(Pictured: The Osmonds, whose 1972 single “Hold Her Tight” is a rager based on a Led Zeppelin riff, and an unlikely acquaintance.)
Here’s a whole bunch of music trivia, culled from the Billboard Hot 100 dated July 8, 1972:
In this week, there are seven songs new to the Top 40, which is kind of a lot: “Hold Your Head Up” by Argent, “Hold Her Tight” by the Osmonds (zooming to #39 from #76 the week before), “Mary Had a Little Lamb” by Wings, “Sealed With a Kiss” by Bobby Vinton, Donna Fargo’s “Happiest Girl in the Whole U.S.A.,” Nilsson’s “Coconut,” and “Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress” by the Hollies, which debuts up at #30.
In an idle moment the other day, I decided to see which songs had fallen out of the 40, and I found something quite interesting. Of the seven drop-outs, six of them fell out entirely out of the Hot 100.
“Morning Has Broken”/Cat Stevens (from #24)
“Walking in the Rain With the One I Love”/Love Unlimited (from #31)
“Tumbling Dice”/Rolling Stones (from #33)
“It’s Going to Take Some Time”/Carpenters (from #35)
“First Time Ever I Saw Your Face”/Roberta Flack (from #36)
“Immigration Man”/Graham Nash and David Crosby (from #40)
Only Todd Rundgren’s “I Saw the Light” exited the 40 and remained on the Hot 100, down to #54 from #37.
Somebody with a more searchable and sortable database (as opposed to my half-assed eyeball technique) could probably determine how unusual this is. Not so much that a song should fall from the 40 into oblivion, but that so many should do it in the same week.
Several other hits that will indelibly stamp the late summer and early fall of 1972 sit just outside the Top 40 during the week of July 8, 1972. The most famous are Jim Croce’s debut single, “You Don’t Mess Around With Jim,” at #50 in its second week on, and at #57 in its first week on, “I’m Still in Love With You” by Al Green. Others less well-remembered but just as vivid (at least to me) include Joey Heatherton’s “Gone,” “Motorcycle Mama” by Sailcat, and the Detroit Emeralds’ “Baby Let Me Take You.”
“In a Broken Dream” by Python Lee Jackson is at #60 in its seventh week on. In 1968, the Australian band had recorded a version they didn’t particularly like, believing it needed a stronger lead vocal. So they hired a session singer from England named Rod Stewart to give it a try. Although it stiffed on its original release in 1970—before Stewart got famous—it did better in 1972, reaching #56 in the States.
A couple of future monsters lurk further below: “Baby Don’t Get Hooked on Me” by Mac Davis, which will spend the entire month of September at #1, is at #73 in its second week on; “I Am Woman,” Helen Reddy’s feminist anthem, is at #97 in its third week on. “I Am Woman” is a slow starter: it will fall out of the Hot 100 the next week, but will re-enter in September, break the Top 40 in October, and hit #1 on December 9, 1972.
Two very different examples of glorious 70s radio music sit side-by-side: the singalong soul of “Starting All Over Again” by Mel and Tim is at #83 in its first week on; “Go All the Way” by the Raspberries, burning with teenage lust, is at #84 in its second week on. Also found down toward the bottom: Bob Seger’s version of “If I Were a Carpenter” at #87 and David Bowie’s “Starman” at #96, both in their second week on. “If I Were a Carpenter,” yet another example of the accomplished artistry everybody but Seger himself hears in his early work, would reach #76; “Starman” would get to #65.
Sitting at #99 in its first week on is “When You Say Love” by Sonny and Cher. Based on the Budweiser jingle, “when you say Budweiser, you’ve said it all, “When You Say Love” was a smash country hit for Bob Luman before Sonny and Cher covered it. Their version eventually crept into the Hot 100 at #32. “The Bud Song,” as it is known here in Wisconsin, is a staple of University of Wisconsin sporting events: “when you say Wisconsin, you’ve said it all.”
(Pictured: Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings, 1978.)
