Saturday Single No. 151

Originally posted October 3, 2009

While wandering around Facebook the other evening, I ran across one of those quizzes that pop up now and then on the site. My cousin Mark had tried his hand at a music trivia quiz that asked who sang what song in the year 1970. I forget how many of the ten songs in the quiz he’d paired with the right performer, but he’d done pretty well, he said in the attached note, for someone who was born in the mid-1960s.

I clicked the link and headed into the quiz to see how I could do. The year 1970 holds a prime place in my days of listening to Top 40. I began that exploration – as I’ve noted before – in the late summer and autumn of 1969. I started shifting away from Top 40 and into album rock during my college years, which began in the fall of 1971. That leaves 1970 as the one year during which I was really listening to Top 40 radio all year long. Given that, I would have been disappointed in myself if I’d missed a question in the quiz. I didn’t. And as I headed out of the quiz page back to Facebook, I thought that some kind of look at 1970 would be a good idea for a Saturday post.

So this morning, I pulled out the Billboard Hot 100 for the week ending October 3, 1970, the chart from thirty-nine years ago today, and I thought I’d sort through the Top 40 to see which record showed the most movement from the chart of a week earlier.

Before starting, it might be good to look at the Top Ten from that date:

“Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” by Diana Ross“
Lookin’ Out My Back Door/Long As I Can See The Light” by Creedence Clearwater Revival
“Candida” by Dawn
“Cracklin’ Rosie” by Neil Diamond
“Julie, Do Ya Love Me” by Bobby Sherman
“I’ll Be There” by the Jackson 5
“(I Know I’m) Losing You” by Rare Earth
“Snowbird” by Anne Murray
“War” by Edwin Starr
“All Right Now” by Free

That’s a pretty decent Top Ten, though over the years – for me at least – neither the Diana Ross nor the Anne Murray single has aged well. We’ll get back to a few of those as we look at how the Top 40 shifted.

Four records shifted up four places from the week before. Candi Staton’s cover of “Stand By Your Man” made it into the chart, moving from No. 44 to No. 40. “El Condor Pasa” by Simon & Garfunkel went from No. 38 to No. 34. Grand Funk Railroad’s first hit, “Closer to Home,” went from No. 31 to No. 27. And the afore-mentioned “Candida” moved from No. 7 to No. 3.

Two records shifted five spots. Glenn Campbell’s “It’s Only Make Believe” rose from No. 37 to No. 32, and Tom Jones’ “I (Who Have Nothing)” dropped from No. 14 to No. 19. And two records moved up six spaces: “Somebody’s Been Sleeping” by 100 Proof Aged In Soul went from No. 43 to No. 36 while “Out In The Country” by Three Dog Night moved from No. 30 to No. 24.

Three records fell seven spots: Edwin Starr’s “War” dropped from No. 2 to No. 9, Clarence Carter’s “Patches” went from No. 4 to No. 11, and “25 or 6 to 4” by Chicago fell from No. 10 to No. 17.

When I do one of these chart-movement posts (and I’ve only done a few, admittedly), this is about the spot where things start to narrow down. It seems – without doing any research at all – that not that many songs move more than seven spots during the same week. Well, the week ending October 3, 1970, was the week that would wreck that theory. A total of thirteen records – almost one-third of the Top 40 – shifted more than seven spots thirty-nine years ago this week.

One record moved eight spots. That was “Look What They’ve Done To My Song Ma” by the New Seekers, which rose from No. 33 to No. 25. Shifting nine places was “It’s A Shame” by the Spinners, rising from No. 24 to No. 15. And moving up ten places was James Taylor’s “Fire and Rain,” which rose from No. 40 to No. 30.

Two records rose eleven places: “Express Yourself” by Charles Wright and the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band went from No. 25 to No. 14, and “Do What You Wanna Do” by Five Flights Up (the only record in this Top 40 I’ve never heard, as far as I know) entered the Top 40 with a leap, jumping from No. 50 to No. 39.

The Jackson 5’s “I’ll Be There” moved up thirteen places, from No. 19 to No. 6; also moving thirteen spots was “Rubber Duckie” by Ernie, which dropped from No. 16 to No. 29. The Carpenter’s “(They Long To Be) Close To You” dropped fourteen places, from No. 17 to No. 31, “Spill the Wine” by Eric Burdon and War fell fifteen spots from No. 21 to No. 36, and Bread’s “Make It With You” dropped eighteen places from No. 20 to No. 38.

That leaves three records still to mention, records that shifted more than eighteen places in one week, and looking ahead, I see trouble. The week’s champion, with an amazing leap of twenty-four spots from No. 42 to No. 18, is the Carpenter’s “We’ve Only Just Begun.” But that song’s story – it began as a bank commercial – was told superbly just more than a week ago by the Half-Hearted Dude, and I see no reason to post the record, as lovely as it is, here. The second-largest shift of the week ending October 3, 1970, was a tumble of twenty places, from No. 15 to No. 35, for Mungo Jerry’s “In the Summertime,” a tune that’s long ago worn out its welcome in my ears.

So there must be compromise, which leads us to the week’s third-place mover, a record by the Four Tops that moved nineteen spots, from No. 39 to No. 20. It’s not one of the records that come immediately to mind when one thinks of the Four Tops, but it did all right, spending ten weeks in the Top 40 and peaking at No. 11. Nor does it sound like the Four Tops of the mid-1960s, the years of “Standing In The Shadows Of Love” and “Bernadette.” Instead, it’s got a lilting, almost Latin sound, one that reminded me at least a little bit of Malo (“Suavecito”) and El Chicano (“Viva Tirado, Part I” and “Tell Her She’s Lovely”).

So with all that in mind, here’s “Still Water (Love)” by the Four Tops, today’s Saturday Single.


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