(Pictured: Willie and Waylon, 1978.)
I wrote recently about the American Top 40 show from the week of October 17, 1970. As we do, let us look at what charted on the Hot 100 out of Casey Kasem’s view in the same week.
41. “Gypsy Woman”/Brian Hyland
42. “Yellow River”/Christie
45. “Engine No. 9″/Wilson Pickett
46. “Cry Me a River”/Joe Cocker
68. “The Tears of a Clown”/Smokey Robinson and the Miracles
75. “After Midnight”/Eric Clapton
78. “Heaven Help Us All”/Stevie Wonder
101. “Share the Land”/Guess Who
111. “One Less Bell to Answer”/Fifth Dimension
Just as the Top 40 was in this week, the Bottom 60 and the Bubbling Under chart are loaded with records I find to be deeply evocative of their time.
48. “For the Good Times”/Ray Price
94. “The Taker”/Waylon Jennings
102. “Amos Moses”/Jerry Reed
119. “I Can’t Be Myself”-“Sidewalks of Chicago”/Merle Haggard
It took a while, but I finally finished watching Ken Burns’ documentary Country Music. It might be my favorite of all the major Burns projects, and I say that as somebody whose life as a music fan was quite literally changed by Jazz back in 2001. Country Music featured a remarkable lineup of commentators, including Haggard, filmed before his death in 2016, and Kris Kristofferson, who was quoted only briefly but discussed extensively, as befits the status of the writer of “For the Good Times,” “The Taker” (co-written with Shel Silverstein), “Sunday Morning Comin’ Down,” “Help Me Make It Through the Night,” and other classics. Burns and his team also spent a lot of time discussing the fascinating transformation of Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, and other artists from standard-issue Nashville acts in the 60s to outlaws in the 70s. And while some reviews suggested Burns spent too much time on Johnny Cash, I didn’t find that to be true.
If you are not persuaded that you want to spend 16-and-a-half hours on a single documentary, you might consider watching the last three episodes, covering the period from 1968 to 1996. And if you want to watch only one part, make it the last one, which covers 1984 to 1996. It was one of the most moving things I’ve ever seen on TV and I’m not joking—the stories behind and the powerful performances of Kathy Mattea’s “Where’ve You Been” and Vince Gill’s “Go Rest High on That Mountain” left me in tears on my couch. I had just recovered when Rosanne Cash’s performance of “I Still Miss Someone” at her father’s 2003 memorial service knocked me sideways again. You may be able to stream the series at the PBS website; it’s also available at Amazon Prime. But see it, somehow.
50. “Mongoose”/Elephant’s Memory. “Mongoose” doesn’t sound commercial at all, but it’s a burner. It went to #1 in Pittsburgh and it made the Top 10 in Chicago, Milwaukee, Columbus, and Orlando.
59. “Fresh Air”/Quicksilver Messenger Service
93. “Empty Pages”/Traffic
Jam-band music, 1970-style.
60. “I Think I Love You”/Partridge Family. The anti-“Mongoose.”
100. “Listen Here”/Brian Auger and the Trinity. “Listen Here,” another burner, was the lone Hot 100 single for Brian Auger in any configuration I know of (how did “This Wheel’s on Fire” miss it?), and just barely: two weeks at #100 and then out.
109. “For Yasgur’s Farm”/Mountain
110. “Easy Rider (Let the Wind Pay the Way)”/Iron Butterfly
112. “Stop I Don’t Wanna Hear It Anymore”-“Peace Will Come”/Melanie
A couple of heavy-rockin’ hippie bands and one patchouli-drenched icon are bubbling under this week. “For Yasgur’s Farm” is a Woodstock reflection of a sort: “A crystal passing reflected in our eyes / Eclipsing all the jealousy and lies.” “Easy Rider” was inspired by the movie but isn’t part of it. “Peace Will Come” had made it to #32 earlier in the fall; the B-side was getting some action in October, but not enough to return to the Hot 100.
One Other Thing: It must have been nearly a decade ago that I got Internet-acquainted with Gene “Bean” Baxter, Radio Hall of Famer and longtime cohost of Kevin and Bean on KROQ in Los Angeles. It’s been a few years since Bean was passing through Madison on vacation and we got together for a drink and a fine time. What I learned is that despite his success, he’s a regular guy, and a damn nice one at that. Bean’s last day on KROQ is Thursday. He plans on relocating to England, where he was born, maybe to continue his radio career there, and/or become an English country squire. Leaving a gig in one’s own time is a choice we radio types are not always permitted to make, so for a good guy to go out on his terms is a big win.
Congratulations, m’lord, and all the best to you and yours.