A Little Magic

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(Pictured: I’m always happy to have an excuse to post a picture of Linda Ronstadt.)

Here we are below the Top 40 during the week of September 13, 1980. There’s even more yacht rock and urban cowboy country than there was in the Top 40, along with a few records we have never stopped hearing.

42. “Jojo”/Boz Scaggs
57. “Late at Night”/England Dan Seals
62. “Thunder and Lightning”/Chicago
71. “Leaving L.A.”/Deliverance
88. “If You Should Sail”/Nielsen-Pearson
100. “Steal Away”/Robbie Dupree
105. “Givin’ It All”/Player

More yacht rock, although one might argue whether “Thunder and Lightning” is a little too heavy. I don’t know if the various yacht rock stations streaming or on Sirius/XM play “Late at Night,” “Leaving L.A.,” “If You Should Sail,” or “Givin’ It All,” but how could they not? All sound like perfect examples of the form, to the extent that I care about it.

43. “Make a Little Magic”/Dirt Band
45. “Why Not Me”/Fred Knoblock
“Why Not Me” made Billboard‘s country chart, briefly; “Make a Little Magic” did not, although we played it at KDTH. Knoblock’s next hit, a duet with actress Susan Anton called “Killin’ Time,” would make the country Top 10; in the mid 80s, the Dirt Band, back to its original name of Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, would reel off a string of big country hits.

47. “You Better Run”/Pat Benatar
54. “Games Without Frontiers”/Peter Gabriel
55. “Misunderstanding”/Genesis
58. “I Hear You Now”/Jon and Vangelis
73. “Turn It on Again”/Genesis
74. “Tulsa Time”/Eric Clapton
93. “Coming Up (Live at Glasgow)”/Paul McCartney and Wings
95. “I Can’t Let Go”/Linda Ronstadt

I spent the summer of 1980 on the night shift at an album-rock station. All of these songs were part of that summer. “Tulsa Time” was a live version. “I Hear You Now” was a record I fell in love with and put on our air, trying to make a hit out of it. It peaked at #58, so I must have helped.

49. “Shining Star”/Manhattans
60. “Whip It”/Devo
67. “Little Jeannie”/Elton John
80. “You Shook Me All Night Long”/AC-DC
Yup, there sure is a lot of stuff here that hasn’t been off the radio in 40 years all right.

41. “Take a Little Rhythm”/Ali Thomson
50. “Midnight Rocks”/Al Stewart
Do they let Brits on the boat? I’m inclined to say yes to “Take a Little Rhythm” for its white-guy-dancing vibe, and no to Al Stewart, who is sailing in a different direction entirely.

65. “This Beat Goes On”-“Switchin’ to Glide”/The Kings
101. “Turning Japanese”/The Vapors
If you came in for your show at the college radio station and the person before you had recently played one or the other of these, you might just break format and play ’em anyway. I wrote about “Beat/Glide” in the fall of 2008. The next spring, out of the blue, I got an e-mail from John Picard of the Kings (also known as Mister Zero), and our correspondence turned into a lengthy e-mail interview. It’s one of the coolest things I’ve ever done at this website, and if you want to read the whole thing, all four parts are here: 1234.

51. “The Legend of Wooley Swamp”/Charlie Daniels Band
52. “I’m Almost Ready”/Pure Prairie League
79. “Don’t Misunderstand Me”/Rossington Collins Band
85. “Under the Gun”/Poco
90. “Angeline”/Allman Brothers Band
110. “Longshot”/Henry Paul Band
By 1980, the terms “country rock” and “Southern rock” were ceasing to mean much. Beyond some lead singers with strong Southern accents, there’s not much country or Southern about any of these. I would remind you that “The Legend of Wooley Swamp” is one of the world’s worst songs; the 1980 edition of Pure Prairie League featured Vince Gill on vocals; the Rossington Collins Band was a successor to Lynyrd Skynryd and the most-hyped band of the summer, at least on album-rock radio, where new wave had little impact; Henry Paul had been in the Outlaws during “Green Grass and High Tides” days.

69. “On the Road Again”/Willie Nelson
72. “Could I Have This Dance”/Anne Murray
87. “True Love Ways”/Mickey Gilley
91. “Stand By Me”/Mickey Gilley
97. “Theme From ‘The Dukes of Hazzard’ (Good Ole Boys)”/Waylon Jennings
106. “I Believe in You”/Don Williams
The movie Urban Cowboy made pop country trendy in the summer of 1980. Gilley’s two hits had already gone #1 country (and “Stand By Me” had made #22 on the Hot 100); the other four would all make #1 country in the next couple of months.

94. “The Breaks”/Kurtis Blow. Earthquakes start deep below the surface. “The Breaks” would peak at #84, but as the first rap record to be certified gold, its influence would be felt for decades, and down unto the present day.

2 thoughts on “A Little Magic

  1. Wesley

    As TN commented in the Real Love entry, I’m going to say that Boz Scaggs’ “Jojo” is the one yacht rock keeper among the seven highlighted.

    And as a North Carolinian, it’s depressing to see this is the point where Southern rock was already dying or stating to do so. “Flirting with Disaster” by Molly Hatchet failing to make the top 40 nationally earlier in 1980 should’ve told me so, but man, the radio stations around here cranked it up more than half the songs Casey played on the Sept. 13, 1980 show.

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