AT40’s Top 100 of 1978

The year-ender featured this year by Premiere Networks in their 70s series is that of 1972. This goes back in time a bit farther than some stations would prefer, so there’s also an alternate (“B”) offering from 1978.  I wasn’t able to catch any of that B show this weekend, but I can still share what I wrote down 40 years ago. It was the first time I had made a serious, systematic effort to predict the order of the year’s top hits.

My model was pretty simple. I used only the countdowns between 11/5/77 and 10/28/78, what I understood to be the “chart year” for compiling the list (we’ll see that seems to be an error). I assigned 40 points for each week a song spent at #1, 39 points for #2, etc., on down to 1 point for a week at #40 and then added ’em all up. (I honestly don’t know now whether I included the “frozen” 12/31/77 chart, but I’d guess not.) Let’s take a look, starting with the first half originally broadcast on 12/23/78.


And here’s what was spun on 12/30/78:


I think there are two main sources of discrepancy between predicted and actual positions on this chart.

1) To a reasonable extent, my idea of how to compute “points” was on the mark–the AT40 staff during this period did the same thing, but instead used the data from each song’s entire ride on the Hot 100: 100 points for #1, 99 for #2, etc. (At least, that’s what I’ve learned from someone who seems very credible on a message board I regularly read.) That would explain why Eruption (who spent 22 weeks on the Hot 100), LeBlanc & Carr (28 weeks) and to a lesser extent Robert Palmer (18 weeks) are all here when I didn’t think they would be; it almost certainly accounts for various other songs I projected too low, such as the Meat Loaf (23 weeks), Peter Brown (28 weeks) and Sweet (25 weeks).

2) It feels like 11/5/77 was a week or two to early to start my counting, based on how I was too high on several songs on the charts at the end of 77. This includes tunes from Rita Coolidge, Linda Ronstadt (both of hers), Crystal Gayle, Dolly Parton, and LTD (though issues related to my first point may be involved as well). On the other hand, “You Light Up My Life” wasn’t impacted like the others, so who knows. On the back end of the time period, Alicia Bridges and Foxy appear to have gotten a boost from an extra week or two of chart action (though “I Like the Night Life” and “Get Off” were both slow climbers); this seems to be the case for Exile near the top, too. (Edited to add: the poster at ye olde message board also noted bonus points being awarded for weeks at #1, which would have helped “YLUML” and “Kiss You All Over.”)

On the whole, my method did a decent job approximating songs in the top 20 (“Baker Street” and “Can’t Smile Without You” sure feel too low, however). Unfortunately, I don’t appear to have kept any records of my computations (pretty unusual for me, I know), so I can’t tell you what songs I had predicted to appear that didn’t.

I did work on some refinements to my methodology as time passed (especially in 1981), but the same two problems (not thinking about/having access to Hot 100 data and getting the chart year wrong) would continue to plague me. You’ll see some of that someday, I bet…

Thanks so much for dropping by and reading some of my ramblings this past year; I wish all of you a prosperous 2019!


American Top 40 PastBlast, 1970s: Year in Review, 2018

Here’s the compendium of AT40 tunes I selected throughout the year based on the rebroadcasts played on Premiere Networks, with links to the accompanying articles. Next weekend, I’ll do the same for the 80s.

