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What is it about nice people that attract total idiots?Nice people are martyrs. Idiots are evangelists.


Friday, November 12, 2010

Step into my time machine week twenty-nine

Today, a special edition of Time machine. But first, a moment.

On this day in 1942, the battle of Guadalcanal began. When it ended, almost 1500 Americans would have given their lives for our liberty, including 5 brothers named Sullivan when the USS Juneau went down. I bring this up because originally, this was going to be a regular time machine, with the special part coming yesterday. But yesterday was Veteran's Day, I realized; and rather than put together something hopelessly inadequate when so many (including Bob G. over on his blog) did such a fine job of honoring them, I decided on a moment of silence, instead.

On to today's show, in which I'm going to suspend all the usual specials in order to make a big deal out of the TOP TEN IN MY PERSONAL SEVENTIES COUNTDOWN!

We start the top ten off right now!

10. (They Long To Be ) Close To You- The Carpenters: I used to always hear this in the doctor's waiting room as a kid. Actually, I looked forward to it knowing that since Doc Dahling played WEZR (easy listening) that I was almost guaranteed to hear this or the upcoming #9 while there. Karen Carpenter was my first real celebrity crush, though for some reason I always imagined her with blonde hair. This also linked to my Daniel Boone fixation, as a collection album of soft tunes had Ed Ames (Mingo) singing this song. My youthful brain already made idiotic connections between things at an early age.

The B-Side: First recorded as a b-side by Richard Chaimberlain way back in '63, it became a b-side staple for artists up to and including Dionne Warwicke before Richard Carpenter and Herb Alpert (who owned their record label, A&M) arrainged it for Karen to sing. It quickly became one of the label's greatest selling hits. This is the 9th Carpenters tune to land in the top 1000- so far. It reached #1 on Cashbox in August of 1970.

9. We've Only Just Begun-The Carpenters: Karen's voice always sounded to me like it had to be coming from a smiling mouth. She just made me feel good, feel loved, in some musical way.

The Lie: Paul Williams sang the fragmentary version of the song that was used as a commercial by Crocker National Bank in California that Richard heard, and he called Paul asking if there was a complete version of it that Paul could send to him so that he and Karen could record it. Sure there is, Paul lied, as he and his partner had basically what was on the commercial and that was it. So he stalled Richard for a couple of weeks until they finally finished what became the complete song. This is the 10th song by the Carpenters in my top 1,000; it hit #1 in November of 1970.

8. Shannon-Henry Gross: Another of the weird games my mind played back then was waiting for that magical act that would replicate the tight harmonies and sunshine music that the Beach Boys seemed no longer capable of. A string of false messiahs had already come and gone when Shannon burned through the summer of 1976. In this time frame, WMEE did a nightly top 10 and Shannon spent weeks fighting with, I believe, Afternoon Delight for the top spot. Like most of these songs, I will cry to this if I haven't played it for a while. I'm bad like that.

About The Dog: Gross, the former guitarist for Sha Na Na, wrote the song about the Irish setter of Beach Boy Carl Wilson, who had recently went missing. It wasn't until long afterwards that I learned that some of the Boys were actually sing the harmonies on this record. Shannon hit #5 in June of 1976.

We get 10 debuts in the hot 100 this week, and we know an amazing 8 of them! Coming in at 98 is Rhythm Heritage and the Theme From SWAT. ELO comes in at 95 with Evil Woman from the album Face The Music, which will play into our further story. The Wing-And-A-Prayer Fife And Drum Corps (jeez!) hits at 89 with their disco version of Baby Face. Paul Anka came in with his commercial redoux, Time Of Your Lives, at 88. The Who surface at 82 with Squeezebox; the former Temptation David Ruffin comes in at 79 with Walk Away From Love. At 77 Sweet hits with the follow-up to Ballroom Blitz, Fox On The Run. And at 76, the Ohio Players with Love Rollercoaster.

The big jumper is David Geddes' The Last Game Of The Season, up 23 to #62; it just beat out Venus And Mars Rock Show and I Write The Songs, who each climbed 22 notches. Three tunes manage to drop 14 this week for the "biggest loser" title: the Biddu Orchestra with a disco rendition of Peter Nero's Summer of '42, down to 68; former CCR frontman John Fogerty with Rockin' All Over The World, to 41; and the Boss down to 31 with Born To Run.

7. Listen To What The Man Says-Wings: Another celeb crush was Linda McCartney, and my ears will inevitably chase her backing vocals across this song.

Joe English: became the drummer for Wings on the Venus And Mars album, and left during the recording of London Town. He became a Christian and formed his own band (the not-surprisingly named Joe English Band), as well as pitching in on some of the day's biggest CC bands- Petra and Degarmo and Key, for two. This was the 16th song for McCartney/Wings on my top 1,000; as followers of Time Machine know, it hit #1 in July of 1975.

