Do you have a favorite song? Wedding song perhaps? The following nostalgic look at songs ran last year on SERENDIPITY.

The Soundtrack of Your Life, Rich Paschall

You have probably heard that phrase before. Oldies radio stations love to use it. They want you to think they are playing the soundtrack of our lives. You know what they mean. They want you to think that they are playing the songs you remember from when you were younger. That could mean a few years ago or a few decades ago, depending on who they are pitching their playlist to. What is the soundtrack of your life?

After you leave your twenties, your soundtrack is probably set with the most often played and most often heard music. We inevitably love the music of our teens and twenties. It is linked to those big moments that never leave our memory banks. That could be our high school dances and proms. It could be college concerts and parties. They might include weddings and select family events. It certainly includes your record, tape, or CD collections, and maybe even some digital playlists. In future years our soundtracks will all be held in digital form in a cloud that you can download when you feel nostalgic.

Chicago at Ravinia Festival

It is certain that people from 16 years old to those who saw the beginning of the rock era can tell you the songs that meant the most to them, that held the greatest memories. I feel confident in saying that these songs will come from your early years. This is not just because it holds true for me, but it does for many of my friends as well. It is reflected in the crowds that show up to concerts. In the last dozen years or so, I have seen Fleetwood Mac, The Rolling Stones, Chicago, and Reo Speedwagon as well as Barbara Streisand, Barry Manilow, and Brian Wilson. These stars could fill concert venues across the country with people who may have seen them generations ago. The reason is not a mystery. They wrote and performed our soundtrack, and the people who connect with that music continue to go to see those who are still around.

Fleetwood Mac at the UC Chicago

Of course, I have gone to see current acts. They included One Republic, Maroon 5, David Archuleta, Hunter Hayes, Lifehouse, Bruno Mars as well as MAX Schneider, fallout boy, and a few others. I like their music, but their songs do not hold the nostalgic connection I feel when I see Paul McCartney, Frankie Valli, or Neil Diamond.  When I saw The Monkees, minus Davy Jones, I heard screaming inside the Chicago Theater as I came through the door. It was as if the place was filled with teenagers, and I rushed in to see what was the commotion. Mickey Dolenz was just starting Last Train to Clarksville and the AARP set was reacting as if it was 1966 and they were teenagers. Yes, there were younger people in the crowd. These songs were not on their soundtrack, however, but they were on ours.

While leaving the Davy Jones songs to a couple of music videos from their 1960’s television show, The Monkees delighted a crowd with an evening of hits. The band’s recording of a Neal Diamond composition, I’m a Believer, was the last number 1 song of 1966 and the biggest-selling song of 1967. Since that performance, Peter Tork and Mike Nesmith have also passed. I am glad I saw them while we could.

One thing the Rolling Stones do not lack after all these decades is energy. Maroon 5 may want to Move Like Jagger, but only Mick can do that, and he still does. Here I have taken a few moments from the show at the United Center. They were true rock stars of a previous era. They went on an hour late. Since this performance, Charlie Watt passed away.

The opening of Moves Like Jagger is shaky as everyone jumped to their feet, so of course, I had to also.  The venue is The Woodlands.  I should have known everyone in the crowd would try to move like Jagger too.

Without a doubt, the number 1 song on my soundtrack is Beginnings by Chicago. The 1969 song, written by band member Robert Lamm, failed to chart on its first go around. A re-release in 1971 when the band was red-hot brought success to a song that was featured at dances, proms, graduations, and weddings for many years to come. The album version ran 7 minutes and 55 seconds while the “radio version” ran about 3 minutes. In July 2010 I did not have a camera that could zoom in close or record in HD, but it got decent sound, so I have this piece of nostalgia:

Chicago will be appearing this summer in Chicago (or suburbs). They always return.

RJ Paschall music videos here.  See my concert videos and “liked” performers.


The New Year is well underway and do we see anything different than previous years? Has “old acquaintance” been forgotten? I guess it never is. The following ran a year ago on SERENDIPITY and still applies today.

The Same Auld Lang Syne, by Rich Paschall

Another year has begun and we can see it is not exactly the same as days gone by. If “old acquaintance be forgot” as one year passes into another, then we would certainly like to forget the past year, not to mention the year before. The global pandemic which blasted forth in early 2020 was carried forward throughout 2021. If there were new divisions over the vaccine, old divisions remained too. Old hatred, old disputes, old ethnic and racial divisions, old border wars, and old religious battles carry on as if they will forever be remembered. Are these disagreements worth fighting over? Dying over?