Forty years ago this week, Waylon Jennings was enjoying the biggest hit of his legendary career in country music. “Luckenbach, Texas (Back to the Basics of Love)” wrapped up a six-week run at #1 on the Billboard country chart, finally knocked off on July 2, 1977. It was his fifth #1 country single in the last three years; over the next three, he’d score six more, and add three on top of those by 1985.
As a member of Buddy Holly’s band in 1959, Waylon famously gave up his seat on the fateful airplane to the Big Bopper, thereby surviving the crash. He scored his first country hit in 1965 and took Gordon Lightfoot’s song “For Lovin’ Me” into the country Top 10 in 1966. His first #1, “This Time,” came in 1974. In 1976, he appeared on Wanted: the Outlaws with Willie Nelson, Jessi Colter, and Tompall Glaser, an album that helped make “outlaw country” fashionable. Wanted: the Outlaws made the Top 10 on the Billboard 200 and included “Good Hearted Woman,” which went #1 country, made the Hot 100, and peaked at #25.
Before “Good Hearted Woman,” you’d have to go back several years, to Donna Fargo’s “Funny Face” and “Happiest Girl in the Whole USA” or maybe Charley Pride’s “Kiss an Angel Good Morning,” to find a Top 40 hit so unapologetically country. “Luckenbach, Texas” is even more country than “Good Hearted Woman,” but it also reached #25 on the Hot 100, spending 16 weeks on the chart and seven in the Top 40, peaking during the week of July 16, 1977.
Some big-time Top 40 stations were playing “Luckenbach” during the summer of 1977. Its highest position was #6 at WHBQ in Memphis in early June, charted between Bill Conti’s Rocky theme and “Undercover Angel.” It made #10 at KLIF in Dallas, comfortably tucked between “Life in the Fast Lane” and Marshall Tucker’s “Heard It in a Love Song” during the week of June 17. (KLIF ranked the album from which it came, Ol’ Waylon, at #6 for the week on a chart topped by Rumours and Hotel California, ahead of Steve Miller’s Book of Dreams, Live From the Hollywood Bowl by the Beatles, and Foreigner.) It was also a Top-10 hit at WNIN in Wichita Falls, Texas. “Luckenbach, Texas” rose as high as #31 at WLS in Chicago in a five-week run during July and early August; although WLS would in later years chart songs without playing them, I don’t know if the station was doing that as early as 1977. It also charted at WPGC in Washington, D.C., KTKT in Tucson, and WAKY in Louisville.
In the next couple of years, “Luckenbach” would be followed up the charts by singles that still define Waylon’s career nearly 40 years later, and 15 years after his death: “Mamas Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys” (co-credited to Willie), “There Ain’t No Good Chain Gang,” “I’ve Always Been Crazy, “Amanda,” and Waylon’s recording of the theme from the TV show The Dukes of Hazzard, which went to #21 on the pop chart in 1980, among them.
(It has always surprised me a little that the followup to “Luckenbach, Texas,” which went #1 country in November 1977, didn’t cross over. According to ARSA, no pop station charted “The Wurlitzer Prize (I Don’t Want to Get Over You),” a melancholy number that would have fit reasonably well in a year when Kenny Rogers’ twangy “Lucille” was a big hit and Ronnie Milsap’s “It Was Almost Like a Song” did big business, and in the same season with Crystal Gayle’s “Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue.” The song, written by Chips Moman and Bobby Emmons, is built around a brilliant jukebox metaphor any writer would love to have written: “They ought to give me the Wurlitzer Prize / For all the silver I let slide down the slot / Playin’ those songs sung blue.”)
As one of the pivotal figures of the outlaw country movement of the mid-1970s, Waylon’s legacy is audible in the work of Jason Isbell, Sturgill Simpson, Chris Stapleton, and other alt-country figures today. Just as those guys have trouble getting on mainstream country radio (except for Stapleton), Jennings himself isn’t heard on the air anymore either. But some of us still think he’s the real thing.
(Pictured: Peter Frampton, 1976.)
(Before we begin: thanks to all who posed radio questions and/or answered them this week. We can keep that up as long as you like.)
This week, I went into the archives at American Radio History and found the edition of Billboard dated June 19, 1976, to see if reading about that summer is as much fun as listening to it.
