Boing Boing Boing

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(Pictured: the Soul Clan. L to R: Ben E. King, Joe Tex, Don Covay, Wilson Pickett, and Solomon Burke.)

The Cash Box Archives are a fabulous resource for chart nerds. They disappeared from the interwebs for a time, but they’ve been back for a while now and are even better. They now include pop, country, and R&B/soul charts going back to late 1944 (I wrote about the first pop chart last fall) through the magazine’s demise in 1996. It’s vastly superior to anything you can get online from Billboard, and its only rival is the ARSA database of local radio charts.

The revised site includes listings for what Cash Box called “Looking Ahead,” equivalent to Billboard‘s Bubbling Under the Hot 100 chart. So let’s poke around various late-July dates from bygone years to see what we can see.

July 29, 1961: this chart has a couple of songs that would endure a little bit (Barry Mann’s “Who Put the Bomp,” Dick and Dee Dee’s “The Mountain’s High”), a country smash (“Tender Years” by George Jones), big stars with forgotten hits (Ray Charles, the Miracles, Gene Pitney), the first appearance of a future star (Tony Orlando) and some deep weirdness. Chicago DJ Dick Biondi discovered an old rockabilly-ish song called “There’s a Fungus Among Us,” had it recut by a Chicago group called Hugh Barrett and the Victors, and turned it into a promotion. (The story is here.) “Song of the Nairobi Trio” by the Fortune Tellers is a version of the music Ernie Kovacs used for a famous recurring bit on his TV shows.

July 30, 1968: at #1 on the chart is “Soul Meeting” by the Soul Clan, a supergroup with a mind-boggling lineup: originally Solomon Burke, Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, Don Covay, and Joe Tex. Before the group could record, Redding died (replaced by Arthur Conley) and Pickett left (replaced by Ben E. King). The latter lineup eventually made an album, each member recording his part separately, pieced together by Covay. The group had plans to be not just a recording act but a collective engaged in building an autonomous black business empire. But Atlantic Records was not interested in empire building, “Soul Meeting” foundered, and eventually the Soul Clan did too, although its legacy lives on. This 2017 story from the Oxford American tells the tale.

July 25, 1970: this chart (which is down to 40 positions from 50) contains several records we’ve mentioned here in the past, by Ten Wheel Drive, the Rattles, Elephant’s Memory, and Jim Campbell, as well as two that got entire posts, “Mill Valley” and “Wonder Could I Live There Anymore.” Jack Blanchard and Misty Morgan, whose unlikely smash “Tennessee Birdwalk” has been a twisted favorite around here since always, were back on the chart with “Humphrey the Camel,” which is similarly bent, was another big country hit if not such a big pop crossover this time, and kinda racist.

July 29, 1972: now a 35-position chart, this one has some famous songs (“Rock Me on the Water,” “Delta Dawn,” “Garden Party, “Misty Blue,” “Walk on By”), 75 percent of Crosby Stills Nash and Young (“Southbound Train” and “Rock and Roll Crazies”) and a not-terrible cover of the Bee Gees “I.O.I.O” by Butch Patrick. Yup, Eddie Munster.

July 28, 1973: this chart (which is down to 30 positions and numbers them from #101 to #130, a change from earlier practice) is headed by Steely Dan’s “Show Biz Kids” and “Rock and Roll Heaven” by the group Climax, famed for “Precious and Few.” Their version predates the Righteous Brothers by a year, but is not remotely as good. The chart also includes “The Answer” by Connie Francis, subtitled “Should I Tie a Yellow Ribbon ‘Round the Ole Oak Tree?”, which I invite you to listen to for as long as you can stand it. Same with “Old Betsy Goes Boing Boing Boing” by the Hummers, which was inspired by a Mazda commercial of the time.

