October 1976: The Song Remains the Same

(Seventh in a series. Navigate to previous parts from here.)

October 22, 1976, was a Friday. Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford held their final presidential debate in Williamsburg, Virginia. Earlier that day, Ford signed an executive order exempting Ashton C. Barrett, a member of the Federal Maritime Commission, from mandatory retirement for one year. Before the presidential debate on NBC, an episode of Sanford and Son titled “I Dream of Choo-Choo Rabinowitz” featured Fred’s attempt to break a record for staying awake. On ABC-TV, Cindy Williams of Laverne and Shirley and country singer Charley Pride were guest stars on the Donny and Marie show. Four former American Basketball Association franchises (Denver Nuggets, New York Nets, San Antonio Spurs, and Indiana Pacers) played their first games in the NBA on the season’s opening night. Chicago Cubs catcher Michael Barrett was born. The movie Car Wash opened in theaters. Amendments to the Tennessee Department of Agriculture’s rules governing movement and handling of livestock at fairs and exhibitions went into effect. My girlfriend and I (and five other cars with five other couples, all friends of mine) got kicked out of a city park by the police for parking after closing time. Elvis Presley played Champaign, Illinois. Barry Manilow played Dallas. Black Sabbath opened a tour in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The Eagles played the Los Angeles Forum, where they did “Wasted Time,” a song that would appear on their forthcoming Hotel California album. The performance was recorded and would appear on Eagles Live in 1980. Led Zeppelin’s live album, The Song Remains the Same and Elton John’s Blue Moves were released. (Elton’s release was in the UK only; Blue Moves would be released in the States six days later.)

In both 2004 and 2005, I provided two possible soundtracks for October 1976. (Here, too.) Here’s another, briefly:

“A Fifth of Beethoven”/Walter Murphy. Disco adaptations of classical standards. It was a moment when such a thing seemed like a good idea.

“Play That Funky Music”/Wild Cherry. Another of my guilty pleasures. If pop music is supposed to be fun, then this is what pop music is about.

“Shake Your Booty”/KC and the Sunshine Band. See above.

“Love So Right”/Bee Gees. Opens with a synthesizer noise that’s nearly as piercing as the falsettos, which figures, I suppose.

“(The System of) Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether”/Alan Parsons Project. The Project’s debut single, from Tales of Mystery and Imagination, a concept album based on the work of Edgar Allen Poe–in this case, an 1845 short story. It wasn’t an especially big hit (Number 37 on the Hot 100), but it appealed to my taste for prog rock, although I wouldn’t consider it especially proggy now, despite the five-part suite on side 2 and the presence of Orson Welles as narrator on one track. Plus, I tended to like those odd little records that were hard to catch on the radio, and this was surely one. Whatever the reason, “Doctor Tarr and Professor Fether” has stuck with me for 30 years as a pretty good time-travel trigger.

(Buy Tales of Mystery and Imagination here.)

Coming next: Avoiding Debby Boone.

2 thoughts on “October 1976: The Song Remains the Same

  1. Anonymous

    Whenever I think of October 1976, “Still The One” by Orleans always comes to mind. I was a senior in high school and we were playing our last football game of the season at Mount Horeb, Wisconsin. We listened to WLS on the bus on the way to the game and John Landecker played it. We won the game 21-12 and one of my best friends on the team blocked a punt and ran it in for a touchdown. WLS played “Still The One” again on the ride home. That’s one of those memories with a song that I’ve never forgotten. —Shark

  2. You, like me, love the fall… I love it not just because of the philosophical implications, but because of it’s beauty and that fact that even in losing something beauty can be obtained. It is a wonderful time, full of promise, not the promise of a new life, but the promise that there is more beauty coming in our lives (I’m not stating this clearly). What i’m trying to say is, even in death there can be beauty and the promise of better things to come. Keep the series coming, it is wonderful

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