Top 40 Smash Taps: “Love of My Life” and “Bowling Green”

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.

By my rough, hasty count, the Everly Brothers placed a total of twenty-seven songs into the Billboard Top 40, including three that topped the chart. The siblings were such a constant presence on early rock ‘n’ roll radio that disc jockeys routinely turning singles over, giving the B-sides enough spins to merit respectable chart placement. That was the case with “Love of My Life,” the flip side to the #2 charter “Problems.”  A tender ballad penned by Felice and Boudleaux Bryant, songwriters behind some of the Everly Brothers biggest hits, “Love of My Life” peaked at #40.

“Love of My Life” was released in 1958, early in the Everly Brothers’ recording career. Their other song to peak at #40 came toward the opposite end of that timeline. “Bowling Green,” released in 1967, was the final Everly Brothers single to earn the distinction of Top 10 hit. Sweet and gentle with a hint of hippie flow, wasn’t out of step with the times (the week the single hit #40, “Windy” by the Association was in the midst of a monthlong run in the chart’s top position, and the two tracks would have segued together nicely). Still, arriving a full decade after the Everly Brothers first charting single, at a time when longevity was not an expectation of pop acts, “Bowling Green” comes across as a last echo of another era. Their musical partnership ended acrimoniously a few years later, followed by several years of estrangement. The siren call of a lucrative reunion did eventually win out.

And with that the Top 40 Smash Taps feature is at an end. It has been approximately four-and-a-half years since I first put fingers to keys to write about a song that only barely qualified for the storied designation Top 40 single, writing at surprising length (given that I had a later tendency to deafult to this feature when I had limited time to compose a post) about the Cure’s “Just Like Heaven.” When I began, I had a much shorter list of songs that peaked at #40. Over the years, I stumbled upon new research avenues that expanded the roster, at one point finding a couple dozen more tracks that fit the criteria just as I thought I was reaching the finale.

I’ve no doubt that some rigorous digging would unearth at least a few more songs that fit Top 40 Smash Taps, especially if I was more attentive to charts from the past few years, most of which look to me like they were constructed randomly from confetti fashioned out of old Disney Channel program guides. That notion is going to get a chipper salute and a gracious “No thanks.” If that list below isn’t definitive, I still think it’s reasonably impressive. It’s good enough, to be sure.

I will note that I’ve compiled a whole list of songs that peaked at #41. I’ll likely start in on that someday, just not someday soon.

 

Previously…

“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
“Still Crazy After All These Years” and “One-Trick Pony” by Paul Simon
“I (Who Have Nothing)” by Sylvester
“Breakdown” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
“I’ll Be Your Shelter (In Time of Storm)” by Luther Ingram
“Spirit in the Night” by Manfred Mann’s Earth Band
“Don’t Ask Me Why” by Eurythmics
“Bewildered,” “Get It Together, Part 1,” “Let a Man Come In and Do the Popcorn, Part 2” and “King Heroin” by James Brown

Top 40 Smash Taps: “Bewildered,” “Get It Together, Part 1,” “Let a Man Come In and Do the Popcorn, Part 2” and “King Heroin”

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.

Throughout this life of this feature, I’ve featured several acts that wound up with two separate singles that peaked at #40 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. As best I can tell, only one artist accomplished the strange feat more than twice. Fittingly, it’s the person dubbed “The Hardest Working Man in Show Business” who did it, putting a total of four singles just over the line into the Top 40 and no higher up the chart.

Brown’s first single to peak at #40 was also one of his earliest entries into the Billboard promised land. “Bewildered” was written in 1936, by Teddy Powell and Leonard Whitcup, and enjoyed it first significant prominence in a version by Tommy Dorsey and His Orchestra, two years later. It officially entered the Brown repertoire on the 1960 album Think! Brown’s take on the material owes a little something to Amos Milburn’s pass at the same song, though the Godfather of Soul and his Famous Flames stir in a distinct doo-wop flavor that marks it as their own.

By my count, James Brown claimed forty-four Top 40 singles over the course of his career, but it would a couple years yet before the hits started coming with regularity. He faced the same fate as many black artists during the decade of the nineteen-sixties, as radio’s reluctance kept them largely relegated to R&B stations. Even a big hit could be followed by a string of singles that roared up the R&B charts with only limited crossover attention. It wasn’t until the middle of the decade, when “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag, Part 1” and “I Got You” punched their way into the Top 10 in quick succession. By 1967, it was clear that Brown was a huge force, including on the general pop charts. He was also gaining confidence about discounting pop song conventions to make the music he wanted, the way he wanted to. That included ignoring the accepted length of tracks with aspirations to the charts. Increasingly, he was making songs that were too long to fit onto a single side of a 45, so he just snapped them in half, releasing “Part 1” and “Part 2,” with a flip of the record required. He’d made it into the Top 10 again using that methodology with the song “Cold Sweat.” “Get It Together” followed, though with less success. “Get It Together, Part 1” peaked at #40.

