American Top 40 PastBlast, 5/10/75: Roger Whittaker, “The Last Farewell”

My sister and I spent a fair amount of time in front of the television on weekday afternoons after we got home from elementary school and junior high. Our station of choice was the then-unaffiliated WXIX, Channel 19 in Cincinnati (it’s now a Fox affiliate). Generally they ran 60s sitcoms and animated features that had been put in syndication. Favorite shows included Speed Racer, The FlintstonesPetticoat Junction, and (especially) Gilligan’s Island.  There were healthy doses of Green Acres and The Andy Griffith Show along the way, too.

And of course I remember the commercials, especially the ones trying to get you buy something through the mail. Amy and I got suckered one time into buying Over 264 Instant Magic Tricks, which came with a prop or two. I recall being disappointed when the book arrived, already separated from its binding. I may have been expecting something a little more visually-oriented, as well—the text was too dense for ten-year-old me.

Then there were the music ads, too—compilations akin to the late 80s Freedom Rock set, I imagine—but also “greatest hits” albums from artists who never quite broke big in the U.S. Yes, I’m looking at you, Slim Whitman:


But I’m also casting a sideways glance over at Roger Whittaker:


It was quite a number of years before I realized that Whittaker had actually charted with “The Last Farewell.” Originally recorded in 71, it managed to gain traction stateside four years later in the time-honored tradition of a rogue radio station throwing it out there to its audience and watching it take off in response.  We’re hearing it debut at #40 on this show; it’d reach #19 before the end of June.

I’m not here to bury “The Last Farewell.” It’s a pretty tune, well arranged and sung. The whole mail-order music thing is easy for poking fun, but it did introduce me to a decently nice piece in this case.

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