Welcome to part three of the 1977 Hideaway 100, collectively celebrating the fortieth anniversary of a hundred of my favorites, ten songs at a time. If it's not already apparent, only some of these songs were favorites in 1977 because as an eleven-year-old Top 40 fan, my tastes were not that sophisticated and I dismissed many songs off-hand and only later came to appreciate them. So rather than a list of songs I liked in 1977, it's a list of songs I like that came out in 1977. Today, we're up to numbers 80-71:
In 1976, I bought my first ChicagoⓇ 45 "If You Leave Me Now" because Peter Cetera's lead vocals captivated me and the same can be said of "Baby, What A Big Surprise" to a lesser degree though the tempo and mood of the latter song are more upbeat than the former. As you would expect, WLS played the hometown Chicago® quite a bit and their songs always sounded good to me via amplitude modulation (AM) but when I rediscovered the band's extensive pre-'80s catalog again in glorious stereo and through headphones no less, I was taken aback at how good they sounded - it was like hearing the songs again for the first time. "Baby, What A Big Surprise" peaked at number 12 on WLS, number 8 in Record World and number 4 in both Billboard and Cashbox.
Billy Joel's 1977 album The Stranger is an undeniable monster classic and you'd have to search hard and long to find another album that opens as strong as this one does - the first seven tracks are legit hits even if some of them never charted. After this list was finished for the third time, I was worried I had made an error by not including more Billy Joel singles from The Stranger so I double checked the Hot 100 chart debut dates over at Hot 100 Singles Chronology, one of the four primary reference sources utilized in making this list and, sure enough, of the four charted singles, only "Just The Way You Are" made the Hot 100 in 1977 - the others followed in 1978. It's a beautiful ballad, one I was not too fond of in 1977, and as I loved and lost my way through my teens, the song became a favorite of mine. "Just The Way You Are" climbed to number 3 in Billboard and Record World and made it to number 2 in Cashbox and on WLS.
Dad liked Waylon Jennings from way back so Ol' Waylon was just another album for him. He played it just as much as he played Waylon's previous studio album Are You Ready For The Country. But it was in the Summer of 1977, sitting on a stool at the counter or in a booth close to the kitchen at Cow Talk Steakhouse that I fell for "Luckenbach, Texas (Back to the Basics of Love)" as it was played repeatedly on the jukebox. The lyrics offer a great sentiment and Waylon's delivery has just the right amount of gravitas and then Ol' Willie comes in on the final verse. I've read that Waylon grew to despise the song but I still love to sing along with it in my best approximation of Waylon when it comes up on shuffle. I don't recall ever hearing it on WLS but according to their surveys it only charted in July and August, peaking at number 32 and I was in Navasota that summer, usually at Cow Talk where my both of my Texas grandparents worked. "Luckenbach, Texas (Back to the Basics of Love)" made it to number 26 in Record World, 25 in Billboard, and 23 in Cashbox.
Bob Welch was a guitarist and frequent songwriter for Fleetwood Mac from 1971-1974 and one of his songs "Sentimental Lady" was featured on the group's 1972 album Bare Trees. (If you were unaware that Fleetwood Mac existed before Buckingham and Nicks joined please kindly see yourself to the door. This is not the blog you're looking for.) That song is something of a dud with no spark, no energy and notable only for the presence of Christine McVie's distinctive voice in the background. Of course, as an eleven-year-old, I knew none of this. The 1977 version of "Sentimental Lady" was a song I heard on the radio and sang along with - correctly, once I learned the lyrics on page 14 of the February 1978 issue of Song Hits magazine with baby bee gee Andy Gibb on the cover - I never understood why or where he "sent a mental lady". Those lyrics are still somewhat hippie trippy ("14 joys and a will to be merry") forty years later but I like 'em and this newer version of the song is far from a dud as Welch brings a more pronounced vocal and help from McVie on background vocals, Mick Fleetwood on drums and Lindsey Buckingham on guitar - Welch plays bass on the updated "Sentimental Lady" which topped out at number 8 in Billboard and on WLS, 7 in Record World and 4 in Cashbox.
