Saturday, March 30, 1974

ZZ Top “La Grange” charted

La Grange

ZZ Top

Writer(s): Billy Gibbons, Dusty Hill, Frank Beard (see lyrics here)

First Charted: March 30, 1974

Peak: 41 US, 24 CB, 33 HR, 24 RR, 1 CL, 34 CN, 15 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

Sales (in millions): -- US, 0.2 UK

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 264.42 video, 396.46 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

ZZ Top was formed in 1969 in Houston, Texas. The blues-style rock band consisted of singer/guitarist Billy Gibbons, singer/bassist Dusty Hill, and drummer Frank Beard. “The trio had the attention of their peers right from the start;” UCR Jimi Hendrix referred to Gibbons as “America’s best young guitarist.” UCR They were also “developing a reputation as a powerful live band.” UCR

However, they did not find commercial success right away. Their 1971 debut failed to chart and the follow-up, 1972’s Rio Grande Mud, stalled at #104 on the Billboard album chart. Their fortunes changed with 1973’s Tres Hombres, which reached #8 and went gold, largely because of the success of the group’s “La Grange.” The song just missed the top-40 on the Billboard Hot 100, but became an album-rock staple and the group’s “ubiquitous musical calling card.” UCR

The song is “a loving lyrical tribute to Texas’s favorite little whorehouse,” UCR a brothel later known as the Chicken Ranch and celebrated in the Broadway play and film The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas. WK “It’s a testament to both the song’s immediate appeal and enduring quality that despite all this airplay and multi-media placement, it’s still a thrill every time Gibbons launches into his deep growl for that famous intro: ‘Rumour spreadin’ a-’round in that Texas town / ‘Bout that shack outside La Grange ...’” UCR In a bit of irony, the intent to immortalize Miss Edna’s boarding house got it shut down. DT

The song’s groove is based on John Lee Hooker’s “Boogie Chillen.” WK “That fuzz sound in the lead and in the front and back end of the composition is just pure tube distortion.’” UCR Cash Box called the song “a hard driving delight certain to satisfy those fans of heavy blues.” WK


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First posted 8/3/2022; last updated 4/1/2023.

Friday, March 22, 1974

Eagles’ On the Border released

First posted 3/26/2008; updated 10/17/2020.

On the Border


Released: March 22, 1974

Peak: 17 US, 28 UK, 12 CN, 27 AU

Sales (in millions): 2.0 US, 0.06 UK, 4.5 world (includes US and UK)

Genre: country rock

Tracks: Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. Already Gone (Robb Strandland/Jack Temphcin) [4:13] (5/4/74, 32 US, 17 CB, 2 CL, 12 CN)
  2. You Never Cry Like a Lover
  3. Midnight Flyer (Paul Craft) [3:58]
  4. My Man
  5. On the Border (Don Henley/Bernie Leadon/Glenn Frey) [4:28] (17 CL)
  6. James Dean (Jackson Browne/Glenn Frey/Don Henley/J.D. Souther) [3:40] (9/7/74, 77 US, 49 CB, 10 CL, 56 CN)
  7. Ol’ ‘55 (Tom Waits) [4:22]
  8. Is It True
  9. Good Day in Hell
  10. Best of My Love (Don Henley/Glenn Frey/J.D. Souther) [4:35] (11/30/74, 11 US, 4 CB, 1 CL, 11 AC, 11 CN)

Total Running Time: 40:25

The Players:

  • Glenn Frey (vocals, guitar, piano)
  • Don Henley (vocals, drums)
  • Bernie Leadon (guitar, vocals, banjo, mandolin, dobro)
  • Randy Meisner (bass, vocals)
  • Don Felder (guitar)


3.755 out of 5.00 (average of 20 ratings)


About the Album:

“The Eagles began recording their third album in England with producer Glyn Johns, as they had their first two albums, but abandoned the sessions after completing two acceptable tracks. Johns, it is said, tended to emphasize the group’s country elements and its harmonies, while the band, in particular Glenn Frey and Don Henley, wanted to take more of a hard rock direction…[so] they reconvened with a new producer, Bill Szymczyk, who had produced artists like B.B. King and, more significantly, Joe Walsh.” AMG

“But the resulting album is not an outright rock effort by any means. Certainly, Frey and Henley got what they wanted with Already Gone, the lead-off track, which introduces new band member Don Felder as one part of the twin guitar solo that recalls the Allman Brothers Band; James Dean, a rock & roll song on the order of ‘Your Mama Don’t Dance’; and Good Day in Hell, which is strongly reminiscent of Joe Walsh songs like ‘Rocky Mountain Way’.’” AMG

“But the album also features the usual mixture of styles typical of an Eagles album. For example, Midnight Flyer, sung by Randy Meisner, is modern bluegrass; My Man is Bernie Leadon’s country-rock tribute to the recently deceased Gram Parsons; and Ol’ 55 is one of the group’s well-done covers of a tune by a singer-songwriter labelmate, in this case Tom Waits.” AMG

“Like most successful groups, the Eagles combined many different elements, and their third album, which looked back to their earlier work and anticipated their later work, was a transitional effort that combined even more styles than most of their records did.” AMG The title track “points the band in a new R&B direction that was later pursued more fully.” AMG Meanwhile, the more adult contemporary-focused Best of My Love became the band’s first chart-topper.

