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.

While standing beside Art Garfunkel, Paul Simon claimed three chart-topping singles. Garfunkel’s mellifluous tenor was undoubtedly a central part of the appeal of at least two of those major hits, but there was little doubt that the chief songwriter of the pair was going to do just fine for himself when he went out on his own. And so it was, was Simon landing in the Top 5 with the lead single from his first solo release following the dissolution of the partnership. There were plenty of singles around that time that barely made an impression, at least commercially, but Simon still spent a respectable amount of time on the Billboard charts, with seven Top 40 singles in the span from 1972 to 1975. The last of those, “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover,” was a major hit, spending three weeks on the top of the chart. Simon followed that with another song that can reasonably be considered one of the standards of his impressive songbook. Remarkably, given its endurance, “Still Crazy After All These Years” was one of the least successful charting singles of Simon’s early solo career, getting no higher than #40.

Following the album Still Crazy After All These Years, Simon entered an uncharacteristically fallow period as a songwriter. While there was the occasional stray music project, five years passed between new albums (he did have another hit in the midst of that stretch, with “Slip Slidin’ Away,” a track rejected from Still Crazy that found a home as a spare enticement for well-stocked fans on Simon’s 1977 Greatest Hits release). By the time Simon was infiltrating record stores anew, it was with a the sort of multi-format media press that would make a modern pop diva proud. He didn’t just have a new album, but an accompanying major motion picture to go with it. One-Trick Pony starred Simon as Jonah Levin, a struggling singer-songwriter trying to mount a comeback as he reconnects with his estranged wife and young son. (The film also featured the proper acting debut of Lou Reed, if “acting” is really the correct term.) Something of a box office dud, the film at least contained the song that would be become Simon’s last Top 10 hit, “Late in the Evening.”  The follow-up single, the exemplary title cut to the album and movie, stalled at #40. It was a reasonable forecast for Simon’s career path forward. From then on, even when he crafting some of the best music of his career (though his authorship of said music is in dispute), the kind of material that justly snags major awards, pop radio was now barely paying attention. Following “One-Trick Pony,” Simon made only one more trip to the Top 40. As with “Still Crazy After All These Years,” that final dalliance with major pop success was with a single that I suspect most music fans believe climbed higher on the chart than it actually did.

“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
“Watch Out For Lucy” by Eric Clapton
“The Alvin Twist” by Alvin and the Chipmunks
“Love Me Tender” by Percy Sledge
“Jennifer Eccles” by the Hollies
“Video Killed the Radio Star” by the Olympics
“The Bounce” by the Olympics
“Your One and Only Love” by Jackie Wilson
“Tell Her She’s Lovely” by El Chicano
“The Last Time I Made Love” by Joyce Kennedy and Jeffrey Osborne
“Limbo Rock” by The Champs
“Crazy Eyes For You” by Bobby Hamilton
“Who Do You Think You’re Foolin'” by Donna Summer
“Violet Hill” and “Lost+” by Coldplay
“Freight Train” by the Chas. McDevitt Skiffle Group
“Sweet William” by Little Millie Small
“Live My Life” by Boy George
“Lessons Learned” by Tracy Lawrence
“So Close” by Diana Ross
“Six Feet Deep” by the Geto Boys
“You Thrill Me” by Exile
“What Now” by Gene Chandler
“Put It in a Magazine” by Sonny Charles
“Got a Love for You” by Jomanda
“Stone Cold” by Rainbow
“People in Love” by 10cc
“Just Seven Numbers (Can Straighten Out My Life)” by the Four Tops
“Thinkin’ Problem” by David Ball
“You Got Yours and I’ll Get Mine” and “Trying to Make a Fool of Me” by the Delfonics
“The Riddle (You and I)” by Five for Fighting
“I Can’t Wait” by Sleepy Brown
“Nature Boy” by Bobby Darin
“Give It to Me Baby” and “Cold Blooded” by Rick James
“Who’s Sorry Now?” by Marie Osmond
“A Love So Fine” by the Chiffons
“Funky Y-2-C” by the Puppies
“Brand New Girlfriend” by Steve Holy
“I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)” by Bonnie Pointer
“Mr. Loverman” by Shabba Ranks
“I’ve Never Found a Girl” by Eddie Floyd
“Plastic Man” and “Happy People” by the Temptations
“Okay” by Nivea
“Go On” by George Strait
“Back When My Hair Was Short” by Gunhill Road
“Birthday Party” by the Pixies Three
“Livin’ in the Life” by the Isley Brothers
“Kissing You” by Keith Washington
“The End of Our Road” by Marvin Gaye
“Ticks” and “Letter to Me” by Brad Paisley
“Nobody But You Babe” by Clarence Reid
“Like a Sunday in Salem” by Gene Cotton
“I’m Going to Let My Heart Do the Walking” by the Supremes
“Call Me Lightning” by the Who
“Ain’t It True” by Andy Williams
“Lazy Elsie Molly” and “Let’s Do the Freddie” by Chubby Checker
“Second Fiddle” by Kay Starr
“1999” by Prince
“I’ll Try Anything” by Dusty Springfield
“Oh Happy Day” by Glen Campbell
“I’d Love to Change the World” by Ten Years After
“Friends” and “Married Men” by Bette Midler
“Spice of Life” by the Manhattan Transfer
“You Can’t Roller Skate in a Buffalo Herd” by Roger Miller
“Don’t Pity Me” by Dion and the Belmonts
“Ask Me No Questions” by B.B. King
“Can’t Leave ‘Em Alone” by Ciara
“All I Really Want to Do” by the Byrds
“Love Rollercoaster” by Red Hot Chili Peppers
“Just a Little” by Brenda Lee
“Sweet Maxine” by the Doobie Brothers
“Where You Lead” and “The Way He Makes Me Feel” by Barbra Streisand
“Charity Ball” by Fanny
“I’m Comin’ Home” by Tommy James
“I’m Goin’ In” by Drake
“Your Time to Cry” by Joe Simon
“We’re Free” by Beverly Bremers
“The Resurrection Shuffle” by Ashton, Gardner and Dyke
“It Should Have Been Me” by Gladys Knight

7 thoughts on “Top 40 Smash Taps: “Still Crazy After All These Years” and “One-Trick Pony”

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