(Pictured: Kiki Dee, 1973.)
The fall of 1974 is, as I’ve written several times over the years, a favorite season of mine. The American Top 40 show from October 19, 1974, was pretty powerful stuff on these recent autumn afternoons, making the door to the portal back in time, a door that periodically materializes in my middle distance, feel pretty close.
39. “Longfellow Serenade”/Neil Diamond. Me, 2014: “I am pretty sure you can’t get anywhere with a girl by reading her Longfellow. I am not sure you could get all that far 40 years ago, either.”
38. “Second Avenue”/Art Garfunkel. Two versions of this charted at the same time, one by Garfunkel (as he was billed on the single) and one by Tim Moore, who wrote it.
Then all the things that we felt
Must eventually melt and fade
Like the frost on my window pane
Where I wrote, “I am you”
On Second Avenue
37. “Higher Plane”/Kool and the Gang. If you dig the groove on “Jungle Boogie,” here’s more of it, and in a good way.
36. “I’ve Got the Music in Me”/Kiki Dee Band. Me, 2014: “Imagine not-yet-famous Ann and Nancy Wilson sitting by the radio in Seattle in 1974 going ‘damn, THAT’S the stuff.'”
35. “Clap for the Wolfman”/Guess Who. “Aw, you know, she was diggin’ the cat on the radio.”
30. “Overnight Sensation”/Raspberries. Casey tells the story of the woman who passed out in a record store due to the strong smell from the scratch-and-sniff sticker on the cover of the band’s debut album—a story he told almost exactly two years earlier, to the week, when he played “Go All the Way.”
29. “Straight Shootin’ Woman”/Steppenwolf. This was last of 13 Hot 100 hits for Steppenwolf, going back to 1968.
28. “The Need to Be”/Jim Weatherly. Me, 2014: “in which a man of the Me Decade disappears up his own external orifice.”
26. “Beach Baby”/First Class. If one is nostalgic for the era of a song that expresses nostalgia for a still earlier era, how far is he from Inception, really?
22. “Carefree Highway”/Gordon Lightfoot. The warmth in Gordon Lightfoot’s voice on this record is the aural equivalent of autumn.
20. “Give It to the People”/Righteous Brothers. I must have heard this record before listening to this show recently, but I don’t remember it. It’s another entry in the genre of what it’s like to be a rock star, which is highly relatable content.
19. “Back Home Again”/John Denver
18. “Whatever Gets You Through the Night”/John Lennon
17. “You Ain’t Seen Nothin’ Yet”/Bachman-Turner Overdrive
16. “Tin Man”/America
15. “Sweet Home Alabama”/Lynryd Skynyrd
You want the radio turned off, turn it off yourself. I ain’t gonna do it.
14. “Do It Baby”/Miracles. The first Miracles hit without Smokey Robinson. I am pretty sure I never heard it until I started doing Saturday at the 70s on the radio a decade ago.
13. “Skin Tight”/Ohio Players
12. “You Little Trustmaker”/The Tymes
11. “Stop and Smell the Roses”/Mac Davis
I told you once, I ain’t turning it off.
10. “Love Me for a Reason”/Osmonds. But I might step out of the room for a bit.
9. “Steppin’ Out (Gonna Boogie Tonight)”/Tony Orlando and Dawn. I can’t find a link for it, but I remember somewhere describing Orlando’s style as the 70s went on as “overacting like Fozzie Bear.” This is one of the less egregious examples of it, and since I’m halfway through the time portal by this point in the show, I’ll allow it.
7. “Never My Love”/Blue Swede. Blue Swede decorated “Hooked on a Feeling” with the “ooga-chucka” hook (which they nicked from Jonathan King); their tactic on “Never My Love” was to play it twice as fast as the original.
6. “The Bitch Is Back”/Elton John. Contrary to urban legend. Casey did mention the title of this, both going into and coming out of it, although he sounds a little embarrassed. Old-school radio jocks could be that way; I still remember the first time I deliberately said “hell” on the air (as an intensifier and not as a noun), and wondering afterward whether I should have done it.
1. “Nothing From Nothing”/Billy Preston. Throughout the show, Casey teases the fact that the week’s new #1 song would be the 28th of 1974, breaking a record for most #1 songs in a year. The record of 27 was set in 1966 and equaled in 1973. Before 1974 ended, 36 songs would hit #1. As best I can tell, that’s still the all-time record for #1 hits in a year.
The feeling of family warmth and security I remember from the fall of 1974 is almost certainly a lie, but a harmless one after all this time. And in this horrid fall of 2019, each of us needs all the warmth and security we can get.