From Another Time . . . From Another Place

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!

20. More, More, More/Andrea True Connection (holding at 20). Once you know Andrea True had been a porn star, this record sounds a lot different.

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.

10. “Let ‘Em In”/Wings (up from 19). This might have a higher cheese factor than “Silly Love Songs” (which is sayin’ something), but it’s not as cheesy as this version of it.

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.

4. “Afternoon Delight”/Starland Vocal Band (down from 2). One signature song of the summer deserves a whole post, and got it here.

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.)

“Rock and Roll Music” (original 45 version)/Beach Boys (buy it here)
“Get Closer”/Seals & Crofts (buy S&C here)
“Love Is Alive”/Gary Wright (buy it here)

7 thoughts on “From Another Time . . . From Another Place

  1. Shark

    How ironic that “Let Her In” by John Travolta is mentioned in your post on the same day the it came up this morning while I was filling in doing the morning show. Can John Travolta listen to this song today without wincing?

    “Moonlight Feels Right” by Starbuck must’ve had a long shelf life in 1976. I think I first heard it in March and in comes in at #3 for the summer of ’76. (Quick, Casey!—what was the name of Starbuck’s follow-up hit to “Moonlight Feels Right?”

  2. jb

    That would be “I Got to Know,” which is a fine song in its own right.

    “There’s your answer–thanks a lot for writing.”

  3. porky

    lots of great sounding records on this list. The Beatles version of R&R Music is one of the handful of stinkers in their catalog and the Beach Boys stink it up even worse. For a Chuck Berry tune, this is pretty ponderous.

    My older sis saw Starbuck at Disney Land; wonder how they filled a set? Still love the back-to-back synth/vibes solo though.

  4. The Brothers Johnson may not have had a lot of hits, but the few they had were amazingly durable … and quite varied. “I’ll Be Good to You,” “Strawberry Letter 23” and “Stomp!” are all faves of mine.

  5. I was heading out of Top 40 territory by the time 1976 came around, but I find as I run down the list that many of these tunes are part of the soundtrack of my life anyway, the Starbuck, Starland Vocal Band, Lou Rawls and Carradine tunes, especially. (Why those? Without writing about them to find out, I have no idea. Well, I know why the Starland Vocal Band endures, but not the other three.)

  6. Unbelievable: not that I agree with every single you listed, but unbelievable I even agree with the reasons you mention for picking them. “Get Closer” is a huge memory/emotional trigger for me as well. When I was a kid, I ignored the song. Now the bridge brings a lump to my throat and I almost tear up. I’m surprised you mention “Kiss and Say Goodbye” – I thought my Dad was the only person who had that Columbia single back in the day. I’m also pleasantly surprised you mention “Moonlight Is Right”. I remember being laughed at during the 80’s for still loving what was then considered an embarrassing 70’s “song about nothing”. What’s really odd to me is half these songs are on my personal playlist here at home, and I think I listen to them daily. If I may, I’d like to mention five songs you might consider for the list of “songs that play in your head” in another post one day.

    “Sailing” by Christopher Cross. Another one of those quiet AOR singles I ignored in the dentist’s office or station wagon as a kid, but can’t stop crying from when I hear now at age 40. The bridge seemed so maudlin then. It feels immensely sad today.

    “The Logical Song” by Supertramp. Who knew this would become, arguably, the Gen X anthem? How could we have known in childhood that 25 years forward we would be asking the same questions as its lyrics? Extra points for another soaring bridge.

    “Another Auld Lang Syne” by Dan Fogelberg. This was another ‘heard in the dentist’s office’ AOR single I never paid much attention to in the 1970’s, but boy, once my late thirties hit me, the true meaning of this song hit me and how. I dare anyone over 40 to listen to the ritard at the end where Fogelberg slows down, singing, “And the snow… turned in… to……. rainnnnnn” without fighting back some heavy tears.

    “Love Is The Answer” by England Dan and John Ford Coley. I could say it’s that chorus and all the summer memories it brings. I could even mention that sudden, tremendous mock-gospel breakdown just before the end chorus. But I think it’s simply the high quality recording industry standards of the Seventies. Say what you will about The Beatles and The Sixties, to these 40 year old years the real quantum leap in pop album recordation happened during the middle to late 1970’s at about the time of these singles and Steely Dan. Albums became more than diversions. They became acetates preserving memories. Aural quality has never been the same since.

    “Baker Street” by Gerry Rafferty. How is it no one has mentioned it yet? Come now, folks, really!

    Thank you for looking back at the Billboard hits. I’m going to continue visiting to read your memories. I agree with so many of them and I think we all do. Were we ALL in the same den with those wood-panel walls, listening to the same radio back then?

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