Since I'm late to the party after the grand birthday splurge (mine being on this coming Monday, and Laurie's two days ago), I will be brief in my critique of Blogger and its late issues. Everybody has their occasional problems. However, I find it less than amusing that their problems INEVITABLY come after they've allegedly fixed something. Secondly, I happened upon blogger's twitter account and found it equally less than amusing that 17 different people had published the exact same apology, which commented on restoring functionality "and your loyalty". Yeah, an endlessly repeating apology should do the trick. (BTW, I was going to go back and copy that apology for your delight, but at this moment- wait for it- Twitter is overloaded. Friday the 13th, go figure.)
Thankfully, May 13, 1976 was a Thursday, so hopefully we can get through our trip with no further glitches. My son KC posits that Show Me The Way should take the top spot this week. But will it? Let's have a look, shall we?
I am going to do things in an unusual order today, because I didn't find a whole lot in the way of meaty stories- thus you get to hear a reflection piece. And to frame it, let's go to our look at the top albums of the seventies. Just three more weeks of three-a-weeks will get us to trip date. But right now we are up to the second weekend of November, 1975, and in between the last two appearances of Red Octopus by Jefferson Starship at #1. These next three weeks are topped by Elton John's Rock Of the Westies. His second straight album to pull off the heretofore never done trick of debuting at #1, Westies was preceded by the Island Girl single, which Elton thought not a good choice for leadoff single (but of course, he was wrong, and his choice, Dan Dare, Pilot Of the Future, never was released.). In addition to the top dog Island Girl, Westies contained the double sided Grow Some Funk Of Your Own/I Feel Like A Bullet In The Gun Of Robert Ford (14). This album featured a change, a harder edge, to his sound that came about after Elton fired about half his band, including drummer Nigel Olson.
After the last trip of Red Octopus, it was one week (December 6) of Paul Simon's Still Crazy After All These Years. This album won a grammy for album of the year in '76, causing Paul to thank Stevie Wonder for the award, since he didn't put an lp out that year (the last two grammys being won by Stevie's Innervisions and Fullfillingness' First Finale). This album contained My Little Town (as did Art Garfunkel's Breakaway) which hit #9 for the duo, and the top dog 50 Ways To Leave Your Lover, and the #23 duet with the late phoebe Snow, Gone At Last.
It was then replaced by Chicago IX, which was their first Greatest Hits package. Even with the record label skipping the songs of Chicago VIII (being too recent), it contained 9 top ten singles, led by the #3 Saturday In The Park. It spent the last three weeks of 1975 and the first two of 1976 at #1.
Now it strikes me that there was a common thread in these three albums, a thread echoed in my own life- a thread of change, and not necessarily for the better. Westies was generally treated better in hindsight than it was at the time- and with good reason. Elton John ceased to be the hit machine he was after Island Girl. Name any of the 6 top forties he had between Don't Go Breaking My Heart later in 1976 and Little Jeannie in 1980, I dare you. The imagination, the pop hooks- and eventually, Bernie Taupin- were all gone. Same with Still Crazy. 50 Ways is a Paul Simon classic by any standards. Show of hands who think Slip Sliding Away fits that title. And for Chicago, X marked the beginning of their transformation from jazz-pop powerhouse to Peter Cetera's backup band, especially after the ascendance of the Cetera ballad If You Leave Me Now as their first #1 ( and isn't that a shame) and Terry Kath's suicide.
In my life, I was about to leave the only home-away-from-home I ever knew- St. Louis Besancon School. In mere months I would be finding myself upon the rockier shoals of high school. This was foreboding for me. I was shy, wasn't often around a lot of other kids, and had no idea how to strike up friendships in a widening world. Not to say 1st through 8th grades were easy. Skinny, backwards, and with two hands full of warts that defied any effort to remove, I was a fairly easy target. To look at that time with the love I had for it says tons about what a nurturing environment in education can do. Fortunately for me, I received two blessings that made it easier- first I got rid of the warts ( and don't ever laugh at the old potato cure for warts. It WORKED. When nothing else would for 8 years. IN TWO WEEKS TIME.) Second, I managed a friend group in high school that was a combination of familiar faces and new people who were close at hand- as some precious few still are.
But of course, that was just the "beginning of sorrows". My mom developed a sore under her nose that would not heal. The doctor said Leukemia- which in 1976 was a death sentence. From diagnosis to funeral was something under three months. It changed my whole outlook on my life- like, what was I supposed to do about the future. At a time when I was just starting to figure out who I was, I shifted to trying to figure out what everyone else thought I should be. That mindset crippled me for wasted years, and I still limp from it when the weather turns. If not for those aforementioned friends, I might have been another Terry Kath.