July 27, 1976: the chart is down to 20 positions now. There are a couple of pretty good country-pop records on it: “Rocky Mountain Music” by Eddie Rabbitt and “Stranger” by Johnny Duncan, plus T. G. Sheppard’s cover of “Solitary Man,” all of which were country chart-toppers that summer. And any chart with “Kid Charlemagne” and “Cherry Bomb” is OK with me.

By the summer of 1977, the Looking Ahead chart was pared to 10 positions. It began to appear intermittently starting in 1979, later shrinking to three entries before being dropped entirely in 1982 and resurrected in 1990. Because we thirst after the kind of obscurities found thereon, we’ll probably dip back into it at some future time.

Hot Stuff and Good Vibrations

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(Pictured: Tommy Chong and Cheech Marin on stage in 1976.)

Having spent two posts on the American Top 40 show from July 17, 1976, it’s time to look at the Bottom 60 songs on the Hot 100 for that date. But here’s a spoiler alert before we begin. I mentioned last week that there were two summer-of-76 shows missing from my collection that I have now acquired. One was the July 17 show; the other is the show dated August 7, only three weeks later. I’ll be writing about that show during the first part of August. To keep from repeating myself any more than I already do, I’ve chosen to write about Bottom 60 songs from the July 17 chart that won’t be on the August 7 show.

41. “Framed”/Cheech and Chong. These gentlemen made the Billboard Top 40 three times with “Basketball Jones,” “Sister Mary Elephant,” and “Earache My Eye,” and they just missed at #41 two other times. “Framed” is technically a cover of the Leiber and Stoller song of the same name, but with some new lyrics. As Kurt Blumenau discovered, “Framed” was #1 in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, for the week of July 17. (Their other single to peak at #41 was “Bloat On,” their parody of the Floaters’ “Float On,” early in 1978.)

49. “Hot Stuff”-“Fool to Cry”/Rolling Stones. During the week of June 19, this record, then listed as “Fool to Cry”-“Hot Stuff” sat at #21 on the Hot 100. The next week, listed as “Hot Stuff”-“Fool to Cry,” it fell to #63. From there, it began climbing again, going to #59 and #53 before hitting #49 in this week. Next week, it will fall to #96, then bounce to #89, and be gone entirely from the chart dated August 7, 1976.

51. “Roots, Rock, Reggae”/Bob Marley and the Wailers. Marley’s album Rastaman Vibration was an enormous hit in 1976, going to #8 on the Billboard album chart. “Roots, Rock, Reggae” would spend three of its six weeks on the Hot 100 at #51.

58. “Good Vibrations”/Todd Rundgren.  As remarkable as it was to have the Beach Boys (“Rock and Roll Music”) and Beatles (“Got to Get You Into My Life”) back in the Top 40 during the summer of 1976,  “Good Vibrations” was there too, for three weeks. Rundgren’s album Faithful was intended as a tribute to 60s rock, but the covers on the first side are not covers as much as they are note-for-note recreations of songs by the Beach Boys, Beatles, Yardbirds, Bob Dylan, and Jimi Hendrix.

74. “Hell Cat”/Bellamy Brothers
78. “Gotta Be the One”/Maxine Nightingale
These two artists had ridden the Top 40 together to #1 and #2 back in the spring with “Let Your Love Flow” and “Right Back Where We Started From,” but neither’s followup had the power to do it again. It would be 1979 before either act got back into the pop Top 40.

88. “Ode to Billie Joe”/Bobbie Gentry. The 1967 hit was in its first week back on the charts on July 17, 1976, thanks to the success of a theatrical movie based on it. A new recording of the old song, also by Gentry, would chart in two weeks.

91. “Hey Shirley (This Is Squirrely)”/Shirley and Squirrely. Over the years, I have written about several records inspired by the CB craze. I have always forgotten to mention “Hey Shirley,” but that’s OK because it’s awful. (America’s thirst for speeded-up rodent voices once seemed inexhaustible.) “Hey Shirley” made #28 on the country chart in a five-week run and #48 on the Hot 100.

