Category Archives: Top 5

Today’s Top 5: April 22, 1967

Fifty years ago today, everything was as groovy as it had been 20 days earlier. It was a Saturday, so 13-year-old Valerie S. of South Pasadena was able to join her mother on a gift-buying excursion for her older sister, whose birthday was the following day – but not before sleeping until about 10am. She also “watched” her hair.

As she says at the end of her diary entry, she had a good day.

Sixteen-year-old Wendy D. of suburban Pittsburgh also went shopping with her mom this day – but for herself. She picked the Barron’s SAT book to prepare for the exam, which was scheduled for the following month, plus a study guide for Wuthering Heights. But the day wasn’t a total scholastic-related enterprise. She also bought a pair of loafers. It may seem like a hum-drum life, and it was for her just now – but that would change in the coming months.

I share their experiences for a reason: Yesteryear was not as different from today as we sometimes make it out to be. The 1960s are oft-romanticized because of the music, drugs, free love, social movements and Vietnam War, and assassinations, but – just as today – the reality that most people experienced wasn’t anywhere near as dramatic as what is portrayed in the movies or TV, or even in the news accounts of the day. Discrimination and prejudice were much more pronounced, no question, but – regardless – most men and many women went to work every weekday morning, and worried about the mortgage, bills and kids. And life unfolded for most teens much as it does, still: They slept late on weekends, went shopping with parents, worried about and studied for school, and hung out with friends. Most didn’t run away from home or descend upon Haight-Asbury (though they may have worn flowers in their hair).

What has changed: instant communication. Instead of trading texts, instant messages and Snapchats, as is common now, kids traded notes in class and called each other at night, if at all; and instead of turning to YouTube or Spotify for their music needs, they turned on the radio. Here’s Wolfman Jack doing his thing on XERB-AM, the Big 1090, sometime late this April (or possibly early May – Aretha Franklin’s “Respect” can be heard at the end, and that wasn’t released as a single until April 29th):

Anyway, enough of the preamble. Here’s today’s Top 5, pulled from this week’s charts from Weekly Top 40. (It’s not a straight countdown, but a hop, skip and jump through the chart.)

1) Frank & Nancy Sinatra – “Something Stupid.” For the second week in a row, this fun father-daughter duet held the top spot.

2) The Monkees – “A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You.” Jumping from No. 5 to No. 3 in its fifth week on the charts is this Neil Diamond-penned pop song.

3) Tommy James & the Shondells – “I Think We’re Alone Now.” In its 11th week on the charts, this classic single climbed from No. 7 to No. 4.

4) The Supremes – “The Happening.” The title song to the flop movie of the same name is this fun little number, which clocked in at No. 11. It was the last single released prior to the group being renamed Diana Ross & the Supremes; and the last Supremes single with Florence Ballard.

5) The Platters – “With This Ring.” If you listened to the Wolfman Jack air check above, you already heard this single, which peaked this week at No. 14. It sounds like was airlifted in from 1959. (Side note: A movie could and should be made of this group due to its ever-churning lineup.

And two bonuses:

6) The Easybeats – “Friday on My Mind.” Jumping from No. 46 to. No. 30 this week is this classic ode to the weekend that was written by band members Harry Vanda and George Young. Here’s a piece of trivia: Young is the older brother of AC/DC’s Malcolm and Angus Young, and co-produced (with Vanda) many of their early albums.

7) The Young Rascals – “Groovin’.” New to the charts, at No. 79, is this signature song from the Rascals, which would hit No. 1 on May 20th.

Today’s Top 5: Courtney Marie Andrews on YouTube

Through the decades, I can count but a handful of albums that have been as consistently intoxicating as Courtney Marie Andrews’ Honest Life has been for me over these past few months. I’m trading a tad in hyperbole with that lede – there have been dozens, if not more, such albums – but it is in a select group. (My full review of it can be found here.) On my old site, I used to write that “it takes you there, wherever there is” about certain songs, albums and performances – such is the case here. No matter my mood, or the pressures of the day, listening to it on lifts me up.

One such moment: when the backup vocals come in for the “rock ’n’ roll at the Blue Moon Tavern” line in “Put the Fire Out.” It’s a perfect accent on a perfectly crafted song.

In the first YouTube clip below, Courtney talks about how she produced the album herself and, because she was self-funding the endeavor, recorded it in three or four days – too fast to foul anything up, really, or get too fancy. The result placed the focus where it should always be: the songs.

Anyway, onward to today’s Top 5: Courtney Marie Andrews on YouTube – a roundup of clips and performances well worth watching from start to finish.

1) … on Radio 91 KRCB FM , April 7th, 2017. An enlightening interview (on the road vs. being home: “you’re in a constant state of not being content”) and in-studio performances of “Put the Fire Out” and “Table for One.”

2) … @ Rough Trade West April 12th, 2017. An in-store appearance that features a very nice set: “Sea Town,” “This Is Not the End,” “Put the Fire Out,” “Table for One” and “Irene.”

