American Top 40 PastBlast, 8/28/76: Red Sovine, “Teddy Bear”

In the Classic Casey era between July 1970 and August 1988, there were only five (as best as I can tell) occasions when there was a single new entry on the show. Casey notes at the beginning of the 8/28/76 show that he can’t recall a time where this had occurred before, and with good reason: it hadn’t while he’d been hosting. Here are the five, along with some miscellanea. With one exception, these were not heavy chart hitters.

8/28/76
Song: Red Sovine, “Teddy Bear”
Debut Position: #40
Peak: #40
Number of weeks on AT40: 1
Replaced: Queen, “You’re My Best Friend”

5/20/78
Song: Linda Ronstadt, “Tumbling Dice”
Debut Position: #37
Peak: #32
Number of weeks on AT40: 3
Replaced: Parliament, “Flash Light”

9/20/80
Song: Elton John, “(Sartorial Eloquence) Don’t Ya Wanna Play This Game No More?”
Debut Position: #40
Peak: #39
Number of weeks on AT40: 2
Replaced: Robert John, “Hey There Lonely Girl”

10/19/85
Song: Mr. Mister, “Broken Wings”
Debut Position: #35
Peak: #1
Number of weeks on AT40: 15 (including the frozen chart of 1/5/86)
Replaced: Huey Lewis and the News, “The Power of Love”

1/9/88
Song: The Cure, “Just Like Heaven”
Debut Position: #40
Peak: #40
Number of weeks on AT40: 1
Replaced: The Kane Gang, “Motortown”

The sample is way too small to draw any meaningful conclusion, but I do find it curious that four of the five had little-to-no traction after making the show. Maybe a slow Hot 100 week made it more likely that such a song was already losing momentum?

“Teddy Bear,” in addition to being maudlin, isn’t decent poetry–too frequently meter is wrecked in order to cram in a rhyme. That said, Casey does have a genuinely sad story to share as he leads off the show: Norma Sovine, Red’s wife, died suddenly the day after Red recorded “Teddy Bear.”

My friend Warren spent his early years in Nashville. His parents are now buried there, and, as it happens, their plot is only about 150 yards from that of Woodrow Wilson “Red” and Norma Sovine. Warren and I occasionally have extended messaging sessions over Facebook, a mix of catching up and chatting about music. Sovine’s work has come up a couple of times, and he’s done me the favor (?) of pointing out other classics such as “Billy’s Christmas Wish” and “Little Joe.” (Let me be clear: he didn’t share them because he thought they were good.) I know that many folks appreciate spoken-word pieces of this ilk, but I confess I find these just a little over the top.

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