Last night on the way home, I told Laurie I had had enough of bad news around the nation and world, and put in one of my 70s CDs. The next words I heard were (not from Laurie), "A long, long, time ago..."
(I know that old timers know what that means. For the rest, that's the opening line of Don McLean's American Pie.) I mused, "Now that will cheer you up, " sarcastically...
Welcome to July 1st, 1976. Tomorrow, the Socialist Republic of Viet-Nam will officially become one nation. Today, though, we look at the music on the charts this week, along with a glimpse of the amazing story of the peripatetic Todd Rundgren; the connection between rock'n'roll and missle defense; more song birthdays; and a fourth of July six degrees that will link The Star Spangled Banner and... Dolly Parton! Prep your breast jokes and come on into the Time Machine!
We have 8 hot 100 debuts this week, and 5 make our noteworthy list. Starting at 99 we have Red Sovine's CB tear-jerker Teddy Bear- might as well start you all crying as well! At 94 we have Boz Skaggs second single from Silk Degrees, called Lowdown ( I wonder wonder wonder wonder who...) Fleetwood Mac hits with the third single from their breakthrough self-named lp, Say That You Love Me, debuting at 93. The next two take a big step away from the pack- and each other. Coming in all the way up at 65 are the Bee Gees with You Should Be Dancing; and even farther up at 47 is Elton John, with Kiki Dee, and Don't Go Breaking My Heart, a song that I never thought the lyrics quite meshed on.
The big dropper this week is Crazy On You, sadly slipping 27 spots to 68. The high climber goes to Wings and Let 'Em In, soaring from 78 to 53. I also want to give some shoutouts to songs that haven't tasted the rarified airs of top 40 this week- Nutbush City Limits is still in there climbing, up to 83 after three weeks; Last weeks's big dropper, Who Loves You Better, slams on the coaster brakes and goes back up 5 spots to 82; and it looks like Foghat, the perrenial opening act, will peak at 57 with Fool For The City.
Which brings us to #49, and our where are they now segment. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Todd Rundgren.
Good Vibrations was at 49 this week. And as for Todd, there is so much to tell about him, that I can even with the help of a Time Machine only tell you some highlights. As Bobby G. can tell you, he started out in a group called Nazz; afterwords he put together (for what are basically his first two solo lps) a band he called Runt- which consisted of himself and Tony and Hunt Sales, sons of the comic Soupy Sales. This was the gathering that did his first decent sized hit, We Gotta Get You A Woman. After that, he began testing the effects of various drugs on his songwritng- He claims to have written I Saw The Light on ritalin in 20 minutes. Besides solo work, he put together the prog-rock band Utopia from 1974-1986, which had the one top 40 hit Set Me Free off the excellent album Adventures In Utopia, which also featured AOR hits You Make Me Crazy and Caravan.
Fast forward to more recent times. In 2006, despite the death of Benjamin Orr and the refusal of Ric Okasik, Todd became involved in a revival of The Cars. The reborn band included besides Todd: former Cars Elliot Easton and Greg Hawkes; Clem Burke of Blondie; Everclear's Art Alexakis; Kasim Sulton from Utopia, and drummer Prairie Prince of the Tubes. The New Cars released an album of old Cars songs, a few of Todd's songs, and three new cuts, including a single called Not Tonight(which I'm previewing as we speak).
Of course, he kept busy as a producer, especially on the classic Meatloaf lp Bat Out Of Hell. He also has released (in 2010) a disc of bootlegs from various concerts called For Lack Of Honest Work, and later this year is expected to release a cover album of songs done by others and produced by him , called tentatively re:Production. Also last year he did a cover of songs by a bluesman named Robert Johnson, who burned hot in 1936-7 until he was apparently murdered by poison, and was said to have made a deal with the Devil to get his talent (you'll have to look that story up yourselves). The album is somewhat cleverly titled Todd Rundgren's Johnson.
Finally, he became IU Class of 1963 Wells Scholar Professor at Indiana University in Oct.-Nov. of last year and co-taught a four-week seminar called The Ballad Of Todd Rundgren. I can't make this stuff up.
And the song? Todd does a decent Okasik, the song was pretty good, but a little light on the synth to sound like the Cars. Probably closer to the Tubes, to me.