On occasion, Brown split a song across two different singles, which was the case the next time one of his released finished it upward climb at #40. Brown expended a lot of his 1969 allotment of funk on the dance craze the Popcorn, releasing “The Popcorn,” “Mother Popcorn (You Got to Have a Mother For Me), Part 1,” and “Lowdown Popcorn.” It culminated with “Let a Man Come In and Do the Popcorn,” its two parts released on individual 45s. “Part 1” made it #21, second in popularity only to “Mother Popcorn” in the pantheon of James Brown popcorn songs. “Part 2” peaked at #40.

With the nineteen-seventies came a commitment to more politically-charged, socially conscious music, typified by Marvin Gaye’s phenomenal What’s Going On?, released in 1971. Brown, forever on trend, wasn’t about to let a trend pass him by, and he also explored more pointed material (which, to be fair, he’d been doing for some time, at least as far back as “Say It Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud”). Released as a single in 1972, “King Heroin” is Brown’s attempt at addressing the scourge of drug use. There was perhaps only so much appetite for a story-song about a hard opioid, no matter how earnest (while Brown eventually developed his own sordid habits, this was still during the era that he would regularly fire people from his band if they were caught doing drugs). It peaked at #40.

While Brown had a few more hits in him, they started coming less frequently and made less headway on the charts. His last single to make the Top 40 was at least something of a commercial triumph, if hardly one of his better songs. “Living in America,” from the soundtrack to Rocky IV, made it all the way to #4. Any consideration of Brown’s career and life after that gets into some truly bleak territory, so instead let’s just finish with the reminder that, whatever else, he sure could dance.

Previously…

“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
“Still Crazy After All These Years” and “One-Trick Pony” by Paul Simon
“I (Who Have Nothing)” by Sylvester
“Breakdown” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
“I’ll Be Your Shelter (In Time of Storm)” by Luther Ingram
“Spirit in the Night” by Manfred Mann’s Earth Band
“Don’t Ask Me Why” by Euryhtmics

Top 40 Smash Taps: “Don’t Ask Me Why”

Eurythmics might have been the most unorthodox act to claim comfortably regular residency on the pop charts in the nineteen-eighties, a time when the sudden, sizable influence of MTV already made things somewhat topsy-turvy. Of course, the music video channel contributed mightily to the U.K. duo’s rise, playing “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” so frequently that its single week at the top of the charts seems like a short-changing clerical error, at least until further scrutiny reveals that its path to the top was blocked by the Police’s “Every Breath You Take,” which held the #1 position for a remarkable eight weeks. Driven by David Stewart’s challenging art pop and Annie Lennox’s ahead-of-its-time icy androgyny, Eurhythmics weren’t primed for the safe zones of U.S. radio, and yet they racked up nine Top 40 singles. Their final release to cross the threshold did so just barely, peaking at #40. “Don’t Ask My Why” was the second single from their 1989 album, We Too Are One. None of the others from that same album so much as nibbled at Billboard Hot 100. Perhaps predictably, then, We Too Are One wound up as effectively the final Eurythmics album, at least until the inevitable reunion release, 1999’s Peace. Follow the band’s initial dissolution, both members went on to respectable solo careers, with Lennox getting the better of it, thanks to a astonishing voice that made even the weakest material sound beauteous and grand.

Previously…

“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
“Still Crazy After All These Years” and “One-Trick Pony” by Paul Simon
“I (Who Have Nothing)” by Sylvester
“Breakdown” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
“I’ll Be Your Shelter (In Time of Storm)” by Luther Ingram
“Spirit in the Night” by Manfred Mann’s Earth Band

Top 40 Smash Taps: “Spirit in the Night”

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.

I’m going to indulge in a bit of inside information here, providing the super-secret DVD commentary track backstory on this particular entry of our long-running series. Shortly after lauching the “Top 40 Smash Taps” posts some four-and-a-half years ago, I sat down to write about “Spirits in the Night,” the second of three Top 40 singles charted by Manfred Mann’s Earth band. As I recall, it was going to be the third or fourth entry. Then I started the process of researching this particular single, fully expecting the most interesting detail would be the most obvious: that it was the second cover of an early Bruce Springsteen song that the U.K. group took into the Top 40, following their 1977 chart-topper, “Blinded by the Light.” Instead, I found a history of the band’s relationship with “Spirits in the Night” so tortured and tangled that I could barely make sense of it. I wasn’t even sure I could find the right version of the song to share in the post. Though it charted later than “Blinded by the Light,” “Spirits in the Night” was the first Springsteen song that Manfred Mann’s Earth Band took a pass at, releasing a six-and-a-half minute version on their 1975 album, Nightingales & Bombers. An edit paring it down to under three minutes managed to chart on the Billboard Hot 100, stalling out at #97. Mick Rogers is the lead singer for the band’s original take on the song. By the time of “Blinded by the Light,” Rogers had been replaced in that role by Chris Thompson. When Warner Bros. decided another Springsteen cover was an advisable strategy for building on Manfred Mann’s Earth Band’s burst of chart success, they got Thompson into the studio to record a new vocal for the song which was then placed atop the music from the first recording. Just to confuse things a little further, the band and label couldn’t seem to get the title of song correct, occasionally pluralizing the first word and even issuing one pressing that named it as simply “Spirit.” There. I think that’s all correct. Luckily for me, every band, even Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, has its informational completists.

