Monday, April 13, 2015

AT40, July 19, 1980 [Part 4 of 4]

I'm breaking down the AT40 show of July 19, 1980 track by track.  For an introduction and a look at #40-31, click here, for #30-21 click here, and for #20-11 click here.

So what was I doing around the time of this AT40 episode's broadcast?  For me, this was the summer between 8th and 9th grade, the summer between junior high and high school.  I was in a competitive summer swim league, I played tennis with my friends, rode my blue Sears 10-speed bike all over town, and listened to Glass Houses.  Yes, embarrassing photos of me wearing a Speedo during that summer do exist.

After perusing my archives in their hermetically sealed vault (a.k.a.: newspaper clippings my mother saved in a cardboard box), I rediscovered that on Saturday, July 19, 1980, I was in beautiful Clute, Texas (home of the Great Texas Mosquito Festival) at the final swim meet of the summer, the championship meet for our coastal swimming association.  Swim meets are long and boring with a lot of down time. 98 degree Texas summer heat, the meet lasts 10 hours and you're actually in the pool maybe 4 minutes.  However, I did quite well if I do say so myself: in my age division, I won the 100 meter breaststroke <insert childish breaststroke joke here> and was on two winning relay teams. My reward was a sunburn, a few gold medals, and a trip home on a yellow school bus.  Good times.

Now, on with the countdown:

#10: "Let Me Love You Tonight" by Pure Prairie League.  Now that there is one hook-filled pop/country shuffle.  With David Sanborn on alto and Vince Gill on vocals, no less.  Right in my soft-rock wheelhouse.  This #10 spot was the song's peak during its 11 weeks in the Top 40; it also spent 3 weeks at #1 on the Adult Contemporary charts.

#9:  "Let's Get Serious" by Jermaine Jackson.  Seriously, this is more a Stevie Wonder single than a Jermaine Jackson cut.  If it were released using the current nomenclature, it would be credited to "Steve Wonder, feat. Jermaine Jackson."  Wonder wrote it, produced it, and even sings the bridge.  As such, it is appropriately awesome.  At #9, this was the song's peak on this chart although it spent 6 weeks at #1 on the R&B charts.

#8:  "The Rose" by Bette Midler.  A tepid ballad that always sends me scrambling to change the station.  If I need to start a conversation among people my age, I always ask, "What's the worst ballad of all time - 'The Rose' or 'Beth' by Kiss?"  This question is usually followed by the bashing of both songs and a good time is had by all.  On this date, the song was on its way down the chart, having peaked at #3 the previous week.  I'm loath to mention the 5 weeks it spent at #1 on the Adult Contemporary charts in May, but I'll do it anyway.  For the record (no pun intended), I've never seen the movie and have no plans to do so.

#7:  "Magic" by Olivia Newton-John.  I've already admitted my love for the movie Xanadu and its soundtrack.  And this is the best song on said soundtrack.  ONJ can come roller skate at my place any time.  This song, ONJ's 19th Top 40 hit, was on its way up the charts; it would go on to be at #1 for 4 consecutive weeks in August.  It also topped the Adult Contemporary charts for 5 weeks, a consecutive week run that started with the July 19 chart.

Long Distance Dedication:  "No No Song" by Ringo Starr. A recovering drug addict from Millard, Nebraska dedicates this song to "all the ex-drug users and to the many thousands of teenagers who still have problems with drugs"  Written by Hoyt Axton, this novelty-ish song perfectly captures Ringo's sense of humor. I enjoy hearing it in this context although its not something I want to hear too often.  It spent 10 weeks it the Top 40 back in 1975, peaking at #3.

#6:  "Steal Away" by Robbie Dupree.  A soft rock favorite.  I didn't buy many 45s, but I had this one. Yes, it's a complete rip-off of The Doobie Brothers' "What A Fool Believes" (complete with Michael McDonald on backing vocals), but no matter.  Dupree wasn't a one hit wonder, but he sure didn't stick around the charts for very long.  #6 was this single's peak chart position in its 15 weeks in the Top 40.  It also reached #5 on the AC chart.

