Got to Be Somebody

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(Pictured L to R: three guys who could sing and/or write you some great songs: Joe South, Tommy Roe, and Billy Joe Royal.)

Here’s another edition of One Week in the 40, in which we listen to songs that spent a single week in Billboard‘s Top 40, hence the name. Several of the acts in this edition are famous for one other song, but are not technically one-hit wonders, in some cases because of the songs we’re listening to here.

Bobby Hebb is a fine example. The only song of his most people can name is “Sunny,” which threatened to become a standard after it rose to #2 late in the summer of 1966. But the week “Sunny” fell off the Hot 100, it was replaced by Hebb’s soulful version of the country standard “A Satisfied Mind,” which made it to #39 on November 5, 1966.

The trippy “98.6” by Keith was a Top-10 hit early in 1967. But Keith made it to #37 with the Hollies song “Tell Me to My Face,” a song much beloved at this blog in its version by Dan Fogelberg and Tim Weisberg, on April 15, 1967.

We could easily turn this into a game. I’d say “James and Bobby Purify,” and you’d almost inevitably come back with “I’m Your Puppet,” a #6 hit in the fall of 1966. But the Purify cousins made the Hot 100 eight times in two years and the Top 40 three times in all, with another song peaking at #41. “Wish You Didn’t Have to Go” made #38 for the week of February 25, 1967, but crashed out of the Hot 100 two weeks later.

Do you like this game? Let’s play again. I say “Brenton Wood” and you say . . . “Gimme Little Sign,” most likely, because it was a Top 10 hit in the fall of 1967. A few freaks might come up with “The Oogum Boogum Song,” which contains one of the more pernicious hooks of the 1960s. It reached #34 during the week of June 24, 1967, and was gone from the Hot 100 two weeks later.

(Never mind the not-technically-one-hit-wonders theme; we should probably be doing a crashing-out-of-the-Hot-100 theme instead.)

Let’s jump ahead a few years. Marie Osmond hit the charts a lot with Donny, but can you name a hit she charted under her name alone? I’m thinking of “Paper Roses,” which was a Top-10 hit in the fall of 1973. She’s on our list for “This Is the Way That I Feel,” in which she goes for a soul-diva vibe, with predictable results. It reached #39 for the week of June 4, 1975 1977.

In 1978, “Kiss You All Over” by Exile went to #1. Their followup hit, “You Thrill Me,” is actually a pretty decent record. It reached #40 for the week of February 3, 1979—and then fell out of the Hot 100 entirely, because of course it did.

(Four years later, Exile relaunched as a country act and bagged 10 #1 hits between 1984 and 1987, including the insanely great “Woke Up in Love.”)

All right, back to the game. I say “Rickie Lee Jones” and you say . . . “Chuck E.’s in Love.” But another track from her debut album, “Young Blood,” hit #40 for the week of September 1, 1979 (and she’d hit the Hot 100 two more times, in 1981 and 1984).

There are a few artists on this list for whom you could probably name two hits, like Jackie DeShannon (“What the World Needs Now Is Love” and “Put a Little Love in Your Heart), even though she put 16 onto the Hot 100 between 1963 and 1980. “Love Will Find a Way” was her only other Top 40 hit, reaching #40 on December 6, 1969. With Billy Joe Royal, you might name “Down in the Boondocks” and the great “Cherry Hill Park,” but “I’ve Got to Be Somebody,” written by Joe South, spent the week of January 15, 1966, at #38. And with Rick James, “Super Freak” and “You and I” may come to mind, but maybe not “Cold Blooded,” which was #40 for the week of September 24, 1983. (Abbreviated Soul Train clip here.)

We have a few songs yet to cover, so watch for future installments of this feature.

3 thoughts on “Got to Be Somebody

  1. Andy

    In the alternate universe of lowrider oldies popular among Mexican-Americans in the southwest, you’d be hard pressed to come up with a bigger star than Brenton Wood. Aside from “Gimme Little Sign”, “Oogum Boogum” and “Baby You Got It” (his 3 top 40 singles), he boasts over a half dozen others that are bona fide classics: “Me and You” (which made, it all the way to #121!), “I Like the Way You Love Me”, “Catch You on the Rebound”, “Take a Chance”, “I’m the One Who Knows”, “I Think You’ve Got Your Fools Mixed Up”, and a couple of others. I’m not sure why this guy connected in such a big and lasting way with that community, other than him being a local who grew up in southern California, but there you have it. He’ll never make the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, or even the R&B Hall of Fame, but in my neck of the woods, and among my people, he’s a big deal. I saw him perform at a big festival in Chicano Park in San Diego in, I believe, 1984. He sang with a live mike over a vinyl album they were playing through the sound system.

    I remember when that Marie Osmond record came out. It was supposed to be her “the little girl is now becoming a woman” moment, and much hoopla was made about her new adult image. Listening to the record now, it’s such an obvious re-write of the Diana Ross version of “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough”, I’m surprised someone wasn’t sued.

    I happen to be reading Rick James’ autobiography (posthumously ghost-written by the great David Ritz.) I haven’t gotten to the “Cold Blooded” part of the book, but I do know that he wrote that song for Linda Blair which, I guess, could be considered her last moment anywhere near the spotlight. Good song, and a better farewell to her career than “Roller Boogie”…

  2. porky

    I’ve probably banged this drum before but I’m always amazed by Bill Lowery’s Atlanta empire of publishing, hit records etc due to musicians like Roe, South and Royal along with Jerry Reed, Freddy Weller, Buddy Buie, Ray Stevens etc, an amazing pool of talent that ruled the late 60’s and 70’s pop charts.

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