Long Ago and Far Away

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(Pictured: James Taylor on The Johnny Cash Show, 1971.)

I said a couple of weeks ago that I was going to listen to the American Top 40 show from November 13, 1971, but maybe not write about it. How silly of me.

Casey opens the show by thanking Dave Hull, who filled in the previous week when Casey was late returning from a film shoot. It was the first time AT40 ever used a guest host; a charming memo included with the cue sheet for the 11/6 show explains that Hull “has logged 69 consecutive weeks of emergency standby status.” The movie in which Casey was acting, which he referred to as That Lovin’ Man Jesus, was eventually released under the title Soul Hustler, but not until 1973. It apparently includes a scene with Casey in a speedo. 

Now on with the countdown:

40. “Cherish”/David Cassidy
21. “Family Affair”/Sly and the Family Stone
13. “Got to Be There”/Michael Jackson
8. “Have You Seen Her”/Chi-Lites
3. “Imagine”/John Lennon
2. “Shaft”/Isaac Hayes

There’s a lot of chart action in this week. “Cherish” and “Family Affair” are in their second week on the Hot 100. “Family Affair” was up 29 spots from #50, but “Cherish” was up 47 from #87. “Got to Be There,” meanwhile, is in its third week on the Hot 100 and has gone 89-39-13, the biggest mover within the Top 40 this week. “Have You Seen Her” has gone 60-21-14-8. “Imagine” debuted on the Hot 10 at #20 three weeks earlier then went 6-4-3, but will go no higher. “Shaft” went 50-9-5-2, and is holding at #2 this week on its way to #1 next week.

36. “Long Ago and Far Away”/James Taylor
31. “A Natural Man”/Lou Rawls
Casey introduces each of these with what the AT40 staff called the “tease and hook.” The one for “Long Ago and Far Away” is a doozy: “Coming up in the next 10 minutes, the current hit by a superstar whose mother nearly died of bee stings because his father was at the South Pole with Admiral Byrd.” Taylor’s father, a physician, was an amateur beekeeper, and he left Taylor’s mother to take care of the bees while he accompanied Byrd on an expedition during the late 50s, during which an accident happened. For “A Natural Man,” Casey says it’s “the current hit by a singing star who lost his memory in a car accident one night and didn’t regain it until he was out of the hospital and back on stage, in the middle of a song.” The tease is pretty much the whole story; at the end of the telling, Casey pretends not to be able to remember Rawls’ name.

26. “Absolutely Right”/Five Man Electrical Band
20. “Only You Know and I Know”/Delaney and Bonnie
15. “Desiderata”/Les Crane

Fifty years’ time means that a lot of this music will sound dated now. But some of it would sound dated within a couple of years.

22. “Rock Steady”/Aretha Franklin
18. “Easy Lovin'”/Freddie Hart
17. “Tired of Being Alone”/Al Green
16. “Everybody’s Everything”/Santana
14. “Do You Know What I Mean”/Lee Michaels
10. “Superstar”/Carpenters
5. “I Found Someone of My Own”/Free Movement
4. “Maggie May”/Rod Stewart

Any one of these could be the best song on the show. OK, “Easy Lovin'” is clearly not the best, but I will always fanboy for it, and the best song might be “A Natural Man” or “Have You Seen Her” anyway. And get a load of “Maggie,” in her ninth week among the top four songs in the land.

12. “Never My Love”/Fifth Dimension. Writing about it last month, I called “Never My Love” a live recording. I’m grateful to our friend Wesley for a correction. “Never My Love” was a studio recording with applause dubbed in, although it appeared on the group’s live album.

EXTRA: “Poor Side of Town”/Johnny Rivers. This is an modern-day extra offered by Premiere Radio Networks to help affiliates fill time. Casey says it’s the #1 song “five years ago today.” But it wasn’t part of the AT40 show dated 11/13/71. It’s taken from the 11/20 show, when it technically wasn’t the #1 song of five years ago anymore, having been knocked out by the Supremes’ “You Keep Me Hangin’ On” on the chart dated 11/19/66.