#5:  "Shining Star" by The Manhattans.  A throw back to early '70s soul music that focuses on smooth vocal harmonies.  I can sing all the different parts if you need that sort of thing.  This song was a welcome change of pace from the then-current R&B hits that were transitioning from disco to more synths and drum machine.  And what a fantastic bridge!  This song spent 14 weeks in the Top 40, peaking here at #5.   It peaked at #4 on the R&B charts and #21 on the AC charts.  But wait! We're not done with soul throwbacks:

#4:  "Cupid/I've Love You for a Long Time" by The Spinners.  A discofied medley of a classic Sam Cooke tune ("Cupid" reached #17 for Cooke in 1961) and a newer melody from producer Michael Zager.  Works for me for all the reasons mentioned above for "Shining Star."  This medley peaked here at #4, reached #5 on the R&B charts, and spent 4 weeks at #3 on the AC charts.

#3:  "Little Jeannie" by Elton John.  I prefer '70s Elton, but this uptempo ballad has enough soft rock elements to get my attention, particularly the electric piano line and sax solo.  This was John's 26th Top 40 hit; it peaked here at #3, spending 17 weeks in the Top 40.  It had been #1 on the AC charts for two weeks back in June.

#2:  "Coming Up" by Paul McCartney & Wings.  I had this 45 single as well.  I couldn't believe how much better the live side was compared to the studio side of that single.  It's one of McCartney's weaker tunes, but it's still McCartney.   I love the way the he sings "coming up" in the chorus as the bass line actually moves up stepward - very clever, Sir Paul.  This week, this song slipped to #2 after spending 3 weeks in the top spot.

Before telling us the #1 single, Casey always runs down the tops of other Billboard charts.  Here are the #1's for the week of July 19:
Then we have the usual timpani roll as Casey introduces the new #1 song.  I love that they always played that cheesy drum roll without the slightest bit of irony.

#1:  "It's Still Rock and Roll to Me" by Billy Joel.  I've already mentioned the Glass Houses album; I listened to that one quite a bit that summer and I'll always associate that album with that summer.  Joel was undoubtedly my favorite recording artist at that time.  Even hearing this song now might send me into a Joel marathon in which I play all albums from The Stranger to An Innocent Man in full, in chronological order.  Done it many times.  This particular single spent a remarkable 19 weeks in the Top 40 and was Joel's first #1 song.  This week was the first of 2 weeks at #1 for this song; it was supplanted by ONJ's "Magic" on August 9.

Useless trivia: the sax solo on the #1 song and the #3 song were both performed by the same person, Richie Cannata. 

And then it was off to high school, which was a scary place for a 110 lb. fine arts geek. But that's a story for another time.


  1. This is an all killer, no filler murderer's row of hits though the weakest track for me is the McCartney tune.

    I wish I knew someone named Jeannie so I could serenade her with Elton's earworm which I never wanted to like but sing for days after hearing it.

    "Let's Get Serious" is seriously funky no doubt, no matter whose name appears on the label and the velvety smoothness of The Manhattans and The Spinners is welcome 'round here anytime. I look forward to a Spinners sing-a-long sooner rather than later.

    I've seen The Rose and thought it was a melodramatic mash of Janis Joplin and The Star Is Born but the title song gets me in the gut every time. I bleed, I weep but I know I'll be alright when it's over.

    Thanks so much for this countdown rundown. Lots of great memories of that Summer between junior high and high school.

  2. I thought a few of these songs sounded extra familiar to my ears... nine of the songs from this American Top 40 (not just today's Top 10) appear on K-Tel's Sound Waves album which I still have in rotation here at The Hideaway. Another two songs appear on the Canadian version of Sound Waves.

    Small world.