Welcome to Time Machine, where we slip back to where music was good and ask, among other things: if we have two TV themes in the top ten, shouldn't we have two actors in the hot 100? If a law's enacted to protect the earnings of child celebrities, then how does a song that was an international #1 leave you with $500? How many times will a red octopus climb to the top? and, most importantly, how many Sylvers ARE there?
The place to learn these answers is back at the start, and 8 songs debut in the hot 100 this week. Answer #1 is actor #1- Keith Carradine, brother of Kung Fu star David, who debuts with a song he did in the movie Nashville, I'm Easy. At 93 we have the other actor- John Travolta, cashing in on his Vinnie Barbarino fame to land his first chart hit (which really wasn't TOO bad for a first effort), Let Her In. Coming in at 88 is the late Vicki Sue Robinson, who herself was coming off an off-Broadway career, with Turn The Beat Around. And at 87, the Steve Miller Band with Take The Money And Run. The big dropper this week is former top dog All By Myself, which plummets 29 to #72; the big climber is a tie between Michael McDonald and the Doobie's Taking It To The Streets and Paul Simon's Still Crazy After All These Years. Each of them moves up 26 spots, the Doobies to 63, and Simon to 59.
Our next answer is, 4. Oh, so you wanna know which question? Well, let's look at our tour of the #one albums of the seventies. We are rapidly approaching "present day" here- at which point I believe I will just go to featuring that week's album as we go. But this week, we're still back in September of '75, and on the 20th, Janis Ian began a one week stay with Between The Lines. This, of course, featured our former top dog (and Billboard #3) At Seventeen. To say that this was the only charting song from the album would be an understatement- she would not have another hot 100 chart hit until Under The Covers grazed the chart 6 years later.
After week #2 of Red Octopus by Jefferson Starship at the top, it was Pink Floyd with Wish You Were Here for the weeks of October 4-11. Designed around the concept of their unfortunate former leader Syd Barrett (who had left the band after a mental breakdown), it was highlighted by the biographical track Shine On You Crazy Diamond, and also featured the title track and Have A Cigar. While all of these found AOR airplay, none of them charted- with the exception of Wish You Were Here reaching #18 in Norway. During the recording, Barrett actually visited the studio- and nobody recognized him! He had gotten quite fat and shaved his head and eyebrows, and was just not all there. They played the mix of Crazy Diamond for him, without him figuring out it was about him. He wandered off afterwards, and no one in the band saw him alive again.
Floyd yielded the top to John Denver's Windsong for the weeks of October 18-25. This was John's big singles album, with the double-sided #1 I'm Sorry/Calypso, the recently slipped from our chart Looking For Space (29), and Fly Away, with did much better on Cashbox (and locally) than the #13 it scored on Billboard. After Windsong, Red Octopus would spend a third week at the top; and would repeat the process again Thanksgiving weekend.
As we hit the top 40 debuts, I'd like to note that Dream On has now hit its 30th week, sliding 4 to #35. We have three newbies on Airplay Alley this week. First up after a 14-notch leap, are the Stones with Fool To Cry. Their 27th top forty, it would go on (on BB, at least) to be their first top ten since Angie in the summer of '73. At 36, up 5, is the soul-funk ensemble Brass Construction with the instrumental Movin'. This was the first of their 2 hot 100 and 17 R&B hits. And roaring into the countdown, up 16 to 38, the Captain And Tennille with Shop Around, their 4th time now in the forty.
To answer our next question, we go to our look at the #1s of other years this week, and we are in the 3s. In 1993 it was brother act PM Dawn with Looking Through Patient Eyes. I managed about 45 seconds of this N'synch sounding tune before I waved the white flag and tuned out. (Movin' was a vastly more enjoyable listen.) In 1983, Michael Jackson had just ascended the top- again- with Beat It. In 1973, Dawn topped the chart with Tie A Yellow Ribbon 'Round The Old Oak Tree.
The story of a convict who had told his love to tie a ribbon to a tree outside of town is an American folk tale, dating to before 1959. In October 1971, newspaper columnist Pete Hamill wrote a piece for the New York Post called "Going Home". In it, he told a variant of the story, in which college students on a bus trip to the beaches of Fort Lauderdale make friends with an ex-convict who is watching for a yellow handkerchief on a roadside oak in Brunswick, Georgia. Hamill claimed to have heard this story in oral tradition.
