Don’s Top 10 From April 20, 1974
Let’s head back into time to Saturday, April 20, 1974, & check out the local top 10 singles.amazon.com
“Seasons In The Sun” by Terry Jacks
(#3 last week) Terry Jacks had been a member of The Poppy Family, who hit big in 1970 with “Which Way You Goin’ Billy?” (Terry’s then-wife Susan sang lead). “Seasons In The Sun” has a fascinating history. It was written in 1961 by French composer Jacques Brel as “Le Moribond” (“The Dying Man”). Rod McKuen, the famed poet, wrote English lyrics that the Kingston Trio recorded in 1964. After both the Poppy Family & the Jacks’ marriage broke up, Terry was hired by the Beach Boys for session work. He remembered the Kingston Trio recording & suggested the Beach Boys cut it. They did, but decided not to release it, & mourning a pal who had unexpectedly died, Jacks recorded it. But the finished tape then sat on his shelf for over a year. When a newspaper delivery boy heard Terry playing the tape one day & told him how much he loved it, Terry decided to release the single himself on his own label. It became a Canadian smash, & Bell Records bought the master for the U.S. It was a #1 hit here, too, & probably the most polarizing song of 1974, a year filled with such songs.
“Oh My My” by Ringo Starr
(#13 last week) Third single from the smash album “Ringo”, & talk about a great supporting cast on this track: Merry Clayton & Martha Reeves sing, & Billy Preston plays keyboards. Produced by Richard Perry, who in 2014 is better know for being Jane Fonda’s boyfriend. Starr didn’t perform this in concert until as recently as 2008.
“The Lord’s Prayer” by Sister Janet Mead
(#12 last week) Maybe the most unlikely artist & song in pop music history. “The Singing Nun” hit #1 in 1963, but that hit wasn’t religious in theme. Sister Janet, from Australia, gave all her profits to charity.
“Dancing Machine” by The Jackson 5
(#9 last week) Well, LOCALLY, this is the first disco song to ever be #1! (See “TSOP” above). The song peaked at #2 nationally. Check out MJ doing “the robot” on “The Carol Burnett Show” here.
“Come & Get Your Love” by Redbone
(#6 last week) After nighttime DJ George Michael moved from WFIL to WABC in 1974, every Friday night as his third song, about 6:07pm, for 5+ years, he’d play this, & call it “the weekend national anthem!” For me, it still is. And I will always remember the way King George said the name of the group: “Redboonnnnnnnnne!”
“Sunshine On My Shoulders” by John Denver
(#2 last week) This smash, which made Denver a superstar, was originally the B-side of one of his earlier songs, “I’d Rather Be a Cowboy.” John Denver made people happy with his songs. He helped people like my mom, who was a big fan suffering from cancer, feel better. I’ll never forget that, or John.
“Hooked On A Feeling” by Blue Swede
(#1 last week) A straightforward, “normal” hit for B.J. Thomas in 1969, this was first remade by Brit Jonathan King in 1971, adding ooga chaka jungle chants similar to, but not exactly the same as a 1960 hit by Johnny Preston, “Running Bear”. King described it as “a reggae rhythm by male voices”. It was a moderate hit in the U.K. And now, in 1974, the Swedish group Blue Swede revives King’s gonzo version, not B.J.’s original arrangement.
“Best Thing That Ever Happened To Me” by Gladys Knight & The Pips
(#10 last week) Part of the Pips hot streak, which spanned two record labels and lasting 2+ years. This was first a country #1 hit by Ray Price, 6 months earlier than Gladys..
“Bennie & The Jets” by Elton John
(#4 last week) You couldn’t find anyone hotter in music in 1974, & appearing on “Soul Train” was, hard to believe, considered daring, as I believe he was the first white headliner to do so.
“TSOP (The Sound Of Philadelphia)” by MFSB featuring The Three Degrees
(#5 last week; 1st week at #1) Written by the great team of Gamble-Huff, this is the first disco song to make it to #1 on the national chart. It’s also the second of four different themes the TV series “Soul Train” used, & certainly trhe one people associate with the show, but host/creator Don Cornelius would not allow Gamble-Huff to call the song “Soul Train Theme”, strangely. My guess is, they wouldn’t give him a cut of the royalties? I don’t know.