Previously…

“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
“Still Crazy After All These Years” and “One-Trick Pony” by Paul Simon
“I (Who Have Nothing)” by Sylvester
“Breakdown” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
“I’ll Be Your Shelter (In Time of Storm)” by Luther Ingram

Top 40 Smash Taps: “I’ll Be Your Shelter (In Time of Storm)”

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.

If a one-hit wonder is an artist who had a single trip to the Billboard Top 40, then Luther Ingram just barely sidesteps that designation. A staple of the R&B charts from the late nineteen-sixties to the end of the seventies — albeit one who had few major hits, even in that specialized realm — Ingram made it all the way up to #3 on the Hot 100 with “(If Loving You is Wrong) I Don’t Want to Be Right,” an aching, slow grind of a soul song, in 1972. For the follow-up single, Ingram went with another title with a parenthetical detail. “I’ll Be Your Shelter (In Time of Storm)” is more gentle and hopeful than its immediately predecessor, but invested with the same sweet soul goodness. It didn’t capture listeners the same way, stalling out at #40. It was Ingram’s last single to make the Top 40. Indeed, only his next single, “Always,” made any headway whatsoever on Billboard‘s main chart. Ingram kept recording into the nineteen-eighties and continued to perform on stage after that. He died in 2007, at the age of sixty-nine.

Previously…

“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
“Still Crazy After All These Years” and “One-Trick Pony” by Paul Simon
“I (Who Have Nothing)” by Sylvester
“Breakdown” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

Top 40 Smash Taps: “Breakdown”

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.

Tom Petty made his way into the Billboard Top 40 sixteen times, with and without the Heartbreakers (including twice with Stevie Nicks, but never as a Wilbury). His very first visit to the charts was with his group’s debut single, albeit not right away. “Breakdown” was issued in 1976, and completely stalled out on the charts, as did the band’s self-titled debut album. Initially rejected on their home turf, Petty and his crew had greater success in the U.K., leading them to concentrate their promotional efforts there for a time. It was only when the single was rereleased around a year later, after the band had faced similarly dismal commercial responses to “Anything That’s Rock ‘n’ Roll” and, amazingly, “American Girl,” that “Breakdown” edged its way up the charts, peaking at #40. According to Petty, it was only the intervention of Dwight Twilley that even made that possible. The original version of the track was around seven minutes long until Twilley heard Petty playing it in the studio and immediately told his labelmate that the guitar solo buried at the end was the hook he should build the entire song around. Petty called the band back into the studio, at the relatively inhuman hour of 4:00 a.m., and they took another pass at it, emerging with the tight two-and-a-half minutes that wound up on the record. Petty fell in and out of favor with pop radio programmers across the next twenty years or so, sometimes based on whether or not he landed in an eye-catching music video. Though he keeps delivering new music, it’s now been over twenty years since his last Top 40 hit.


Previously…

“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
“Still Crazy After All These Years” and “One-Trick Pony” by Paul Simon
“I (Who Have Nothing)” by Sylvester

Top 40 Smash Taps: “I (Who Have Nothing)”

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.

“I (Who Have Nothing)” reached the Billboard Top 40 on three different occasions. The first, and arguably now best known, version was by Ben E. King and released in 1963. Seven years later, Tom Jones carried the song close to the Top 10. By the end of the nineteen-seventies, every last page of the pop music songbook was up for grabs again, as long as the performer was ready to transform it into disco. In the case of this Italian song by way of Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, the person ready to turn the beat around with it was Sylvester. Born Sylvester James, Jr. the performer churned out a steady stream of singles through the second half of the decade, including a pair of tracks that topped the dance charts and crossed, ever so gingerly, in the main Top 40. “I (Who Have Nothing)” was the follow-up to those singles. It wound up as his final trip to the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at #40. While there was no more true crossover success, Sylvester remained a regular presence on the dance charts through the next decade, landing a #1 as late as 1986. Sylvester died in 1988, a casualty of the AIDS epidemic. Before his death, Sylvester became a vocal advocate, joining those demanding greater, more urgent attention to the quest for a cure, or at least viable treatment. Sylvester managed to keep that activism going posthumously, dictating that future royalties from his music be distributed to various AIDS charities in the San Francisco area.

Previously…

“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
“Still Crazy After All These Years” and “One-Trick Pony” by Paul Simon