(Pictured: Cheryl Ladd, front, with her Charlie’s Angels cast mates.)
Not long ago, I wrote about an American Top 40 show from mid-July 1978 and about my summer between high school and college. When the show from September 9, 1978, hit the air, I would have been finishing my second week at college. A lot was different from what it had been in July, in my world and on my radio.
38. “Talking in Your Sleep”/Crystal Gayle. Most days I wake up with a song running through my head. Sometimes I can tell where it came from, but other times I have no idea. One morning not long ago, it was “Talking in Your Sleep.” Later that day I put on this show and was gobsmacked when three songs in, there it was.
37. “I Love the Nightlife”/Alicia Bridges. Eighteen-year-old me did not like disco much; much-older me recognizes that “I Love the Nightlife” is legitimately great.
36. “You Never Done It Like That”/Captain and Tennille. On the verses, when Toni is describing in fairly explicit detail how she and the Captain got it on, she purrs like a soul singer.
34. “Think It Over”/Cheryl Ladd. As Cheryl Stoppelmoor, Cheryl Ladd was one of the voices of the cartoon singing group Josie and the Pussycats, whose 1971 album is a lost bubblegum classic. (Seriously, people, “Every Beat of My Heart” should have been a monster.) But “Think It Over,” propelled into the Top 40 thanks largely to Ladd’s Charlie’s Angels stardom, is not good.
33. “Come Together”/Aerosmith
24. “Oh Darling”/Robin Gibb
10. “Got to Get You Into My Life”/Earth Wind and Fire
Has anybody written the inevitable modern-day reappraisal of the Sgt. Pepper movie that argues it was actually good?
29. “Right Down the Line”/Gerry Rafferty
23. “Whenever I Call You Friend”/Kenny Loggins and Stevie Nicks
17. “Reminiscing”/Little River Band
13. “Fool If You Think It’s Over”/Chris Rea
If you had asked me in the fall of 1978 how I was adjusting to college, I’d have said, “Fine,” and I’d have been lying. I was in way over my head, not so much academically but personally, and I was lucky to have sorted it out before anything profoundly terrible could happen. As it was, some of the stuff that did happen was terrible enough. I am mostly at peace with it now, and with these songs. But they, and others on this list, soundtracked some pretty dark times.
28. “Just What I Needed”/Cars
22. “Two Tickets to Paradise”/Eddie Money
I wrote a thing about both Ric Ocasek and Eddie Money after they passed earlier this month, but I like it less and less the more I read by other people. I don’t write all that many tributes because others can do them better.
19. “Hollywood Nights”/Bob Seger
12. “Don’t Look Back”/Boston
Casey’s edit of “Hollywood Nights” took out my favorite line, not just of the song but of Bob Seger’s entire body of work: “She has been born with a face that would let her get her way / He saw that face and he lost all control.” Casey also played an edit of “Don’t Look Back,” but whether it was the standard radio edit or AT40‘s own, I can’t recall.
14. “Love Is in the Air”/John Paul Young. “Love Is in the Air” is a master class in building up tension and releasing it in a glorious rush.
8. “Summer Nights”/John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John
6. “Grease”/Frankie Valli
4. “Hopelessly Devoted to You”/Olivia Newton-John
This is peak Grease right here. Valli had spent the previous two weeks at #1.
5. “Kiss You All Over”/Exile. In Moline, Illinois, a born-again Christian DJ got performatively angry over this song, refusing to play it because it was “blantantly sexual” and a bad influence on children, and he ended up quitting his job over it. It seems to me, however, that there’s nothing in the song to suggest that the all-over-kissing isn’t taking place between two married adults for purposes leading to procreation. Get your mind out the gutter, son.
2. “Three Times a Lady”/Commodores. After two weeks at #1 in August, “Three Times a Lady” spent the next four weeks at #2. It had done a week at #2 before hitting #1, so that’s seven straight weeks at the very top of the charts. It’s beautiful, but all I can think of when I hear it now is Eddie Murphy as Buckwheat.
1. “Boogie Oogie Oogie”/A Taste of Honey. Like “I Love the Nightlife,” this sounds better to me now than it would have in 1978.
I’m better now myself.