So much was changing around me. Even when I thought I was settling in, I didn’t realize I was actually floating aimlessly through the days. The Top 20 songs from the July 5th, 1980 countdown were the only anchor I had, and knowing I could return to these songs time and again quelled the fears in me before they arose.
20. In America – Charlie Daniels Band
There are five Country songs on the countdown, but only four of them charted in the Country Top 40. This one is the highest at #20, and it will still move up another nine places. A song from a time when uniting the country still seemed like a reality, and it’s us vs. them meant the people vs. the government.
19. Should’ve Never Let You Go – Neil Sedaka & Dara Sedaka
No No No No! Neil, what are you doing? That’s your daughter. You’re singing a love song to your daughter. When you sing, Why did I have to write this song?, we say we have no idea and frankly don’t want to know.
The song was initially written and recorded as Should’ve Never Let Her Go on Neil’s 1978 LP All You Need Is The Music. He should have left it there, but Neil wanted to help his daughter out with her singing career, and thus, you get this. The vocals sound like they were taught by a junior high chorus teacher.
This ended up being Neil’s final Top 40 hit, and it didn’t help out Dara either. When she recorded and released her David Foster-produced debut album I’m Your Girlfriend in 1982, it didn’t even get a US release. And that’s a shame because there’s some great WestCoast pop on there performed by some heavy studio hitters, such as Steve Porcaro, Richard Page & Steve Lukather.
18. I’m Alive – Electric Light Orchestra
The soundtrack to Xanadu gave Urban Cowboy some competition that Summer, and here’s the first of two songs from that film. This was on the E.L.O. side, and if we’re comparing the two films based on music alone, I’m gonna favor this as an ELO & ONJ (and Tubes) fan.
17. Cars – Gary Numan
OHW – Gary was at the forefront of the New Wave synth movement. Recording a track like this in 1979 meant that you had to know your way around temperamental analog keyboards and have the knack for a catchy pop hook. It was bizarre to hear this on the countdown in 1980, but looking back on it, it’s weirder that it took so long for everyone else to catch up.
16. One Fine Day – Carole King
This was Carole’s first Top 40 hit since 1977’s Hard Rock Cafe and the only one in the 80s. It was written with her then-husband Gerry Goffin, and the Chiffons had the first hit recording of it reaching #5 in 1963. Carole’s version would hit #12.
Fun fact: Neil Sedaka and Carole dated in high school. He should’ve never let…..
15. Tired Of Toein’ The Line – Rocky Burnette
OHW – It’s the son of rock & Roll, or so sayeth Rocky, as he is the progeny of Johnny Burnette. This is a prime example of a forgotten 45 in which this rockabilly meets new wave stomper would eventually reach #8 but has disappeared not only from 80s classic stations but 80s reissue compilations as well.
14. Magic – Olivia Newton-John
The first single from the Xanadu soundtrack is still climbing the charts on its eventual path to the top, where it will stay there for a whole month. It also received high praise from John Lennon.
I remember being left alone for hours at a multiplex in the mall by myself. And while I was waiting for whatever movie my mom bought for me, I snuck into the theatre to see parts of Xanadu. I saw a good chunk of that movie and missed most of the other one. This was a piece of what I saw. After I got past the why is Andy Gibb in this film? thought, I saw Olivia roller skating to this song and just melted into my seat.
13. She’s Out Of My Life – Michael Jackson
The fourth single from Off The Wall is falling from its high of #10 last week. This was the first true ballad Michael had released since 1972’s Ben, but he was eight years older, and his maturity was evident in his singing. Listen to how perfectly he sings the phrasing of the lyrics and at the same time evokes deep emotion from his voice.
12. Shining Star – Manhattans
SXMFU – Big 80s on 8 starts to talk about the history of the Manhattans and mentions that their last hit was in 1975, Kiss & Say Goodbye. Ooops. That song was a #1 hit in the Summer of 1976. It will hit #4 later in the Summer and won an R&B Grammy for the group. No song brings back memories of that time more than this one.
Just take three minutes and forty seconds and bask in this sweet glory.
11. Let Me Love You Tonight – Pure Prarie League
PPL was toast by 1977, with members leaving, retiring, or just getting the hell away from the band. The bass player Michael Reilley decided to find new members and start over. His best replacement was their new lead singer and banjo player named Vince Gill. With Vince’s smooth vocal twang and a sax solo by David Sanborn, they took this soft rock track up to #10 on the pop charts and #1 on the AC charts.
