These posts are about the songs that just barely failed to cross the key line of chart success, entering the Billboard Top 40. Every song featured in this series peaked at number 41.
In 1962, Sam Cooke released the cut “Bring It On Home to Me.” It resided on the flip side of the single “Having a Party,” but it actually slightly outperformed the A-side, peaking four spots higher on the Billboard chart, at #13. That same year, Carla Thomas took the same song and gave it just enough of a twist to make it simultaneously a cover and an answer song, offering the assurance that she would indeed commit to bringing it home.
Thomas registered a Top 10 hit one year earlier, with “Gee Whiz (Look at His Eyes),” a song she also wrote and that had been persistently championed by her father, Rufus Thomas, even after it was essentially rejected by Vee-Jay Records. A version of the track was recorded in the Thomas home and basically self-released before being picked up for distribution by Atlantic Records. By that point, Carla Thomas wasn’t counting on a music career. As the song took off, she was in her first year of college.
Finding the follow-up hit proved elusive. For several years, the pass at the Cooke song was the closest Thomas came to a return to the Top 40, missing by one place. A few years later, Thomas had moved on to record for Stax Records, working with their ace songwriters Isaac Hayes and David Porter. One of their compositions, “B-A-B-Y,” become the only other solo Top 40 single of Thomas’s career.
Other entries in this series can be found by clicking on the “Top 40 Smash Near Misses” tag.