Saturday, December 16, 1978

Kenny Rogers’ “The Gambler” topped the country charts

The Gambler

Kenny Rogers

Writer(s): Don Schlitz (see lyrics here)


First Charted: October 28, 1978


Peak: 16 US, 13 CB, 18 HR, 21 RR, 3, 13 CW, 22 UK, 8 CN, 25 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): -- US, 0.6 UK


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 225.13 video, 198.71 streaming

Awards:

Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

In 1976, Don Schlitz was in his early 20s and working as a computer operator while trying his hand at songwriting. TR In August 1976, he wrote “The Gambler,” a song about in which the narrator is on a train with a gambler who offers advice such as “the secret to survivin’ is knowing what to throw away, and knowing what to keep.” WK

Schlitz, who wasn’t a poker player, said the song isn’t really about cards, but “handling what life gives you, what some would call ‘playing the hand you’re dealt.” SF He wrote the song in honor of his late father, saying he was “the best man I ever knew. He wasn’t a gambler, but the song was my way of dealing with the relationship that I had with him.” SF

Schlitz shopped it for two years before Bobby Bare recorded it on his album, Bare. It wasn’t released as a single, so Schlitz released a version, WK which hit #65 on the country charts in 1978. Hugh Moffatt reached #95 with the song that same year and it was also recorded by Conway Twitty’s son Charlie Tango TR and Johnny Cash.

Producer Larry Butler brought the song to Kenny Rogers, who’d heard Schlitz’s version. TR It gave Rogers his fifth #1 country song and was a top-20 hit on the Billboard Hot 100. The spong spawned a 1980 TV movie Kenny Rogers as The Gambler. He reprised the role in four more made-for-TV movies. SF


Resources:

  • TR Tom Roland (1991). The Billboard Book of Number One Country Hits. Billboard Books: New York, NY. Pages 224-5.
  • SF Songfacts
  • WK Wikipedia


Related Links:


First posted 11/2/2021; last updated 4/16/2022.

Saturday, December 9, 1978

Chic’s “Le Freak” hit #1

Le Freak

Chic

Writer(s): Nile Rodgers, Bernard Edwards (see lyrics here)


Released: September 21, 1978


First Charted: October 21, 1978


Peak: 16 US, 17 CB, 17 HR, 12 RR, 48 AC, 15 RB, 7 UK, 12 CN, 15 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): 4.0 US, 0.5 UK, 13.0 world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 1.15 video, 120.44 streaming

Awards: (Click on award for more details).

About the Song:

Guitarist Nile Rodgers and bassist Bernard Edwards formed Chic in 1976 after meeting six years earlier as session musicians in New York City. They brought in drummer Tony Thompson and singer Norma Jean Wright and in 1977 released their debut album, Chic, which was fueled by the top 10 hit “Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah).” Wright left the group and was replaced by Alfa Anderson and Luci Martin. The change didn’t hurt as Chic did even better the next time out with “Le Freak,” the first single from sophomore album C’est Chic.

The song came about from an incident at New York City’s famed disco club Studio 54. Rodgers and Edwards were invited to the club by Grace Jones on New Year’s Eve in 1977. However, she forgot to notify the nightclub staff and the pair were refused entry WK despite the fact that their music was often played in the club. SF The doorman told them to “fuck off” as he slammed the door on them. They used it in a song, eventually changing it to “freak out” after realizing radio would never play it otherwise. WK

“Le Freak” had an unusual chart run. It moved to #1 in just its seventh week on the chart, but then was replaced by Barbra Steisand and Neil Diamond’s “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers,” the song it had knocked from the top. However, “Le Freak” was back the next week – only to be knocked out again by the Bee Gees’ “Too Much Heaven.” However, after two weeks, “Le Freak” was back again for another three weeks. There’s was the first song in Billboard history to hit #1 three times. WK It went on to become the best-selling single in the history of Atlantic Records. BR

The record company was not sold on the song when they first heard it. Rodgers said he and Edwards sat with their lawyer in a conference room after playing a seven-and-a-half minute version of the song. The executives had cleared out of the room and were, as Rodgers said, “trying to figure out how to tell us how much the song sucked.” SF


Resources and Related Links:

  • DMDB Encyclopedia entry for Chic
  • BR Fred Bronson (2003). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits (5th edition). Billboard Books: New York, NY. Page 495.
  • SF Songfacts
  • WK Wikipedia

First posted 10/31/2019; last updated 4/28/2021.