6. Wishing You Were Here-Chicago: Listening to this song on an 8-track, coasting through the channel at Snow Lake. This song was meant to be listened to on the water; those childhood days at Snow come back to me every time I hear this.

The Caribou Ranch: is the studio where this song, along with the rest of Chicago VII, was recorded. In yet another of my twists of fate, the Beach Boys were there that particular day, and at Peter Cetera's request Carl and Dennis Wilson and Al Jardine sang along with Peter on the chorus. This makes the Beach Boys the band with the most mentions without charting in this top ten! Chicago had 17 songs on my top 1,000; this peaked at #9 in December of 1974.

5. Superstar-The Carpenters: The mournful horns in the intro give this song almost a reverence, despite the subject matter. One of those songs that the first note usually stops time and breathing for me.

"Groupie": was the original working title when Bonnie from Delaney and Bonnie and Leon Russell wrote it, a song about a groupie who slept with a singer who moved on to the next show, leaving her behind. In fact, the original lyrics said, "And I can hardly wait/ to sleep with you again". This was not only changed by Richard, but also on a previous cover by Cher. Much like the lead character, this song got around- Rita Coolidge sang it, so did Joe Cocker and Bette Midler. It was watching Midler on the Tonight Show that introduced Richard to the song, and he saw its potential; Karen knew it from Cocker's Mad Dogs And Englishmen lp and didn't think much of it until Richard re-arranged and modified it. This is the 11th song by the duo on this chart, and it peaked at #2 in October of 1971.

Three songs entered the top 40 this week. Soul group BT Express come in at 40, up 3, with the funky Peace Pipe. Up 6 to 35 is Freddy Fender's tex-mex cover of the old classic Secret Love. And climbing, as previously mentioned, 22 notches from 51 to 29 is Wings with Venus And Mars Rock Show.

4. Nights Are Forever Without You- England Dan And John Ford Coley: the thunder of the guitar on the second chorus grabs me and squeezes my heart. One of my best memories is watching Dan and John perform this on the old Mike Douglas Show.

Life After: Dan, the brother of Seals And Crofts' Jim Seals, had several country hits before dying from Lymphoma in March of 2009. John, who was like Jim, Dan, and Dash Crofts a member of the Baha'i faith, has since left the faith to become a Christian, and now does lectures on the subject. Nights is the 5th entry for the duo on my top 1,000; it reached #10 in December 1976.

3. Mandy-Barry Manilow: This was the first 45 I bought with my own money; in a day when singles were much cheaper, I paid my niece $1 for it. I would have probably paid much more. I had a 2x3 poster of Barry on my bedroom wall for years, and this song was the main reason why.

Brandy or Mandy?: Brandy was the song's original title when written by the duo of Scott English and Richard Kerr. It was an up-tempo song then, and a careless response to an annoying reporter started the rumour that it was written for Scott's dog. Barry and producer Ron Dante slowed the tune and changed the name to avoid confusion with the Looking Glass hit. This is song number 16 for Manilow on my top 1,000 and hit #1 in January of 1975.

Three songs enter the top ten, three drop- and boy, do they drop! Last week's #2, 3, and 4 go out- Bad Blood from 2 to 11, Games People Play from 3 to 15, and Miracles from 4 to 14. More news from the mid-range: Feelings spends its 24th week on the chart climbing yet again, from 18 to 16. This song, despite what the Gong Show did to it, refuses to die.

2. Strange Magic- Electric Light Orchestra: Once upon a time, my older brother took me with his family (his kids and I were the same age) on a magical spring trip to Florida. On the way back we were camped in Cartersville, Georgia. Among other neat things that happened that night was that Tom gave us a quarter to play one song on the clubhouse jukebox. Robin played Aerosmith's Last Child; Raine played EWF's Shining Star; I played Strange Magic. Listening to the three different vocal lines interweaving near the end of this song is for me like a visit to an astral plane.

Face The Music: was the album that spawned this as well as Evil Woman. This was the 36th song by ELO on my top 1,000 (Yes, I'm an ELO "groupie"; no, I never wanted to sleep with Jeff Lynne). It peaked at #14 in May of 1976.

1. No Time-The Guess Who: They were the cool group when I was a kid, and I always associated them with brother-in-law Doug, since he had a couple 8-tracks and a slight resemblance to Burton Cummings. Probably the only group besides the Four Seasons to come close to ELO in my favorites. You need not wonder why.