Should auld acquaintance be forgot, 
and never brought to mind? 
Should auld acquaintance be forgot, 
and days of auld lang syne?

In our neighborhood, just as in many around the world, we conclude our year wishing “Peace on Earth, Good Will Toward Men.”  It is on our greeting cards and in our songs.  It appears in Christmas stories and is heard from pulpits and lecterns around the world. The invocations I used to read on Christmas Day, to those assembled at noon mass at a nearby church, included a call for world leaders to truly seek world peace. For this intention, I would say to the congregation, “We pray to the Lord.” They responded to my prayer by rote, since we have the same response to all our intentions, “Lord hear our prayer.”

The Lord may hear our prayer but I think He surely means for us to work at resolving the conflicts that plague the world, not to mention the pandemic which is a plague on the world. I am convinced not many really heard the intention or remembered it by the time they hit the pavement an hour later. Do we want a new beginning or will things continue in the same direction? Our history of this sort of thing suggests the answer.

Sometimes our world leaders do indeed seem to be making strides for peace, but these strides often suffer reversals when conflicts begin anew as they predictably do. While Presidents, prime ministers, and even royalty call for peace, how many are actually plotting retaliation and wars behind the scenes? In fact, we would all think our leaders were careless and irresponsible if they were not prepared to take up old battles at a moment’s notice or begin new ones if need be.

Even the current Pope, revered for his concerns for the poor, has condemned violent groups and urged the world not to be indifferent to the suffering they have caused. If we are not to be indifferent, then what are we to do? Is it a call for those facing conflict to continue the fight? Is it a call for outsiders to join in?

There are no easy answers to what is left of the Taliban, the warlords, and terrorist groups. If there had been, I wish we would have employed them by now. How about closer to home? What about racial profiling, police brutality, gun violence, and large prison populations? What of the street gangs and drug cartels? What of “organized crime” and the violence they are willing to commit? How many marches in the street will it take to rid us of the same old acquaintances we know through these oft-repeated scenes? Will marches alone bring peace to our homeland?

The sad truth of starting each year with a call for peace on earth is we end each year needing to renew the call again. Perhaps it would be best if old acquaintances could be forgotten, so we could start with a new and clean slate. There are, however, those who can not let go of the hate. They perpetuate the cultural divide. They do not wish to give up the fight or extend a hand across the aisle, the border, or the battlefield. Is this what we were taught? Did we say “Peace on Earth” when we really meant “Don’t let our enemies get any peace?” What messages are we really sending when we learn that the greeting card verses are more fiction than fact?

“Should old acquaintance be forgot and never be brought to mind?” Perhaps. And perhaps we need to start believing in the simple verses of seasonal songs and bring peace to the earth. The answers to our problems are actually there in many of those simple holiday songs. They have always been there. It is contained in a four-letter word we are afraid to use, especially when it comes to those we perceive as our enemies. Do you know that word?  Love, as in Love Thy Neighbor As Thyself. They know on the streets we can not continue to live with the past wrongs, some streets anyway.

Auld Lang Syne, or “old long since” is a Scottish poem by Robert Burns.  It was subsequently set to traditional folk music.  The modern question for us is, “Will we ever ‘take a cup o’ kindness yet, for auld lang syne’?”

And there’s a hand my trusty friend! 
And give me a hand o’ thine! 
And we’ll take a right good-will draught, 
for auld lang syne.


Each year we enjoy music from Christmas Past. My following top ten list has been shared on SERENDIPITY on several Christmases Past. We felt we could share it every few years because each time we look at it, we discover that these dead artists are still dead.

My Top Ten Christmas Songs

Dead Artists Edition, by Rich Paschall

Marshall Field’s at Christmas

Whenever I listen to holiday songs on the local Christmas music radio station, one fact becomes apparent to me. Almost all of the songs I hear are performed by artists who have gone on to that great holiday party in the sky. This is, of course, a nice way of saying they are dead. Nevertheless, we continue to listen to their songs year in and year out. In fact, some of these have been flying across the airwaves for many decades and there is no sign they will ever stop being played.

It is safe to say that all of these songs have been covered many times over. Any singer with staying power in the industry has a Christmas album. It is true that a few of these songs received great success from other artists, but there are certain versions of these holiday hits with the ability to live on long after the artist has gone. It is these well-remembered and honored songs that fill my playlist.

Your 8-track and cassette tape versions of these may have become tangled and broken, and your records and CDs may have become scratched and broken, but you can still download and stream these hits because they are not going away. First I will offer up an honorable mention.

