Thursday, February 23, 1978

Today in Music (1968): Simon & Garfunkel “Scarborough Fair” charted

Scarborough Fair/Canticle

Simon & Garfunkel

Writer(s): traditional/Paul Simon/Art Garfunkel (see lyrics here)

Released: October 10, 1966 (album cut)

First Charted: February 23, 1968

Peak: 11 BB, 19 CB, 5 GR, 14 HR, 5 AC, 2 CL, 49 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to charts.)

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

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 6.0 radio, 40.57 video, 52.92 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

“Scarborough Fair/Canticle” was originally featured on Simon & Garfunkel’s third album, Parsley, Sage, Rosemary, and Thyme. It was then also featured on 1968’s The Graduate, a soundtrack comprised of Dave Grusin instrumentals alongside mostly previously-released Simon & Garfunkel songs. The one new song from S&G was “Mrs. Robinson,” which would go all the way to #1. However, the soundtrack also spurred “Scarborough Fair” to be released as a single.

The tune for the song dates back all the way to 1670. It was called “The Elfin Knight” and also known as “The Lovers’ Tasks.” SS An elf tells a woman he will abduct her unless she performs an impossible task. WK A version from 1810 offered the text, “Can you make me a cambric shirt / Parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme / Without any seam or needlework? / And you shall be a true lover of mine.” SS

The folk song became associated with the Scarborough Fair in the mid-19th century. It was an annual event held in Scarborough, a small town on the coast of England. SS It became a song in which a former lover who lives in Scarborough is given a series of impossible tasks. WK The herbs symbolize “desired virtues; parsley represented comfort, sage was strength, rosemary was love, and thyme was courage.” SS

One account suggests Art Garfunkel learned the tune from a female friend while in London, but it also been reported that while on tour in England, Paul Simon heard folk singer and guitarist Martin Carthy perform the song. Carthy also taught the song to Bob Dylan when he visited London in 1962. Dylan used the melody for “Girl from the North Country” and “Boots of Spanish Leather.” SS Simon incorporated the line “Remember me to one who lives there / She once was a true love of mine” from “Girl from the North Country.” SS Meanwhile, the “Canticle” part of the song was largely adapted from Simon’s own “The Side of a Hill” which he recorded in 1965. SS


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First posted 10/11/2023; last updated 10/16/2023.

Saturday, February 18, 1978

Gerry Rafferty’s “Baker Street” hit the charts

Baker Street

Gerry Rafferty

Writer(s): Gerry Rafferty (see lyrics here)

Released: February 3, 1978

First Charted: February 18, 1978

Peak: 2 US, 12 CB, 13 GR, 2 HR, 14 RR, 4 AC, 1 CL, 3 UK, 14 CN, 11 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, 1.2 UK, 2.45 world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): 5.0 radio, 58.9 video, 165.27 streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

Prior to “Baker Street,” Gerry Rafferty was best known for the 1973 Stealers Wheel song “Stuck in the Middle with You.” It was notable for its “absolutely uncanny imitation of Bob Dylan,” TB although it has since gained attention in a particularly gruesome scene in Quentin Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs. When Stealers Wheel broke up, Rafferty couldn’t release any new material while battling with his record company over contractual obligations. Rafferty “spent a lot of time on the overnight train from Glasgow to London for meetings with lawyers” SF and often stayed with a friend in London – on Baker Street. SF

When he surfaced again, it was with this “exquisite song about self-delusion and loneliness in the big city.” TB The narrator dreams of moving to the country, but his reliance on the bottle gets in his way. “He drinks to forget what doesn’t have, and never realizes he’s a rolling stone with no direction.” SF

“With its rippling celeste and yearning, understated, vocal both Rafferty and his label felt it was too enigmatic and reticent to be a single. But a groundswell of radio play, producing a huge surge of public interest, changed their minds. The reason? That saxophone riff.” BBC

Rafferty had an instrumental break in mind for the song, but no specific instrument. SF Hugh Murphy, the producer, suggested saxophone SF and they brought in session musician Raphel “Raff” Ravenscroft, TB who’s played with Pink Floyd, Marvin Gaye, and Abba. SF He “gave the song one of the most recognisable intros of all time,” BBC “the cherry on the cake, perfectly complementing the air of aching melancholy.” TB “By its final return at the coda, underpinned by a swooping guitar, you knew you’d listened to one of the greatest arrangements of all time.” BBC


  • DMDB Encyclopedia entry for Gerry Rafferty
  • BBC BBC Music (2005). Sold on Song
  • TB Thunder Bay Press (2006). Singles: Six Decades of Hot Hits & Classic Cuts. Outline Press Ltd.: San Diego, CA. Page 175.
  • SF Songfacts

First posted 4/29/2020; last updated 12/6/2022.

