At some point during April 1975, I kissed a girl for the first time. As I wrote in 2010, “It was not a hormonally driven assault on a somewhat-willing target; it was, in fact, as magical as you’d like your first kiss to be.” I hope it’s because my memory is full and not failing, but the American Top 40 show from April 12, 1975, doesn’t bring that time back quite as vividly as I’d like it to. But memories aside, there was some interesting stuff on the show.
39. “Don’t Call Us, We’ll Call You”/Sugarloaf
There has never been anything else that sounds quite like either one of these records.
31. “Tangled Up in Blue”/Bob Dylan
30. “Stand by Me”/John Lennon
Not bad, 1975. Not bad at all. The speedy wordplay of “Tangled Up in Blue” is a little incongruous amidst the pop tunes, but the record always sounds good no matter when you hear it. Meanwhile, Lennon sounds desperate for connection and support, which at the time he recorded “Stand by Me,” he might have been.
25. “The Bertha Butt Boogie (Part 1)”/Jimmy Castor Bunch. Me, 2015: “To make sense of “The Bertha Butt Boogie,” it helps to know a little about the universe Jimmy Castor created on his earlier records, lest his references to the Butt Sisters, Leroy, and the Troglodyte leave you baffled. Or you can just surrender to the absolutely ferocious groove and not worry about it.”
23. “He Don’t Love You (Like I Love You)”/Tony Orlando and Dawn. This is a remake of Jerry Butler’s “He Will Break Your Heart,” renamed, Casey says, because producer Hank Medress kept calling it “He Don’t Love You” and finally got permission from the publisher to change it. I have a theory that certain songs are helped by the time of the year in which they appear; this would have felt different had it hit in a season other than springtime. And I love the way it starts—so much so that on the radio, I won’t talk over the first five seconds of it.
22. “Satin Soul”/Love Unlimited Orchestra. ABC Sports used “Satin Soul” as a theme for its golf coverage back in the middle of the 70s. One fine night in college, a couple of us used it on a fake golf broadcast we made up, in which various classmates were playing in a tournament and having various misadventures on the course. That tape must be out there somewhere, although I don’t think I have it.
14. “Before the Next Teardrop Falls”/Freddy Fender. This song, which had gone #1 country in March, would spend three weeks at #2 on the Hot 100 in May before hitting #1 at the end of the month, and somebody smarter than me will have to explain its crossover appeal.
13. “Harry Truman”/Chicago. Casey tells the story of President Truman’s 1950 dust-up with a music critic who panned a public performance by Truman’s daughter, and quotes from the letter Truman wrote to the critic as “Someday I hope to meet you. When that happens you’ll need a new nose, and a lot of beefsteak for black eyes.” Casey leaves off the last part of that sentence, however: “and perhaps a supporter below!”
12. “Supernatural Thing (Part 1)”/Ben E. King. Introducing King’s first big chart hit since 1963, Casey says it’s one of four “comeback records” this week, but doesn’t elaborate. So let me guess on the other three. Two of the comeback artists must be Frankie Valli (“My Eyes Adored You” #27), who hadn’t been in the Top 40 since 1967, and Shirley and Company (“Shame Shame Shame,” #35); as part of Shirley and Lee, Shirley Goodman hit big in 1956 with “Let the Good Times Roll.” Best candidate for the third one is B. J. Thomas ( “Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song,” #6), who had been absent from the Top 40 since 1972.
3. “The No No Song”-“Snookeroo”/Ringo Starr. “The No No Song” is pretty much what people expected from the funny Beatle by this time. Why “Snookeroo” took off as the flipside, I don’t know. Squeamishness about playing the A-side, which mentions marijuana and cocaine? “Snookeroo” was custom-written for Ringo by Elton John and Bernie Taupin, with Elton on piano and doing the opening count-off, but there’s absolutely nothing to it.
1. “Philadelphia Freedom”/Elton John. The chart action on “Philadelphia Freedom” is pretty interesting. It went 53-35-11-3-2 before its two weeks at #1 in April. Then it went 2-4-7-11-15 before returning to the Top 10 for two weeks in June, about the time the Captain Fantastic album came out. Maybe that’s because it wasn’t on the album, and people discovered that if they wanted it, they had to go get the 45.