Got to Get You Into My Life

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.

11 responses

  1. I hardly ever heard Casey count ’em down, but boy, the records you highlight here throw me back. That was the summer after I graduated from college, and I kept taking classes because there was a recession on and I didn’t know what the hell else to do. And the records here are the soundtrack to that confusing time. As to “El Paso City,” I’d never heard it until now, but I have to say that’s a great piece of songwriting craft (and, yes, a good record, too).

  2. Re: The duos. I remember hearing that and chuckling because it was less than two years later that the show would make a big deal out of the same thing happening — when Travolta (there’s that name again!) and Newton-John knocked Mathis and Williams out of No. 1.

  3. Some of the reasons I enjoy listening to 70s and 80s countdowns every weekend now include hearing songs I missed the first time around due to regional playlists, songs I hadn’t heard since then for the “Oh, wow!” factor as well as I songs I loved and still love. It amazes me, like you Jim, that I sometimes remember the exact time I first heard a song or the actual purchasing of the single or album at the store. Nice piece, hope it does become a regular feature.

  4. Thanks for the hat-tip.
    I am 95 percent sure I live-blogged this show back in the day, and maybe I’ll dig that one out of the archives and repost it.

    “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.”
    There was one week, and only one, when the number of foreign acts interested me — and it wasn’t something Casey commented on.
    I remember noticing once that there were as many Canadian acts in that week’s 40 as there were English acts, and thinking that must be rare.
    (I am guessing it might have been ’74 – one of those Gordon Sinclair weeks – but I might be wrong.)

  5. “Silly Love Songs” would actually stay at #1 for two more weeks, thru the Bi-Centennial weekend. It hit #1 back on the week of May 22nd, fell out of the top spot for two weeks, while “Love Hangover” was #1 and than returned to the top the week of June 12th.

    Also, I think the long version of “Fooled Around and Fell In Love” with the extra verse was likely played on the show that week. If you heard the recent rebroadcast, they’ve been known to hack the songs up, seemingly at random, sometimes.

  6. I also caught Casey’s special July 4th countdown that year. “I’ll Never Smile Again” was the song that made enough of an impression that I picked up a reissue single a couple years later. Hadn’t ever heard a 45 mastered from a 78 prior to that one. I can just picture Casey winding up the Victrola and changing needles every couple of songs.

    I’ll second the thrill of getting a chart “high” from that show. Turns out I already had two early-’50s number ones from that countdown, on the same compilation album, no less: ‘London Hit Parade,’ a London Records mono closeout I’d bought at the university book store a few years earlier. The notations I’d made in blue ink on its shrink wrap still call attention to the Anton Karas and Vera Lynn songs having been #1 on their respective fourths of July. It was an unexpected bonus for an album I’d originally picked up for Will Glahe’s “Liechtensteiner Polka.”

  7. I always wait for the guitar solo on “Fooled Around…” and never hear it. I actually recently bought a beat up vinyl copy of the LP just for the pleasure.

    As for Beatles versus Beach Boys’ return to the charts, which is the more exciting, better-sounding record? I’m a big BB fan but Chuck Berry never plodded so (except the time he installed the hidden cameras in the ladies’ room. Oops that’s PLOTTED, not plodded). A Creem writer once talked about hearing ferns turning into coal in the background during a particular record, maybe this version of RnR Music?

  8. All these songs are deeply evocative of the time… and not in a particularly good way, I’d argue. The mid-70s always struck me as a bit of a wasteland — the 60s innovations were gone and the singer-songwriter period had burned itself out… and bloated prog and MOR dreck was everywhere (with disco bubbling up and getting ready to explode)… and it would be years before the frantic energy of punk and the twitch of new wave would help make things better.

    Maybe it’s just me, but that sound in “Silly Love Songs” always reminded me of Marley’s ghost dragging around chains — I’d say it was McCartney dragging the chains of the memory that he used to be a musical genius, but that strikes me as a bit too harsh for a Sunday.

    1. I understand this perspective, Alex, because I’ve read the record reviews and as much other stuff as I can lay hands on about the state of popular music in 1976. Objectively, they—and you—aren’t wrong. (“Wings at the Speed of Sound” is a remarkably thin record for a guy with McCartney’s talent.) But as I’ve said, I’m unable to be objective about the music of 1976 because it was on the radio in 1976. If polka had been the rage that year, I’d be writing about polka records now.

  9. This period of time was a fairly miserable one for me. No doubt the dreadful noises coming through the tinny AM band in my green and white Pinto—as represented here—contributed much to my state of mind. Seriously, top-40 ‘music’ during this timeframe was pretty much a wasteland. And, for the 9,999th time, I’ll ask—how in the hell is ABBA in the Rock Hall of Fame???

  10. I’ll take the position of fondly remembering this period of music, in part because I had graduated from high school that month and one week later saw Paul McCartney in the final “Wings Over America” show (at the Forum in Inglewood, Calif.), my first time seeing a Beatle. So sure, seeing these songs immediately take me back to the happy times of that month, but it’s more than that. I LIKE much of what is so easily looked down on from the 1970s. Maybe because they’re records I grew up with. Hard to say. But I’ll also defend ABBA in the Hall of Fame. Seriously, who made more consistently catchy and great-sounding singles in that time? That counts for a lot with me. As for the Beatles-Beach Boys convergence, it was pretty damned cool on both fronts to have both of them back on the chart that summer. For the Beach Boys, it was the ballyhooed Brian is Back campaign, and their take on “R&R Music” is clever. And for the Beatles, it showed how timeless they could be that a song from a 10-year-old album could be adored as a “new” record, but remember also that it was the lead single from that summer’s “Rock and Roll Music” compilation. And how’s that for a coincidence — the Beatles’ album and the Beach Boys’ single with the same title from the same song.

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