Monday, February 13, 1978

Squeeze released their debut



Released: February 13, 1978

Peak: --

Sales (in millions): --

Genre: new wave


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

  1. Sex Master [2:21]
  2. Bang Bang [2:04] (5/78, 49 UK, 42 CL, 19 CO)
  3. Strong In Reason [4:14]
  4. Wild Sewerage Tickles Brazil (Instrumental) (Squeeze) [3:49]
  5. Out of Control [4:44]
  6. Take Me I'm Yours [3:46] (2/3/78, 19 UK, 37 CL, 14 CO)
  7. The Call [5:17]
  8. Model [2:59]
  9. Remember What [2:51]
  10. First Thing Wrong [3:43]
  11. Hesitation (Rool Britannia) [3:45]
  12. Get Smart [2:06]
All songs written by Difford & Tilbrook unless noted otherwise.

Total Running Time: 41:43

The Players:

  • Chris Difford (vocals, rhythm guitar)
  • Glenn Tilbrook (vocals, lead guitar)
  • Jools Holland (keyboards)
  • Harry Kakoulli (bass)
  • Gilson Lavis (drums)


2.441 out of 5.00 (average of 18 ratings)

About the Album:

Squeeze’s debut was released in the U.S. as U.K. Squeeze to avoid confusion with another band. When that band went defunct, Squeeze dropped the U.K. from their name for their sophomore album. Whatever you call the first album, it “is quite unlike anything that would follow and nearly seems like the work of another band.” AMG The album “had no shortage of youthful exuberance.The careful pop craftsmanship, a hallmark of their subsequent work, was not yet in place. Instead the album offers high-octane arrangements and production approaches.” HE

”The disc shows their true colors as traditional rockers, even if it's impossible to hear any connection with the contemporary punk movement. They already have their harmony arrangements figured out, but the rhythm section kicks hard, and Tilbrook lays on the most unrestrained guitar solos you'll hear anywhere in their catalog.” JA

”Much of the reason for this comes from producer John Cale's somewhat warped vision of the band. Cale threw out all of the songs the band came to the studio with and demanded that they write new ones on the spot (he also proposed calling the album Gay Guys, and undoubtedly had something to do with the hot pink bodybuilder cover and the shirtless photo of the band on the back).” AMG

The rough and ragged songs that resulted from the studio writing range from raw, inspired rockers like” AMG Sex Master and Get Smart, which “have some genuine boogie woogie energy,” JA and “Difford’s competent ballad spotlight Strong in Reason,” JA “to the utterly bizarre, near-funk instrumental Wild Sewerage Tickles Brazil, which features wild shrieks throughout.” AMG

”Tbere’s some random jamming on The Call and a lot of the tunes…are lyrically gimmicky (Model; Difford's rap on Hesitation (Rool Brittania)).” JAOut of Control and Remember What are respectable Elvis Costello-style head-bangers, and Bang Bang has a demented chorus and an interesting, foot-stomping beat.” JA

One definite highlight is the “band-produced…Take Me I'm Yours,” HE a “fondly remembered” AMG “minor British hit” HE “driven by a really annoying, robotic synth line that would have been worthy of the Cars.” JA

“There’s…not a lot of variety, outside of ‘Take Me’ and one loud electric blues (First Thing Wrong), but at least it’s energetic.” JA In addition, “the fine songwriting of Glenn Tilbrook and Chris Difford was already in place (indeed, they had been writing together throughout their teenage years).” HE

”Though not as refined as they would soon become, this album did serve to announce their arrival.” HE “The album in general remains an oddity of the Squeeze catalog.” AMG

Notes: The 1997 UK re-release added bonus tracks “Deep Cuts” and “Heartbreak.”

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First posted 3/6/2008; last updated 2/6/2022.

Saturday, February 11, 1978

Styx chart with “Fooling Yourself”

Fooling Yourself (Angry Young Man)


Writer(s): Tommy Shaw (see lyrics here)

First Charted: February 11, 1978

Peak: 29 US, 23 CB, 20 HR, 21 RR, 20 CN, 42 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)

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

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 6.7 video, -- streaming


Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

I missed “Fooling Yourself” upon its initial release. It wasn’t until the summer of 1983 that I fell in love with this song. I’d become a Styx fan largely because of Paradise Theater (1981) and Kilroy Was Here (1983). Then I decided to reach back and explore earlier stuff from their catalog. Already a fan of “Come Sail Away,” I grabbed up its parent album The Grand Illusion at a mall record store while my family was on vacation. While my brother and I rode in the back seat, I had my Walkman and headphones going non-stop for this new-to-me album. Six years after the album was released, “Fooling Yourself” ended up atop my personal song chart for 5 weeks.

It was the second single from The Grand Illusion, following the top-ten success of “Come Sail Away.” While Dennis DeYoung was the more dominant presence having been there from the start and singing lead on most of the band’s biggest hits (including “Come Sail Away”), Tommy Shaw emerged as a formidable force with “Fooling Yourself.” He joined the band on tour in 1975 and first recorded with them on the Crystal Ball album the next year. That album produced the top-40 hit “Mademoiselle,” a collaborative effort between Shaw and DeYoung.

