This week, through the magic of doing surveys that pay off in Amazon gift cards, I acquired a doo-wop greatest package called Streetcorner Symphony. Those songs really take me back to another day, a seemingly more innocent day. I know when I listened to them, I was more innocent. I kills me to think that the kids that slowdanced to Earth Angel and Sixteen Candles are in their seventies now. It's not right. That music should have went on forever, and why did we get old? It's why I love American Graffiti so much: the mythical night that never ends, until the sky starts turning blue, and you take one last mad dash at making it stay, but you crash and burn as the dawn wraps its fingers around the smoke rising from the debris and pulls you, somehow lessened, into a new day. One day time will say to me, Chris, remember the bad times I got you past, and the things I allowed you to learn and do. But that day ain't today, and tomorrow's not on the schedule either. Until then, I will be here doing Time Machine as my terrorist war against time, my bird flipping at the implacable enemy until the mousetrap bar finally slams down on me.
And this week, we feature, what has to be the summa cum laude graduate of the BJ Thomas School for Long Titles; The first Billboard hot 100 #1; our first outside the top ten six degrees, which will take us by truck from Nashville to the Space Shuttle; and, at long last, a new geriatric in the grandpa chair! Get yer bird ready, and let's go!
Six debuts on the hot 100 of this week in 1976, and we know three of them. One is kind of a carryover, though; with the success of the singles from Face The Music, ELO re- Released a previous single, Showdown. This is ELO at its critically-ignored best, and spends its 12th (or first, depending) week on the chart at #87. At 82 we have Eric Carmen, who after trying to thouroughly depress us with All By Myself and Never Gonna Fall In Love Again, tries to cheer us up with Sunshine. It never did work for me, BTW. That was an album that I could count on bringing me down no matter how low I started listening at. And the top debut was sweet miss Linda Ronstadt with her cover of the Crickets' That'll Be The Day. Happy 35th birthday to you!
Our other birthdays today include 45th birthdays for the Beatles' two sider Yellow Submarine/Eleanor Rigby, Neil Diamond (boy, he's gettintg alot of mention on TM and the Sixties countdown lately!) and Cherry Cherry, and Jimmy Ruffin, brother of the Temptation's David, with a song originally written for the Spinners- What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted? Celebrating it's 50th this week is Roy Orbison's Crying, as well as the longest titled song I know of: Ray Stevens and Jeremiah Peabody's Poly-Unsaturated, Quick-Dissolving, Fast-Acting, Pleasant-Tasting, Green And Purple Pills. If you don't know this one, well, allow me:
As my "ma" used to say, all righty, then! Our big movers for the day are: going up, Disco Duck from 88 to 70, eighteen spots; and going down from its peak at an undeserved low of 76 back to 93, the Spinners with a song called Wake Up, Susan.
At 49, we actually have a song with no previous connection to the position (for a change); I Can't Hear You No More by Helen Reddy. Miss Helen stopped performing in 2002, and in 2008 definatively announced you'd never catch her on a stage again, because her voice had deepened beyond the point of being able to do justice to songs like Delta Dawn. In the meantime, she has among other things become a practicing licensed hypnotherapist. In 2008, USA Today found her "living simply and frugally off song royalties, pension funds, and social security... renting a 13th floor apartment with a 180 degree view of Sydney Harbor." Apparently she nearly lost this when the property was re-appraised; but the landlord, upon finding out his tennant was THE Helen Reddy, told her not to worry- for all the things her music did for women everywhere, she never had to worry about a rent increase as long as she lives. (Now THAT must be nice...) Helen currently struggles with an adrenal problem called Addison's disease, which has more symptoms than I can share with you without turning this post into "Step Into My Ambulance".
I should mention before we hit the top 40 that our new oldest song is Misty Blue, leading a pack of five 20+ week songs (if you include the second run of Ode To Billie Joe) with 25 weeks.
Debuting in airplay alley are but 2 tunes. Chicago's If You Leave Me Now zooms up from 55 to 38; and Natalie Cole comes in with Sophisticated Lady (She's A Different Lady), up 3 to 40.
The #1s of other years segment is at the 8s this week, and 1998 means a replay of Brandy and Monica's The Boy Is Mine- last time in the eights we hit the beginning of its 13 week run; this time, near the end. 1988 was topped this week by veteran Stevie Winwood and Roll With It. In 1978, Lionel Ritchie was in the midst of his 4 week run with Three Times A Lady. In 1968, we had one of my FAVORITE groups (please note the sarcasm here), the Doors with Hello, I Love You. They were almost sued over this tune, as Ray Davies of the Kinks thought they cribbed the riff from their song Sunny Afternoon. Not so, said the Lizard King, Jim Morrison. We cribbed that riff from Cream's Sunshine Of Your Love. Oh, Okay, that makes everything all right. Moving on to 1958, the top song- and the first #1 on the newly minted Billboard Hot 100 countdown- was bandleader Perez Prado with Patricia.
Two songs enter the top ten, two fall out. Dropping from 7 to 14 is Get Closer, which it will not; and dropping 2 to twelve is the highest song sans bullet that we haven't six-degreed; Keith Carradine's I'm Easy.
Carradine wrote the song for, and performed it in, the movie Nashville. This movie about the music biz featured pastiches on many real characters, including Keith's portrayal of a (apparently unflattering ) version of Kris Kristofferson. Many of you have already heard the legends of Kris pushing brooms at Sun Records whilst Elvis recorded his greatest hits; the first song Kris got someone to record was called Vietnam Blues, and was sung by Dave Dudley. Dudley is best known for his deep tones on Six Days On The Road, a #2 country and #32 pop hit in 1963. And this song, somewhat modified, was the wake up call on day six of STS-3, the third Columbia Space Shuttle mission. This song was a request by Commander Jack Lousma, who was famously behind the earphones at mission control when Jack Swigert said the most famous words in space, "Houston, we've had a problem". It was modified by a recording studio to "Eight Days On The Road" for Columbia's 8-day mission at the request of Communications boss for the ground mission Brewster Shaw (who would go on to command Columbia's ninth mission). Lousma's response? "Okay, that's good music."
Taking Carradine's #10 spot is Walter Murphy and the Big Apple Band with A Fifth Of Beethoven, up 2 spots. The Beatles drop to #9, down 5, with Got To Get you Into My Life. At #8, up three, is our second debut, England Dan and John Ford Coley (who get BJ Thomas props for both name AND song) with I'd Really Love To See You Tonight. The Manhattans grudgingly give ground, dropping but one to #7 with former top dog Kiss And Say Goodbye. Lou Rawls, another BJT grad, climbs 2 to #6 with You'll Never Find Another Love Like Mine. Wild Cherry rockets up 4 to #5 with Play That Funky Music. The Bee Gees move one to #4 with You Should Be Dancing. Speaking of stubborn, how about Afternoon Delight? After 8 weeks in the top 2, and two seperate tenures as top dog, it finally slips to #3. Wings say Let 'Em In, and so SVB does, Paul and Co. moving one notch to #2. Which means that we have at #1 for the third week,
Tune in again next week as we snub our noses at Father Time yet again. As Hawkeye Pierce once said, "Don't Let the Bastard win!"