Front cover: an advertisement in the lower right-hand corner touts the new album by “five teenage girls called the Runaways. The Runaways devastate their audiences with searing high-powered rock outbursts. . . .”
Page 3: Angel Records plans a promotional push for a three-year-old album by the Concert Arts Symphonic Band, conducted by Felix Slatkin, because it contains “Bugler’s Dream,” which will be ABC-TV’s main theme for the Summer Olympics in July. Angel hopes to turn it into a hit single.
Page 6: In advance of the upcoming Summer Consumer Electronics Show, a report on the slow growth of quadrophonic broadcasting blames broadcaster confusion over competing quad systems and the fact that few consumers own any quad equipment. The most sought-after technologies at CES, however, are expected to be car stereo and CB radio. Former FCC commissioner Nicholas Johnson believes interest in both has spiked because listeners are tired of the commercial interruptions on broadcast radio.
Page 16: Steve Cropper, Duck Dunn, and Booker T. Jones will reunite for the first time in seven years to back Richie Havens. They’re making an album of Stax covers.
Page 17: Songs most added to radio playlists this week are “You’re My Best Friend” by Queen, “If You Know What I Mean” by Neil Diamond, and “I’ll Be Good to You” by the Brothers Johnson. The Album Radio Action Report of top requests and airplay lists Fly Like an Eagle by the Steve Miller Band, Agents of Fortune by Blue Oyster Cult, The Royal Scam by Steely Dan, and Cardiff Rose by Roger McGuinn.
Page 28: The Don Martin School of Communications in Los Angeles reports that women make up 11 percent of the student body, the most in the school’s 39-year history. “A number of the women are already employed at radio stations,” says the school’s president, “but are studying to improve their positions.”
Page 43: Electric Factory Concerts is promoting four shows at John F. Kennedy Stadium in Philadelphia this summer. The first, starring Peter Frampton, Yes, Gary Wright, and the Pousette-Dart Band was on June 12. Although no contract has been signed, the Rolling Stones are set to appear on July 11; on August 15th, Aerosmith, Foghat, and Manfred Mann’s Earth Band will perform (plus two other acts to be announced) and on August 28th, it’s a possible Jefferson Starship reunion with Hot Tuna, plus Jeff Beck and “Robert Trower.” Meanwhile, another promoter’s five-concert July 4 weekend series at JFK Stadium is in jeopardy; it seems possible that some of the scheduled shows may come off, but some of the rumored headliners, including Chicago and the Beach Boys, will almost certainly not appear.
Page 53: New York City’s 35-year ban on pinball machines ended on June 1 after the mayor signed a bill legalizing games with the add-a-ball feature.
Page 70: Billboard reviews 50 albums this week. Spotlight picks are Wired by Jeff Beck and Rock and Roll Music by the Beatles. Also reviewed are 135 singles. Pop picks include Fleetwood Mac’s “Say You Love Me,” “Baby I Love Your Way” by Peter Frampton, “Another Rainy Day in New York City” by Chicago, Neil Sedaka’s “Steppin’ Out,” “Honey Child” by Bad Company, and “Lowdown” by Boz Scaggs.
Page 74: Headline: “Is there a market for a group-funded rock LP?” In 1974, members of several Miami groups formed an all-star band and cut an album. Now, a couple of record executives and a group of 20 financial backers are trying to raise the rest of the money to get it released.
Page 76: On the Hot 100, the top four songs hold their positions from the previous week: “Silly Love Songs” by Wings, “Get Up and Boogie” by Silver Convention, “Misty Blue” by Dorothy Moore, and “Love Hangover” by Diana Ross. On the album chart, Wings at the Speed of Sound knocks the Rolling Stones’ Black and Blue from the #1 spot to #3. Frampton Comes Alive is at #2. The highest debuting new album on the Billboard 200 is the David Bowie compilation Changesonebowie at #45.
The Stones did not appear in Philadelphia that summer. Two cuts with Cropper, Dunn, and Jones turned up on Havens’ 1976 album The End of the Beginning, but neither was a Stax cover. “Bugler’s Dream” did not become a radio hit, but it’s still television’s Olympic theme today. And although the Runaways sound OK to me now, I would have hated them in 1976.
