December 16th, 1976 wasn’t a big news day; the closest thing to a news item I found was that George the Goose died this day at the age of 49 years and 8 months. I guess that stunning Jimmy Carter election win took the sails out of all of us, huh? So let’s move right on to the good stuff- the music, dude- and find the answers to the burning questions: Who was the Levon in Levon , and what was the black dog in Black Dog? Also, Elvis returns to the hot 100, and Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov enters the top 40- sort of. All this and we connect Rod Stewart to the evil Jafar! So hop in and let’s go.
The hot hundred features 8 debuts, and we feature 3 of them. Coming in at 90 is, da da DAAA! The King, with Moody Blue. Up at 78 we have Kiss with one of their most underrated songs, Hard Luck Woman. And breaking in at 72 is the Steve Miller Band with Fly Like An Eagle.
Those songs are thirty-five years old this week. Turning 40 are a trio of tunes, starting with the T-Rex classic Bang A Gong (Get It On). Also turning forty is Elton John’s Levon, which was not based on the man, but was named for The Band drummer Levon Helm, who was the vocalist on The Weight. And third of the 40-yr-olds is Led Zeppelin’s Black Dog. The title of one of the group’s most recognizable songs had nothing to do with the song; apparently a black lab had been wandering around the recording studio when this song commenced.
Turning 45 are the Four Tops’ Standing In The Shadows Of Love; the Lovin’ Spoonful’s Nashville Cats, which is what I thought the NFL’s Tennessee Titans should have been named; the Electric Prunes’ I Had Too Much To Dream Last Night; and Tom Jones’ The Green Green Grass Of Home. And turning the big 5-0 this week is Dion’s The Wanderer. Blow out the candles…
The big dropper this week was Fernando, slipping 14 to #41. The big mover awaits yet again in the top 40. And that brings us to #49 and the Where Are They Now segment. Here we find the lovely and talented Ann and Nancy Wilson, and the boys that make them Heart, with the falling Magic Man.
Heart is one of our most active featurees, having released Red Velvet Car just last summer. The lp spawned the singles Hey You, which hit #26 on the AC chart, and WTF, which hit #16 on the mainstream rock chart. They also have toured North America in the last year. Separately, Ann is coming off a 2006 solo release called Hope And Glory, and is raising two adopted children- Marie, adopted in 1991, and Dustin, 1996. Nancy’s 24-year marriage to director Cameron Crowe ended in divorce last year. She had helped him with the scores to many of his movies, including Jerry McGuire.
A half dozen songs enter the top 40 this week. Up 7 to #40 this week is Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Free Bird. Our big mover jumps 18 to come in at 39- The Eagles’ New Kid In Town. Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov made the famous piece Flight Of The Bumblebee; Walter Murphy made it disco in his hit Flight 76, which comes in at 38, up 3. George Harrison enters at 37, up 8, with This Song; The Jacksons move up 15 to 36 with Enjoy Yourself; and the high debut, up 9 to 34, is Manfred Mann’s Earth Band featuring the vocals of Chris Thompson, and Blinded By The Light.
This week on the salute to yesteryear’s #1s, I found a song called Elmer’s Tune on the chart tops this week in 1941. Given the era I was born to, my first thought was, this must be a looney tunes tribute to Elmer Fudd- though I must admit, that’s not the kind of theme I have ever heard from a Glenn Miller single.
In fact, the Elmer in question was Elmer Albrecht, who wasn’t so much a musician, but a mortician who used to wander over to Chicago’s Aragon Ballroom to play their piano on lunch break. One day, the tune he was playing was heard by bandleader Dick Jurgens, and the rest soon became history. After Jurgens had a hit with an instrumental version, Glenn Miller, as he often did to Jurgens, swooped in, had Sammy Gallop put words to it, and voila! a #1 hit. And BTW, while it wasn’t about the esteemed Mr. Fudd, it would have been a neat theme song for his live variety show.
Two songs enter the top ten, two drop out. The fallen are Nadia’s Theme (7 to 15) and I Never Cry (9 to 17).
Holding at #10 this week is England Dan and John Ford Coley with Nights Are Forever Without You. Coming in at #9, up 2, is Elton John’s Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word. At #8, up 4, is the legendary Engelebert Humperdink with After The Loving. Muskrat Love does the jitterbug down 5 to #7. Burton Cummings stands tall at #6, up 2, with, er, Stand Tall. The Bee Gees drop 2 to #5 with Love So Right. Marilyn and Billy move up 2 to #4 with You Don’t Have To Be A Star. The Rubberband Man moves 1 to #3 for the Spinners. Leo Sayer pulls into the runnerup spot after a 3-notch climb with You Make Me Feel Like Dancing. Which brings us to our third week #1 song and six degrees contestant.
One of the several remakes of Rod Stewart’s Tonight’s The Night was done by disco diva Linda Clifford, who is best known for her remake of the old musical number If My Friends Could See Me Now. From the musical Sweet Charity, it was sung in the original musical by Gwen Virdon. This recording was used in the original pilot (though excised for all subsequent episodes ) of the Nanny. It was replaced there by the theme The Nanny Named Fran, written and performed by the sister team of Ann Hampton and Liz Calloway. And Liz is an experienced “cartoon” singing voice, including being Princess Jasmine, singing Forget About Love in the movie The Return Of Jafar.
And Bob’s your uncle for another week. Be sure to tune in Saturday for the seventies countdown, and return here next week for more tunage from the Jimmy Carter depression era.