Originally written December 27, 2013.
Hey, loyal readers! Did you get everything you wanted for Christmas? Me neither. So let’s celebrate the end of the year with a Top 10 flashback!
The charts from smaller markets can be interesting. Some just go by Billboard magazine, but others actually take the pulse of the city they’re in. The station we’re featuring appears to have used the latter approach. 590 WARM was THE Top 40 station in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, and they still survive today with a satellite-fed oldies format. This week we will look at their final top 10 of 1968.
So, auld lang syne, my dear! Survey dated December 29, 1968.
Derek – Cinnamon
Derek was Johnny Cymbal, who had a hit in late 1962 with this:
Quite a progression, don’t you think?
Leapy Lee – Little Arrows
What a goofy song. I don’t remember it at all, but I have heard of it. No way would this fly here in the home of Motown.
Dion – Abraham, Martin, and John
I referred to this one a month ago in the JFK flashback post. A wistful tribute to great men who were cut down in their prime.
Classics IV – Stormy
Dennis Yost, who died in December 2008, had a string of hits in the late 60’s with his group Classics IV. “Spooky” was their best known, with this one probably second. Some members of the group became Atlanta Rhythm Section in the late 70’s, while Yost kept Classics IV going into the 90’s.
Rascals – A Ray Of Hope
The Rascals were one of the great blue-eyed soul groups. This is one of their lesser-known hits, and damn, if you didn’t know who this was, you’d swear they were black. Until the weird ending, anyway. Black folks wouldn’t have done that.
Glen Campbell – Wichita Lineman
Oh, I definitely remember this one well from my childhood. Written by Jimmy Webb, who also blessed us with “MacArthur Park” and “Up, Up, And Away.” You don’t hear this on the radio any more, but I still consider it a classic.
Aretha Franklin – See-Saw
Not one of her better-known songs. Sounds like a retread of “Chain Of Fools.” Still, they don’t call Aretha the Queen of Soul for nothing.
Stevie Wonder – For Once In My Life
The Motown sound on full display here, featuring the unmistakable bass playing of James Jamerson. As good as this is, Stevie’s best years were yet to come.
Supremes/Temptations – I’m Gonna Make You Love Me
I’ll spoil it here and tell you that the top three were all Motown artists, and Aretha Franklin at #4 is frequently mistaken for one. Good showing for my hometown. Good song, too – Berry Gordy didn’t let shitty music leave his building.
Now it’s time for this week’s “oh, wow” song, a song from further down the list that isn’t heard any more, but should be. This song debuted this week on WARM at #33 and, like Derek/Johnny Cymbal above, was done by a doo-wop artist who had reinvented himself. Even the names are similar – Johnny Maestro was the lead singer for the Crests, whose biggest hit was in 1959 with “Sixteen Candles.” Ten years later, here he was with Brooklyn Bridge singing “The Worst That Could Happen.”
Damn, I love this song. You can really feel the sadness.
Well, you already know what label had this week’s number one, so let’s see what they loved best in Scranton and Wilkes-Barre to close out 1968:
Surprised? Me neither. This was Motown’s greatest hit, period.
All right, everyone, happy new year! Let’s keep this thing going in 2014!