American Top 40 PastBlast, 7/3/71: Fortunes, “Here Comes That Rainy Day Feeling Again”

In the realm of popular music, there seems to be a little something more impressive about songs that make the top ten. A retrospective on an artist’s or group’s career will often include the # of Top 10 hits he/she/it had. In some ways, it’s a quick, possibly unfair measure of success.

I got to thinking about such things when I noticed that this song by the Fortunes stalled out at #15. (It’s #20 on this chart.) I think I heard “Here Comes That Rainy Day Feeling Again” on the radio plenty throughout the 70s; I suppose that led me to assume it had easily reached that exalted Top 10 status. As I’ve gotten more familiar with AT40 shows prior to the time I started maintaining my charts, I’ve found a number of other songs from the 1970-75 period that felt like top-tenners to me but weren’t. Here are ten of them, along with peak position. I grant you this exercise is wholly subjective and is almost certainly based on some combination of personal appeal and the vagaries of recurrent lists in the Cincinnati market.

–White Plains, “My Baby Loves Lovin’.” British vocalist Tony Burrows sang lead on several one-off studio pop groups right around this time. Without doing any research, I’m thinking all the other songs climbed higher than this. (#13, Jun 70)

–Cat Stevens, “Wild World.” Beyond this one, “Peace Train,” and “Morning Has Broken,” I’m not that much of a Stevens fan. I’d have thought, though, this would have done as well as those other two, which soon after made #7 and #6, respectively. (#11, Apr 71)

–Grass Roots, “Two Divided By Love.” I’d put this up there with “Sooner or Later,” which made #9 earlier in the year (in fact, the latter is on the show this week). (#16, Nov-Dec 71)

–Raspberries, “I Wanna Be With You.” I got familiar with this from Fantastic, a fun K-Tel album. It totally rocks, and I probably like it better than their #5 hit “Go All the Way.” (#16, Jan 73)

–King Harvest, “Dancing in the Moonlight.” This one is the song that initially gave me the idea for this post. Encountered it a decent amount over the years; just always assumed it made it bigger. (#13, Feb-Mar 73)

–Charlie Rich, “Behind Closed Doors.” I guess I figured any country song that broke through into my consciousness before the age of 10 had to have been a huge pop hit.  I nearly included Donna Fargo’s “Happiest Girl in the Whole USA” on the list for the same reason. (#15, Jul 73)

–Edgar Winter Group, “Free Ride.” My impression is definitely shaped by subsequent airplay for this song. Heard this lots more than I ever did “Frankenstein.” (#14, Oct 73)

–Bachman Turner Overdrive, “Takin’ Care of Business.” How did this not get higher? You can hardly avoid it on 70s stations now. (#12, Aug 74)

–Pure Prairie League, “Amie.” Purely a function of PPL having roots near Cincinnati, where it got plenty of exposure. It was decidedly underrated at the time nationally, though. A very different lineup had a #10 song, “Let Me Love You Tonight,” five years later. (#27, Apr 75)

–Abba, “SOS.” This might be my very favorite of theirs; it’s simply magic to me. Would definitely have pegged this as a top 5 song. (#15, Nov 75)

Granted, my impressions weren’t all that far away from reality for the most part, but as I noted, extra weight seems to be given to songs that get at least to #10. Would love to get reactions/hear about other “slighted” hits below (I winnowed mine down from one that was over twice as long initially). I stopped with 75 because the week-to-week encounters that began in 76 allowed me to have an immediate reaction about tunes which I didn’t think peaked high enough.

And don’t feel too bad for the Fortunes. They had four Top 10 songs in their native England, and “You’ve Got Your Troubles,” which sounds just barely familiar to me, made #7 on this side of the pond in 65.

American Top 40 PastBlast Redux, 3/2/85: John Parr, “Naughty Naughty”

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 somewhat from the original.

I felt kind of…naughty…posting this one on FB last year, but had to do it just to see if I could get the same reaction from Warren as he had back in the day (he had told me that he blamed Steve Miller’s “Abracadabra” for godawful guitar solos like the one in this song). “Naughty Naughty” is at #24, and would peak one position higher.  Parr would go all the way to the top later in the year with “Man in Motion,” from the flick St. Elmo’s Fire.

A Daisy for Miss Mabel

Today, Martha and I traveled to Warsaw for one of my thrice-annual visits to my folks’ gravesite; late June, around the time of Dad’s birthday, is typically when one of those trips happens. As usual, I ordered flowers from Ribbons & Roses, the town floral shop. It’s a continuation of the practice my father started years ago for his parents and aunt (I go only about half as often as he did, but then again, I’m over twice as far away). The proprietor and I often have a bit of a conversation about Dad, and today was no exception—among other things, we talked about some odd occurrences at her shop as my great-aunt’s house, a block away, was being demolished (they involve a rodent and seventy-five carnations) and how she helped Dad deliver his flowers to the cemetery toward the end of his years as he grew weaker.

Warsaw Cemetery is maybe a quarter-mile from R & R; we took the beautiful bouquet and placed it behind Dad’s stone. After I talked to Mom and Dad for a while, Martha and I split up and began a quest.

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Yesterday I told a little about my father’s first-grade teacher, Ms. Mabel Lucas. What I didn’t mention was that while I was putting that post together, I learned that Ms. Lucas was also buried in Warsaw. We were seeking her gravestone. I didn’t necessarily plan to take as much time as was needed to find it today, but at the least I wanted to eliminate some portion of the cemetery for the next visit.

I was in luck—I came across it in less than 15 minutes.  It’s actually within view of my parents’ site, a couple of rows back and maybe a half-dozen plots to the left.  We stood there just a while, and then Martha made a capital suggestion: “Why not go back to Ribbons & Roses and get a flower for Miss Mabel?  Surely your dad would have done that himself.”