93. “You to Me Are Everything”/The Real Thing
94. “You to Me Are Everything”/Broadway
The Real Thing version of “You to Me Are Everything” was a #1 hit in the UK in June 1976 and it’s fantastic, but its impact in the States was blunted by competing versions. And it wasn’t just the group Broadway to do it. On July 31, 1976, a third version of “You to Me Are Everything” would chart, by a group called Revelation, produced by Freddie Perrin and sounding almost exactly like the Real Thing’s recording. The Real Thing would get to #64; Broadway would peak at #86 and Revelation at #98.

Programming Note: This would, in a normal year, be opening day of the Green County Fair in my hometown of Monroe, Wisconsin. I did a podcast episode earlier this year about the fair and the farm I grew up on. It was accidentally yanked from Soundcloud a while back, but I’ve reposted it today. If you didn’t hear it then, you can listen now, at that link or at the usual spots. 

Something Better to Do

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(Pictured: Olivia Newton-John, on the radio.)

(Warning: we are going full chart geek today. It maybe ain’t for everybody.)

Commenting on my post about Roger Whittaker recently, reader Wesley observed that Whittaker’s 1975 hit “The Last Farewell” was one of 24 consecutive adult contemporary hits to spend a single week at #1. But the streak (from Ringo Starr’s “Only You” during the week of January 11, 1975, through Michael Murphey’s “Wildfire” during the week of June 14) is actually part of a more impressive one. In the period between July 27, 1974, and October 11, 1975, 47 songs were #1 for a single week. Seven lasted two weeks. Only “I Honestly Love You” and “Please Mr. Please” by Olivia Newton-John managed three.

I chose the July ’74 to October ’75 period because there was never a time in that period with back-to-back multiple-week AC #1s. In June and July 1974, Gordon Lightfoot’s “Sundown,” “You Won’t See Me” by Anne Murray, and “Annie’s Song” by John Denver spent two, two, and three weeks at #1 AC. Not until October 1975 did it happen again, with ONJ’s “Something Better to Do” (another three-week #1), “The Way I Want to Touch You” by the Captain and Tennille, and Simon and Garfunkel’s “My Little Town.”

(This may be easier to visualize by looking at the list of Billboard #1 AC hits, which you can find here.)

Some of the songs that made #1 AC during the 24-in-a-row stretch were enormous Hot 100 hits, including #1s “Please Mr. Postman,” “Best of My Love,” “Have You Never Been Mellow” (more ONJ; adult-contemporary stars didn’t come bigger in the mid-70s), “Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song,” “He Don’t Love You (Like I Love You),” and “Love Will Keep Us Together.” Others were not. Neil Diamond’s “I’ve Been This Way Before” and “My Boy” by Elvis each made the Top 40, at #34 and #20 respectively, but “99 Miles From L.A” by Albert Hammond and Don McLean’s “Wonderful Baby” barely rippled (#91 and #93).

The same approximate period was fickle on other charts. From July 1974 to October 1975, 47 songs hit #1 on the Hot 100, and all but 12 of them were #1 for a single week. During a 12-week stretch early in 1975, there was a different #1 every week. In both 1974 and 1975, 35 different songs hit #1, which is still the all-time record. So “Love Will Keep Us Together” by the Captain and Tennille, which stayed on top for four weeks in the summer of 1975, was clearly several orders of magnitude bigger than any other record of the time. Not even Elton John, red-hot as he was in this period, could come close; “Philadelphia Freedom” managed two weeks. The act that got closest to C&T territory was Tony Orlando and Dawn, who kept “He Don’t Love You (Like I Love You)” on top for three weeks.

The R&B singles charts were similarly busy. From December 1974 to March 1976 (another period marked off with back-to-back multiple-week #1s), I count 54 #1 songs. Seven of them managed two weeks at #1 in that period. The only one to last three weeks was “Fight the Power” by the Isley Brothers.

