American Top 40 PastBlast, 12/28/85: Clarence Clemons and Jackson Browne, “You’re a Friend of Mine”

Late 85 was a “friendly” time on the charts.  In the 11/23/85 edition of AT40, “That’s What Friends Are For,” by Dionne & Friends, debuted back-to-back with this song, at #39 and #38, respectively.  Even though the sentiments being expressed in the two tunes were similar, their fates were rather different.  Dionne, Gladys, Stevie, and Elton rocketed to the top for four weeks and wound up at #1 on Casey’s year-end countdown for 86.  Clarence and Jackson had a tougher slog; they only reached #18 (they’re at #23 here) and were off the chart by mid-February.

My reactions to the songs were the opposite of the public at large.  “That’s What Friends Are For” was recorded for an excellent cause (proceeds went to AIDS research), but I’ve never been a big fan—looking back, I find that many ballads of that era leave me cold.  On the other hand, the passion and energy of “You’re a Friend of Mine” (not to mention Clarence’s wailing sax) really hit the spot.  Having a good time together is what friends do a lot, no?  I thought enough of its message that winter that I bought ten or so copies of the 45 to give to college buds near and dear to me, in appreciation of their friendship.

The Big Man was able to call on Jackson until 6/18/11.

WordPress is telling me that this is nominally my 200th post–they add up fast when over a third of them get ferried over (with modest modification) from Facebook.  I’m pretty sure it’ll take longer than five months for the next 200 to make it here.  Thanks to all who’ve been checking in from time to time!

3 thoughts on “American Top 40 PastBlast, 12/28/85: Clarence Clemons and Jackson Browne, “You’re a Friend of Mine””

  1. Congrats on your milestone 200th post!

    Neither of these “friendly” songs has ever appealed to me but I applaud your generosity, distributing copies of the 45 to your friends. I’ve done two similar things:

    In 8th grade back in 1980, I bought three copies of Blondie’s newly released “Call Me” and wrote my home phone number on each and gave them to three young ladies I wanted to be my Valentine. All three did call me but said they just wanted to be friends.

    When the Band Aid 45 showed up in a counter display at Zip’s just before Christmas 1984, I bought half a dozen copies and gave them to my closest friends. (I bought the twelve-inch single for myself.) Two of those 45s eventually found their way back into my hands: one when my wife and I merged our collections in 1987 and another when my best friend/roommate from 1984 gave me his entire vinyl collection about seven years ago.

    When I think of “friendly” songs (as in friend, singular), the first track that pops into my mental jukebox is Kenny Loggins and Stevie Nicks singing “Whenever I Call You Friend”. I know it wasn’t on the charts in 1985 which is the point of your post but man it’s a great song.

    As far as the plural friends, a whole lot of tracks come to mind but I’ll just leave you with three:
    “Friends” – Jody Watley (which I have not heard in some time but am now going to seek out immediately)
    “Why Can’t We Be Friends” – WAR
    “Can We Still Be Friends” – Todd Rundgren (will also accept Robert Palmer’s cover)


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