(Pictured: Tom Petty on stage in 1980.)
In memory, the winter of 1980 is weird. At the time, it seemed like one of the greatest seasons of my life. I had a hot girlfriend, I was the boy genius program director of the campus radio station, and I had a paying radio gig that showed the world my superior talent. But as I relive that season via the American Top 40 show from the weekend of February 9, 1980, I can’t say that I’m exactly enjoying it. The 2021 me, conscious of how the plans and dreams of 1980 worked out, wants his egotistical, headstrong, and exuberant young self to pump the brakes a little bit.
32. “Another Brick in the Wall”/Pink Floyd
26. “Why Me”/Styx
24. “Third Time Lucky”/Foghat
22. “Fool in the Rain”/Led Zeppelin
8. “The Long Run”/Eagles
5. “Crazy Little Thing Called Love”/Queen
Lots of rock superstars were selling 45s in this week, and we’ll get to Tom Petty and Fleetwood Mac in a bit.
38. “Send One Your Love”/Stevie Wonder
4. “Cruisin'”/Smokey Robinson
Motown superstars too.
37. “Ladies Night”/Kool and the Gang
36. “Him”/Rupert Holmes
31. “Refugee”/Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
27. “Too Hot”/Kool and the Gang
12. “Escape”/Rupert Holmes
10. “Don’t Do Me Like That”/Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Somebody with a more searchable database or a better work ethic might be able to say if having three acts on the chart each with two separate, non-double-A-sided singles is some kind of record.
Casey answers a letter about whether any song has ever topped the pop, soul, and country charts. The answer is yes: Elvis in 1957 with “Hound Dog” and “Don’t Be Cruel” and the Everly Brothers in 1958 with “All I Have to Do Is Dream.” Before you go thinking this could never happen again, remember “Old Town Road,” which topped the Hot 100 (for 19 weeks, the longest run in chart history) and the R&B/Hip Hop chart in 2019. Had it not been disqualified from the Billboard country chart after it reached #19, it might have done the deed too.
Digression: I did not write about “Old Town Road” at this website, although I tried. It was a little absurd for Billboard to say it wasn’t country enough, given the proliferation of trap beats and faux R&B in the genre over in the last decade. Nevertheless, I remain unwilling to draw a straight line from country’s black pioneers, your DeFord Baileys and Charley Prides, to Lil Nas X, although other writers I respect are not.
LDD: “Rise”/Herb Alpert. In which Georgina tells about meeting Bill, a shy young rock musician. She wanted a relationship with him but it didn’t work out because (loose translation) he just wanted to bone. Bill ended up on drugs and she hasn’t seen him for 11 years and even though she’s married to someone else now, she still loves him and thinks about him, and “Rise” is the right song to get her feelings across. (Seems to me that Bill’s interest in rising was the problem, though.)
34. “Lost Her in the Sun”/John Stewart
17. “Daydream Believer”/Anne Murray
This week represents peak John Stewart, with his most beautiful single and his most famous song both in the Top 40.
20. “I Wanna Be Your Lover”/Prince. Casey tells the story of how “Roger Nelson” turned down four record labels before signing with Warner Brothers. That’s OK. Casey will have the next decade to get Prince Rogers Nelson’s name right.
16. “Romeo’s Tune”/Steve Forbert
7. “Sara”/Fleetwood Mac
One of these is my favorite song on the show, unless it’s “Don’t Do Me Like That.”
LDD: “Daniel”/Elton John. In which a girl, forbidden to see her older brother, a blind and legless veteran who hasn’t spoken a word in the six months since he was injured, bursts into his hospital room screaming his name. As the doctors and nurses drag her out, the brother speaks her name. The brother’s name is in fact Daniel, and Bernie Taupin has said the song is about a wounded veteran, but that doesn’t make the LDD any less horrific and tasteless.
3. “Coward of the County”/Kenny Rogers
2. “Do That to Me One More Time”/Captain and Tennille
1. “Rock With You”/Michael Jackson
There’s not much action at the top of the chart; the top five and eight of the top 10 are in the same positions as last week. Michael and the Captain and Tennille hold for a fourth straight week, and Kenny is at #3 for a third week. In 1975, the Dragons did four weeks at #1 with “Love Will Keep Us Together.” “Do That To Me One More Time” would be #1 for only a week, but its eventual two months in the top three makes it hard to argue that it wasn’t the bigger hit.