I made a boo boo on the top album last week. I was a month ahead of myself on Frampton's return to the top. At 7 am, July 24th can look a lot like June 23rd. This week (for sure), on top for the 3rd straight week and 5th out of the last 11, Wings At The Speed Of Sound. Sorry, Peter, sorry, Paul.
Our top 40 debuts this week are five in number. Coming in at 40, up 8, is the one and only t40 for Walter Murphy and the Big Apple Band, A Fifth Of Beethoven. Up 4 to land at #38 this week is ABBA with the 5th of their 9 top forty US, Mamma Mia. At 37 is the 5th of six top forties for Lou Rawls, You'll Never Find Another Love Like Mine, an 8 notch mover. Coming in at 36, up ten, is the 17th of 20 top 40s for Karen and Richard Carpenter, I Need To Be In Love. And finally, another subject that came up at the big PA-IN Erudition/Tilting At Windmills blogger summit (aka Mrs. Bobby G.'s birthday lunch at Red Lobster), Neil Diamond's If You Know What I Mean. I had mentioned that Neil's songs were very hit-and -miss as far as playing a lot around here, and this one for whatever reason, was a miss. In fact, at this point in time, of the 25 top forty hits Neil had had, I recognize just 14 of them. And some of them, like this one, went quite a ways.
Our look at number ones of other years is in the ones this week. In 1991, the top song this week was Paula Abdul's Rush Rush, which was so sedate that when I played it last night I almost forgot I was listening when I finished. In 1981 the top dog was Kim Carnes' Bette Davis Eyes, returning for a fouth week after having been supplanted for the last two by the Stars On 45 Medley. In 1971 it was Carole King with It's Too Late from the lp Tapestry. 1961 this week was headed by Gary Levone Anderson, better known as Gary US Bonds, with the rousing Quarter To Three. Finally in 1951 we find the wonderful Nat King Cole at the top with Too Young. Nat was a hard one to track stats down for; Wikipedia didn't have a singles discography, and Billboard only showed after 1962. But I found a site called MusicVF.com which shows the King with 65 top fortys, 19 top tens, and four #1s- this one; 1946's (I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons; 1948's Nature Boy; and 1950's Mona Lisa.
Songs celebrating birthdays (ie hot 100 debuts) today include The Mamas And The Papas' I Saw Her Again, 45 years old; and 40th birthdays for the Doors' Riders On The Storm, 3 Dog Night's Liar, and Bill Withers' Ain't No Sunshine.
Our Almost but not quite today is the Doobies' Taking It To The Street, which will peak the next two weeks at 15. Tom Johnston became too ill to finish the tour they were on, and former member of touring Steely Dan, Jeff Baxter ( who now sits as chair of the Congressional Advisory Board On Missle Defense), suggested another out-of -work Steely Dan -er, Michael McDonald. The band loved his work and hired him on full time, but they debated long and hard whether they were going to go on without Tom (who hadn't quit but couldn't really contribute). They finally decided to see what they had, and it wasn't enough for an album- unless they added a trio of Michael's songs. They knew that it would change the entire dynamic of the band, but producer Ted Templeman told them that they had "a diamond in the rough" in McDonald. So they took the chance- and it bought them both this hit and the subsequent It Keeps You Running, from this lp, also called Taking It To The Streets.
Boogie Fever continues to hold the grandpa seat at 23 weeks.
2 songs enter the top ten, 2 fall out. The droppers are Never Gonna Fall In Love Again, from 9 to 11, and former top dog Love Hangover, from 4 to 18.
And now, our star-spangled six degrees special. The national anthem was written by Francis Scott Key, as everyone knows. Key was the great-great-great-great-great-great grandpa of Dana Key, half of the Christian contemporary duo DeGarmo and Key. His partner, Eddie DeGarmo, is the uncle of season three American Idol runner up Diana DeGarmo, who lost to Fantasia Barrone. Among the many things Diana has done in her post-Idol career was the stage production of 9 to5: the Musical, a 2009 tribute to the movie, in which she played the part of secretary Doralee Rhodes, who in the movie was played by- Dolly Parton. So there you have it- Star Spangled Banner to F.S. Key to Dana Key to Eddie DeGarmo to Diana DeGarmo to 9-to-5 to Dolly Parton.