(Pictured: director Michael Cimino, Jane Fonda, and Jon Voight pose with their Oscars for Coming Home.)
February 27, 1978, was a Monday. The week begins with bad economic news: the Consumer Price Index rose eight-tenths of one percent for January, double the average rise of the previous six months. Stock prices fell on the news; the Dow Jones Industrial Average reached its lowest point in nearly three years. Energy prices won’t be going down anytime soon; the United States Supreme Court has declined to hear a case that would challenge a $1.5 billion national boost in natural gas prices contained in regulations issued by the National Power Commission. Uncertainty surrounding a coal miners’ strike, which has been going on since December, isn’t helping energy prices or the stock market either. President Carter gets his wake-up call at 5AM and is in the Oval Office just after 5:30. He participates in a cabinet meeting for much of the morning. In the afternoon he discusses energy issues with state governors who are in Washington for the mid-winter governors’ conference, and meets with advisors regarding the miners’ strike. Carter leaves the Oval Office at 5:00. After dinner, the Carter family goes to the White House theater for a showing of the movie Unconquered, a 1947 western starring Gary Cooper. Before going to bed shortly after midnight, Carter briefly confers with the White House usher. It’s possible he arranges for a later wake-up call for Tuesday. Publications around the country carry print ads for Hostess Choco-diles, a new snack cake that is similar to a Twinkie, but with chocolate cake.
On TV tonight, CBS presents Good Times, Baby I’m Back (a sitcom starring Demond Wilson as an errant husband and father who returns to his family after being declared legally dead), M*A*S*H, One Day at a Time, and Lou Grant. ABC airs The Six Million Dollar Man and the 1971 theatrical movie Such Good Friends, which stars Dyan Cannon, James Coco, and Ken Howard. NBC starts its night with Little House on the Prairie and follows it with an episode of Loose Change, a miniseries about the lives and loves of three women who meet in college during the early 1960s. Tonight’s episode is supposed to be part 2 of a three-night sweeps month event, but in the Eastern and Central time zones, NBC mistakenly begins showing part 3. The network is deluged with phone calls; at 9:17 Eastern time, a network announcer acknowledges the error, and part 2 is shown in its entirety.
Movies playing in theaters include the post-Vietnam drama Coming Home, The Boys in Company C, Julia, The Goodbye Girl, High Anxiety, The Turning Point, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. John Williams’ recording of the Close Encounters theme is #11 this week at WLS in Chicago. On the station’s latest survey, there’s not a lot of action. Eight of the top 20 songs are in the same positions as last week, including the Bee Gees’ “Stayin’ Alive” at #1 (for the third of an eventual nine straight weeks at #1). “Just the Way You Are” by Billy Joel moves from #4 to #2; a record shown as “We Are the Champions/We Will Rock You” by Queen slips from #2 to #3. Within the Top 20, “What’s Your Name” by Lynryd Skynyrd makes the biggest move, from #19 to 15. The hottest record on the survey is “Lay Down Sally” by Eric Clapton, up to #23 from #36 the week before. The WLS album chart is also in a holding pattern, with the top five the same as the week before: Saturday Night Fever is #1, followed by Rumours, Queen’s News of the World, The Grand Illusion by Styx, and Rod Stewart’s Footloose and Fancy Free. It’s the fourth straight week for the top four albums in the same positions.
Perspective From the Present: In the winter or spring of 1978, I took a date to dinner and to see Coming Home. We exhausted all conceivable conversational topics 10 minutes into dinner, and the sex scenes in the movie didn’t make the night any more comfortable. Not only did we never go out again, I’m pretty sure we never spoke to one another again. In school, I am taking courses I don’t really need on topics I’m not especially interested in, killing time until graduation in May. This day is the day before my 18th birthday, a day about which I do not remember a solitary thing. I’m sure there was something: a special family supper with a cake, probably, and maybe a evening out with some buds that had to end early because it was a school night. But what else? Your guess is as good as mine, and I was there.
4 thoughts on “February 27, 1978: One Day at a Time”
Taking a first date to see Coming Home? Wow, that’s a new one to me. Totally makes sense that the two of you likely never talked again after that outing.
A fun fact regarding Baby I’m Back: In the interest of promoting the show on the CBS lineup, Demond Wilson was included among the more than 100 stars seen in the 50th anniversary special CBS: On the Air on March 26, 1978. His show, which began on January 30, 1978, would be off CBS five weeks after the special aired, and he never did another series for the network. So, he was on a special celebrating 50 years of CBS along with the network’s superstars who had been there often 10 or more years (Lucille Ball, James Arness, Mary Tyler Moore, Walter Cronkite and so on) even though his show and basic tenure on the network lasted less than four months. To give a rough musical analogy of this, it’s the equivalent of the Grammys holding a 50th anniversary show and including Wadsworth Mansion next to Tony Bennett and Aretha Franklin.
That’s one thing that keeps me living in the Eastern Time Zone: We get all the good eff-ups.
Four months earlier I was at my dish-washing job when a co-worker came in with the news that the Skynyrd plane had gone down. I remember it like it was yesterday. This post-humous single of theirs has a great b-side, the jazzy “I Know A Little.” Glam-metal band Poison must have been fans as they copped one its main licks on “Unskinny Bop.”
Also, I had a friend named Sally who asked me to a formal dance, what our school called “Turnabout.” I told my friends I was going and they razzed me about “laying down Sally,” hardy har har.
And I’ve commented in the past of my interest in country artists covering pop tunes and sure enough spoken-word master Red Sovine sang “Lay Down Sally,” his version charting C&W at the same time as Clapton’s. The tune appeared on a John Conlee b-side about 5 years later and I found a video where the tempo is kicked up and it is employed as a called square dance.
I think Cimino’s Oscar was for another post-Vietnam coming home movie, The Deer Hunter. Also probably not a great date movie.