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What is it about nice people that attract total idiots?Nice people are martyrs. Idiots are evangelists.


Friday, October 31, 2014

Time Machine week 28

For those of you that think, what's Halloween without a horror story, this might change your mind.  It's October 31, 1972, 7:30-ish in the morning.  In the fog at Chicago's 27th street station, the engineer of one passenger train overshoots the station, stops, and backs up back to the platform.  But he had passed it far enough that it set off a "track clear" signal to the next train, 3 minutes behind.  The front of that train telescoped into the stopped first train.  Fortunately the station was near two hospitals, and the fire dept. was soon there in full force.  Their rescue efforts kept the death toll to 45, with 350 injured.

This will not be the worst disaster we visit today.

Welcome to a haunting Time Machine, the week that Chicago's Dialogue pts 1&2 and King Harvest's Dancing In The Moonlight first make an appearance to the American ear.  This week, the only song this year that goes number one on Billboard but NOT on Cashbox; the #3 Top Top Ten, as we slowly see the #5  take shape in a couple short weeks;  the #4 One-Hit-Wonder's next hit; and in honor of the World Series (or actually, just because of an odd coincidence), we'll talk some baseball.  Pass your ticket to the conductor... and prepare for the horrors that await....

I'm going to start off this week with the top 40 debuts, as there's a surprise inside (just like the toy in Cracker Jack).  Now you guys, let's hear no more Wayne Newton bashing, because his single Can't You Hear The Song makes it into the Cashbox survey at #40, up 5 spots.  Last week's big mover, the Temps' Papa Was A Rolling Stone, is next, climbing 16 spots to #38.  Mott The Hoople comes in at #37, up five with All The Young Dudes.  And that brings us to our surprise- a long song (7:24 on the single) that I didn't know called American City Suite by the duo Cashman and West.  Cashman is Terry Cashman, and West is Tommy West.  Now the two of them had started out with a gentleman by the name Gene Pistilli, and Cashman and Pistilli penned Spanky and Our Gang's big hit Sunday Will Never Be The Same.  The duo would also make a name as producers, credited with Jim Croce's works, as well as West's producing of Henry Gross' Shannon.  But the name Terry Cashman sticks with me because of this tune from the 80's:

American City Suite comes in at #34, up 9 places.

Two more songs debuted that week.  Harold Melvin and the Bluenotes' If You Don't Know Me By Now jumps 21 spots- tied for second for biggest mover in the countdown this week- from 48 to 27.  And a song that just missed the 40 last week- Alice Cooper's Elected- makes it this week, from 41 to 28.


Our next stop is this week's Top Top Ten- the second of three top tens from the year 1975!  This one comes from the third week of August, and boy there are some memories here:

10- One Of These Nights, The Eagles.  Seemed like this song thrived on those hot August nights.

9- I'm Not In Love, 10cc.  I remember the fun we had trying to figure out what he was saying when he whispered, "Be quiet... big boys don't cry... big boys don't cry..."

8- How Sweet It Is, James Taylor.  A sure sign of my aging is my brain insisting this one was from a year or two later.

7- At Seventeen, Janis Ian.  One of those story songs that always pulls me in.

6- Fallin' In Love, Hamilton, Joe Frank, and Reynolds.  Actually "and Dennison" by this time.  One of those songs that will stop what I'm doing every time.

5- Why Can't We Be Friends, War.  Riding on my nephew's mini-bike, screaming out our own verses to the song as we flew over bumps and culverts along Lortie Road all summer.

4- Rhinestone Cowboy, Glen Campbell.  A lot of time on the lake listening to this lp on the 8-track.  Two of those songs- I'll Build A Bridge and Pencils For Sale- I still love more than the hits.

3- Someone Saved My Life Tonight, Elton John.  Another member of the "Mythical Top Ten" (see last week's episode).  I remember the local paper pointing out the lyric "My friends downstairs, rolling 'round the basement floor" as an example of the degeneration of song lyrics back then.  Boys, let me play you a few tunes from 2014...

