American Top 40 PastBlast, 11/28/81: Chilliwack, “My Girl (Gone, Gone, Gone)”

One of the special things for me about the music of my high school and college years is how certain songs wound up getting linked to moments, important or otherwise. Sometimes those associations are incredibly specific; other times, things are a little broader or fuzzier—a tune may simply conjure up a season, an ambiance, a feeling, an emotion.

Another kind of connection occurs when two songs get fused together in my brain’s filing system. While this can happen because they both were played on the radio that one time I was doing thing X, today I’m thinking about a pair of tunes that had pretty similar chart runs on AT40 at the end of 81: “Our Lips Are Sealed” and “My Girl (Gone, Gone, Gone).”

The two songs debuted at #40 one week apart, the Go-Go’s going first on 10/24. Counting the frozen chart of 1/2/82, they spent eleven weeks together on the countdown, and except for 1/9, the last of those, they were always within three spots of each other (only once, on 11/7, was Chilliwack ahead). They both peaked the weeks of 12/12 and 12/19, OLAS at #20, and MG(GGG) at #22.

But it was more than that, because these two hung close to one another on my personal Top 50 for a long time, too. On 12/5, they both made big jumps, OLAS from #25 to #10, and MG(GGG) from #21 to #13. Starting on 1/9/82, they were 1-2 for three weeks, Chilliwack being on top for the first of those. From there, they both held on more than two months after they’d departed Casey-land, until 3/20. For all but one of those weeks, they were back-to-back. Frozen in time together, indeed.

The broader real-life picture is a little different, though. “My Girl (Gone, Gone, Gone)” had a reasonably standard ride up and down the Hot 100 for a song that spent eleven weeks on the Top 40 in this period: it hit the show in its sixth week, and hung around the lower 60 for only three more weeks on the way down. “Our Lips Are Sealed,” on the other hand, was much slower going about its business. It took nine weeks to climb to #40 (on top of three weeks Bubbling Under), and would linger for nine more weeks after finishing its thirteen appearances on AT40—a total of thirty-three weeks, counting Bubbling Under time. A true sleeper hit, bigger than might have seemed superficially. On the 1982 year-end countdown—really a November 81 to November 82 affair, I suppose—“My Girl (Gone, Gone, Gone)” was nowhere to be found, but “Our Lips Are Sealed” finished at #78.

You can hear OLAS just about any time you want these days, so I’m raising a glass now to the Canadian trio who were finally breaking through stateside after a few minor hits and more than a decade together. That street corner-like section toward the end, with its sweet harmonies flowing into the modulation, makes the song for me. For the record, it was #26 on this show, three positions behind OLAS.

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