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Saturday, March 2, 1974

Roberta Flack won Grammys for Song and Record of the Year

Killing Me Softly with His Song

Roberta Flack

Writer(s): Charles Fox, Norman Gimbel, Lori Lieberman (see lyrics here)

First Charted: January 20, 1973

Peak: 15 US, 13 CB, 13 HR, 2 RB, 6 UK, 13 CN, 12 AU, 5 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, -- UK, 1.0 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 5.0 radio, 8.3 video, 158.82 streaming

Killing Me Softly

The Fugees

First Charted: March 2, 1996

Peak: 2a US, 11 RR, 30 AC, 20 A40, 15 RB, 15 UK, 17 AU, 13 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): -- US, 1.46 UK, 2.98 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 0.4 radio, 227.0 video, 496.83 streaming

Awards (Roberta Flack):

Click on award for more details.

Awards (Fugees):

Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

At the 16th Grammy Awards on March 2, 1974, Roberta Flack took home the prizes for Song and Record of the Year. She owes this monster hit to Don McLean – and airline headsets.

Folk singer Lori Lieberman was at a Don McLean show at the Troubadour in Los Angeles when she was inspired to write a poem RS500 – but not by “American Pie” or McLean’s other big hit, “Vincent.” No, she heard album track “Empty Chairs,” and thought, “Whoa! This person knows me!” TC Unsure how to put the poem into lyric form, TC she showed it to two men she was working with at the time: Gimbel and Fox of Happy Days fame. RS500

She recorded the song and released it as a single, but didn’t take off – well, that is, until it was literally lifted off the ground in its inclusion on a tape of music for airline headsets. SJ Roberta Flack’s curiosity was peaked when she saw the song title in an in-flight magazine while on a flight from L.A. to New York. SJ She says she “absolutely freaked” RS500 and knew she had to cover the song. TC

She and producer Quincy Jones spent three months polishing the track in the studio RS500 to create the “lushy romantic and forlorn atmosphere.” TC The result was her second chart-topper, three Grammy wins, the biggest song of 1973, WHC and, according to Blender magazine, is the eleventh most performed song ever. TC

More than 20 years later, the Fugees revived the song with the intention “to bring musicality back to hip-hop.” HL Their version became a big radio hit in 1996 and even lifted a remix of Flack’s original into the dance club play charts.


  • DMDB Encyclopedia entry for Roberta Flack
  • DMDB Encyclopedia entry for The Fugees
  • TC Toby Creswell (2005). 1001 Songs: The Great Songs of All Time. Thunder’s Mouth Press: New York, NY. Pages 387-8.
  • HL Michael Heatley and Spencer Leigh (1998). Behind the Song: The Stories of 100 Great Pop & Rock Classics. London, England: Blandford Books. Page 70.
  • SJ Bob Shannon and John Javna (1986). Behind the Hits: Inside Stories of Classic Pop and Rock and Roll. New York, NY; Warner Brothers, Inc. Page 164.
  • WHC Joel Whitburn (1999). A Century of Pop Music. Menomonee Falls, WI; Record Research, Inc. Page 100.

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Last updated 11/12/2022.

Terry Jacks hit #1 with “Seasons in the Sun”

Seasons in the Sun

Terry Jacks

Writer(s): Jacques Brel, Rod McKuen (see lyrics here)

Released: December 1973

First Charted: January 5, 1974

Peak: 13 US, 12 CB, 13 HR, 16 RR, 11 AC, 12 CL, 14 UK, 14 CN, 14Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 3.0 US, -- UK, 14.0 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 2.0 radio, 54.0 video, 55.01 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

“Seasons in the Sun” originated as a French song called “Le Moribond” (“The Dying Man”). It was written in 1961 by Belgian singer/songwriter Jacques Brel. As Terry Jacks explained it, the original version was “about an old man who was dying of a broken heart because his best friend was screwing his wife…He was saying goodbye to his priest and his best friend and his wife…[singing to her] ‘I’ve had a lonely life. You cheated lots of times but then I forgave you in the end, though your lover was my friend.’” SF

In 1963, American singer and poet Rod McKuen rewrote the lyrics in English to portray a dying man’s farewell to his loved ones. WK The Kingston Trio recorded it in 1964 and this is the version Jacks heard. He rewrote the song in honor of a friend who died from leukemia. In Jacks’ version, a dying man says goodbye to a childhood friend, his father, and Michelle, who seems to either be a daughter or niece.

In 1973, Jacks was working with the Beach Boys and suggested the song. According to Jacks, he could never get all of them together and it never got finished. As he said, “I would put so much energy into this thing and the stress was really getting to me.” SF Jacks recorded it himself, but sat on it. When listening to a tape at his house to find songs to release, a newspaper delivery boy heard it. He asked if he could bring his friends over to hear it. Thanks to their enthusiasm, Jacks decided to release it. FB

The song has been criticized as overly sentimental, even ranked by a CNN poll in 2006 as one of the worst songs ever recorded. WK That didn’t bother fans, though. Jacks’ version went to #1 in more than a dozen countries and was ranked the #2 song of 1974 by Billboard. It was the first song to be given a gold certification by the RIAA for sales of a million copies. SF It also became the biggest-selling single in Canadian history. SF


  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for Terry Jacks
  • FB Fred Bronson (2003). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits (5th edition). Billboard Books: New York, NY. Page 358.
  • SF Songfacts
  • WK Wikipedia

First posted 2/13/2021; last updated 4/3/2022.