2- Jive Talkin', the Bee Gees.  I wonder how long it was until this idiot knew this was the Bee Gees.  Like I said, idiot.

And the #1 from that week...

1- Get Down Tonight, KC and the Sunshine Band!  Do a little dance, make a little love...


Our big mover this week, with a 25-notch leap from 67 to #42, the very latest "Let's Stay Together" clone from Al Green.  This one is called You Ought To Be With Me.

All right Martin, if you're so darn smart, YOU figure out how to get this keyboard to play another rhythm!  Frankly, I'm stumped!

We have five members of the You Peaked club this time around.  Rod Stewart stopped last week at 14 with You Wear It Well;  David Cassidy's Rock Me Baby ( nowhere near the song that Steppenwolf did, BTW) cashed out at #26.  Emerson Lake and Palmer topped off at #40 with From The Beginning; Eric Clapton's Let It Rain ended its run at 57.  And remember a few weeks back when Billy Preston had the week's biggest mover with the theme from the blacksploitation film Slaughter?  Well, it ran down swiftly, and stopped last week at a mere #46.  I think after the first wave who bought the 45 for his name ended, word of mouth might have finished it, 'cause that was some serious rank tunage!


The #4 song on the One Hit Wonder's next hit list belongs to Kyu Sakamoto.  You should know his big hit Sukiyaki (if you're an old codger like me), which became the only Japanese language #1 in the US of A in 1963.  Before I get to that next hit, though, let me tell you about the death of this singer.

It was August (again with August today!) of 1985, and Japan Air Lines #123 left for a routine flight with 509 passengers and 15 crew.  Now, several months before, this plane had hit it's tail against the tarmac, causing a crack in one of the 2 bulkheads.  The prescribed fix for this from Boeing was to fit a splice bulkhead with three rows of rivets in between the two existing ones.  But, in order to make it fit, the repair workers split the splice- parallel to the crack- with one part getting one row of rivets and the other getting two.  Experts later testified that even this botched repair should have lasted 10,000 flight hours- but on August 12, 1985, #123 had logged 12,000+ hours with the repair.  There's mistake #2.

The plane lifted off that day (with Sakamoto among the passengers), and 12 minutes in, the bulkhead ruptured, explosive decompression followed, and the plane's insides collapsed around the restrooms.  The change of airflow ripped the vertical stabilizer off the plane, cutting the hydraulics as it went.  The pilots did an incredible job trying to control the plane long enough to land- four different expert crews in flight simulators couldn't touch the 32 minutes that they actually managed- but without power assists, everything they tried only made things worse.  They clipped one wing on a mountainside, tore the second off on another, rolled over and crashed.  Four passengers out of the 524 souls on board survived.

But the mistakes weren't done there.  US air personnel in the area pinpointed the wreck, but were told by a Japanese official (who remains anonymous to this day) to "stand down".  Funny how that phrase always seems to be famous last words for someone other than the ones about to die, eh?  Japanese forces puttered around until after nightfall before they found it, the chopper pilot that did finally find the wreckage erroneously reported that there were no survivors, and as a result dozens who might have lived froze to death on the mountainside until they actually sent investigators up in the morning.

And that is how we lost the wonderful voice of Kyu Sakamoto, who gave us later in 1963 this tune, which peaked at #58:


Two songs enter this week's top ten, so two fall out.  The droppers are Use Me (5 to 13) and Go All The Way (6 to 15).

Leon Russell tightropes his way into the top ten at ten with, er, Tightrope.  It moves up one.

The Main Ingredient tumbles from 3 to 9 with recent #1 Everybody Plays The Fool.

Curtis Mayfield moves up one to #8 with Freddie's Dead.

Johnny Nash reggaes his way from 13 to 7 with I Can See Clearly Now.

The Spinners climb from 8 to 6 with I'll Be Around.

Rick Nelson and the Stone Canyon Band move from 10 to #5 with Garden Party.

And at #4, we have Michael Jackson's Ben, which is significant.  Ben falls from #2 without having made the top.  However, it DID hit #1 on Billboard.  If you've been playing along for a while, you know that Billboard generally doesn't change as much at the top as Cashbox- CB will usually have all of the BB #1s, and add in six or so of their own every year.  But Ben is the ONLY song this year that made the top on Billboard but NOT on Cashbox- and that is an oddity!