3) … @ The Social (Part 1), March 6th, 2017. A great set in London.

4) … @ The Social (Part 2), March 6th, 2017. And a great conclusion to the set!

5) Honest Life (complete album).

Today’s Top 5: April 9, 1977

Where has the time gone?! It seems just like yesterday that I was a studious sixth-grader (yes, that’s me to the left) successfully navigating the rigors of academia at Loller Middle School, the first of the Hatboro-Horsham school district’s two middle schools (6th-7th grades; 8th-9th grades). I was on my way to achieving the Honor Roll yet again on this day 40 years ago, and would continue to do so until 8th or 9th grade, when I ran into problems with math. X plus Y equals what?!

According to my old report card, my homeroom teacher was Miss Goldeman – but, sad to say, I have no memories of her beyond a vague feeling that she may have been an art teacher. In fact, I have few in-school memories of any kind from that spring. I do remember a fire drill that found us kids lined up outside on a dreary day for what seemed like forever, but it could well have been the previous fall or sometime during the next school year; regardless, it turned out that it wasn’t a fire drill but a locker search. (The only thing they would have found in mine: gum.) I watched far too much TV, and read and collected pro wrestling magazines.

One book that I read around this time: The Eagle Has Landed by Jack Higgins, about a Nazi plot to kidnap Winston Churchill. I remember that because I decided I wanted to read it after seeing the film of the same name, which was released in the States on April 2nd.

In the wider world wider: Jimmy Carter was president. Unemployment was high at 7.2 percent, but on a downward slope; and inflation was unseemly, too, at 7.0 percent. No president deserves acclaim or blame for the economy three months into their first term, of course; their policies have yet to be implemented, and even if they have, it takes time for those changes to reverberate beyond the bureaucracy. So I’ll save my criticisms of Carter for another day.

As I write, the temperature outside is 69.6 degrees, the sun is out and few clouds dot the blue, blue sky. It’s a beautiful day. This day in 1977, a Saturday, wasn’t quite as nice: though the sun was out, the high peaked at a mere 48 degrees. The low was 25. We likely visited one or both sets of grandparents, or the great-aunts & uncle, as that’s what we did most weekends.

In the sports world, the Flyers, who racked up a 48-16-16 record during the regular season, were two days away from beginning their first-round playoff series against the Toronto Maple Leafs. They’d lose the first two games before winning four straight, but were then swept in the next round by the Boston Bruins. The 76ers, in the penultimate game of their season, defeated the Washington Bullets 125-93, improving their record to 50-31; they’d make their way to the NBA Finals—and lose to the Portland Trailblazers. The other team in town, the Phillies, began their season with a 4-3 lose to the Montreal Expos.

Anyway, enough of the preamble. Here’s today’s Top 5: April 9, 1977 (via Weekly Top 40)

1) Abba – “Dancing Queen.” Debuting at No 1 is this dollop of unadulterated pop, which some folks hate with a passion. Not me, though. It never fails to put me in a good mood.

2) David Soul – “Don’t Give Up On Us.” The No. 2 song of the week is this kitschy number from the actor better known as Richard “Hutch” Hutchinson on Starsky & Hutch. Along with Charlie Rich’s “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World,” it was often a featured song on TV commercials for love-themed compilation LPs during the late ‘70s.

3) Thelma Houston – “Don’t Leave Me This Way.” Clocking in at No. 3: this disco tune from Ms. Houston, which would top out at No. 1 in a few weeks and earn her a Grammy for Best Female R&B Performance.

4) Hall & Oates – “Rich Girl.” Falling from No. 1 to No. 4 is this classic from the blue-eyed soul duo, who met while students at Temple University in Philadelphia in 1967.

5) Glen Campbell – “Southern Nights.” Years ago, in my TV GUIDE days, I interviewed Campbell (via phone) for a Nashville Network special that he was in – and he was nothing but nice. Super nice, actually. He even sang snippets of different songs to me, including Bob Dylan’s “Lay, Lady, Lay.” Of this song, this week it jumped from No. 9 to No. 5 and was on its way to No. 1.

And two bonuses:

6) The Steve Miller Band – “Fly Like an Eagle.” I don’t believe I ever bought anything by Steve Miller. I never felt the need. Not because his songs weren’t catchy or good, but because they were played so often on Philly radio stations that I came to know them like the back of my hand. Of this song: Having already hit No. 2 a month a change earlier, this week it held steady at No. 13 for a second week.

7) Rod Stewart – “The First Cut Is the Deepest.” The No. 22 song this week is this classic, which many folks, nowadays, consider a Sheryl Crow song. And while I love her version, I can’t help but to shriek a little inside when she’s credited for the Cat Stevens-penned tune, which was a U.K. hit for P.P. Arnold in 1967 and, a decade later, a sizable hit for Rod Stewart in the U.S.