Speak Softly

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(Pictured: Marlon Brando and Robert Duvall in The Godfather.)

I recently wrote about the very entertaining American Top 40 show from the week of May 6, 1972. Here’s what’s interesting from among the other 60 songs on the Hot 100 in that same week.

41. “Taurus”/Dennis Coffey. Coffey’s “Scorpio” had been a Top-10 hit early in the year. “Taurus,” which is in its first week out of the Top 40, is a rager, three minutes of fiery guitar and pounding percussion, and a ferocious groove. And another one of my 45s.

42. “Pool of Bad Luck”/Joe Simon
44. “Ask Me What You Want”/Millie Jackson

46. “Hearsay”/The Soul Children
Will say again: anybody who dismisses the music of the 1970s as vapid and/or cheesy has to account for the glorious soul music that was still being made during the first half of the decade. Of these three, only Millie Jackson would make it onto American Top 40. But “Hearsay” is classic Stax, gritty and great—as is the music of the Soul Children in general.

45. “Love Theme From The Godfather (Speak Softly Love)”Andy Williams
74. “Love Theme From The Godfather“/Carlo Savina
86. “Speak Softly Love (Love Theme From The Godfather)”/Al Martino
Earlier this spring I wrote about the massive movie success of Love Story, and the three versions of the theme that rode the charts at the same time in 1971. One year later, the massive movie success of the moment was The Godfather, which premiered in late March and was #1 at the box office for 11 out of the next 12 weeks. Andy Williams had the biggest hit version of “Love Story,” and his “Speak Softly Love” would become the biggest hit of the Godfather themes—but it would make only #34, where “Love Story” had gone to #9.

48. “Let’s Stay Together”/Isaac Hayes
49. “Do Your Thing”/Isaac Hayes
Two separate singles that had charted about a month apart find themselves together on this chart, “Let’s Stay Together” at its peak and “Do Your Thing” on the way down. Hayes had been the talk of the Academy Awards earlier in the spring, performing his Oscar-winning “Theme From Shaft” in a vest of chain mail.

52. “You Are the One”/Sugar Bears. The Sugar Bears were a studio group assembled to sell Post Super Sugar Crisp cereal, but as was common in the bubblegum era, their songs were made far better than they had to be. Those performing on Sugar Bears records included former First Edition member Mike Settle and pre-stardom Kim Carnes. If you do not get the appeal of “You Are the One,” I don’t think we’re compatible, and perhaps we should start seeing other people.

55. “Chantilly Lace”/Jerry Lee Lewis. After a decade in the wilderness thanks largely to the scandal over his marriage to his 13-year-old cousin, Lewis roared back to stardom in country music in 1968. I am not wild about his version of “Chantilly Lace,” which sounds like it was knocked off in one relatively indifferent take, but it went to #1 on the Billboard country chart.

59. “Old Man”/Neil Young. The former #1 “Heart of Gold” was still up at #22 in this week. “Old Man” would make it only to #31. If I were forced to pick a favorite Neil Young song, “Old Man” would probably be it, although I bought the 45 of “Heart of Gold” in the spring of ’72.

67. “Song Sung Blue”/Neil Diamond
72. “Someday Never Comes”/Creedence Clearwater Revival
77. “Automatically Sunshine”/Supremes
80. “Rocket Man”/Elton John
These were the top four debut singles on the Hot 100 in that week; “Song Sung Blue” and “Someday Never Comes” were offered to affiliates as extras during the recent nationwide repeat of the 5/6/72 show. “Song Sung Blue” would go to #1 and “Rocket Man” would reach #6; “Someday Never Comes,” the last Creedence single to chart, hit #25; “Automatically Sunshine,” written by Smokey Robinson, made #37. The Diana Ross-less Supremes wouldn’t make the Top 40 again until 1976 (for a single week), and that would be the last time.

