Heading back in time today to take a look at what was popular in Grand Rapids, MI on WLAV-AM from the weekly playlist dated April 1, 1974. It’s a top 30 list, and we’ll count it up to the top.
30. “I Love” – Tom T. Hall (#23 last week). Let’s just jump right in, shall we? This was Hall’s only crossover to make the Top 40. Cheesy? Of course. Soothing right now? Yes. (I’ve linked to the “grass” version, but can’t say for sure that that’s the version that WLAV played. I’m going to guess not.)
29. “I’m a Train” – Albert Hammond (new this week). This will stick in your head all day. At least it’s doing that to me.
28. “Tubular Bells” – Mike Oldfield (new this week). How quickly we forget the cultural impact of The Exorcist, even in a generally conservative place like Grand Rapids. I’m guessing they didn’t play the 26-minute version (itself edited from 49 minutes) and opted for the single. This was a #7 record nationally.
27. “Keep On Singin’” – Helen Reddy (#27 last week). In my next life I want to be the bass man on this record. I had all but forgotten this one, which was a #15 hit.
26. “A Very Special Love Song” – Charlie Rich (#20 last week). More Country crossover here. This won the Grammy for Best Country Song that year and spent three weeks atop that chart.
25. “Rock and Roll, Hootchie Koo” – Rick Derringer (#25 last week). Classic rock radio has worn the grooves right out of this one.
24. “Piano Man” – Billy Joel (new this week). Popular culture has worn the grooves right out of this one. It debuts here this week.
23. “Help Me” – Joni Mitchell (new this week). This one’s on the list of “songs with notes I can never, ever hit.” Admittedly I haven’t heard it in a while, and it sounded fresh at first listen.
22. “Jungle Boogie” – Kool & the Gang (#17 last week). Well worn but still fun.
21. “Dark Lady” – Cher (#15 last week). For some reason I have it blocked out in my head that there was a time when people rushed to the record store to get new Cher singles. This was a national #1 hit.
20. “Mighty Love” – Spinners (#24 last week). This sounds fantastic, and I’d like to play this straight out of a top-of-the-hour jingle.
19. “Until You Come Back To Me” – Aretha Franklin (#11 last week). This was a #3 record, and it’s another one that you don’t hear that often.
18. “Love Song” – Anne Murray (#10 last week). Here’s one that I haven’t heard in years, and yet as soon as I saw it on the list, the hook popped into my head like I’ve heard it yesterday. This won the Grammy for Best Country Female Vocal that year and spent a week atop the Adult Contemporary chart, but you rarely hear it anymore.
17. “Let It Ride” – Bachman-Turner Overdrive (#19 last week). There’s a car ad that uses this, right? I feel like I hear it about every twenty minutes or so.
16. “I’ve Been Searching So Long” – Chicago (#21 last week). Possibly Controversial Opinion Alert: I like a lot of Chicago stuff, and I can’t imagine a scenario where this one makes a list of my favorites. Maybe I played it too often in my light rock days or something, but I can pass on it. Your mileage may vary.
15. “Oh My My” – Ringo Starr (#22 last week). This is what fun sounds like.
14. “My Sweet Lady” – Cliff DeYoung (#14 last week). Here’s your “oh wow.” This was the only charting hit for DeYoung, making #17 nationally. It’s from the TV movie Sunrise, which I have no memory of at all.
13. “Rock On” – David Essex (#8 last week). In my work at WCFL/Morris it feels like this came up every time I was on the air. And yes, it’s still funny to say “pork sausage” after he sings “Jimmy Dean.” You have to amuse yourself in the studio somehow.
12. “I’ll Have To Say I Love You In a Song” – Jim Croce (#18 last week). One of those stray childhood memories that stays with me is sitting at the kitchen table, hearing the radio report that Jim Croce had died in a plane crash. I’d have been four years old, but it’s stuck there. This is over six months after that crash, and this makes #7.
11. “The Loco-Motion” – Grand Funk (#16 last week). In college radio at WLRA in 1988 I played this record and backsold it as “Grand Funk’s version of the Kylie Minogue classic,” which was the version burning up the charts at that time.
10. “Seasons In the Sun” – Terry Jacks (#3 last week). It may be on the way down the charts, but the survey tells us that this is the most requested song of the week. Lighten up, Francis. (I’m partial to the cover by Too Much Joy, personally.)
9. “Boogie Down” – Eddie Kendricks (#5 last week). I think that every 70’s-themed station I worked for had this in the rotation. It’s not a favorite of mine, but I don’t necessarily mind it, either. It’s the pickle on the side of the sandwich; if it’s not there, I’m not calling the server back over.
8. “Jet” – Paul McCartney & Wings (#12 last week). Of all the songs that a disc jockey can talk over, this may be among my favorites. It’s on my iPod, and I may still practice posting it up while driving every now and again.
7. “T.S.O.P.” – M.F.S.B. (#13 last week). It sort of cracks me up that this is on the survey as “MESB.” You had one job. Somewhere on a tape I have a recording of John Records Landecker on the air at WLS using a good chunk of the intro making up his own acronyms, as only he could.
5. “The Best Thing That Ever Happened” – Gladys Knight (#9 last week). This is the last song that Bob Dearborn chose to play on the last day that WCFL was a Top 40 station in 1976. I think that’s all you need to know about the record.
4. “The Lord’s Prayer” – Sister Janet Mead (#5 last week). This was a bigger hit than you may recall. The Sister’s only hit, it peaked at #4 around the country.
3. “Sunshine On My Shoulders” – John Denver (#1 last week). As a small child I remember this being on my parents’ radio stations a lot. I can’t recall the last time I’ve heard it, which is kind of too bad.
2. “Bennie and the Jets” – Elton John (#4 last week). She’s got electric boots. A Mohair suit. You know I read it in a maga-zuh-EEENNNNN… You just sang that in your head.
And – at #1 – it’s “Hooked On a Feeling” – Blue Swede (#2 last week). Years before Guardians of the Galaxy, years before Ally McBeal, years before the creepy-ass dancing baby swept the early Internet, there was this, blasting out of AM radios everywhere. This was a #1 record. And yet we didn’t learn our lesson; Blue Swede also hit the Top 10 with their cover of “Never My Love.” (OK, I don’t mind that one as much.) Fun fact: we have Jonathan King to thank for this arrangement – he did it in 1971.