How did AM Top 40 stations of 1967 deal with Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band? No single was released from the album in the States; “Penny Lane” backed with “Strawberry Fields Forever” had been released in February, and “All You Need Is Love” would come out in mid-July. But pop-music stations in the summer of 1967 could not ignore this titanic release, even without a single to push.
The first song on the album to show up at ARSA is “A Day in the Life.” The earliest entry is from KRLA in Los Angeles, which shows it as “A Day & A Life” on their survey dated April 19, six weeks before the album’s release. Speculation at the Steve Hoffman forums is that somebody at the station got an acetate from Paul McCartney or Beatles publicist Derek Taylor. But the song also shows up on a survey from WFIL in Philadelphia dated April 24, and at KYNO in Fresno and KELO in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, on the 29th, as well as WBAM in Montgomery, Alabama, on May 10, so the acetate theory may have a hole it it. (Plenty of time in there to mail tapes of an acetate, I suppose.) In June, “A Day in the Life” shows up in Seattle, Minneapolis, Jacksonville, San Bernardino, Calgary, Worcester and others. British pirate Radio London had it at #1 for the week of June 11. (ARSA shows 25 total entries for “A Day in the Life,” the most for any Sgt. Pepper song, nosing out “When I’m Sixty Four” with 23.)
At KJR in Seattle, “A Day in the Life” was merely the first Sgt. Pepper song to chart. It debuted on June 2; “She’s Leaving Home” and “When I’m Sixty-Four” joined it on June 9. On June 16, “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” debuted. (Which one, the opener or the reprise, is not clear.) The four songs ran the chart together until the week of July 7, when both “A Day in the Life” and “She’s Leaving Home” departed and “Lovely Rita” debuted. During the week of July 14, “Lovely Rita” was the lone Sgt. Pepper song left on the KJR Fabulous Fifty, and the new non-album single “All You Need Is Love” debuted. The two songs ran the chart together until “Lovely Rita” dropped off after August 11.
At WORC in Worcester, Massachusetts, the survey dated June 10, 1967, shows eight of the album’s 13 cuts: the “Sgt. Pepper” reprise, “She’s Leaving Home,” “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds,” and “When I’m Sixty-Four” all in the Top 10, with “A Day in the Life,” “Lovely Rita, “With a Little Help From My Friends,” and “Good Morning Good Morning” further down. (WORC billed its surveys as “Worcester’s Official Request Survey,” which helps explain the heavy Beatle-ization during that June week.) A complete run of WORC surveys is not available at ARSA; the next one available, dated July 29, shows the “Sgt. Pepper” reprise and “A Day in the Life” still on, along with “All You Need Is Love” and its B-side, “Baby, You’re a Rich Man.”
What about the country’s two largest markets? During the week of June 17, WABC in New York showed “Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds” and “Getting Better” as hitbound. But because WABC didn’t publish their entire rankings every week (as you’ll see if you look here), it’s not possible to know if the station stayed on either song longer than the single week they appear at ARSA. Neither WLS nor WCFL in Chicago charted any Sgt. Pepper songs, although surely they must have played some.
Also in New York, WOR-FM listed the entire album on its singles chart starting June 17 and stayed on it at least until July 8, the last date for which a survey is available. There are 88 listings at ARSA with the whole album as one entry on various stations’ singles charts. WBZ in Boston put it at #1 on its survey dated June 3 and kept it there until the week of July 8. (WBZ had previously charted Beatles VI, Rubber Soul, Yesterday and Today, and Revolver on its singles chart, and would do the same with Magical Mystery Tour.) WRKO in Boston showed the Sgt. Pepper album at #5 for the week of June 15 before moving it to #1 the next week. Several other stations in New England followed suit within a few weeks. Stations as far-flung as Los Angeles, Orlando, and Atlanta also charted the entire album as one entry, although without placing it at #1.
In the download era, non-single songs from an album frequently chart. In the vinyl era, when 45s ruled, and before there was such a thing as album-rock radio, these statistics about Sgt. Pepper further illustrate what a groundbreaking release it was.
(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.
(Pictured: the man of the hour, turbanized.)
