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.
This may seem an odd statement, but Eric Clapton was so firmly entrenched as a full-fledged rock ‘n’ roll legend by the time I started paying attention that I found it easy to forget how successful he was on the Billboard charts. This is partially because I rarely think of straight-ahead rock songs as having a significant place on the Top 40 chart. But through the nineteen-seventies, Clapton had nine different songs take up residence in the Top 40, at least if Derek and the Dominos is included in the tally. Included in that group is a #1 single that had the honor of displacing one of the weirdest, creepiest chart-toppers ever. Most of the Clapton songs that claim Top 40 status were certainly familiar to me from the classic rock radio my music affection was weaned on, but I so thoroughly associated them with those stations that their former status as fodder for DJs devoted to playing the hottest hits of the moment was totally foreign. Hell, one of Clapton’s biggest hits of the decade even crossed over to country music radio.
Clapton’s last Top 40 hit of the seventies barely earned that designation, peaking at #40. “Watch Out For Lucy” was the second single from Clapton’s Backless LP, following up a release that made it into the Top 10. I’m usually pretty quick to disparage Clapton’s slicked up blues pastiches, but I have to admit that “Lucy” is a nice little song. It’s a handsome shuffle with atypically unfussy guitar work, sounding more like one of Jim Croce’s more playful tracks than anything that usually emanated from the guy that guitar geeks dubbed “God.”
By my rough count, Clapton had six more songs make it into the Top 40, the last of which peaked at #2. This is only surprising because the song was so omnipresent at the time of its release that I assumed it had an extended run at #1.
—“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
—“I’ve Seen All Good People” and “Rhythm of Love” by Yes
—“Naturally Stoned” by the Avant-Garde
—“Come See” by Major Lance
—“Your Old Standby” by Mary Wells
—“See the Lights” by Simple Minds