What about the Billboard country chart? Finding strings of single-week #1s is practically redundant. For almost two decades, single-week #1s were far and away the norm.

1973: 35 #1 hits
1974: 40
1975: 43
1976: 36
1977: 30
1978: 31
1979: 33
1980: 43
1981: 47
1982: 47
1983: 50
1984: 50
1985: 51
1986: 51
1987: 49
1988: 48
1989: 49

In a generation of enormous volatility, Waylon Jennings doing six straight weeks at # 1 with “Luckenbach, Texas” and Dolly Parton doing five with “Here You Come Again,” both in 1977, is reeeeeeally something. And as you see, the chart would get even wilder in the 80s. In December 1979 and January 1980, two songs would do three weeks at #1 back to back. After that, to January 1990 and the coming of Billboard‘s methodology-changing BDS system (which monitored what stations actually played instead of relying on the historical practice of what stations said they played), only three songs total would spend three weeks at the top: “My Heart” by Ronnie Milsap and “Lookin’ for Love” by Johnny Lee in 1980, and “Forever and Ever, Amen” by Randy Travis in 1987.

And there’s more:

—Between February 1980 and January 1990, there were only three instances when multiple-week #1s occurred back-to-back on the Billboard country chart.

—Between January 1985 and the coming of BDS in 1990, out of 250 #1 hits in the period, only 11 lasted two weeks at the top, and only Randy Travis made it for three.

I’d like to thank Wesley, a longtime reader and frequent commenter, for sending me down this particular rabbit hole. I did not know until recently that Wesley is the author of The Billboard Book of Adult Contemporary Number One Hits (among other titles), a book that is somehow not in my library but certainly should be. And if you have read this far, it should probably be in yours also.

Record Zero

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(Pictured: Tommy James, social distancing in 1968.)

We are creeping closer to the 50th anniversary of the fabled fall of 1970, the season in which fifth-grade me discovered the radio and pop music and started on the road to becoming whatever the hell it is that I am now. The period of discovery itself would have begun in the first half of September, but some of the records I heard during those first pivotal weeks were on the chart long before that. Since WLS from Chicago was the station that captured me, I dug back into the station’s music surveys from the summer of 1970, trying to find the first appearance of some of the songs that made a strong impression on me that fall.

At 50 years’ distance, it’s hard for me to know which songs I remember hearing while they were current hits, and which would have been what is known in the radio biz as “recurrents,” recent hits that get less regular airplay than current hits, but more than songs from months or years earlier. Any distinction between recurrents and currents is drawn from radio surveys and memory, so it will be a thin and wavy line, and it may end up not meaning anything at all.

Let’s assume for purposes of this discussion that any song listed on the WLS Hit Parade is a current hit and not a recurrent. (Yeah, I know, big leap, and not true at WLS later in the 70s, but go with it today.) Two songs I associate with those very first days of listening in September are “The Wonder of You” by Elvis and “Band of Gold” by Freda Payne. Both were gone from the chart by early September, however, so I could have heard them as recurrents. “The Wonder of You” first appeared on the Hit Parade on May 25, 1970, and “Band of Gold” a week later on June 1. Likewise “Ooh Child” by the Five Stairsteps, which debuted on June 15, and “Are You Ready” by Pacific Gas and Electric, which debuted on June 22. Both of the latter were gone from the chart by September.

Also among the debuts 50 years ago today, on June 22, 1970, are “Lay a Little Lovin’ on Me” by Robin McNamara and “Tighter, Tighter” by Alive and Kickin’. And if we flash forward to the chart of September 7, 1970—a Monday, the day of the week on which WLS surveys were issued in this period—we see that “Tighter, Tighter” is the oldest record on the survey, in its 12th week. If we make the entirely reasonable assumption that I first heard WLS sometime during the week of September 7, 1970, “Tighter, Tighter,” produced and eventually also recorded by Tommy James, is probably the record we’re looking for, the earliest summer debut that would still have been a current hit in September, and therefore Record Zero for a lifelong obsession. (“Lay a Little Lovin’ on Me” loses this race by a nose, having appeared on the Hit Parade for the final time during the week of August 31.) But it’s a thin line. If September 14 was the magic week instead of September 7, “Make It With You” by Bread, “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” by Stevie Wonder, and “Close to You” by the Carpenters, all of which debuted during the week of June 29, could be Record Zero as well.

