(Pictured: Gilbert O’Sullivan, who performed in sweaters with the letter G on them.)
Here’s more about the American Top 40 show from August 26, 1972. (First part here.)
18. “Where Is the Love”/Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway
14. “Back Stabbers”/O’Jays
13. “The Guitar Man”/Bread
12. “Motorcycle Mama”/Sailcat
10. “Baby Don’t Get Hooked on Me”/Mac Davis
6. “If Loving You Is Wrong (I Don’t Want to Be Right)”/Luther Ingram
5. “Hold Your Head Up”/Argent
3. “Long Cool Woman”/Hollies
By this point, two hours into the show, I’m there, 50 years ago, transported in a way that doesn’t happen with every AT40 show, or every season. “Where Is the Love,” “If Loving You Is Wrong,” and “Hold Your Head Up” radiate heat and light as the last days of summer slip away. “Back Stabbers,” “The Guitar Man,” “Motorcycle Mama,” “Baby Don’t Get Hooked on Me,” and “Long Cool Woman” put me slightly later in time, seeing the sun through a school bus or classroom window.
Earlier this summer, I wrote about a 1978 show in which Casey answered a question about the artists who most successfully remade their own hit. He answered a similar question on this show: has anyone ever hit with a remake of their own earlier hit? It’s happened three times, he says. Tommy Edwards remade his 1951 hit “It’s All in the Game” in 1957; the Ventures remade 1960’s “Walk Don’t Run” in 1964; and Barbra Streisand remade “Where You Lead” as part of the “Sweet Inspiration” medley heard earlier in the show.
11. “Happiest Girl in the Whole U.S.A.”/Donna Fargo. I don’t think I had an opinion on “Happiest Girl in the Whole U.S.A.” in 1972 (although I remember that it sounded great off a jingle) but today I like it out of all proportion to its enduring value. Its sweet joyfulness is, as I wrote a couple of years ago, “an antidote to this dark time in which we are living.” It runs only 2:27 but Casey cuts it short anyway, which was especially annoying given the six minutes he devoted to the Streisand medley in the first hour.
8. “Coconut”/Nilsson. Here again we encounter the question of just how Nilsson’s name is pronounced. Harry himself pronounced his surname with a short “i,” but Casey says “Coconut” is from the album “neel-son schmeel-son,” which makes me squirm like nails on a chalkboard. (Over the years, Casey pronounced it both ways, and earlier in 1972 he used both on the same song.)
7. “Goodbye to Love”/Carpenters. I played “Goodbye to Love” on the radio the other night and was reminded again how insanely great it is. (Have I mentioned here that I do a 70s music show Saturday nights from 7 til midnight on my station? That I not only host it but program it too? You should probably listen sometime.)
EXTRA: “Ben”/Michael Jackson
EXTRA: “Use Me”/Bill Withers
One of the extras offered in the modern-day version of this show was Peter and Gordon’s “A World Without Love,” snipped from the original 8/26/72 broadcast. Commonly, extras are future hits not part of the original show, like “Use Me” and “Ben.” The extras are usually introduced by voiceover guy Larry Morgan. But on this show, Casey himself introduces them. Neither appeared on the 8/26/72 show, so where the intro bits came from I can’t say.
4. “I’m Still in Love With You”/Al Green. As much as I love Al Green, I sometimes mix up “I’m Still in Love With You, “Look What You Done for Me,” and “You Ought to Be With Me,” all of which followed “Let’s Stay Together” up the charts in 1972. In his Green biography Soul Survivor, author Jimmy McDonough says that about this time, producer Willie Mitchell was told that his stuff with Green all sounded the same. He responded, “I will ride this horse until it falls dead.”
2. “Alone Again (Naturally)”/Gilbert O’Sullivan
1. “Brandy”/Looking Glass
Gilbert and the Looking Glass had been 1-2 for the preceding four weeks but have now changed places, although “Alone Again (Naturally)” will return to the #1 position next week and hold it for two more weeks. Six weeks at #1 would be the longest run of the year, equaled only by Roberta Flack’s “First Time Ever I Saw Your Face” in the spring.
With summer fading into the fall of 1972, it was time for young me to take a tentative step into a further widening world, to a new school, with new teachers, new friends (new girls too), and great expectations. But I still had my old friends from that time. And when I wasn’t in school, I spent hours with the radio, which turned out to be the best friend of all.
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