Be Good

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(Note to patrons: this week, there will be a new post at this site every day, as opposed to the usual Monday/Wednesday/Friday routine. Don’t get used to it, though.)

The new thing around here is that whenever I write about an American Top 40 show—even the ones I had no intention of writing about when I started listening to them but ended up doing so anyway—I’ll also write about the bottom part of the same chart. So here’s the rest of May 1, 1976.

41. “When Love Has Gone Away”/Richard Cocciante. Several years ago, a kind reader sent me a couple of editions of The National Album Countdown, and I have yet to write about them specifically. We have mentioned the show itself, however, produced and hosted by Humble Harve Miller, which ran starting in 1976 and for several years thereafter. It was the only place on the radio where I ever heard the Italian crooner Richard Cocciante (pronounced ka-SHUN-tay), whose album managed to make the Record World chart Harve used. “When Love Has Gone Away” was at its Hot 100 peak on 5/1/76, and honesty compels me to report that I do not get the appeal.

50. “Falling Apart at the Seams”/Marmalade
81. “Arms of Mary”/Sutherland Brothers and Quiver
Other, lesser hits were far more appealing than “When Love Has Gone Away.” “Falling Apart at the Seams” is nothing but appealing, thanks to writer/producer/bubblegum genius Tony Macaulay, but somehow made it only to #49. “Arms of Mary” would get no higher than this position on the Hot 100; a couple of years later a cover by Chilliwack would get to #68.

55. “It’s Over”/Boz Scaggs. You could probably win money from people by asking them to name all of the A-side singles on Silk Degrees. Most people can get two. It’s a greater accomplishment to name the others. They are (in charting order) “It’s Over,” “Lowdown,” “What Can I Say,” and “Lido Shuffle.” And if someone does that, tell them that another Silk Degrees song, “Georgia,” was an A-side in the UK, Japan, and Brazil.

If you want trivia, my friend, you have come to the right place.

62. “Shop Around”/Captain and Tennille
67. “Rock and Roll Love Letter”/Bay City Rollers
75. “Still Crazy After All These Years”/Paul Simon
78. “Never Gonna Fall in Love Again”/Eric Carmen
85. “Could It Be Magic”/Donna Summer

88. “I’ll Be Good to You”/Brothers Johnson
89. “Better Days”/Melissa Manchester

90. “Dance Wit Me”/Rufus
97. “You Got the Magic”/John Fogerty
98. “Let Her In”/John Travolta
99. “Moonlight Serenade”/Bobby Vinton
Of the 11 new records on the Hot 100 this week, seven would make the Top 40, although “Dance Wit Me” and “Still Crazy” would peak at #39 and #40. The Captain and Tennille, Eric Carmen, the Brothers Johnson, and John Travolta would make the Top 10. “You Got the Magic,” in which John Fogerty takes a stab at dance music, would be his last chart single until his 1984 comeback.

77. “Kiss and Say Goodbye”/Manhattans. The 19-place move this song makes in its third week on the chart is equaled only by Diana Ross’ “Love Hangover,” which made a mighty leap from #29 to #10 in the same week.

79. “Forever Lovers”/Mac Davis. This would get only as high as #76 on the Hot 100, although it would get to #17 on Billboard‘s country chart. To save you three minutes, “Forever Lovers” starts as a couple is getting into bed on their wedding night. He suddenly says, “I forgot to get champagne,” climbs out of the sack to run down to the Kwik Trip, and gets killed by a bus or something. Flash forward many years. An elderly woman checks into the honeymoon suite, puts on the faded negligee she wore that fateful night, lies down on the bed, and dies. “A lifetime’s a short time / When love never ends.”