I have said before how much I like American Top 40 shows from 1972. Casey and his staff have figured out how they want the show to sound, and his delivery is easy and friendly, just a guy talking to the people and playing some tunes, as on the show from April 22, 1972.
—Introducing “Do Your Thing” at #39, Casey calls Isaac Hayes “the man of the hour.” The show would have aired less than two weeks after Hayes appeared on the Oscars, singing his award-winning “Theme From Shaft” in a shirt made of chain mail, a performance that left the whole country abuzz.
—Casey back-announces “The Candy Man” by Sammy Davis Jr., as “the happiest song in the countdown,” and misspeaks when he says it’s at #38, up five spots. It’s actually up five from #38 the week before. Since AT40 shows were still being recorded live on tape at this time, I’m not surprised that they left in such a minor fluff. Better that than having to re-record an entire segment of the show in real time.
—I don’t know if, or how often, the most egregiously out-of-time extras included in the original broadcasts are snipped from the modern-day repeats. On this show, listeners in 2017 are treated to “Wheel of Fortune” by Kay Starr—a perfectly fine record by the standards of 1952 (“the #1 hit of 20 years ago,” as Casey calls it), but one that seems egregiously out of time in 1972 as well, at least until the countdown gets to #25 and the resolutely old-fashioned “Every Day of My Life” by Bobby Vinton.
—“Jump Into the Fire” by Nilsson is at #28, up two spots for the week. I have always pronounced the man’s name to rhyme with “Wilson,” which is how the WLS DJs pronounced it back in the day. In intervening years, I have heard it pronounced as if it were spelled “Nielsen.” Casey does it both ways, once introducing the record and once back-announcing it.
—The highest-debuting song of the week is “Morning Has Broken” by Cat Stevens up at #27, featuring (not mentioned by Casey) Rick Wakeman, then of Yes, on piano. According to Wikipedia (so who the hell knows), Wakeman helped develop the distinctive piano opening and the instrumental break in the middle but didn’t receive a credit, or royalties beyond the 10 British pounds he was paid for the session.
—The two biggest movers within the 40 this week are “Oh Girl” by the Chi-Lites, up 15 spots to #20, and “I’ll Take You There” by the Staple Singers, up 14 spots to #23. Both will reach #1, “Oh Girl” on May 27 and “I’ll Take You There” on June 3, and both are on the short list of things in this life that are perfect. Also on that list: “Suavecito” by Malo, up five spots this week to #21.
—At three different points in the last half of the show, Casey does brief announcements encouraging young people to register and vote. The Twenty-Sixth Amendment lowering the voting age to 18 had been ratified the previous July, but with the presidential primary campaign underway, such a reminder was especially timely.
—Casey was famous for what AT40 staffers called the “tease and hook,” which would keep listeners from tuning away during a commercial break. This show contains a near-perfect example involving a star who lost a trunk full of shoes while being mobbed after a show. Casey doesn’t reveal the star’s identity until the very end, and I found myself caught up in the story even though it turned out to be fairly trivial. (The shoes belonged to Al Green.)
—The top of this chart is pretty solid: “Doctor My Eyes” (#10), “Heart of Gold” (#8), and “A Horse With No Name” (#4) haven’t been off the radio in 45 years, and there’s soul music in several different flavors: Aretha Franklin’s “Day Dreaming” (#7), the Stylistics’ “Betcha By Golly Wow” (#6), the Dramatics’ “In the Rain” (#5), “I Gotcha” by Joe Tex (#3), and “Rockin’ Robin” (#2).
—Roberta Flack’s “First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” is in its second of six straight weeks at #1. Although Gilbert O’Sullivan’s “Alone Again (Naturally)” will spend six non-consecutive weeks at the top later in 1972, no song will have a longer uninterrupted run until Rod Stewart keeps “Tonight’s the Night” around for eight weeks at the end of 1976. Even though the 45 edit of “First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” is only about a minute shorter than the original, it tightens the record considerably. What’s left is not as much romantic as it is erotic. Not that I could tell in 1972, but still.
(Edited since first posted to fix some stuff, because this is not a very good blog, really.)