But that is not to say that “Tighter, Tighter” or “Lay a Little Lovin’ on Me” or any of the other candidates are the biggest or the best or the most evocative or the most impactful current hits from that first season, only that they’re the oldest. Several songs on the 9/7/70 survey would be among the first 45s I ever owned: the inestimable “Candida,” “Julie Do Ya Love Me,” and “Cracklin’ Rosie.” Some of the songs I didn’t own are incredibly vivid in memory also: “War,” “Lookin’ Out My Back Door,” “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” “Patches,” “Groovy Situation, “Spill the Wine. ” I can see myself there, close to the school bus radio speaker, or in my bedroom after I scrounged Dad’s old green Westinghouse tube-type AM radio, listening to them. All debuted in July or August 1970.

Other songs don’t register at all, at least not as memories from the beginning of time: “Neanderthal Man,” “I Who Have Nothing,” “Hi-De-Ho.” I might have heard them just as often, but they didn’t stick, and half-a-century later, they’ve been erased from the canon. So it goes when we’re back in a country of the heart where history mingles with myth. In a land such as that, faith and feelings count as much as data.

It’s Your Thing

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(Pictured: the Rascals. Clockwise from top left: Felix Cavaliere, Dino Danelli, Eddie Brigati, and Gene Cornish.)

I have another reader question to answer, from Bean Baxter, former morning guy at KROQ in Los Angeles, now in London: “What’s the greatest Top Ten Billboard chart of them all?”

My official answer is: “I don’t know.” It would take a vast amount of time and effort to look at and rank every one of them. But Bean pointed in the right direction when he observed, “Gotta be one of those Stones, CCR, Supremes, Aretha, etc. lists from the sixties, right?” I should think so. I can think of one off the top of my head that’s a pretty good candidate: September 24, 1966. Take a look at this:

1. “Cherish”/Association
2. “You Can’t Hurry Love”/Supremes
3. “Sunshine Superman”/Donovan
4. “Yellow Submarine”/Beatles
5. “Bus Stop”/Hollies
6. “Beauty Is Only Skin Deep”/Temptations
7. “Black Is Black”/Los Bravos
8. “96 Tears”/? and the Mysterians
9. “Wouldn’t It Be Nice”/Beach Boys
10. “Reach Out I’ll Be There”/Four Tops
11. (bonus track) “Eleanor Rigby”/Beatles

But the thing is, you can grab any week practically at random from the last half of the 1960s and see something similar. Here’s August 17, 1968:

1. “People Got to Be Free”/Rascals
2. “Hello I Love You”/Doors
3. “Classical Gas”/Mason Williams
4. “Born to Be Wild”/Steppenwolf
5. “Light My Fire”/Jose Feliciano
6. “Stoned Soul Picnic”/Fifth Dimension
7. “Turn Around, Look at Me”/Vogues
8. “Sunshine of Your Love”/Cream
9. “Grazing in the Grass”/Hugh Masekela
10. “Hurdy Gurdy Man”/Donovan

October 9, 1965:

1. “Yesterday”/Beatles
2. “Hang on Sloopy”/McCoys
3. “Treat Her Right”/Roy Head
4. “Eve of Destruction”/Barry McGuire
5. “The ‘In’ Crowd”/Ramsey Lewis Trio
6. “Catch Us If You Can”/Dave Clark Five
7. “You’ve Got Your Troubles”/Fortunes
8. “Baby Don’t Go”/Sonny and Cher
9. “You Were on My Mind”/We Five
10. “Do You Believe in Magic”/Lovin’ Spoonful