With “Fooling Yourself,” however, Shaw stepped up front all by his lonesome. While the song appears to be an introspective musing, it was actually based on Shaw’s perception of DeYoung as “‘an angry young man’ who viewed the group’s successes with a wary eye and grew angry or depressed with every setback.” WK Shaw said, “The seeds of discontent had started to take over on the road. The rest of us were all really happy at the time, but Dennis wasn’t getting quite the same joy.” SF In later years, Shaw started to recognize the song could also be a commentary on his own cynism.

Musically, the song’s intro featured Dennis DeYoung on synthesizer and Shaw on acoustic guitar. It was “typical of the prog-rock that was popular at the time in bands like Yes and Emerson, Lake & Palmer.” SF While Styx definitely had a prog element to their sound, their “songs tended to be much tighter and more radio-friendly than the prog-rockers.” SF


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First posted 8/7/2020; last updated 7/11/2022.

Friday, February 10, 1978

Van Halen released their debut album

Van Halen

Van Halen

Released: February 10, 1978

Peak: 19 US, 34 UK, 18 CN, 17 AU

Sales (in millions): 10.0 US, 0.1 UK, 15.9 world (includes US and UK)

Genre: classic hard rock


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

  1. Runnin’ with the Devil [3:36] (5/6/78, 84 US, 1 CL, 52 UK)
  2. Eruption (instrumental) [1:42] (6 CL)
  3. You Really Got Me (Ray Davies) [2:38] (1/28/78, 36 US, 1 CL, 49 CN, 12 AU)
  4. Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love [3:50] (10/25/78, 5 CL)
  5. I’m the One [3:47] (15 CL)
  6. Jamie’s Cryin’ [3:31] (5/16/78, 3 CL)
  7. Atomic Punk [3:02] (13 CL)
  8. Feel Your Love Tonight [3:43] (7 CL)
  9. Little Dreamer [3:23] (15 CL)
  10. Ice Cream Man (John Brim) [3:20] (5 CL)
  11. On Fire [3:01]

All songs written by Eddie Van Halen, Alex Van Halen, David Lee Roth, and Michael Anthony unless noted otherwise.

Total Running Time: 35:34

The Players:

  • David Lee Roth (vocals)
  • Eddie Van Halen (guitar, backing vocals)
  • Michael Anthony (bass, backing vocals)
  • Alex Van Halen (drums)


4.552 out of 5.00 (average of 18 ratings)


“One of the all-time best debuts by a hard rock/heavy metal band.” – Greg Prato, All Music Guide


(Click on award to learn more).

About the Album:

“Van Halen’s self-titled 1978 debut is undoubtedly one of the all-time best debuts by a hard rock/heavy metal band. All of the components for a classic are represented – excellent songs and high-octane performances…are used to create an invigorating, original sound. Like other acclaimed debuts (Led Zeppelin, Are You Experienced?), Van Halen has a raw edge since it was recorded quickly, and every single song is a winner.” AMG

“While singer David Lee Roth’s bravado and the steady rhythm section of drummer Alex Van Halen and bassist Michael Anthony were both key ingredients, the main attraction was Eddie Van Halen’s guitar playing” AMG which “sounds like a cross between an electric guitar and a howitzer.” DV “Few other guitarists have had such an instant impact on a generation of up-and-coming players who copied his unorthodox, kamikaze style – especially…on the album’s legendary solo, EruptionAMG in which he “revolutionized the guitar community by introducing a technique called finger-tapping into the heavy metal lexicon.” AZ

“Even if you don’t like…Roth’s sex god schtick or …Eddie’s…hyperactive hammering…it’s impossible not to rock out to the California quartet’s debut.” DBW “Van Halen amply demonstrate their drive, showmanship, and musicianship throughout.” AZ “Almost all of the tracks…have rightfully become radio staples.” AMG “Step back in awe at the sheer savagery with which the band attacks the opener Runnin’ with the Devil.” DV “Feast on the chiming chord shifts and monstrously fat chorus riffs of Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love.” DV “Cackle with glee at the sassy lyric and effortless virtuosity of I’m the One.” DV

The band also offers a “driving, thrashing, ecstatic take on the Kinks’ classic You Really Got Me,” DV “probably best of a long line of Van Halen covers.” DBW In a completely different vein, they deliver “the lounge-y Vegas start and blistering hard rock finish of Ice Cream Man.” DV Both covers “remain awe-inspiring to this day.” AMG

Part of the album’s success is due to producer Ted Templeman. “The sound is marvelous,” DBW “the hooks are huge,” DBW and “the excitement of their live show was captured perfectly.” AMG He “balances massive guitars with a thundering rhythm section…, light but effective use of studio tricks…, and performances that are precise without being clinical.” DBW

Van Halen proved to be the ultimate coming-of-age soundtrack to many a teenager since its release.” AMG It is “one of the ultimate party albums over the years, since the overall mood is excited and celebratory.” AMG “Everyone on the planet should own a copy of this landmark release.” AMG “It forever reshaped the landscape of hard rock – not to mention the repertoire of an entire nation of air-guitar players.” DV

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First posted 3/24/2008; last updated 2/28/2024.