1/14/78: Santa Esmerelda starring Leroy Gómez, “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood”
1/20/79: Talking Heads, “Take Me to the River”
1/29/72: Apollo 100, “Joy”
2/2/74: David Essex, “Rock On”
2/13/71: Jerry Reed, “Amos Moses”
2/15/75: Disco Tex and the Sex-O-Lettes, “Get Dancin'”
2/25/78: Yvonne Elliman, “If I Can’t Have You”
3/3/73: Loudon Wainwright III, “Dead Skunk”
3/10/79: Sister Sledge, “He’s the Greatest Dancer”
3/19/77: Natalie Cole, “I’ve Got Love on My Mind”
3/27/71: George Harrison, “What Is Life”
4/3/76: Waylon and Willie, “Good Hearted Woman”
4/8/72: Badfinger, “Baby Blue”
4/21/73: Focus, “Hocus Pocus”
4/22/78: Earth, Wind, and Fire, “Fantasy”
4/26/75: Ace, “How Long”
5/8/71: Ocean, “Put Your Hand in the Hand”
5/13/72: Neil Diamond, “Song Sung Blue”
5/21/77: Kenny Nolan, “Love’s Grown Deep”
5/26/79: England Dan and John Ford Coley, “Love Is the Answer”
6/1/74: Blue Swede, “Hooked on a Feeling”
6/9/73: Steely Dan, “Reeling in the Years”
6/21/75: Mike Post, “The Rockford Files”
6/26/76: Dorothy Moore, “Misty Blue”
7/3/71: Fortunes, “Here Comes That Rainy Day Feeling Again”
7/9/77: Supertramp, “Give a Little Bit”
7/14/79: Joe Jackson, “Is She Really Going Out with Him?”
7/22/78: Boney M, “Rivers of Babylon”
7/29/72: Hollies, “Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress”
8/10/74: Dave Loggins, “Please Come to Boston”
8/14/71: John Denver, “Take Me Home, Country Roads”
8/21/76: Aretha Franklin, “Something He Can Feel”
8/25/73: Maureen McGovern, “The Morning After”
9/1/79: Sniff ‘n’ the Tears, “Driver’s Seat”
9/12/70: Blood, Sweat and Tears, “Hi-De-Ho”
9/17/77: Meco, “Star Wars Theme/Cantina Band”
9/27/75: Orleans, “Dance with Me”
9/28/74: Beach Boys, “Surfin’ U.S.A.”
10/2/71: Persuaders, “Thin Line Between Love and Hate”
10/14/78: Kenny Loggins, “Whenever I Call You ‘Friend'”
10/21/72: Emerson, Lake & Palmer, “From the Beginning”
10/27/79: John Stewart, “Midnight Wind”
11/8/75: Eagles, “Lyin’ Eyes”
11/9/74: Carole King, “Jazzman”
11/21/70: Supremes, “Stoned Love”
11/27/76: Peter Frampton, “Do You Feel Like We Do”
12/2/72: Billy Paul, “Me and Mrs. Jones”
12/8/73: Todd Rundgren, “Hello It’s Me”
12/17/77: Paul Davis, “I Go Crazy”
12/20/75: Marshall Tucker Band, “Fire on the Mountain”

If you’d like to listen to this fine collection, here’s a link to a Spotify playlist:

Austin and Kay, 12/27/58

My in-laws Kay and Austin Lutz were married sixty years ago today, at Central Christian Church in New Albany, IN.  Maid of honor was Kay’s high school classmate Berniece Wade (known to Martha and Ruth as “Aunt B”); by Austin’s side was Emory Willey, a Louisville dentist.  Following their honeymoon, they settled in a ranch on Meadow Lane in New Albany, next door to Kay’s mother (with whom Kay had been living prior to the wedding), their first and last purchase of a home. As they were both at or nearing 40 at the time of their union, having children wasn’t really on the radar. Three-and-a-half years later, though, two baby girls with other ideas showed up.

Both daughters had long moved out and were well into their careers when I came on the scene in the mid-90s. By that time, a tradition of dining out someplace reasonably nice on their anniversary was well established. It was an easy thing to continue over the years, too, coming at a time of year when M and R could easily arrange to be in town.

I believe my first time joining in was 96, the year Martha and I married. It looks like we’re at the Claudia Sanders Dinner House, in Shelbyville, KY in this picture (if that last name feels familiar, yes, Claudia was the Colonel’s wife).


Two years later, on the occasion of their 40th anniversary, Austin and Kay held an afternoon reception at their home (conveniently, the date fell on a Sunday). Friends from the various, sometimes overlapping circles of their lives–church, square dancing, former students (Kay had taught business at the high school for a number of years while she was single), social groups–streamed through to honor a well-respected couple. I didn’t find any photos from that event, but here they are on their 43rd and final anniversary together, in 2001:


Austin passed away almost a year later, about three weeks prior to their 44th, but the tradition of the family dining out on 12/27 continued; I regret to say that Kay would often beat me to the check. I do believe we took special care to note what would have been their golden anniversary in 2008.

And you know, the four of us still celebrate the date (Kay left us in October 2011). Occasionally, our night out isn’t on the 27th, but this evening, we’re heading off for some fine Italian dining. Cheers, Austin and Kay–you’re missed terribly, but we celebrate your love and decades together.