Like a love song to a homicidal rat isn't odd....

Elvis moves up a notch to #3 with Burning Love.

The big move goes to the Moody Blues, with Nights In White Satin climbing from 7 to 2.

And the winnah and still champeen for a second week- Chuck Berry and My Ding-A-Ling!!!!!!


Afterword to Arlee- I decided (well, remembered) to check out the Seals and Crofts songs you recommended.  When I tried on YouTube, all I found was an alternate take on See My Life.  But Spotify has the debut lp, and the original was FAAAAR better.  I'm listening to the rest now and anticipate them going into my ever-burgeoning playlist.  Thanks!


  1. I still like James Taylor. I think I have a CD. I'll go play it.

    1. I like him, too. Just thought this one was like in '78 or so.

  2. I've always liked 'Talkin' Baseball (Willie, Mickey, And The Duke)' although I'm not sure I ever heard the ENTIRE song before. (That was some catch Willie made, say hey?) I hate the Giants though.

    >>... "Spanky and Our Gang's big hit 'Sunday Will Never Be The Same'."

    I'd been under the impression that their biggest hit was 'Like To Get To Know You', but I checked and you, sir, are RIGHT!

    That was a great vocal group, and I like everything they recorded except for 'Give A Damn' (that was a bit too self-righteous for my tastes).

    ~ D-FensDogg
    'Loyal American Underground'

    1. I cannot take credit for Spanky- I did say "big hit," not biggest, and I would have probably voted with you!

      I have heard Give A Damn, and agree with you on that, too.

      We used to live for This Week In Baseball back in the day. Mel Allen was the best! Being an A's fan, I don't care much for the Giants either- however, I DID pick them to win the series in a MLB poll pre-season! Gotta love it when they prove you right!

  3. "Like a love song to a homicidal rat isn't odd"?
    It was sung by Michael Jackson, after all.

    1. He just had his "odd" training wheels on back then, though...

  4. I loved belting out The Rhinestone Cowboy back in the day. And the Eagles are one of the best of all time.

    I hope you're well, Chris, and had a great, safe Halloween.

    1. It was a great lp end to end, and my first vinyl album was Eagles Greatest.

  5. "Sukiyaki" is John Holton's pick this week for BOTB. I'm an old codger who used to hear this song all over the place in the years after it first came out. Don't hear it much anymore.

    Janis Ian's Between the Lines albums is one of the best ever--what a masterpiece. "At Seventeen" is about as heartbreaking as any song I've heard. Love that song!

    I ran into the same problem with YouTube and "See My Life" when I used it for a blog post one time. That debut Seals and Crofts album is so sadly neglected. I remember there was a special feature show regarding that album on PBS when Seals and Crofts first released it. That's where I first heard about it. Then I went to see them in concert after they'd released the next one or two albums. They put on an outstanding show. After that they released "Summer Breeze" and really hit it big. I still liked their music, but essentially stopped following them closely. They have great harmonies and are very talented musicians.

    Tossing It Out

    1. I think we all have acts that are "our acts" until they hit the big time and become "everyone's act".

  6. Chris:
    You sure didn't disappoint with the story about JAL #123...all those small things coming together, bound up by fate to exact a final and deadly conclusion.
    Tragic indeed, and never HAD to occur.

    Love all the songs covered this week...not a bad one in the bunch...with the one exception of MJ's BEN...never got into that,. thankfully..
    Good to see Berry at the top still, but Moody Blues are coming on like gang-busters.
    (maybe NEXT week's #1?)

    Excellent ride again, brother.

    Rock on safely up there.

    1. Can't say I liked Ben either... but in any era, you'll have names (in this line, it's Jackson, Donny O, and David Cassidy) who sell just for the name on the record.

      I remember a couple of friends who went to the mall after John Lennon's death to buy 45s they'd never listen to, as a "memorial gift" of sorts. Lots of odd reasons to buy a record.