On April 14, 1978, a Friday, I woke, got ready for school and was out the door at what seemed like an ungodly hour, but not before eating breakfast and downing some orange juice. I was a 7th grader, i.e. 12 years old, and finishing the last of two years at Loller Middle School in Hatboro. (Unlike many other school districts, the Hatboro-Horsham School District had two middle schools: one for 6th- and 7th-graders, and one for 8th- and 9th-graders.) Anyway, given that the temps were chilly that morn – the day’s low was 44 degrees Fahrenheit – and I had a near mile trek, I likely wore my winter coat, as well as a button-down shirt. I was also bedecked in corduroy pants (denim jeans were banned by the school principal).
The biggest concern in my life: making the Honor Roll, which I’d done in all the previous marking periods at Loller. The second concern, as I charted here: A little thing called rock ’n’ roll. I’d just caught the bug, though my idea of “rock ’n’ roll” was more pop-oriented.
But my concerns were not the concerns of the nation. Inflation and the ever-increasing cost of living dominated the news. Here’s the ABC Evening News from eight days prior:
I’ve written about 1978, and many of the issues that dominated the headlines before, so won’t go in-depth here. Suffice it to say, however, that times were tough and getting tougher. (Not much had changed since January, in other words.)
And, with that, here’s today’s Top 5: 40 Years Ago Today… (courtesy of Weekly Top 40; the chart is for the 15th).
1) The Bee Gees – “Night Fever.” The Brothers Gibb ruled the singles charts this week – as they had for much of the year, just as Saturday Night Fever ruled the albums chart. “Stayin’ Alive” had hit No. 1 on February 4th, and remained there for four weeks, when it was displaced by younger brother Andy’s “(Love Is) Thicker Than Water.” That tune was bumped out two weeks later by “Night Fever,” which held onto No. 1 for eight weeks. (And, as with most of the previous weeks, “Stayin’ Alive” was No. 2.)
2) Yvonne Elliman – “If I Can’t Have You.” Entering the Top 5 is this addictive pop gem, which was written by Barry, Maurice and Robin Gibb. (It and “How Deep Is Your Love” are my favorites of the Fever songs, for what that’s worth.)
3) Jackson Browne – “Running on Empty.” Rising to No. 15 (from 18) is this classic tune, which I never tire of.
4) Wings – “With a Little Luck.” Jumping from No. 57 to 17 is this ode to optimism and love. As I’ve noted before, this is the song that fast-tracked my music fandom. I still love it.
5) Dolly Parton – “Two Doors Down.” The country legend wasn’t a legend at this point in her career. The previous year, however, she’d finally found success on the pop charts with the title track to her Here You Come Again album. This song, the follow-up single (which ranks at No. 36), is actually a re-working of the original album version, and eventually replaced the original on the album itself, as well. (It has more of a pop sheen.)
And one bonus…
6) The Patti Smith Group – “Because the Night.” Entering the charts at No. 82 is this timeless tune written by Bruce Springsteen and recast by Patti Smith.