94. “The Fonz Song”/Heyettes. At various points over the years, I have contended at this website that each of the following people was the biggest star in American culture during 1976: Jimmy Carter, Detroit Tigers pitcher Mark Fidrych, and the Fonz. Although Fidrych’s joyful demeanor, his eccentricities on the field, and his dominant performances would make him a superstar by July, he didn’t pitch regularly until mid-May. Carter wouldn’t sew up the Democratic presidential nomination until July. So in mid-May at least, the Fonz was The Man. “The Fonz Song,” however, is dreadful. It shows up on 19 surveys at ARSA, and in an affront to good taste even greater than “Forever Lovers,” WGNG in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, took it all the way to #3.

For more mid-May 1976 flavor, visit this post from 2016. For more about Mark Fidrych, click here.

6 responses

  1. Bad: that Heyettes song. Wow.
    Worse: It put a 1976-era commercial jingle for the Fonz action figure in my head. “You can stick his thumbs up in the air/Fonzie’s cool, not a square.” Haven’t heard that in forty years or so, and here we are.

    Say what you want about Fidrych and Carter, but I don’t recall action figures. I think the Fonz wins.

  2. The pic of the Fonz first thing this morning is a treat, because my wife andd I just started watching Bill Hader’s “Barry” on HBO, and Henry Winkler is a regular. I saw his face now on the TV just before going to bed last night and wake up to the 44-years-younger version on my laptop.

    As for the chart: I got SILK DEGREES the day it came out and believed “Georgia” was a hit single—played it like it was one at KUKI, Ukiah. I was stunned when “It’s Over” stiffed at #38…less so when “What Can I Say” only managed #44. They shoulda gone for “Georgia”.

    Also a surprise that “Still Crazy After All These Years” stiffed at #40. Paul Simon was coming off a #1 single (“50 Ways to Leave Your Lover”). But the album was seven months old by this point, so maybe everyone who wanted it, had it.

    “I’ll Be Good To You” is the perfect antidote to “Let Her In”. Play the Brothers Johnson every two and a half hours and “lose” the promo copy of Travolta and all the dups.

    And yes, the Fonz song sucked, but you’re right—he was one of the three biggest people in American culture that year. A triumph of casting. I doubt we’d have thought the same if Micky Dolenz (also up for the role) had played him. But sometimes the best guy to play a teenage thug named Arthur Fonzarelli is a 30-year old 5’6″ Jewish guy.

    Henry Winkler’s a treasure. Anyone who hasn’t seen him in “Arrested Development” or “Barry” (no relation—his character in “Arrested Development” was named Barry, but he plays Gene in “Barry”—no, not Gene Barry, don’t get me started on Burke’s Law…)

  3. (completing the thought above)…should do so immediately.

  4. Oh, just the thought of that Mac Davis record makes me ill. I hate bathetic death songs & records, and that sounds like it would go to No. 1 on my detest list if I were to listen to it. I won’t, though, leaving “Seasons In The Sun” on its pathetic perch.

  5. I’d wager “Still Crazy After All These Years” has gotten more airplay than the whiny “Let Her In.” My admittedly dim memory can’t recall the latter getting any spins in my market less than a year later, much less than the years since. In fact, I think most people won’t believe you if you tell them John Travolta had a top 10 hit prior to Saturday Night Fever.

    Always liked Donna’s take on “Could It Be Magic” better than Barry Manilow’s. Well, I admit it, I always liked most of Donna’s songs more than Barry’s overall.

    Four singles from Silk Degrees is an incredible feat at the time for an album, especially one by a relative unknown like Boz Scaggs. To put this in perspective, just a year before, Elton John’s album Captain Fantastic and the Brown Dirt Cowboy, the first LP to debut at #1 on Billboard’s album chart, released just one single, “Someone Saved My Life Tonight.” The era of top-selling albums having four or more singles released in support to keep them on the charts for more than a year got its big push started in 1976.

  6. “What Can I Say” by Boz Scaggs should’ve been a big hit. Loved it then…love it just as much now. Wasn’t 1976 great? It was a time when you could be “into” Boz Scaggs and be “cool” at the same time.

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