Windmills

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(Pictured: Faye Dunaway and Steve McQueen in The Thomas Crown Affair, 1968.)

(Note to patrons: there’s a new, never-before-seen post at One Day in Your Life today for your holiday weekend delectation.)

Let’s do a thing we haven’t done for a while: look at the #40 hit from various weeks, covering Memorial Days and other early days of summer, to see what we can see, and hear what we can hear.

5/25/91: “You’re in Love”/Wilson Phillips (chart peak: #1, 4/20/91). Wilson Phillips had 3 #1 songs (this one, “Hold On,” and “Release Me”) plus a #4 (“Impulsive”) between April 1990 and April 1991. Yet I never got the feeling that they were all that serious about being rock stars, despite the fact that with a little effort they probably could kept it up for years.

5/22/82: “I Don’t Know Where to Start”/Eddie Rabbitt (chart peak: #35, 6/12/82; #2 country). Eddie Rabbitt kept it country despite having been born in Brooklyn and raised in East Orange, New Jersey. Before he was famous, he wrote “Kentucky Rain,” recorded by Elvis. He was a dominant star for a long time, with 34 straight singles in the country Top 10 between 1976 and 1990 and six Top 20 pop hits between 1979 and 1982, including the #1 pop hit “I Love a Rainy Night.” (Which is one of the worst #1 songs of all time, but still.)

5/24/78: “Stay”/Rufus featuring Chaka Khan (chart peak: #38, 6/10/78). On the Tuesday after Memorial Day in 1978, I graduated from high school, but I don’t think I want to talk about that this year.

5/29/77: “My Heart Belongs to Me”/Barbra Streisand (chart peak: #4, 7/30/77). This is, against all odds, a song that takes me vividly back to the summer of 1977, but I don’t think I want to talk about that, either.

5/29/76: “Still Crazy After All These Years”/Paul Simon (chart peak on this date). “Now I sit by my window and I watch the cars / I fear I’ll do some damage one fine day.” Nope, not talking.

5/24/75: “Misty”/Ray Stevens (chart peak: #14, 7/12/75; #3 country). Speaking of oddities: sped up and given a country twang, this version of one of the great torch songs of the piano-bar era is the second-highest-charting version of “Misty,” behind only the one by Johnny Mathis. It’s better than it has any right to be, although your mileage may vary.

5/27/72: “Rocket Man”/Elton John (chart peak: #6, 7/15/72). My adoration of Elton’s 1975 Captain Fantastic album is well known. What I’ve said less about is how much I love Honky Chateau. And “Rocket Man,” the first thing of Elton’s I ever bought, might be my single favorite Elton song.

5/29/71: “Lowdown”/Chicago (chart peak: #35, 6/12/71). This record did not chart at either WLS or WCFL in the band’s namesake town, although it was a Top-10 hit in Houston, San Diego, Minneapolis, Albany, Providence, and St. Charles, Missouri.

5/23/70: “Sugar Sugar”-“Cole, Cooke, and Redding”/Wilson Pickett (chart peak: #25, 7/4/70). Get yourself some real damn double-A-side soul music right here. “Sugar Sugar” is the song made famous by the Archies; “Cole, Cooke, and Redding” pays tribute to the soul music masters by using “Abraham, Martin, and John” as a template.

5/24/69: “The Windmills of Your Mind”/Dusty Springfield (chart peak: #31, 6/14/69). For a time around the turn of the 70s, the lines “Like a circle in a spiral / Like a wheel within a wheel” were widely familiar, and “The Windmills of Your Mind” threatened to become a standard. It won the Oscar for Best Original Song (from The Thomas Crown Affair) when the awards were announced in April of ’69; Atlantic Records rush-released Dusty’s version as the third single from Dusty in Memphis.

5/27/67: “Little Bit O’ Soul”/Music Explosion (chart peak: #2, 7/8/67). Hitting #40 from #73 the week before, “Little Bit O’ Soul” was just one of several memorable hits from the summer of ’67 that were blasting up the chart during Memorial Day week. “Sunday Will Never Be the Same” by Spanky and Our Gang was at #49 from #98, and “Windy” by the Association was at #52 in its first week on. Also on their way up from outside the 40: Marvin and Tammi’s “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” by Frankie Valli, and “San Francisco” by Scott McKenzie, the quintessential Summer of Love anthem, new at #98, although it would zoom to #55 the next week.

As the summer of 2017 begins, I hope that your Memorial Day weekend is relaxed and relaxing, with all the trouble in the world held at bay at least until Tuesday.

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3 responses

  1. I love it when you do these. Just a lot of fun to read…and listen to. I seldom comment…but dang it…I always stop and read your lists. Good stuff.

  2. Random thoughts from this piece (which is excellent as usual):

    “Kentucky Rain”: Really the only Elvis single left that I give a damn (i.e., would turn up if anybody was still playing it on the radio) about.

    “Still Crazy After All These Years”: How did THIS stiff at #40? “Gone At Last” made #23 (not much of an improvement if you know how little difference there is between a #23 record and a #40 record in terms of people laying down their own hard-earned money and taking a copy home).

    Follow-up to a #1 (“50 Ways To Leave Your Lover”) should have guaranteed a trip to at least #15….although that didn’t work with “Me and Julio Down By The Schoolyard”, which stiffed at #22 after “Mother and Child Reunion” hit #4, or “American Tune”, which hit the wall at #35 following two #2s from the same album, “Kodachrome” and “Loves Me Like A Rock”.

    I’d say it was evidence that people don’t like Paul when he’s being morose, but the next one was “Slip Slidin’ Away” and that made #5.

    “Misty”: Ray Stevens lost me years before by essentially laughing at his own so-so jokes in his records. But “Misty”, the one truly inventive and slightly outrageous thing he actually did, he plays straight. To the point where, when he hits the first joke “Walk my way, and a thousand violins begin to play” and country fiddles kick in, it’s actually beautiful.

    “Rocket Man”: Ditto. And I’ll listen to “Salvation” anytime someone wants to play it.

    “Lowdown”: From an album so strident and so mired in its “Dedicated to the revolution…” drivel that it was virtually unlistenable. Drove Columbia back to the first album (Chicago Transit Authority) from two years earlier in search of hits (“Beginnings”, which peaked at #7…and “Questions 67 and 68”, which, at #24, to me, is a stiff, but a higher number than “Lowdown”).

    “Sugar Sugar”: Proof that this was never a bubblegum song, though the Archies’ version of it was a bubblegum record. It’s all in the delivery.

    “Windmills of Your Mind”: The least Memphis thing on the album. And a stone-cold great track, which did much better out West (#7 at KHJ, the same as “Son of a Preacher Man”).

  3. Late getting here, sad to say. The digital shelves over here have 22 versions of “The Windmills of Your Mind,” with some of them in French. The original version from “The Thomas Crown Affair” was by Noel Harrison and wasn’t very good. Sting’s cover from the 1999 remake of the movie was actually pretty good. Dusty’s version is probably my favorite, but — you know me — it’s challenged by Ferrante and Teicher’s.

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