See You Again

I have written a few times about my summer between high school and college, suspended between two worlds and all that. But not today. I’m trying to wean myself from the related ideas that A) I’m the first person in history who ever experienced things that are actually quite common, and B) everything that ever happened to me is automatically interesting. I have a relatively new acquaintance who’s like this, and it bugs me. For this reason, I am trying to take the plank out of my own eye.

So anyway: I have been listening to the American Top 40 show from July 15, 1978, and it’s making me think about stuff, but I will limit my discussion here to the show, which was really entertaining.

Casey starts by recapping the massive turnover on recent charts. The shows from July 1 and July 8 had eight new songs apiece; the July 15 show has only three, but that’s 19 songs that are new in July alone. It’s hard to imagine that any period of Casey’s reign was more volatile.

40. “I’ve Had Enough”/Paul McCartney and Wings
39. “Will You Love Me Tomorrow”/Dave Mason
36. “Can We Still Be Friends”/Todd Rundgren
31. “Hot Love, Cold World”/Bob Welch
There are some bigtime rock stars on this show with good-but-obscure singles. I am not sure the world needed a cover of “Will You Love Me Tomorrow,” but Mason’s is lovely, and it was my favorite song of the moment in mid-July 1978. Welch recorded only a handful of hit singles, and while several of them sounded pretty much alike (“Ebony Eyes,” “Hot Love, Cold World,” “Precious Love”), they also sounded good, so who cares.

38. “Love or Something Like It”/Kenny Rogers. I hadn’t heard “Love or Something Like It” in years, and I was surprised how much I liked it, considering how much I didn’t like it in 1978.

37. “Only the Good Die Young”/Billy Joel
32. “Stay”/Jackson Browne
16. “Wonderful Tonight”/Eric Clapton

Opposite of the good-but-obscure singles, there are songs on this show I need never hear again.

34. “Love Is Like Oxygen”/Sweet
33. “You’re the One That I Want”/John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John

28. “I’m Not Gonna Let It Bother Me Tonight”/Atlanta Rhythm Section
27. “You Belong to Me”/Carly Simon
26. “Magnet and Steel”/Walter Egan
25. “If Ever I See You Again”/Roberta Flack
13. “Two Out of Three Ain’t Bad”/Meat Loaf

Wow, some of these songs are powerfully evocative of times, places, and people from my summer of 1978, but we aren’t going there, I swear.

30. “King Tut”/Steve Martin
24. “Thank God It’s Friday”/Love and Kisses
These songs bring back my ill-fated tenure as a roller-rink DJ, which you can read about if you scroll down in this post. I am pretty sure the guy who owned the rink paid more to run the ad at the top of this page than he paid me the whole summer.

22. “My Angel Baby”/Toby Beau. The judges will accept either “My Angel Baby” or the name “Toby Beau” as answers to the question, “What is the diametric opposite of ‘bad-ass’?”

15. “Runaway”/Jefferson Starship
14. “Love Will Find a Way”/Pablo Cruise
We had this moment of yacht-rock nirvana years before we knew what yacht rock was.

12. “Bluer Than Blue”/Michael Johnson. In the car the other day, I may have sung along with every word of this. Possibly.

10. “Last Dance”/Donna Summer. Between August of 1977 and May of 1980, there was exactly one week without a Donna Summer song on the Hot 100. (It was the week of May 6, 1978, just before this song debuted.)

7. “The Groove Line”/Heatwave
6. “Miss You”/Rolling Stones
5. “Still the Same”/Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band
4. “Use ta Be My Girl”/O’Jays
3. “Take a Chance on Me”/ABBA
2. “Baker Street”/Gerry Rafferty
1. “Shadow Dancing”/Andy Gibb
This show is solid at the top, even accounting for the sorry fact that this was the fourth straight week that “Shadow Dancing” kept “Baker Street” at #2. (As we learned a few years ago, “Baker Street” was actually #1 for a few hours at one point that summer, until Billboard‘s chart director, Bill Wardlow, did that voodoo for which he became infamous.) “Use ta Be My Girl” and “Take a Chance on Me” back-to-back is maximum 70s flavor, and “The Groove Line” is a burner. Although the disco beat on “Miss You” sounds a little dated now, it was right in the pocket for 1978. And for a map of how the summer of ’78 felt to between-two-worlds me, you can’t do better than “Still the Same.” But we’re not taking about that today.

8 responses

  1. “Runaway”/Jefferson Starship and “Earth”, the album it came from are far better today than they were then.

  2. I wrestle with the me-me-me thing myself on a regular basis. Only thing I can tell ya is:
    – we in the audience find your experiences, and your interpretations of same, interesting, even when we’ve been through the same.
    – the personal content is some of the best stuff you can write, b/c it’s your story and no one else’s.
    If anything, the personal stuff gets more and more valuable as the interwebs get more and more saturated with deep-dives, long-reads and general KNOWLEDGE.
    There are 1,500,000 sites that will tell me that Ian McLagan played electric piano on ‘Miss You’ but very few that will tell me what a typical American from small-town Wisconsin, broken loose from the family farm for a Saturday night in town with his friends, thought when he heard it.

    1. You nailed it! THAT’S what makes this excellent blog so unique.

      1. Thirded.

  3. “we in the audience find your experiences, and your interpretations of same, interesting, [especially because] we’ve been through the same.” I do concur, by the way, with your excellent comment.

    1. You guys are very kind, although I’d point out that I said “I’m trying,” not “I expect to succeed at it.”

  4. “Can We Still Be Friends” stands as strong evidence to what I’ve heard from more than one critic that Todd Rundgren was making great pop records in the 1970s that radio station programmers and the general public mostly ignored to their detriment, outside of “Hello, It’s Me.” A gorgeous, evocative production with lyrics that hit home with anyone who’s had an intense relationship only to realize it’s not destined for the long run.

    On the other hand, “I’ve Had Enough” sounds like Paul McCartney trying to prove to everyone he could still rock despite most of his recent hits being light pop music and ballads. Hell, even his singing “No, no, no, no, no” during the chorus sounds like it’s supposed to remind us of the “Yeah, yeah, yeah” from “She Loves You.” It’s not bad, mind you, it just comes across as forced.

    So glad that “If Ever I See You Again” did not become another “You Light Up My Life” for writer Joe Brooks. An artificial followup to an already dubious hit.

    And “Runaway” should’ve been a top ten entry, maybe even top five. If it is “yacht rock,” whatever that is, it’s a glorious standout, with perfect instrumentation, Marty Balin singing his heart out and that irresistible tempo change beginning with the lines “Summer’s coming and it’s getting warmer…” And it sure has, then and now.

  5. You nailed it! THAT’S what makes this excellent blog so unique.

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