July 1, 1967:

1. “Windy”/Association
2. “Groovin'”/Young Rascals
3. “Little Bit o’ Soul”/Music Explosion
4. “San Francisco”/Scott McKenzie
5. “She’d Rather Be With Me”/Turtles
6. “Respect”/Aretha Franklin
7. “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You”/Frankie Valli
8. “Let’s Live for Today”/Grass Roots
9. “Come on Down to My Boat”/Every Mother’s Son
10. “Don’t Sleep in the Subway”/Petula Clark

Regarding 7/1/67, whether you agree with the greatness of the list might come down to how you feel about “Don’t Sleep in the Subway,” which I happen to like, even as I acknowledge it’s not in the same league with “Windy,” “Groovin’,” and “Respect.” And as I go randomly poking around amongst the charts, I frequently find instances in which one song unbalances an otherwise exceptional list, as on April 19, 1969:

1. “Aquarius/Let the Sun Shine In”/Fifth Dimension
2. “You’ve Made Me So Very Happy”/Blood Sweat and Tears
3. “It’s Your Thing”/Isley Brothers
4. “Hair”/Cowsills
5. “Only the Strong Survive”/Jerry Butler
6. “Twenty-Five Miles”/Edwin Starr
7. “Galveston”/Glen Campbell
8. “Time Is Tight”/Booker T and the MGs
9. “Dizzy”/Tommy Roe
10. “Sweet Cherry Wine”/Tommy James and the Shondells

“Dizzy” had been in the Top 10 since February, and it kept “Proud Mary,” “Traces” by the Classics IV, and “Time of the Season” from getting to #1, so it’s got a lot to answer for.

Similarly, September 25, 1971, which is a punchbowl with something floating in it:

1. “Go Away Little Girl”/Donny Osmond
2. “Maggie May”-“Reason to Believe”/Rod Stewart
3. “Ain’t No Sunshine”/Bill Withers
4. “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down”/Joan Baez
5. “Spanish Harlem”/Aretha Franklin
6. “Uncle Albert-Admiral Halsey”/Paul and Linda McCartney
7. “Smiling Faces Sometimes”/Undisputed Truth
8. “Superstar”/Carpenters
9. “Whatcha See Is Whatcha Get”/Dramatics
10. “I Just Want to Celebrate”/Rare Earth

(Digression: It is hard for me to judge weeks in the 1970s because I can’t always separate the quality of the songs from the quality of the associations I have with them. On that basis, I nearly chose July 10, 1976, as the answer to Bean’s question, but that ain’t right and I’m not doing it.)

Similar to that 9/25/71 chart is this one from June 16, 1984, with one song that fouls it up. You’ll have to guess which one.

1. “Time After Time”/Cyndi Lauper
2. “The Reflex”/Duran Duran
3. “Let’s Hear It for the Boy”/Deniece Williams
4. “Oh Sherrie”/Steve Perry
5. “Sister Christian”/Night Ranger
6. “The Heart of Rock ‘n’ Roll”/Huey Lewis and the News
7. “Self Control”/Laura Branigan
8. “Jump (For My Love)”/Pointer Sisters
9. “Dancing in the Dark”/Bruce Springsteen
10. “Borderline”/Madonna

I could go on pulling charts like this all day, but it doesn’t have to be me. If you have sufficient time on your hands to get into it, nominate some other week for all-time-best-top-10, in the comments. (Billboard‘s Hot 100 site can be searched by date.)

Weekend Listening: If you were interested in Kent Kotal’s Top 3333 Most Essential Classic Rock Songs list when it was unveiled back in March, you may be interested in hearing a series of programs about it this weekend. They’ll be right here starting this afternoon (Friday 5/22) at 3PM US Central.

One Last Thing: Check the comments on yesterday’s post for stories about ways radio stations used CB radio back in the day.