Man, this is a sweet song! My first memory of hearing "You Can't Turn Me Off (In The Middle Of Turning Me On)" was on K-Tel's Music Magic album where it paired quite nicely with the track that followed it, Odyssey's "Native New Yorker". Later, it was featured on K-Tels' Super Star Collection as well as Rhino's Soul Hits of the '70s: Didn't It Blow Your Mind, Vol. 19 and Time-Life's Solid Gold Soul 1977. "You Can't Turn Me Off (In The Middle Of Turning Me On)" was the group's first and biggest hit, they recorded on Motown's Gordy label and they had eight further Top 80 hits on the R&B charts through 1983. "You Can't Turn Me Off (In The Middle Of Turning Me On)" stalled at number 33 on WLS and managed to peak at number 12 in Record World, Cashbox, and Billboard.
A little too mellow for my tastes in 1977, "Slip Slidin' Away", like a lot of Paul Simon's songs, has revealed its quiet beauty to me as time has passed. Great background vocals on this one (courtesy of the group at number 70 on the 1977 Hideaway 100) and, as you might have surmised, it has found a home on that playlist of songs I listen to at night while the stars stare down at me from the dark heavens. Back in 1977, I would have told you this was no "50 Ways To Leave Your Lover" but if you asked me now I'd tell you it was a song of truth and yet another testament to Simon's masterful songwriting abilities. "Slip Slidin' Away" slid up to number 11 in Record World, number 6 in Cashbox and number 5 in Billboard. It slipped onto the final WLS survey of 1977 and peaked in early 1978 at number 13.
Another laid back and mellow track which is somewhat ironic given the lyrics about "traveling twice the speed of sound." "Just A Song Before I Go" may well have been the first Crosby, Stills & Nash track I remember hearing as Dad wasn't into them and they hadn't had a hit on Top 40 radio since 1970. The guitar is just right, the harmonies are tight and the lyrics tell the simplest story, one we can all relate to, that of leaving loved ones behind. And then the song is over - at 2:14, it is the shortest song on the 1977 Hideaway 100, nudging out the number 52 song by a mere six seconds! "Just A Song Before I Go" flew to number 7 in Billboard, 8 in Cashbox, 12 in Record World and number 13 on WLS.
Though I've never felt the sentiment of "It's Sad To Belong" while with my current lady - thirty-three years in love - there may have been twinges of it in previous relationships. Listening to this song expressly for this countdown, I didn't really care for the lyrics but the sweet voices of Dan and John helped me get over it right quick. Researching the song, I discovered something I never realized: the duo didn't write any of their hits! As for this song, it was written by Randy Goodrum, who would go on to have huge success with his songs sung by the likes of Anne Murray ("You Needed Me"), Michael Johnson ("Bluer Than Blue"), Steve Perry ("Oh Sherrie" and "Foolish Heart"), DeBarge ("Who's Holding Donna Now?") and Toto ("I'll Be Over You"). "It's Sad To Belong" charted lowest in Billboard at number 21, then number 19 in Record World, 15 on WLS and 13 in Cashbox.
The gentle, flute-led country rock of The Marshall Tucker Band's "Heard It In A Love Song" aka "Purdy Little Love Song" (as Dad used to sing it) is another gift from the Cow Talk jukebox, getting extensive plays in the Summers of 1977 and 1978. "Heard It In A Love Song" lyrically combines the sentiments - leaving loved ones behind and hoping the grass is greener - of the previous two songs here on the countdown into a great track you can sing along to even if you don't sing the right words. "Heard It In A Love Song" peaked at number 10 in Cashbox, 14 in Billboard, 16 in Record World and 22 on WLS.
I guess I missed this song on WLS as well because it hit the stations surveys in July and I was out of town on business; the business of being an eleven-year-old kid spending the Summer with his grandparents! Even after Supertramp hit big with Breakfast in America in 1978, "Give A Little Bit" was still getting spins on WLRW, the glorious sounding FM station Dad listened to out of Champaign. That was where we heard American Top 40 every week though during the Summers, I usually went without. That's right, as much as I gush about growing up listening to WLS and AT40, I never heard them in the Summertime because I was usually in Navasota, Texas or, sometimes, wherever my other grandparents lived, including Arkansas, Missouri, and Texas. There was that one Summer when both sets of grandparents lived in Navasota as they had back in 1965 when my parents met and began dating. I liked "Give A Little Bit" then and I like it now and so did a lot of other people as the song ending up at number 15 in Billboard, number 20 in Record World, 12 in Cashbox and a generous 25 on WLS during an eight-week run.