ones from the early-mid 70s. I love the wide variety of tunes that one could hear on the radio at that time.

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