Honor Roll

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(Pictured: Pee Wee King and his group, originators of “Tennessee Waltz,” one of the 20th century’s biggest hits.)

We’ve mentioned here a time or two the battery of “main” charts Billboard published in the 1950s: Best Sellers in Stores, Most Played by Jockeys, and Most Played in Jukeboxes. But from 1945 through 1963, Billboard also published a weekly Honor Roll of Hits. It was a listing by song title, showing the various versions that were available for sale. The Honor Roll of Hits reflects a reality of American popular music from the birth of recorded sound until the 1960s: the song was often more important to record buyers than the artist. In their ads from the pre-1920 Pioneer Era, record companies frequently touted which songs were available with no mention of who recorded them. From the 20s to the early 50s, competing versions of popular songs frequently charted at the same time.

“The Tennessee Waltz” is a representative example, but by no means the only one of its kind. Several versions hit big on the country charts in 1948, the biggest by Pee Wee King, but also in recordings by Cowboy Copas and Roy Acuff. In late 1950, Patti Page released a pop version that became a generational smash, eventually doing 13 weeks at #1. During the week of February 3, 1951, Page’s version was #1 on Best Selling Pop Singles and Most Played in Jukeboxes. It was #2 on the cumbersomely named Most Played Jukebox Folk (Country and Western) Records chart. And it brought 18 other versions trailing behind it onto the Honor Roll of Hits. The 1948 recordings by King, Acuff, and Copas were reissued, and Copas also cut a duet version with Ruby Wright. Other versions that charted were by Guy Lombardo, Les Paul and Mary Ford, Jo Stafford, Spike Jones, the Fontane Sisters, and Anita O’Day. And there were eight other versions beyond that.

“Tennessee Waltz” was also #1 on Best Selling Sheet Music during the week of 2/3/51, but beyond the evidence of the charts, that week’s Billboard contains a note that vividly illustrates its popularity: a radio station in Utica, New York, did a fundraiser for the March of Dimes in which a listener who made a donation could request a song. They got so many requests for “Tennessee Waltz” that the DJ on the air raised the price to $50. Billboard reports: “He got five $50 contributions for the M.O.D.” By one online calculator, $50 in 1951 is equivalent to more than $500 today.

I really need to write about Patti Page sometime. A pioneer of multi-track recording, Page made several records in the 50s that everybody would have known: not just “Tennessee Waltz” but “Mockingbird Hill,” “Doggie in the Window,” “Cross Over the Bridge,” and the spectacularly beautiful “Allegheny Moon” and “Old Cape Cod.” She hit the Top 10 as late as 1965 with “Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte.” Her “Tennessee Waltz” moved six million copies; she’s said to have sold over 100 million in her career.

This post started out to be about one thing and turned into something else, and now I don’t have a good way to tie it all together, so I’m just gonna dump out the last of it and be on my way.

—By the end of the Honor Roll of Hits era, there wasn’t much to see. On the chart issued December 29, 1962, for example, there’s only one version shown for 28 of the 30 entries.

—On the same page of Billboard that has the 12/29/62 Honor Roll of Hits are a pair of charts headed Best Selling Phonographs, Radios, and Tape Recorders, one for monaural equipment and the other for stereo. A note in the headline explains: “These are the nation’s best sellers by manufacturers based on results of a month-long study using personal interviews with a representative national cross-section of record-selling outlets (only) that also sell phonographs, radios and/or tape recorders.” Rankings are based on a weighted point system, the methodology of which is not clearly explained. Charts are published every three months, although Billboard is careful to specify that they reflect sales only during the past month. In this particular week, the top brand on both charts is Webcor. Other brands listed include some you’d recognize, like Decca, Sony, Ampex and RCA Victor, and some you might not, like Voice of Music, Roberts, and Telectro.

If you are looking to get lost for hours as we stay on lockdown, I recommend the Billboard magazine archive at American Radio History. It offers a limitless supply of rabbit holes to crawl into.