Because we remain obsessed with 1976 around here, we’re counting down the Billboard Top 40 from the week of July 31, 1976, and commenting on each song in a Twitteresque 25 words or less. (Start Casey Kasem voice) And now, on with the countdown. (Cue singers) Number 20!
19. “I’m Easy”/Keith Carradine (up from 21). This song, from Robert Altman’s Nashville, is either perfect for its time or a complete anachronism, and I can’t decide which.
18. “Let Her In”/John Travolta (down from 10). Sounds like they worked on it all day and finally said, “What the hell, let’s go with the last take.”
17. “This Masquerade”/George Benson (up from 23). Another thing to love about 1976: One of the year’s top albums, Breezin’, was a jazz record.
16. “You’re My Best Friend”/Queen (up from 17). Not just the best thing on A Night at the Opera, which stayed on my turntable all summer, but the best thing they ever did.
15. “Tear the Roof Off the Sucker (Give Up the Funk)”/Parliament (up from 16). ‘Twas fun to hear Casey say the title of this every week, and it’s one of the deepest grooves ever to make Top 40 radio.
14. “Turn the Beat Around”/Vicki Sue Robinson (up from 18). In 1976, we’d never have guessed that years later, this would be one of the most well-remembered records of the summer.
13. “You’ll Never Find Another Love Like Mine”/Lou Rawls (up from 22). That voice plus Gamble and Huff’s production equals a record cooler than you, no matter who you are.
12. “If You Know What I Mean”/Neil Diamond (up from 13). Proof that even when a record sounds like it should mean something profound, it won’t necessarily make a lick of sense.
11. “You Should Be Dancing”/Bee Gees (up from 15). This never makes anyone’s list of great driving songs, except mine.
9. “I’ll Be Good to You”/Brothers Johnson (down from 3). Listening to Casey, I was disappointed when this record fell from its peak. At the time, my favorite song of the summer.
8. “Rock and Roll Music”/Beach Boys (up from 9). Could not have been a hit at any other time of the year.
7. “Got to Get You Into My Life”/Beatles (holding at 7). What year are we in again? And how did this miss being released as a single in the 60s?
6. “Get Closer”/Seals and Crofts (holding at 6). Strange how some songs affect you. This was nothing special to me then. Now, it’s one of the most powerful memory triggers of all.
5. “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart”/Elton John & Kiki Dee (up from 8). Elton’s weakest single in years. Did a month at Number One on sheer career momentum. Video features embarrassing white-people dancing.
3. “Moonlight Feels Right”/Starbuck (up from 4). Another signature song of the summer deserves a whole post, and I’m working on it.
2. “Love Is Alive”/Gary Wright (up from 5). The summer’s best hot-night, in-the-car, windows-down record.
1. “Kiss and Say Goodbye”/Manhattans (holding at 1). Profound sadness and irreplaceable loss never sounded so sweet.
Everybody’s going to hear these songs in a different way, and some of the ones that mean the most to me would mean nothing to someone else. I was reminded of this not long ago over at SHHH/Peaceful, where Kinky Paprika listened to a lot of these same songs, and his experience of them was vastly different. But the point is that each of us has a list of songs that play in our heads when there’s no other music around, and many of these have been on my list so long now that they’re always going to be there.
(The countdown from 40 through 21 is here.)