(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
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.