One day in 79, perhaps/likely during the second quarter of the year (maybe even forty years ago today!), I was checking out Musicland in the Florence Mall and found something on offer that practically started me salivating: Casey Kasem’s American Top 40 Yearbook. It was available for a mere $4.95; I can’t know now whether I purchased a copy immediately, but it couldn’t have been long before I was taking one home. For a good description of the contents and highlights, here’s My Favorite Decade’s take from almost five years ago. Something has changed about supply and demand since then: MFD noted at the time that one could purchase a used copy on Amazon for under $10, but in looking around last night, the best price I found was $900. That’s pretty shocking.
I liked reading the bios of each artist who’d made the chart between 11/77 and 10/78, but the most enjoyable thing for me was taking in the list of Top 40 appearances (including peak position of each song) at the end of each entry. I was pretty knowledgeable at that point about hits from the spring of 76 onward, but this was a big opportunity for me to learn about the past chart history of many of the bigger artists of the 70s, stuff I wouldn’t have had much chance to know until I received my first Joel Whitburn book more than a decade later (and in some cases, wouldn’t hear until the last seven years or so).
One such artist was Anne Murray. She was in the Yearbook because “You Needed Me” had started up the countdown toward #1 in August 78. I knew about “Snowbird,” but her three other songs that had made the Forty previously were either unfamiliar to me or just hadn’t made any impression. Yet they’d all done reasonably well, hitting in 73 and 74 and peaking between #7 and #12.
Okay, “unfamiliar” is maybe a stretch in one case. When WSAI played the snot out of Kenny Loggins’s new stuff in 77 upon the release of his solo debut album Celebrate Me Home, they also reached back and dug out a cut from his 71 album with Jim Messina, Sittin’ In. Can’t say I cared all that much for “Danny’s Song” upon first listen (I was pretty anti-Kenny back then), but I’ve come far along enough now to say it’s actually rather sweet.
Anyway, I imagine it was sometime in early 81 that my sister bought Anne Murray’s Greatest Hits, which had been released a few months earlier. It was a straightforward compilation, just Murray’s by-then ten Top 40 hits arranged in chronological order. By this time, we were both regularly using Dad’s stereo in the basement, and I quickly got caught up on “Love Song,” the cover of “You Won’t See Me,” and her version of “Danny’s Song” while hanging out and doing homework down there. The steel guitar, string section, gently rollicking beat, and slicker production offer a bit of contrast to the acoustic guitar/piano/fiddle of Loggins and Messina’s work. I can see how Murray had a #7 hit with it (it’s on the way down, stopping off at #18 on this show).