These posts are about the songs that can accurately claim to crossed the key line of chart success, becoming Top 40 hits on Billboard, but just barely. Every song featured in this series peaked at number 40.
When I started pulling together the list of songs that qualified for the “Top 40 Smash Taps” feature, my geeky, secret hope was that I’d find at least one artist who accomplished the bittersweet feat of peaking at #40 on more than one occasion. Turns out it wasn’t such a crazy notion; several different acts have watched as two different tracks stalled at that arbitrarily significant number. There’s even one legendary artist who did it one three separate occasions, but that’s for another entry.
The very first charting single from the prog rock band Yes peaked at #40. “I’ve Seen All Good People” was included on the band’s third studio album, the accurately titled 1971 release The Yes Album. In the manner of a lot of rock songs with an early-seventies copyright date, it’s actually divided into two distinct, interlinked parts: the melodic “Your Move,” laden with chess metaphors and chiming acoustic guitar, and “All Good People,” a ripping boogie. It’s also a song that tips its hat to John Lennon in a couple different ways, including the lyric “Send an Instant Karma to me, initial it with loving care,” and the inclusion of the singalong chorus of “Give Peace a Chance,” buried deep in the mix right before the song makes its transition for one part to the other.
Yes had an even more significant breakthrough with their next single, “Roundabout,”. the first track offered from their other 1971 album, Fragile. That song made it all the way up to #13, and stood as their only other Top 40 single until they managed to top the chart over a decade later.
Somewhat surprisingly given they’re considered one of the quintessential prog rock bands, Yes actually had significantly more chart success in the eighties than they ever did in the seventies. Besides that #1 hit, they had three other Top 40 songs. The last one that crossed into that echelon was “Rhythm of Love,” which was also their second song to peak at #40. Off of the 1987 album Big Generator, it wasn’t like the band was embracing modern sounds. Besides slightly slicker production values, it could have come from just about any point in the band’s lengthy career. That’s impressive in its own way, I suppose. But it seems to me that a little Yes goes a long, long way.
—“Just Like Heaven” by The Cure.
—“I’m in Love” by Evelyn King
—“Buy Me a Rose” by Kenny Rogers
—“Who’s Your Baby” by The Archies
—“Me and Bobby McGee” by Jerry Lee Lewis
—“Angel in Blue” by J. Geils Band
—“Crazy Downtown” by Allan Sherman