Most of the songs on this countdown from September 27th, 1980 feel like a carry over from that Summer of watching the New York Cosmos, doctors appointments, hospital visits and long stretches left alone at the Sunrise Mall to watch movies. I was framing my changing world to a Top 40 soundtrack in order to cope with my life. I didn’t know it then but this period of life would inform by thorough immersion into WestCoast music many year later. Music was my medicine and so, here’s the first twenty doses.
[I also added a new abbreviation to the key called PD as in previously discussed, so you can click the link to see what I originally talked about regarding the song.]
40. Irene Cara – Out Here On My Own
Here’s the first of two songs in the Top 40 from the Fame soundtrack, both sung by Irene Cara. If someone was doing a vocal recital in the early 80s, chances are they sang this song.
39. Elton John – Sartorial Eloquence (Don’t Ya Wanna Play This Game No More?)
21 At 33 was the album that featured songs with lyrics by four different songwriters. The words on this one are written by new wave artist Tom Robinson known for the songs 2-4-6-8 Motorway and Glad to Be Gay, an early LGBT anthem. This one is at its peak this week.
38. Charlie Daniels Band – The Legend Of Wooley Swamp
Charlie’s at it again with another countrified tale that doing well on the Pop charts, eventually scaring itself up to #31. The legend is that a trio of rednecks kill an old man for his mason jars full of money, dump him in the swamp and then they die in quicksand. But what happened to the money? No one knows.
37. Billy Joel – It’s Still Rock And Roll To Me
PD – Billy’s first #1 song takes me back to those of days of my first swimming lessons during that 1980 Summer. Damn that water was cold. We would also learn that Billy doesn’t know how to deliver a metaphor subtly. It would get worse as the decade worn on, but his Glass Houses album cover is a great early example. And yes, that’s his house.
36. Jackson Browne – Boulevard
This former Top 20 single finds a member of one generation singing down to the lost kids of a younger generation with lines like no one owes you nothin’ and nobody hands you any guarantee without even asking them what they want or what they’re looking for. Punk was not created to kill disco. Disco had its own power and was an inclusive movement. Punk was created to kill this.
35. Willie Nelson – On The Road Again
After his turn as Wendell Hickson in 1979’s The Electric Horseman, Sweet Willie headlined his first film in 1980 called Honeysuckle Rose. The producer needed Willie to cough up a theme song for the movie so he wrote one on the back of an airplane barf bag. It will be his 6th #1 Country hit and a future Top 20, his first.
34. S.O.S. Band – Take Your Time (Do It Right)
OHW, PD – This Atlanta R&B band used to be called Santa Monica for no apparent reason. Maybe it was due to the popularity of WestCoast music in the late 70s but this isn’t a jam you drunk Riunite on ice to. You should be sweaty after this is over.
33. Larsen Feiten Band – Who’ll Be The Fool Tonight
OHW – Session musicians Neil Larsen & Buzz Feiten formed a band in New York called Full Moon and released an album in 1972. Eventually they both headed out West and teamed up again in 1980 forming the Larsen Feiten Band. This classic Westcoast album featured this jazzy laid-back horn laden single which will sashay up to #29. And just to confuse anyone following along, their 1982 LP was called Full Moon featuring Neil Larsen & Buzz Feiten.
32. Cliff Richard – Dreaming
Cliff was in the middle of his only fruitful time in the US during the late 70s/ early 80s. He leaps twenty notches into the Top 40 with a song co-written by Leo Sayer. This will be his third and last Top 10 hit.
31. Al Stewart – Midnight Rocks
It’s funny to think of any Al Stewart song using the word “rocks” in the title unless you think of a hammock and how it rocks in a gentle breeze. But then we are weeks away from Neil Diamond using it as well. It is on its way to a #24 high and will be Al’s final Top 40 song.
30. Donna Summer – The Wanderer
The disco backlash did not kill the Queen of disco. It only made her stronger. Her big switch from Casablanca to the newly formed Geffen Records will be celebrated by this future #3 smash, though less widely remembered compared to her other hits. And it has nothing to do with Dion.
29. Benny Mardones – Into The Night
OHW, PD – Are you a one hit wonder if you have a hit twice with the same song? I think in Benny’s case, we just need to call him a repeat offender.
28. Amy Holland – How Do I Survive
OHW – Here’s another Westcoast singer who was nominated for a Best New Artist Grammy in 1981. This future #22 track, produced by her future husband Michael McDonald, was originally recorded by the Bliss Band from Atlanta.
27. Olivia Newton-John – Magic
PD – The former #1 is holding tight at #27 for another week, cause we couldn’t get enough of roller skatin’ Liv, which also features producer & songwriter John Farrar playing all of the keyboards and guitars. He was also about to release his first solo album, which you can read more about here.
26. Christopher Cross – Sailing
PD – Sailing is the first number one pop song to be recorded digitally. That’s why it sounds so good.
25. Dionne Warwick – No Night So Long
If some dude is bothering Dionne at the bar. this is what she tells them – No night. So long! Otherwise this doesn’t make any sense.
24. Rolling Stones – Emotional Rescue
PD – This is falling from its top of #3. How did it get up so high? Even the Stones were perplexed. They didn’t play the song live for decades until just a few years ago. At least Mick’s vocals inspired a few tracks on the New Radicals album…
23. Boz Scaggs – Look What You’ve Done To Me
PFK, RAR – Is there a more Westcoast song on this countdown? Check out this lineup: Toto’s Steve Lukather on guitar, Mike Porcaro on bass and Jeff Porcaro on drums, then the Eagles’ Don Felder on guitar, Glenn Frey, Don Henley & Timothy B. Schmit on backing vocals plus David Foster on keyboards and production.
And depending on when you bought your 45, it will either list Boz as the sole writer or Boz & David Foster. One more thing: the backing vocals on the Urban Cowboy version are by women not Eagles: Venetta Fields, Paulette Brown and Julia Waters.
22. Carly Simon – Jesse
Dick Clark: “OK we’re back on the $50,000 Pyramid. Our returning champ, Brandi will try to move up the pyramid. Her partner McLean Stevenson will receive. And here’s your first clue.”
Brandi: “Cut fresh flowers. Make the wine cold. Change the sheets. Put on cologne.”
McLean: “Things Carly Simon won’t do for Jesse.” [ugly buzzer sound] “Oh, things Carly Simon will always do for Jesse.” [ugly buzzer sound] “Ok, pass.”
21. Natalie Cole – Someone That I Used To Love
This was Natalie’s first Top 40 in almost three years, since Our Love charted. This is at its high of #21 and it would be another seven years before her next Top 40.
- OHW – One-Hit-Wonder
- THW – Two-Hit-Wonder
- PD – Previously Discussed
- PFK – Perfect for Karaoke
- RAR – Rite-Aid Rock
- RFW – Ripped from Wikipedia
- STA – Second Time Around