(Pictured: Lou Rawls looks out into space and time.)
Last summer, I ran you through my collection of American Top 40 shows by month and year. One of the things I learned was that I had a nearly complete collection of summer 1976 shows from late May through late September, with a couple of exceptions. I now have the exceptions, thanks to Dr. Mark of My Favorite Decade. And I am pretty sure that on the weekend of July 17, 1976, I was listening to Casey, picking the last few songs out of the static after my local affiliate cut its power at sunset.
40. “Love Hangover”/Diana Ross. I cannot say how many times in the history of the show the #40 song was a former #1 hit. It can’t have happened often.
39. “Another Rainy Day in New York City”/Chicago
7. “Shop Around”/Captain and Tennille
I also can’t say whether the copy of the show I am listening to is in mono or stereo. If it’s stereo, it’s not separated very much. And even though I am listening digitally, I am pretty sure this copy was sourced from vinyl. The whole thing sounds great, but these two songs were especially good.
38. “Today’s the Day”/America
24. “I’m Easy”/Keith Carradine
16. “Get Closer”/Seals and Crofts
While each of the 40 songs on this list is emblematic to me of one thing or another from the summer of 1976, a few of them take me to places I do not have the words to describe.
A listener asks which song spent the most consecutive weeks at #2 on the Billboard chart. Answer: “Little Darlin'” by the Diamonds, which did seven weeks in 1957. Billboard published four different charts back then; the Diamonds’ achievement came on the Best Sellers chart. The Diamonds were a white group from Canada, and “Little Darlin'” was intended as a parody of the R&B style of many African-American groups. (Is that equivalent to wearing blackface?) In any event, Casey played a bit of “Little Darlin’,” which you have likely not heard in ages, so here it is.
36. “I’d Really Love to See You Tonight”/England Dan and John Ford Coley. The first of seven duos in the countdown. Casey says he’s not sure if that’s a record, but “it seems like a lot.”
33. “Something He Can Feel”/Aretha Franklin
32. “You’ll Never Find Another Love Like Mine”/Lou Rawls
Casey observes that each of these artists has been absent from the charts for a while. Here’s how long: Aretha’s previous Top 40 hit was “I’m in Love” in 1974, and it had been a full year since she’d made the Hot 100, the longest stretch of her career to date. Rawls hadn’t hit the Hot 100 since “A Natural Man” at the end of 1971.
29. “Sophisticated Lady”/Natalie Cole. “Sophisticated Lady” was as funky as Natalie Cole ever got, singing about a woman who “is hip to politics but loves her jazz” and who “sticks close to her lover / She obeys God’s rules.”
26. “Last Child”/Aerosmith
19. “Turn the Beat Around”/Vicki Sue Robinson
5. “Moonlight Feels Right”/Starbuck
4. “More More More”/Andrea True Connection
I’m listening to this show as it was heard in 1976, and not on the modern-day syndicated repeats. The repeats are sometimes edited in ways the original shows were not—but on this original show, these four songs were cut short. As we’ve noted before, the clock is a tyrant. The show has to be a certain length within a few seconds, and editing a verse or a chorus from a song is the easiest way to cut time. Casey wasn’t picky. “Moonlight Feels Right” made the biggest leap within the 40 this week—eight spots—but it got edited anyhow.
Related: because I’m listening to this show as it was originally provided to stations in 1976, I get all of what the show’s cue sheet calls “theme up and under.” Casey used an instrumental theme under his last talk segment of each hour. On the syndicated repeats, that theme ends and is followed by commercials as soon as Casey is done talking. As originally provided, the theme continues to play, sometimes for as much as 15 or 20 seconds. Local stations can use it to fill out their own hours, or drop out of it as they see fit. At the end of the last hour, the “Shuckatoom” theme provides the same function, and sometimes continues to play for a minute or more.
Over the theme at the end of the first hour, Casey teases the fact that three of the week’s debut records are still to come. And so they are, in the next installment of this post, on Monday.