Thursday, November 2, 1978

The Police Outlandos D’Amour

Outlandos D’Amour

The Police


Released: November 2, 1978


Peak: 23 US, 6 UK, 22 CN, 15 AU


Sales (in millions): 3.61 US, 0.3 UK, 6.5 world (includes US and UK)


Genre: new wave


Tracks:

Song Title (Writers) [time] (date of single release, chart peaks) Click for codes to singles charts.

  1. Next to You [2:50]
  2. So Lonely [4:49] (11/3/78, 10 CL, 5 CO, 6 UK)
  3. Roxanne [3:12] (4/7/78, 32 US, 31 CB, 39 HR, 1 CL, 2 CO, 12 UK, 31 CN, 34 AU)
  4. Hole in My Life [4:52]
  5. Peanuts (Copeland/Sting) [3:58]
  6. Can’t Stand Losing You [2:58] (8/14/78, 8 CL, 8 CO, 2 UK)
  7. Truth Hits Everybody [2:53]
  8. Born in the ‘50s [3:40]
  9. Be My Girl – Sally (Sting/Summers) [3:22]
  10. Masoko Tanga [5:40]

Songs written by Sting unless noted otherwise.


Total Running Time: 38:14


The Players:

  • Sting (vocals, bass)
  • Andy Summers (guitar, backing vocals)
  • Stewart Copeland (drums, percussion, backing vocals)

Rating:

4.117 out of 5.00 (average of 23 ratings)


Quotable: “Unquestionably one of the finest debuts to come out of the ‘70s punk/new wave movement” – Greg Prato, All Music Guide


Awards: (Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

“While their subsequent chart-topping albums would contain far more ambitious songwriting and musicianship, the Police's 1978 debut, Outlandos d'Amour (translation: Outlaws of Love) is by far their most direct and straightforward release.” AMG

“Although Sting, Andy Summers, and Stewart Copeland were all superb instrumentalists with jazz backgrounds, it was much easier to get a record contract in late-‘70s England if you were a punk/new wave artist, so the band decided to mask their instrumental prowess with a set of strong, adrenaline-charged rock, albeit with a reggae tinge.” AMG

“Some of it may have been simplistic (Be My Girl-Sally, Born in the '50s), but Sting was already an ace songwriter, as evidenced by all-time classics like the good-girl-gone-bad tale of Roxanne, and a pair of brokenhearted reggae-rock ditties, Can't Stand Losing You and So Lonely.” AMG

“But like all other Police albums, the lesser-known album cuts are often highlights themselves — the frenzied rockers Next to You, Peanuts, and Truth Hits Everybody, as well as more exotic fare like the groovy album closer Masoko Tanga and the lonesome Hole in My Life. Outlandos d'Amour is unquestionably one of the finest debuts to come out of the ‘70s punk/new wave movement.” AMG

Resources and Related Links:


Other Related DMDB Pages:


First posted 3/22/2008; last updated 8/25/2021.

Sunday, October 29, 1978

Rush “The Trees” released on Hemispheres album

The Trees

Rush

Writer(s): Neil Peart, Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson (see lyrics here)


Released: January 1979


First Charted: --


Peak: 7 CL, 1 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): --


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 11.3 video, -- streaming

Awards:

Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

By 1978, Rush put out five studio releases and a live album in less than five years. They’d cracked the top 40 on the album chart with 1977’s A Farewell to Kings and “Closer to the Heart”reached #76 on the Billboard Hot 100. The follow-up album, 1978’s Hemispheres, slipped a bit. It would achieve platinum status like its predecessor, but hit a lower peak at #47 and didn’t chart any singles.

Of course, there wasn’t much to choose from when it came to potential singles from the album. Hemispheres was made up of only four tracks, including the eighteen minute “Cygnus X-1, Book II,” the nine-minute “La Villag Strangiato.” The more reasonably-lenghted “Circumstances” was released as a single with “The Trees” as its B-side. The latter became one of the band’s most notable songs with “The Trees.” It became a staple in the band’s live performances.

The lyrics tell a story of conflict in a forest between maple and oak trees. The maples want more sunlight, but the taller oak trees are hogging all the light. By song’s end, however, it is noted that “the trees are kept equal by hatchet, axe, and saw.” WK The song has been interpreted as a commentary on oppression and a fight for rights. It has even been suggested that it is a statement about how Canadians (represented by the maple leaf) feel about Americans. SF The members of Rush were all Canadian.

However, lyricist and drummer Neil Peart said, “It was just a flash…I saw a cartoon picture of these trees carrying on like fools. I though, ‘What if trees acted like people?’ So I saw it as a cartoon really, and wrote it that way.” WK


Resources:


Related Links:


First posted 7/28/2022.