American Top 40 PastBlast Redux, 6/29/74: Gordon Lightfoot, “Sundown”

Before I started this blog, I posted about songs from old AT40s on Facebook, January-July 2017. I’ll be moving them here over time. This entry has been edited slightly from the original.

One game I played regularly from the very beginning of my days as an AT40 scribe was to predict where I thought songs would appear on the following week’s countdown. Overall I wasn’t very accurate; as I recall, a solid week would have me get eight to ten songs right. The best I ever did, in February 79, was eighteen.

Not quite two years before I started writing down the charts, they did a show that had the AT40 staff trying this same game. Casey had scored an appearance on Hawaii-Five-O and rather than scrounge up a guest host, they decided to make their best guesses based on the 6/22/74 chart and have CK record the show of “estimates” before he took off for Honolulu. In terms of getting songs in exactly the right position, they did terribly: only three. Many were just a spot or two off, but there were some significant misses as well. The most notable error was predicting that ZZ Top’s “La Grange” would debut at #33–it never made the Top 40 at all, stalling at #41.

Casey and the staff had been in the prediction business to some extent before. For about a year starting in late 72, CK announced at the end of the show what they thought the following week’s #1 would be. They were right only about one-third of the time–that low rate of success is likely why they gave up. Here, they at least got the top two correct (they also nailed Elvis’s “If You Talk in Your Sleep” at #34). “Billy Don’t Be a Hero,” by Bo Donaldson and the Heywoods, was runner-up. And this one, a favorite of mine at the time (and still today) from the great Canadian singer-songwriter Gordon Lightfoot, really did stand at the top.

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