In June 1972, nine months later, Reader's Digest reprinted "Going Home". Also in June 1972, ABC-TV aired a dramatized version of it in which James Earl Jones played the role of the returning ex-con. A month and a half after that, Irwin Levine and L. Russell Brown registered for copyright a song they called "Tie a Yellow Ribbon 'Round the Ole Oak Tree". The authors said they heard the story while serving in the military. Pete Hamill was not convinced and filed suit for infringement.
One factor that may have influenced Hamill's decision to do so was that, in May 1973, "Tie A Yellow Ribbon" sold 3 million records in three weeks. When the dust settled, BMI calculated that radio stations had played it 3 million times – seventeen continuous years of airplay. Hamill dropped his suit after folklorists working for Levine and Brown turned up archival versions of the story that had been collected before "Going Home" had been written. (Wikipedia)
In 1963, we have 14 year old Little Peggy March with I Will Follow Him. This song made lotsa money for Little Peggy, hitting #1 in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Japan, and across Scandinavia as well as the USA. The "Cooper Law" prevented her parents from handling her money- for fear of ripping her off- so it went into the care of her business manager, who managed to spend all but $500 on himself and left America wondering who was really getting protected. And finally we hit 1953, where we have a repeat feature-ee: Percy Faith's Moulin Rouge Theme. This was the first of its nine week stay at the top. The main contender for its crown was Les Baxter's April In Portugal (which was also vastly better than PM Dawn). April spent all but one of those 8 weeks at #2; and when Moulin Rouge finally was knocked to #2 by Eddie Fisher's I'm Walking Behind You (kinda ironic, eh?), April obediently slid into 4th.
As is common following a week where nobody falls out of the top ten, everybody falls out this week (okay, so just four of them). The droppers were Bohemian Rhapsody, from 6 to 17 (but it'll be back in a few years); Disco Lady, from 8 to 18; Only Sixteen, from 9 to 19 (sensing the pattern, here?); and Sweet Love, from 10 to, of course, 20.
A couple of almost but not quites here. Strange Magic tops out at 14 this week. I get lost in the ending with the band singing, "strange magic, oh what a..." layered over the violins, layered over the girls singing, "stra-a-annge magic", layered over Richard Tandy's keyboard line, layered over the chorus of "la-la-la-la-la-la-la". It might not have been strange, but it sure is magic. also peaking at 18 this week is ABBAs I Do, I Do, etc. etc. A much bigger hit around the world (especially in Australia, where it was sandwiched between Mama Mia and SOS for a 14 week ABBA run at #1), it has the distinction of being (according to the article I saw) the only ABBA single to do better in the USA than in Jolly Ol'. Given the length of time that Dancing Queen was #1 here, though, I suspect somebody might have forgotten to put in the "at that time" disclaimer.
Well, we're at the top ten and still have 2 questions to answer. We begin answering one of them with Pratt and McClain coming in at #10, up six, with Happy Days. At number 9, shooting up from 23, is Diana Ross with Love Hangover. Henry Gross climbs 3 to #8 with Shannon. Maxine Nightengale slips 4 to #7 with former top dog Right Back To Where We Started From. The high debut is Wings, climbing 6 to #6 with Silly Love Songs. Elvin Bishop's Band climbs 2 to #5 with Fooled Around And Fell In Love. Peter Frampton edges up one to #4 with Show Me The Way. Let Your Love Flow flows backwards from 1 to 3 for the Bellamys this week. John Sebastian moves two to the runner-up slot with our other TV theme, Welcome Back. And that leaves us with a new number one- and our final question- how many Sylvers were there on our new top dog, Boogie Fever? Let's go to the video evidence.
I count Nine of them- Olympia-Ann, Leon, Charmaine, James, Edmund, Ricky, Angie, Pat, and Foster. All brothers and sisters, all born between 1951-62. (Another Brother, never in the performing act, was born in 1967 and died at 18.) Edmund, the lead singer ( as well as the voice of Marlon in the old Jackson 5 cartoon) also died, of lung cancer in 2004, aged 47. He followed the family tradition, though, leaving behind 11 children of his own.
All right, time to go home with all questions answered except one- why didn't I put some pants on to do this?
(Answer: because You can't see me...)