Saturday Single No. 60

Originally posted March 1, 2008

So, March comes and brings with it . . . what?

For Caesar, so long ago, it brought death on the Ides of March. For the Ides of March, at least according to the Billboard Book of Top 40 Hits, March brought nothing. The group’s hit – “Vehicle” – entered the chart in April of 1970. That would be for the national chart. But there are other charts, of course. According to the Big 10 Countdown dated March 1, 1971, from Chicago’s WCFL, the month did bring something for the Ides of March: The single “L.A. Goodbye” was at No. 29 as the month opened, up from No. 36 the week before.

What else do we find on that long-ago chart from the first day of March?

The No. 1 song was “Mama’s Pearl” by the Jackson 5, the sixth hit in a span of a little more than a year for Michael and his brothers. The rest of the Top Ten that week in that part of Chicagoland was:

“Sweet Mary” by Wadsworth Mansion
“Amos Moses” by Jerry Reed
“Have You Ever Seen The Rain” by Creedence Clearwater Revival
“Doesn’t Somebody Want To Be Wanted” by the Partridge Family
“Proud Mary” by Ike & Tina Turner
“If You Could Read My Mind” by Gordon Lightfoot
“Heavy Makes You Happy (Sha-Na-Boom-Boom)” by the Staple Singers
“Blue Money” by Van Morrison
“Just My Imagination” by the Temptations

Good radio songs all, though the Staple Singers record was appreciably more popular in Chicago than it was nationally (a peak of No. 27 in Billboard). Other than that, nothing out of the ordinary. There is one One-Hit Wonder in the group: Wadsworth Mansion’s “Sweet Mary,” which is kind of a favorite of mine, with its odd and clunky introduction.

(Readers may wonder why, as I live in Minnesota, I am examining a chart from Chicago. Well, I was looking for two things from a chart this week: The date of March 1, and a chart that was more than thirty songs long. The date requirement is obvious. But why more than thirty songs? So I could look at the chart – whatever year it might come from – and see what song was No. 31 on 3/1. And none of the charts I could find from the Minnesota stations that played Top 40 in my teen years fit those requirements. Nor did I find a WLS chart that worked, which disappointed me. That’s how I ended up at WCFL, a station that, as far as I know, I never heard through the static.)

So, what song was it that occupied the No. 31 slot at WCFL on 3/1 back in 1971? Well it’s actually a pretty good one: “You’re All I Need To Get By” by Aretha Franklin, which reached No. 19 on the Billboard chart a little later in the month. It came from the album Aretha’s Greatest Hits, an example of the dubious but common practice of putting new material on a hits album so as to make it essential for collectors. The version of the song on the Greatest Hits album is fine, but nothing to get excited about.

Just days after that chart came out, however, Aretha went to San Francisco and did three shows at the Fillmore West backed by a band led by King Curtis. The album Aretha Live At Fillmore West, released later in 1971, did not include the version of “You’re All I Need To Get By” recorded during the three-night gig. But a CD reissue put out in 2006 by Atlantic/Rhino includes that song and a few others that didn’t make the original album. And as nice as the studio version of “You’re All I Need To Get By” is, the live version cuts it to shreds.

And that’s a roundabout way of getting to today’s Saturday Single.

Aretha Franklin – “You’re All I Need To Get By” [1971, Fillmore West]

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