68. “Telegram Sam”/T. Rex
69. “Long Haired Lover From Liverpool”/Jimmy Osmond
70. “Changes”/David Bowie
Only one of these records is going to make the Top 40, and it is “Long Haired Lover From Liverpool” because there is no God and we can’t have nice things. Bowie would actually miss it twice, getting as close as #41 in 1975, when “Changes” was re-released.

95. “Questions”/Bang. This record appeared on our Down in the Bottom series back in 2010, thanks to its chart peak of #90. As I wrote, “[T]hen-unknown Bang crashed a show in Orlando on a dare, playing an audition for the promoter around noontime and finding themselves a the bill with Deep Purple and Faces the same night.” A radio station in Fort Lauderdale charted “Questions” as high as #3.

9 thoughts on “Speak Softly

  1. mackdaddyg

    Lots of love here for the Soul Children as well. Their single “Finders Keepers” should have been a huge hit and a staple on oldies radio afterwards, but alas.

    Their performance at Wattstax is a wonder to behold, but I guess you could say that about the whole movie.

    1. Wesley

      Saw Wattstax recently and it is indeed one great concert documentary. Although I found it jarring to see a pre-Love Boat Ted Lange (Isaac the bartender) dropping the N-word a couple of times in the movie.

  2. mikehagerty

    Theory I’ve always had about why Andy could hit with “Love Story” and not “Love Theme From The Godfather”:

    1) It really shoulda been Al Martino. So, karma.
    2) It was never gonna be Al Martino on Top 40 radio in 1972.
    3) “Love Story” only worked on Top 40 the year before because the movie was a hit with teen girls. Eventually, EVERYBODY saw “The Godfather”—but it built over time (it was #21 for the year, grossing only $5.8 million) , and was an adult (and largely male) movie to start.

    (Top five movies for 1972):

    1. The Poseidon Adventure ($93.3 million—in eighteen days—it was released 12/13/72)
    2. What’s Up Doc ($57.1 million—released five days before The Godfather and did 10X more)
    3. Deliverance ($46.1 million)
    4. Deep Throat ($45.0 million)
    5. Jeremiah Johnson ($44.6 million)

    1. Wesley

      So, are you saying that there were missed opportunities to make the Hot 100 by not recording love themes from What’s Up, Doc?, Deep Throat and Jeremiah Johnson? Eh, I could agree with that.

      1. Yah Shure

        Mike, if you’re going to go with the Love Theme from Deep Throat, the Baja Marimba Band is far too classy. This occasion calls for the ultimate in cheesiness, and boy, does this one deliver: Linda & The Lollipops’ version, issued as a single by Kama Sutra in 1973. It was a favovite on my college station’s turntable…. the one in the office, that is. It never got anywhere near the ones in the studio.

        It seemed a weirdly appropriate fit for that Adam-and-Eve Kama Sutra label design of the tme.

      2. mikehagerty

        Yah Shure: I had totally forgotten that one—-but now I can picture it and the label. I actually played the Baja Marimba Band version on KIBS in Bishop, figuring that I could get away with that. Linda and the Lollipops? Not a chance.

  3. John Gallagher

    Back in 1972, we had an adult pop station in town and I remember hearing only the Andy Williams version on the radio.

    “Changes” from David Bowie has become a staple of Classic Rock stations, yet I never heard the song locally back in 1972 or 1975.

    “Rocket Man”, “Song Sung Blue” and “Someday Never Comes” were 3 of my favorites then. Both Elton and Neil stood the test of time (and music tests) with their hits while CCR didn’t get much or any airplay at all beyond the chart run of the song. To me, the song has a sadness to it like they knew the end of the hits was near.

    1. mikehagerty

      “Someday Never Comes” was from the MARDI GRAS album, where the other three members of CCR finally wrested total control from John Fogerty and tried to make it a democracy. Trouble is, John knew how to make hit records and they didn’t. The LP stalled at #12, the first time CCR had missed the top 5 of the album charts since their debut album, which peaked at #52. However, because of long-term sales, the debut went Platinum. MARDI GRAS only managed Gold (500,000 copies).

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