Christmas/Holiday Cheer: Royal Guardsmen, “Snoopy’s Christmas”

A treasured favorite from my youth. We didn’t often listen to the Royal Guardsmen’s Snoopy and His Friends in December, but the message of “Snoopy’s Christmas” seems like a great one for this (or any) time of year.

And yes, I still have the poster that came with the album (we detached it from the back way back in the 70s and keep it in the sleeve):


Merry Christmas, my friends!

American Top 40 PastBlast, 12/24/83: Police, “Synchronicity II”

Not too much to say I didn’t already mention in Thursday’s post about the song leading off that tape, except:

–Sting really brought his A-game with the lyrical imagery: “We have to shout above the din of our Rice Krispies,” “Every single meeting with his so-called superior is a humiliating kick in the crotch,” and “Packed like lem-mings in-to shi-ny met-al box-es” comprise only some of the highlights;

–It took me decades to realize that the use of “loch” at the end of the second verse wasn’t an affectation (okay, wasn’t just an affectation), but that it more or less fits the rhyming scheme (as “lake” does in verses one and three);

–The chaos, towers of garbage, and swirling debris on offer in the video all could easily serve as a metaphor for a good portion of what was going on in my life around the time this song was on the countdown.

American Top 40 PastBlast, 12/20/75: Marshall Tucker Band, “Fire on the Mountain”

This is the only time Casey got to play “Fire on the Mountain.” It debuted at #39, inched up to #38 the following week while they played the first half of the 75 year-ender, and then dropped off. It’s a strong story song, every bit as good as “Heard It in a Love Song” (which is pretty darn good). Yet, I never hear it on retro stations (okay, to be honest, I don’t think I heard it back in late 75, either). What gives? Surely they could spin it on SiriusXM’s 70s on 7 once a week instead of some Bee Gees track…


But I didn’t choose to put this one up today just because it’s a cool tune. I can’t think of the phrase “Fire on the Mountain” without being taken back to the WTLX studios. Kevin, our manager, spent the fall of 83 identifying and implementing ways to make us a legit operation (even if we had only a one-block broadcasting radius). He installed a weekly interview show with various administration types called Transy Talks, arranged for us to broadcast Dr. Demento on Sunday nights (that might be the subject of a future post), and strongly encouraged jocks to play PSAs he received in the mail. The one that James and I latched onto was for the Forest Service, courtesy of Mickey Hart, drummer for the Grateful Dead.

This is what those four words trigger in my head, Every. Single. Time. If I didn’t play it weekly for a good while, well, I imagine I came close. James tells me that the disk it’s on just might have, er, “accidentally” gotten mixed in with his stuff when he packed up after graduation.


Cornerstone Cassette, Part 2: The Music

The William T. Young Student Center opened on Saturday, December 3, 1983. It was almost the midpoint of my sophomore year; construction had been ongoing since right around the time I started at Transy. Mr. Young was Chair of the Board of Curators and a significant philanthropist for higher education in Lexington (his name is also on full-tuition scholarships at TU and the main library at the University of Kentucky). It’s not an accident that his leadership coincided with major growth in enrollment at Transy over the last two-thirds of the 80s.

The Young Center housed a lounge with a large projection-screen TV, game room, pool, conference room, and racquetball and basketball courts.  I spent quite a bit of time there throughout the rest of my time at TU: I was part of a group of friends (usually including James and Warren) who monopolized the lounge watching MTV, while Mark and I could make a single game of Robotron: 2084 last close to an hour (if I could purchase any arcade game for my basement, that’d be the one).

As I mentioned on Tuesday, I didn’t attend the opening ceremony but I managed to have a tiny role nonetheless, recording a cassette of current or recent hits from singles on hand in the WTLX studios to place in the cornerstone time capsule. Here’s what Lana (who’s now Mark’s wife) said about it at the dedication (the transcriber didn’t understand what call letters she used); note President Shearer’s prescient response!



Dr. Shearer’s remark reminds me: my understanding at the time was that they’d open the capsule after 25 years. Clearly, minds changed somewhere along the way. And sorry for the askew text—I wasn’t being especially careful when taking pictures of the transcript.

Fortunately, I had the foresight to take notes on the 23 songs I included. There’s nothing terribly obscure on it—most had been Top 10 hits, and all reached at least #18—but let’s take a stroll through that past, anyway. The numbers indicate Hot 100 position on the 12/3/83 chart (NR means the song had already fallen off).

Continue reading “Cornerstone Cassette, Part 2: The Music”