So that’s what we did after lunch.

DaisyForMabelLucas618

It’s been a stormy day throughout Kentucky. The rain and thunder missed Warsaw until well after we left in the early afternoon, but I fear that the bouquet and daisy have been blown around and damaged now. For a short while today, though, teacher and pupil were gifted with flowers.

Q102’s Top 35, 6/26/78

One thing I encounter on some music blogs I read is an interest in old regional chart action. Back when there was much less homogeneity, radio stations across the country published their own ranked lists of the hottest pop songs in their market. In late 70s and early 80s Cincinnati, the gatekeeper Top 40 station was WKRQ (Q102). I still have fifty-one of Q102’s lists, ranging between September 26, 1977 and October 12, 1981 (they generally have a Monday date); I picked them up from a record store in the Florence Mall. The year most represented is 1980 (might have something to do with increased mobility, having just gotten my driver’s license), but I do have a number from 78, including the one from forty years ago today.

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Initially, the most interesting thing to me are the big differences between the Cincy national scenes.  Q102 favored Meat Loaf, Celebration (wow!–that’s a true obscurity today–Mike Love was moonlighting), and Linda Ronstadt.  The highest national songs not listed here, comparing to the 6/24/78 Hot 100, are “Use Ta Be My Girl,” by the O’Jays, “Too Much, Too Little, Too Late,” from Johnny Mathis/Deniece Williams, and Peter Brown’s “Dance with Me.”

They were pretty casual about matching the exact song title (see Gibb, Loaf, Walsh, and Ronstadt). Another thing: it looks like they’d expanded their list to 35 songs only the week before (previously, there were 30).

Quick tours through my memory and a portion of my 45s show that Amy and I had bought the songs at #6, 22, 23, and 25, but I’m also somewhat of the belief that maybe we had #1 and 9 as well…

Since the paper is so thin that you can see through pretty well, I may as well show you the back:

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Would have been a fun (and cheap) show!

The inspiration for posting this came from HERC, who writes frequently about what was hot on WLS in Chicago, and jb, who cites charts from around the country in many posts. It was fun to go digging through one of the bins in my basement for these. Others of them will likely appear from time to time!

IRH: The Very Early Years

Today would have been Ira Richard Harris’s 87th birthday. This photo tour will make stops mostly from Dad’s first decade; I found many of these pictures in the same boxes that contained those that chronicled my grandparents’ teaching travels all over Kentucky in the 20s.

Dad was the only child of Willie and Elizabeth Harris; he showed up ten days after their 11th anniversary. First, the house in which he was born:

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This was just up the hill from the Ohio River in Warsaw. His mother and her sister were also born there, and Aunt Birdie lived in it through the, and her, early 90s. We had many a meal in the dining/living room (to the left of the front door). When my family lived in Stanford, we spent the night while on visits (above the dining room). The rooms on the right were generally closed off. A kitchen had been added on the back at some point, though long before I was around. Alas, the lawyer who bought the house from Dad after Aunt Birdie died had it torn down. I hated that, but in his defense, it had suffered from decades of benign neglect and would have required lots of $ to get back in shape.

The picture comes from the early 70s, maybe during one of those overnight stays–I’m pretty sure that’s Dad’s 71 LTD out in front.

Continue reading “IRH: The Very Early Years”

American Top 40 PastBlast, 6/16/84: Icicle Works, “Whisper to a Scream (Birds Fly)”

I occasionally listen to a station via the iHeart Radio app devoted exclusively to playing old AT40 shows (called, appropriately enough, Classic American Top 40). The channel cycles through almost 180 shows, evenly split between the 70s and 80s (though right now they play two 80s shows for every 70s show). Both of the shows being featured by Premiere Networks this weekend are in those rotations, and I’ve heard at least parts of each there more than once.

That’s how I know that on this show Casey reveals the source of this band’s name: it comes from the title of a short story by science fiction writer Frederik Pohl. We also get a brief plot outline of “The Day the Icicle Works Closed.” Just in the nick of time, too, as “Whisper to a Scream (Birds Fly)” was in its last week on the countdown, at its peak of #37. Icicle Works never hit again.

This is the fifth week in a row that the featured 80s track climbed no higher than #28 (and I’d expect the streak to go to six next Sunday). Apparently late spring/early summer was a prime time for low-peaking songs that I really liked.

American Top 40 PastBlast, 6/26/76: Dorothy Moore, “Misty Blue”

My spring of 76 was full of musical discoveries. Along with learning of the existence of AT40, I also found that on weekends the Cincinnati Enquirer would print Billboard’s Top 10 pop, country, and soul singles, as well as the Top 10 albums, all for the week just ended. It was definitely a reason to make a dash for the arts section of the paper every Sunday morning.  I suppose in some ways it spoiled the last 40 minutes of the show, but somehow I couldn’t resist. I wish I’d thought to save at least a couple of those newspapers—I can still picture the lists in my head. My own records will have to do…

This was one of the first few shows I wrote down (as you might suspect, I’ll post it a picture of my chart sometime soon). I was in thrall during those early weeks of record-keeping; I can remember trying to discern patterns in the rise and fall of the various songs played as the weeks passed.  Those 45s popular in June and July of 76 became fairly well etched into my memory.

One thing that particularly stood out on the June charts was a relative lack of movement at the top. On 6/5, “Silly Love Songs,” “Get Up and Boogie,” and “Misty Blue” sat at #2, 3, and 4, respectively. They all moved up one position the following week and then stayed locked together at the top for the rest of the month. Those three weeks, so early in the time I was paying close attention, made an indelible impression. In some respects, Dorothy Moore’s beautiful, soulful ballad of lost love—one of the great songs of its or any other era—has been at #3 for me ever since.