The Other Version: I used to have a copy of Canned Wheat, which was the album that the original of this song appeared on. It was just a hair slower, had the verses reversed, and a neat intro- it was a jack in the box being wound slowly (and I think) backwards. The Guess Who, caught straddling the decades, lands 16 songs on my top 1,000; this song peaked at #4 in February 1970.

And now for this week's top ten!

Coming in at #10 is Natalie Cole with This Will Be. The Bee Gees jump from 13 to 9 with Nights On Broadway (which is another tune I saw performed on Mike Douglas- God that show was cool!). The Eagles continue to give ground only stubbornly, dropping 2 to #8 with Lyin' Eyes. Stealing a page from Morris Albert, the Four Seasons move back up, from 7 to 9 to 7 once again with Who Loves You. Roaring into the countdown from 12 to 6 is KC And The Sunshine Band with That's The Way I Like It. Low Rider holds at 5 for War. Linda Ronstadt moves three to #4 with Heat Wave. Zooming into the vacuum created by this week's dropouts, the Captain and Tenille sail up 7 to #3 with the Way That I Want To Touch You. So does Silver Convention, leaping from 8 to 2 with Fly Robin Fly. Leaving us with a repeat at #1, Elton John's Island Girl.

Well, that's it this week. Be back next time for the usual hi jinx and fun.


  1. RE: Superstar... I need to correct you on writing credits on this song. This song was co-written by Leon, Bonnie and Delaney Bramlett.
    All you have to do to verify this is go to B.M.I. and look at Delaney's catalog of music, you will see it listed there.
    There is this big misconception that Bonnie wrote all these songs w/out Delaney.
    Nothing could be further from the truth.

    It was basically Leon and Delaney.

    Best to you
    Steve Fischler
    Magnolia Gold Records
    Home of the Legendary Delaney Bramlett

  2. Thanks Steve, but apparently it's never that simple. As I researched further, I indeed confirmed your story on the BMI site and in Delaney's NY Times obit. But the wiki stories and various other sources give conflicting stories, including this one from's Johnny Black:

    "Although the song is credited as a collaboration between Leon Russell and Bonnie Bramlett, “Superstar” actually began with Rita Coolidge. Russell has acknowledged that Coolidge gave him the title and the basic idea for a groupie/rock star lyric. Which rock star? Eric Clapton, Coolidge has said: “He was the only guitar player we knew at the time.”

    Coolidge knew Clapton from having sung backup vocals on his 1970 solo debut, and shortly after, she played with Bramlett and Russell on Joe Cocker’s Mad Dogs and Englishmen tour, a legendarily debauched U.S. jaunt whose backstage amusements have been described by the drummer Jim Keltner: “Sharing girls. Screwing every chick in sight. Most were there for that purpose. The drugs were just as easy to get.”

    It was in this period that Coolidge’s idea found its way to Russell and Bramlett, who turned the initial concept into a finished song. “Although Rita did not write on the song,” Bramlett says, “without her help, it would not have gotten done. She sat and sang harmony so I could build parts. I can’t tell you what the other writers were thinking of, but as far as I was concerned, it was the lament of a groupie. Hence its co-title, ’Groupie Song.’ Now, it’s about whomever the listener wants it to be about. The point is, he’s not there and he probably will never come back for her. But because she’s still singing it, she still has hope.” "

    So, as you can see, if I got nothing else about the story right, the line, "like the main character, this song got around" was pretty accurate.

  3. Now that's a story I have never heard... and I thought I had heard just about everyone of them.

    I have never read that quote of Delaney's before and I am not disputing it.

    It's just very interesting that since Delaney passed away, many people have jumped on his band wagon. It's grown exponentially since he passed.

    I will run this quote by some people and see what they say. Keltner is around and by the way a real stand up guy. He was there for Delaney when he was in the hospital.

    Take care..

  4. ...and by the way.. all those stories doesn't negative the fact that Delaney's B.M.I. catalog has this song on it..You need to correct your credits.. This stories make for interesting reading but that' about all.

  5. Tell ya what, Steve. I was planning to point this discussion out to the readers on tomorrow's Time Machine, and they can check it out themselves. In the Meantime, let me know what Keltner says and I'll do the appropriate update. I'm sure you, being in the "biz", have more ways to hunt this down than me and my hound, Google.

  6. side note:
    Delaney was never part of the Mad Dogs and Englishman tour.


  7. Steve: Re-read the comment. The quote (and the tour) were referring to Bonnie, not Delaney.

  8. You have changed the entire post.
    Deleted Kelter's quote, deleted a lot of other stuff too.

  9. Steve:
    Get a grip, look again. Everything's right where its always been. Keltner's quote is still right there in my first reply to you. I only delete spelling mistakes, sometimes not even that. Stop thinking the world's gaslighting you, and let us reason together.