10. Let’s Get Serious – Jermaine Jackson
Produced and written by Stevie Wonder, this was Jermaine Jackson’s biggest single as a solo artist. It was a Top 10 hit here in the States and in the UK. It spent six weeks at the top of the R&B charts making it the number one Soul song of 1980, better than his brother’s Rock With You.
9. Biggest Part Of Me – Ambrosia
The story goes that David Pack was sitting in the car waiting for his family to get their stuff together so that they could enjoy a pleasant 4th of July vacation. Being impatient, he went into his studio, started playing the piano, and the song just began to pour out of him. He finished it when he got back, and exactly one year later, he & his band Ambrosia have another Top 10 hit. It would also become their hugest smash, peaking at #3 and the biggest part of their setlist.
8. Cupid/I’ve Loved You For A Long Time – Spinners
If a medley worked the first time, why not try again? This time the Spinners mash-up Sam Cooke’s Cupid with a Michael Zager-penned I’ve Loved You For A Long Time. It was an across-the-board smash reaching #4 on the Pop charts. This was their last Top 40 hit.
7. Steal Away – Robbie Dupree
THW, SXMFU – Mark Goodman tries to be funny and sing What A Fool Believes during the outro alluding to its similarity, then messes up and says that the Doobie Brothers song he just sang would be released two years after Steal Away. Good job.
Note To Sirius XM, if you need a part-time copy editor, please send me an email. I’m sure I can proof the written and recorded copy quickly and efficiently but mostly correctly.
6. Against The Wind – Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band
Back in the day when Bob Seger released a new single, I figured it was just his thing to always write songs about his youth. Now I realize it was more than that. He was really trying to capture a feeling he had in the past and figured that if he kept writing the same song over and over, attacking it from different angles, polishing it, and reforming it, that one day he would perfect it. I feel like he finally did it with Like A Rock, but he comes very close here.
5. Little Jeannie – Elton John
There was a family who moved into the house across the street from us in the late 70s. They had two daughters, the oldest a few years younger than me and her sister, a toddler. Sometimes we would go into their backyard when they had a babysitter and sit on their swing set talking and playing games.
One night the mom came running over to our house screaming with her two kids, her face puffy and bloodied. Between her choked tears, she swore she’s was never going back home. I had never witnessed anything like that, and my logical brain could not comprehend what I was seeing or hearing.
Her name was Jeannie, and I think of her just about every time I hear this song and wonder if she made it out alive.
4. It’s Still Rock And Roll To Me – Billy Joel
The top four songs are in the same position as last week, with Billy poised to rocket to the top and get his first number one.
Now I love some Billy Joel. But I cannot defend his defensiveness, and I’m not sure which side he stands on. He tries to say that music’s all the same and that nothing is new, even as he classifies it differently. He chides those who want to learn or just spend money on better stereo equipment. Basically, what the ignorant call today “elitists.” If there was a more straightforward, less threatening intention there, it’s lost in the delivery.
I thought white males were afraid of disco. What they were terrified of was newer versions of themselves.
3. The Rose – Bette Midler
The Rose was written by a cabaret singer and actress named Amanda McBroom. I looked her up to see what else she wrote, and there’s not much else. It looks like the bulk of the hundreds of composition credits she’s accrued over time have been from different versions of this song. I wonder how much money she makes annually for writing it.
Although not well known, Amanda had an interesting career. Not only did she act on an episode of Taxi, M*A*S*H and Magnum P.I., to name a few, but she was also a musical guest on the Tonight Show in 1983.
2. Funkytown – Lipps Inc.
OHW – I remember being driven to soccer practice by a friend’s mom, and this song came on the radio. She cranked it up and started singing as loud as she could Won’t you take me to…..funky… towwwwwn? We thought it was hilarious. Not because of her singing but that an adult knew the song existed. I was so insular in my thinking that it never occurred to me that a grown-up would like anything popular.
1. Coming Up – Paul McCartney and Wings (2 wks at #1)
Paul McCartney has had #1 hits with the Beatles, Wings, Paul McCartney & Wings, Paul & Linda McCartney, Paul & Stevie Wonder, and Paul & Michael Jackson. Paul has never had a US number one hit credited to himself alone. Even when he tried to, as he did with this single, radio flipped it and preferred Paul with the band.
OHW – One-Hit-Wonder
THW – Two-Hit-Wonder
PFK – Perfect for karaoke
RAR – Rite-Aid Rock
RFW – Ripped from Wikipedia
SXMFU – Sirius XM Mistake