1. “Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves”/Cher. “I was 16, he was 21 / Rode with us to Memphis / And Papa woulda shot him if he knew what he’d done.” I started wondering the other day if 11-year-old me understood what that meant. I hadn’t gotten the talk yet, I don’t think. I was just another innocent sixth-grader, but one with an obsession, glued to my radio every moment possible, as autumn began to turn toward Christmas.

We’re not quite done with this season yet, I don’t think.

7 thoughts on “Long Ago and Far Away

  1. Most will probably be aware, but some may not be:

    Dave Hull and Casey were teammates at KRLA for six years (1963-69). Casey quit to pursue acting and what would become American Top 40, Dave was moved from afternoons to mornings, where he crashed and burned against Robert W. Morgan at KHJ.

    Dave went to KFI for a while, then to KGBS (AT40’s first Los Angeles affiliation). After that it was back to KFI, then a long-ish run at KMPC. He continued into the 80s working at the oldies re-birth of KRLA, the post-Country KHJ and fill-ins for Robert W. at KRTH before eventually moving out to Palm Springs in the early 90s and working on air until just a few years ago. Dave died in October of 2020 at the age of 86.

  2. John Gallagher

    1971 was when I was 12 and first started buying 45’s. I owned several that are on this AT40. I still have a very guilty pleasure for many of these tracks. Nothing wrong with sharing that with others.

  3. porky

    Our local affiliate played the 11-5-77 show last weekend and repeated that JT story before playing “Your Smiling Face.”

    “Got to Be There” is a brilliant record. The bassline, Michael’s soaring vocal and the other Motown touches, I’m a head to toe goosebump listening to it.

    “Absolutely Right” and “Only You Know and I Know” will never sound dated in my world, of course my world consists of still being turned into a goosebump by a song I first heard as an 11 year-old….

  4. To sort of echo porky, Delaney & Bonnie will never be dated in my world, but then you know that, as you were the one who tipped me to the four-disc box set of their concerts in London and environs.

  5. Wesley

    “The movie in which Casey was acting, which he referred to as That Lovin’ Man Jesus, was eventually released under the title Soul Hustler, but not until 1973. It apparently includes a scene with Casey in a speedo.” This writing alone is why this blog is essential reading for me. A cursory search indicates this movie has only been available on VHS, but I’m gonna try my damndest to watch it somehow.

    I agree with the others that Only You Know and I Know sound pretty fresh to me, certainly fresher than Desiderata. Then again, everything else seems fresher than Desiderata. As for the best song of this week, I’d put it as a three-way tie between Rock Steady, Everybody’s Everything and Do You Know What I Mean, but even with Aretha in the mix, the best vocal to me by far is what Karen Carpenter does to the notes on Superstar.

    By the way, I heard this show too and was surprised that Sonny and Cher’s All I Ever Need is You was in the top 40 at the same time Cher’s Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves was number one. I guess I always thought her solo songs and her ones with Sonny came out at different times. The more you know. And thanks for the shout out re Never My Love, jb.

  6. I thank you for elaborating on some stuff I might have put in the post but I didn’t want to write a thousand words.

    I appreciate the bio of Dave Hull, the Hullabalooer. I don’t think I’d heard that he had passed last year. And I like “Only You Know and I Know” and “Absolutely Right.” In fact, both should probably have been listed among the best songs on the show. And I still like hearing Delaney and Bonnie today. But their music, which I have always defined as blues rock with a touch of stomp and yee-haw, was not the kind of thing Top 40 programmers would have embraced come 1974, I don’t think. As for the Five Man Electrical Band, there’s just something about them that screams 1971 to me. The combination of slightly distorted guitar and electric piano maybe? Finally: it’s weird that in 1974, “Desiderata” might have been the least dated-sounding, given the success of the spoken word “The Americans” in that year.

    Each of you guys makes all of us smarter, and I remain grateful.

  7. 14. “Do You Know What I Mean”/Lee Michaels
    10. “Superstar”/Carpenters
    5. “I Found Someone of My Own”/Free Movement
    4. “Maggie May”/Rod Stewart
    Any one of these could be the best song on the show.

    Years ago, I’d have said the Lee Michaels song was the best on the show; now, though, I have to go with “Superstar.” Listening to Karen Carpenter’s vocal on this one sends a chill up my spine. I consider it one of the greatest female vocal performances of all time.

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