Saturday, November 2, 2013

American Top 40: 11/1/1975

We pick up the countdown at number 23:  "Born to Run," by Bruce Springsteen.  It sounds very odd in the context of all the pop songs on the countdown -- as if an episode of Cheers suddenly featured a scene from Twelfth Night -- but it's quality is still obvious.

There is a scene in The Sopranos -- sadly, I can't remember the episode -- where Tony Soprano and his minions are gathering for a meeting.  For some reason, Tony makes a remark about the traffic -- I think he asks Christopher why he was late in arriving.  And Christopher says, in a total deadpan voice, "The highway's jammed with broken heroes on a last-chance power drive."  That is probably my single favorite moment in all of The Sopranos.

38 comments:

  1. Number 22: "Nights on Broadway," by the Bee Gees

    This is the fastest-moving song on the countdown, and is the follow up to "Jive Talking." I actually like this song a great deal.

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    1. It's a good song. Jimmy Fallon used it well to base an ongoing "Barry Gibb Talk Show" skit on Saturday Night Live a few years ago.

      I'm sure I've said this somewhere on one of these countdown recaps before, but, for my money, "Jive Talking" is brilliant and timeless.

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  2. Number 21: "What a Difference a Day Makes," by Esther Phillips

    This song is so dated that it now sounds almost campy.

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    1. Whoa. This is the first of several songs here that I'm going to have to go look up.

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    2. not if Dinah Washington is singing it!!!

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  3. Number 20: "You," by George Harrison

    I've never heard this song before, but Casey tells us it's George Harrison's seventh consecutive single to make the top 40. The Beatles are to pop music as Tiger Woods is to golf.

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  4. Number 19: Jigsaw, "Sky High"

    For years and years, I used to sing this song to myself at the oddest of times. I still do that every once in a while.

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  5. Number 18: Tavares, "It Only Takes Minute"

    In general, I like these earlier disco-type songs better than the ones that are going to dominate the countdown in 1977 and 1978. This is a really fun song to me.

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    1. This song is, of course, "It Only Takes a Minute."

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  6. Number 17: ABBA, "S.O.S."

    What a great countdown so far! This is just a fabulous song.

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  7. Number 16: War, "Low Rider"

    This is a fun song. I've also been known to sing this one to myself. These days, it sounds to me like a song that should be played over a scene in a movie or TV show. Surely that has happened a bunch of times.

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  8. Number 15: Leon Russell, "Lady Blue"

    In all of these countdowns of the 1970's, there are always a number of slow ballads that don't really go anywhere, but could work very well as the "slow dance" at the end of the type of high school dances they used to have back then. This is one of those songs.

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    1. Mr. Toy once went to see Leon Russell--or was it Redbone?--at SIU-Carbondale one time on a school night.

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  9. Casey interrupts the countdown to play "Indian Reservation," by the Raiders, which hit number 1 back in 1971. He introduces it with a long story about the guy who wrote the song was inspired to do so after he was kidnapped and tortured by a group of Cherokees back in 1959. According to Casey, the Cherokee promised to let the songwriter go only if he would write a song about their plight.

    I looked this up on Wikipedia, and of course this story turns out to be completely false. Apparently John Loudermilk, the songwriter in question, made up the story when AT 40 asked him about the origin of the song. I don't endorse lying to Casey Kasem, but that is pretty funny.

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    1. I once was doing a feature about this couple--I forget what the story was ostensibly about--and, deep into the interview, they had lied about a number of anecdotes in order to "help" me create a colorful story. "Who's going to know?" the guy said. I was so mad, and it was so difficult to piece back together what I could and could not write about. I should've pitched the whole thing, but I think I ended up writing something awful.

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  10. Number 14: The Captain and Teneille, "The Way that I Want to Touch You"

    A pretty good song, although not one of their best.

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  11. Number 13: Olivia Newton-John, "Something Better to Do"

    I've never heard this song, which is about as generic a song as one can imagine.

