This week on Time Machine- a new feature debuts, who wrote the Hee Haw theme, what on earth is the Wilhelm scream, and who played the sleigh bells on Linda Ronstadt's Hasten Down The Wind album, as well as a new top dog.
First, a bit of sad news. On the same grim day- last Saturday- that we lost Jim Arness, we also lost singer-songwriter Andrew Gold. Famous through the use of his Thank You For Being A Friend as the Golden Girls theme, He had first risen to the collective consciousness with the 1977 hit Lonely Boy. He was an accomplished musician who, in addition to being all the instruments in Art Garfunkel's cover of I Only Have Eyes For You, he was the main force behind Linda Ronstadt's band on her first three really big lps- Heart Like A Wheel, Prisoner In Disguise, and Hasten Down The Wind, playing everything from guitar to drums to- yes, sleigh bells. Andrew died in his sleep of a probable heart attack at the age of 59.
We open, after last week's 18 debuts, with a measly 7, and the two we all know were instant classics. Coming in at 93 was Wild Cherry with Play That Funky Music; at 89, the debut of the duo England Dan (Seals) and John Ford Coley with I'd Really Love To See You Tonight. Our big dropper this week was I.O.U., falling to 47 after peaking last week at 33. The big climber was darn near a top 40 debut as well; the Beach Boys come a notch short, leaping 20 to #41 with Rock And Roll Music. And our grandpa field has narrowed pretty much to two; only Bohemian Rhapsody (25 weeks) and Boogie Fever (20) are in the twenties.
We are going to have another new feature coming up, but first, a bit about how difficult it can be to sustain a feature around here. Take for example the sporadic nature of the almost but not quite song of the week. Seeings as this is for a song that's on it's way down, the first thing I do in choosing it is to scan down the list of songs which have "lost the bullet". Out of 20 such songs in the top 40 this week, 4 of them are in the top ten currently and another ten have been recently, thus disqualifying them. 3 of them have already been featured in one shoutout or another; 3 are actually still climbing, including one of this week's debuts in the top 40. When you drop into the lower reaches, you hit #66 before you hit one that hasn't fit the above categories- but then you start the new category of "songs nobody's heard of". And that category eliminates the entire rest of the eligible songs. Long story in summary, no almost but not quite this week. Add to that repeat winners on the number one albums list and the grandpa chair, and I have a void with "new special feature" written all over it.
So what I came up with is a "where are they now" feature. Yeah, I do a lot of that in the normal course, I know. But to make it random, I decided I'd pick a specific number on the chart to feature- now I had to decide which number. I first thought about the number 23, for no apparent reason, but because there was no apparent reason I thought I might have trouble remembering the number I picked out (getting old and all that). So then I considered using the episode of time machine for the week, for example this is week #59. That would have given me Last Child by Aerosmith and I wasn't happy about starting the feature with Aerosmith. No disrespect to them intended, but anyone who doesn't know what Steven Tyler is doing these days just isn't paying attention anyway. So I came up with the brilliant idea of using my age- 49- to pick the spot.
And #49 belongs this week to Vicki Sue Robinson, who moves up 4 with Turn The Beat Around. Vicki didn't have a lot of success on the charts herself after her big hit, but was successful in a LOT of other musical ventures. She stayed active as a back up vocalist, notably on Irene Cara's Fame theme in 1980. She became a big name in commercial jingles, and actually collected the best of them on one of her later albums. She had a top ten in Australia with a dance version of To Sir With Love, which oddly enough was an instrumental- and while catchy, doesn't begin to sound like the Lulu classic until about a minute and a half into its 5:58. Later on, she had her own off Broadway show, Vicki Sue Robinson: Behind The Beat, which she started in 1999 and continued as long as her deteriorating health allowed. She passed from cancer on April 27th, 2000, 35 days shy of being 46. Cue up The Way We Were and bow your heads.
We also have two debuts into the top 40 this week. Moving up two to 40 is Heart with the first of what would be 20 top forty trips with Crazy On You. My second favorite Heart song, my favorite is the b-side of this disc- and I'm going to keep you in suspense because that song would soon become their third single! Up seven is the sixth of 8 songs into the top 40 for (Jim) Seals and Crofts (Innit funny, one brother has his chart debut, the other debuts in the top 40 the same week?), as Get Closer climbs to 35.
This week we're in the 8s in our look at #1s of other years on this week. In 1998, by which time music was largely dead, Brandy and Monica- two girls who forgot to sew their last names into their underwear, I guess- had the top dog with The Boy Is Mine. 1988 had George Michael at the top with One More Try. Number one this week in 1978- and for several weeks thereafter- was Andy Gibb with Shadow Dancing, a feat which made him the first solo act in chart history to score #1s with his first three singles. Simon and Garfunkel were the top dogs in 1968 with the classic Mrs. Robinson. And #1 in 1958 was Shelby "Sheb" Wooley with The Purple People Eater. Sheb was already an accomplished actor, with parts in westerns such as High Noon and series such as Rawhide. He would later invent the character of Ben Colder (for another novelty hit called Don't Go Near The Eskimos) and play a recurring role on Hee Haw, for which he wrote the theme. He also became famous for a stock sound effect called "the Wilhelm scream" which has been used as the sound of someone getting shot and/or killed in movies and shows since 1951, including Star Wars IV and all the Indiana Jones flicks. Says his widow: "He always used to joke about how he was so great about screaming and dying in films."
One song joins the top ten, one drops out. This week's victim is Shannon, though it falls only to eleven (which was why I discarded the briefly though of idea of making the where are they now spot #11).
The top ten leads off with Pratt and McLain slipping 4 spots to #10 with Happy Days. The Stones move up one spot to nine with Fool To Cry. Coming into the top ten at #8 after a four notch climb is the Andrea True Connection with More More More. The Captain and Tennille move up 2 to #7 with Shop Around. Hall and Oates (our third duo in the top ten!) also climb two with Sara Smile at #6. John Sebastian and Welcome Back drop one more spot to #5. Dorothy Moore climbs that spot to #4 with Misty Blue. Wings, who would pack 67,000 into the Kingdome in Seattle for a show this night in 1976, slip to #3, out of the top dog chair, with Silly Love Songs. Silver Convention climbs a spot to the runner-up spot with Get Up And Boogie. And that means our new top dog is......
Bringing it in for a rainy landing, kids. Hey, if anyone out there has an idea for a new feature, drop by the comments section and my crack staff will give it a look. See you next week!