But God, who gives me the help to handle just as much as I need to, provided. The thought of His providence in those days makes me grieve all the more for those who see Atheism as more than just silly pride.
So, we will start- slowly to see a shift in the songs that effected me back then, from innocence and fun to angst and seeking someone to live for beyond myself. It's not going to be Chris goes goth or anything like that. But we'll start seeing a little less of the "boy, I sure do wish I could go back then" as the summer moves on.
Gee whiz, back to the countdown! We had 11 debuts this week, leading off with Parliament at #86 with Tear The Roof Off The Sucker (Give Up The Funk)- I'll bet you'll know it if you hear it. Without a doubt, one of the great funk hits. At 84 is another one of those summer songs- Thin Lizzy's The Boys Are Back In Town. At 79 we have America (another of those acts ready to take a turn towards the door, like those above mentioned) with Today Is The Day. And leading things off all the way up at 56 is the late great Jimmy Dean with I.O.U.
The Carpenters take the big plunge this week, down 18 to #47 with A Kind Of Hush. The big mover is a top 40 newbie.
A couple of shoutouts- Dream On continues to hang onto the grandpa chair, sliding down 14 to #49 in its 31st week. And the almost but not quite goes to Bad Company's cover of Young Blood, which peaks at 22. Might have got farther if the critics weren't busy calling it "a hokey send-up that makes the band look silly." More harm is done in listening to critics than almost anything.
Our trip through the #1s of other years is in the 4s this week. 1994 had Prince's The Most Beautiful Girl In The World, which to me sounded like a contender for the Muzak grammy. In just about the same esteem I hold the top dog this week in 1984, Lionel Ritchie's Hello. In 1974, 3 Dog Night was on top with one of my favorites of theirs, The Show Must Go On. In 1964 this week, we've hit the one spot in an eighteen-week span that you didn't find the Beatles at #1. After sixteen straight weeks at #1, the Fab Four stepped back and let Louis Armstrong tag his only #1 hit- Hello, Dolly! After his 1 week though, it was right back to the Beatles with Love Me Do. And in the ancient mists of 1954 crooned Perry Como with his 96th top 40 and 8th #1, Wanted. He was in the midst of an eight-week run, adding to the thirty-two weeks he'd already collected with 7 other top dogs.
A fascinating group of newbies join the top 40 this week. Marvin Gaye hits at 40, up 7, with a haunting melody called I Want You. This would be the 36th of 38 trips to the top 40 in his lifetime. Starbuck comes in with their first of two top 40s, and the biggest- Moonlight Feels Right. This song moves up 15 to #39. At 38, the big mover on the strength of a 20-spot move, is Eric Carmen with the 2nd of his 8 solo top 40s, Never Gonna Fall In Love Again. At 35 is a blue-eyed soul/jazz/funk duo, Earle and Ernie Cate, with a look at life on or near the picket lines, Union Man. I didn't remember this, or I Want You, but they were both very good and well worth a listen. Finally, moving in at 33 after a ten notch climb, is Rhythm Heritage with Barretta's Theme (Keep Your Eye On The Sparrow), which puts us with 3 TV themes in the top 40 this week and four in the hot 100. This is the second of their 2 top 40s.
2 into the top ten, two out. Dropping are Let You Love Flow, from 3 all the way to 14; and Right Back To Where We Started From, going right back... well, you know... from 7 to 16.
We kick off the top ten with glorious news for our German fans- Silver Convention is back in the top ten, up 3 to the leadoff spot, with Get Up And Boogie. Dorothy Moore joins the party at #9, up 2, with Misty Blue. Pratt And McClain continue to have Happy Days, and climb 2 notches to 8. Diana Ross has to stop and catch her breath; after that big jump last week, she settles for a 2 spot climb this week with Love Hangover. Also taking a deuce is Henry Gross with Shannon, going to #6. Sorry, KC; Show Me The Way dips a notch to #5 for Peter Frampton. Taking that 4th spot in the ol' switcheroo is the Elvin Bishop Band with Fooled Around And Fell In Love, with Mickey Thomas' timeless vocal. Wings flap up three more to #3 with Silly Love Songs. And Boogie appears twice in the top ten, the second time at #2 for the Sylvers' Boogie Fever. Which means we have a new top dog here at James Buchanan High School...
PS: Here's that canned apology from Blogger that was twittered 17 times by seventeen different people:
Our sincere apologies. We're working hard to restore service, and your loyalty.