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  12. Number 12: People's Choice, "Do It Any Way You Want"

    This is another proto-disco song, one of several on this countdown. It's OK. It's mostly an instrumental, and would go pretty well with highlights of the 1975 Dallas Cowboys.

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  13. Number 11: Ritchie Family, "Brazil"

    What a variety of songs they had back then. We had "Born to Run," and we had a number of pop-type love songs, and we had proto-disco, and now this is a sort of over-the-top Broadway type dance number -- the sort of thing they used to play at the beginning of 1970's variety shows. The music landscape in 1975 was simply vast.

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  14. Number 10: Natalie Cole, "This Will Be"

    A very pleasant song, now an iconic symbol of romance -- exactly the sort of song they used to play at the end of romantic comedies back in the 1990's.

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  15. Number 9: Linda Ronstadt, "Heat Wave"

    This is Linda Ronstadt's third top-10 hit of the year, and it's a remake of an old song. I can vividly remember listening to Linda Ronstadt on the radio in the 1970's, and having my mother explain that her songs were almost all remakes of songs from the 1950's and 1960's.

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  16. Number 8: Neil Sedaka, "Bad Blood"

    This song was number 1 in last week's countdown. For most of my life, I thought this song was called "Bad Love," because I can't understand Neil Sedaka at all.

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    1. I still thought it was "Bad Love." It's a good song.

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  17. Number 7: Morris Albert, "Feelings"

    OK, I know that everyone hates this song. But I don't hate it. In fact, I always kind of liked it. Mock me if you will.

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    1. Look at you, letting your freak flag fly.

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  18. Number 6: The Four Seasons, "Who Loves You"

    Casey explains that yes, this is Frankie Valli singing on this song, even though he's not given separate credit on the record. We will hope this is more accurate than Casey's report on "Indian Reservation." But it definitely sounds like Frankie Valli to me.

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  19. Number 5: The Spinners, "Games People Play"

    This is a fabulous song.

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  20. Number 4: Eagles, "Lyin' Eyes"

    Supposedly, there is a great documentary out about the Eagles, but I haven't had a chance to look for it. Personally, I like the Eagles. Like a lot of acts from the 1970's -- such as Elton John, or Fleetwood Mac -- they were a lot better than certain music snobs gave them credit for being.

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  21. Number 3: Jefferson Starship, "Miracles"

    For much of my childhood, this would have made any list of my 10 favorite songs.

    Before playing this song, Casey ran through about four stations that carry AT 40. I listened -- as I have listened ever since the 1970's -- for a reference to WKYX in Paducah, Kentucky. One of these days I hope to hear it.

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  22. Number 2: John Denver, "Calypso"

    This song has been at number 2 for six weeks. I had no idea it was that popular. It's OK, although it's probably about my 14th-favorite John Denver song.

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    1. Actually, Casey explained that the single at number 2 is the double-sided "I'm Sorry / Calypso." He just happened to play "Calypso." I like "I'm Sorry" better than "Calypso," but I'm still surprised this double was so popular.

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    2. But look at the top four artists on this countdown:

      1. Elton John
      2. John Denver
      3. Jefferson Starship
      4. The Eagles

      That's about as 1975 as you can get.

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    3. WFMW--the official free-donuts provider of the Kentucky desk--played "I'm Sorry" just this afternoon!

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  23. Number 1: Elton John, "Island Girl"

    This song went from outside the top 40 to number 1 in only 4 weeks -- the fastest rise for any song since the Beatles (naturally) released "The Long and Winding Road" in 1970.

    "Island Girl" is from the album "Rock of the Westies," which Elton John released on November 3, 1975. He had previously released "Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy" on May 19, 1975. What a busy year for Elton.

    And that's it for the countdown! I enjoyed this one a lot.

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  24. My brother who turned 19 in 1975 lost interest in Elton John that year. Elton John had been pretty much his favorite, but he started to lose it for him with Captain Fantastic and then really gave up with Rock of the Westies. Then, in 1976, this record came out, and it pretty much assumed all the singer-songerwriter spins on Kurt's record player.

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