Stealing a page from the artist formerly known as Kinky Paprika, who used to break down American Top 40 shows song-by-song while listening to ’em, here’s my live blog of the show for the weekend of June 19, 1976. It’s likely that I was listening to this show with pencil and paper in hand when it first aired, and here I am again.
#39: “Mamma Mia”/ABBA. Knowing how significant this song would become in the ABBA catalog as the title of their mega-musical, you forget how slight it is—there’s practically nothing to it.
#37: “I’m Easy”/Keith Carradine. Casey mentions that 75 million people saw Carradine sing this song on the Academy Awards show in the spring. It draws about half that nowadays, but that still makes it the most viewed non-sporting event each year. I wouldn’t have guessed that.
#34: “Fooled Around and Fell in Love”/Elvin Bishop. Custom edit alert: Casey gives us a version with the long intro and the long guitar solo, but without the extra verse.
#31: “Let Her In”/John Travolta. The producer, in the booth at the end of a long day of recording: “Screw it, that’s as good as he can do.” (May not be historically accurate.)
#29: “Got to Get You Into My Life”/Beatles. Casey is a lot more excited the Beatles’ return to the chart than he was about the Beach Boys’ second Top 40 appearance in seven years, “Rock and Roll Music,” which showed up back at #40.
#26: “Get Closer”/Seals and Crofts. There are five duos in the countdown this week. This is a stat Casey reported often, along with the number of foreign or English acts in each week’s countdown, and about which nobody cares. Similarly, he’d often report that a particular artist was based in Los Angeles or London, which is news on par with the sunrise.
#24: “Welcome Back”/John Sebastian. I have heard some of these songs 10,000 times since 1976, and I never fail to be surprised at how evocative of their time they remain. (See also America’s “Today’s the Day” at #30, “Fool to Cry” by the Stones at #21, and most of the Top 10.)
#20: “Baretta’s Theme”/Rhythm Heritage. I wonder if there was ever a chart week that had more television connections than this one, between Baretta, Travolta and Sebastian (Welcome Back, Kotter), and themes from Laverne and Shirley and Happy Days. I’d do the research if I possessed the proper attention span, or a work ethic.
#18: “Moonlight Feels Right”/Starbuck. Over the intro, Casey promotes the special July 4th countdown, which will include the #1 single on Billboard‘s July 4 chart in each of the past 40 years. I remember listening to that show, fascinated, because in those days there was no easy access to that kind of chart information, and I craved it.
#9: “Afternoon Delight”/Starland Vocal Band. The hottest song in the countdown, up from #25 last week. YOU CAN’T KEEP IT FROM GOING TO #1, PEOPLE.
#7: “Shop Around”/Captain & Tennille. I wonder if listeners whose letters were featured on the shows back then ever hear the repeats. Kyle in Pasadena wanted to know if one duo had ever knocked another out of the #1 spot. It was in 1963, when “I’m Leavin’ It All Up to You” by Dale and Grace took out “Deep Purple” by Nino Tempo and April Stevens. And, Casey says, both songs have been hits again recently for another duo, Donny and Marie Osmond. Imagine, a popular duo covering other popular duo songs.
#4: “Love Hangover”/Diana Ross. And now, a piece of trivia that’s actually interesting: Including this record, Diana Ross had never hit the Top 10 as a solo artist without going to #1. Her next Top 10 hit, “Upside Down” in 1980, would also go to #1 before “I’m Coming Out” broke the streak.
#3: “Misty Blue”/Dorothy Moore. Before Dorothy dances us along the thin line between pleasure and pain, Casey notes the stuff topping Billboard‘s other charts, including Natalie Cole’s “Sophisticated Lady” on the soul chart and Wings at the Speed of Sound on the album chart. The #1 country song is “El Paso City” by Marty Robbins, a sequel to his 1960 hit, in which he’s on an airplane above the city and thinks about an old song he knows. (“I don’t recall who sang the song but I recall the story that I heard.”) Then he starts to wonder if he hasn’t been to El Paso before. Very clever, and a great record.
#1: “Silly Love Songs”/Paul McCartney and Wings.
In its fifth and final week at the top, this never sounds right without that cash register sound effect, or whatever it is. (Late edit: Commenter Todd below is right. I misheard what Casey said—or maybe he was mistaken in what he said. Either way, this is something I should have known anyhow. More evidence of the sorry state of things in 2012.)
It occurs to me, reading back over this, that I seem pretty sour about a lot of the show. That has more to do with the state of things in the summer of 2012 than it does with 1976. I will try to do better in the next installment, when we will launch what I hope will be a new recurring feature.