In 1977, David Bowie (1947-2016) was to appear on the Bing Crosby Christmas television special recorded in London. He was asked to sing Little Drummer Boy, but did not like the song and asked for something else. As a result, a counterpoint to the song called Peace on Earth was written for Bowie and Crosby sang Little Drummer Boy. We could simply say the rest is duet history, but that would not exactly be true. The now well-beloved version may have died away if not for the popularity of a bootleg recording. As a result, RCA released the song as a single in 1982. Sadly Crosby died after the show was recorded and before it was ever played for the public.

Now if you will put the yule log on the fire, get a glass of eggnog, and some Christmas cookies, we will present my top Christmas tunes from artists whose songs continue to echo down your decked halls.

10.  Blue Christmas, Elvis Presley (1935-1977) The song was first recorded in 1948, but the 1957 recording by Elvis remains the most popular.

9.  Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Gene Autrey (1907-1998) The 1949 song hit number 1 on the charts.

8.  A Holly Jolly Christmas, Burl Ives (1909-1995) The song was released in 1965 after being featured the previous year in the animated cartoon classic, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

7.  Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas, Judy Garland (1922-1969) The tune was written for the 1944 film “Meet Me in St. Louis.”

6.  Jingle Bell Rock, Bobby Helms (1933-1997) The 1957 “Rockabilly” sound was an immediate hit and eventually went gold for Helms.

5.  Christmas Time Is Here, Vince Guaraldi (1928-1976) The jazz musician is best known for composing the score to 17 Peanuts animated television specials and a feature-length film. The first of these was A Charlie Brown Christmas, 1965. Words to this jazz tune were provided by the Charlie Brown television producer, Lee Mendelson (1933-2008). The network, as well as the producers, thought the show was too depressing and predicted a failure with the public. It won an Emmy, a Peabody, and the love of generations of kids.

4.  The Christmas Song, Nat “King” Cole (1919-1965) The tune was written by Bob Wells (1922-1998) and another will known singer, Mel Torme (1925-1999), in 1945. In June 1946 Cole recorded the song, then recorded it again in August with more instruments. The second version was released. There was a third recording, then a fourth in stereo in 1961. It is that last version you hear so much today. Torme also recorded The Christmas Song some years later, but it is the Nat King Cole version that is best remembered.

3.  (There’s No Place Like) Home For The Holidays, Perry Como (1912-2001)  The popular crooner recorded the song in 1954 and sang it for the next 40 years.  “Mr. C” recorded it in stereo in 1959 and it is this version you probably hear today.  Like many popular television variety stars of his era, Como continued holiday shows after his weekly TV shows ended.  This video is from his 1969 Christmas special.

2.  It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year, Andy Williams (1927-2012).  Williams was another popular television crooner.  The song was written in 1963 and recorded by Williams for his first Christmas album.  It was used on his television show the same year and became a Christmas standard over time.  It is one of the top 10 Christmas songs of all time.  In this video, Williams appears to be singing along with the popular recording.

1. White Christmas, Bing Crosby (1903-1977) The Irving Berlin hit was apparently written for the movie Holiday Inn (no-telling with the prolific Mr. Berlin). Crosby first sang it on his radio show in 1941 but recorded it in 1942 for the Holiday Inn movie. It was recorded again in 1947 as the original master wore out from frequent use. The song appeared in two other movies and Crosby sang it for the rest of his life. This video is the final performance. He died soon after, doing what he liked best, playing golf.

Click on any song title above to hear the song or click here for the entire Christmas past playlist.


At the emotional ending of Ohm-Nanon 1st Fan Meeting in Thailand, the two friends shared a deeply personal moment as if they were the only ones in the large convention hall. Many friends would find it hard to open up in this manner in private. The following appeared earlier this year on SERENDIPITY.

And Who We Were Not, by Rich Paschall

Perhaps it is different now, or different in some places at least, but when I was growing up some decades ago, we were expected to be a certain type of person. I guess it did not matter to our parents and elders what we wanted to be. We were to be who they expected us to be. Many communities are still like that.

To this day some toddlers and young children are told to “Be a man,” or “Act like a young lady,” It is as if many adults do not want children to be children. I heard it a lot. So did my brother, I am sure. He may have heard it a little less since he was more serious and studious than I, but I digress. We knew we lived with a certain set of expectations, which certainly influenced our paths.

Many are afraid to be themselves or to be themselves around family and certain community members. Most do not want to “embarrass” family and friends by not being the man or woman their parents expected them to be. Men were to be stoic and unemotional. Women were to be “ladylike,” whatever that meant. I saw how my parents, aunt and uncles, and grandparents acted. We knew what they said about our behavior, so we instinctively knew what to say and how to act in front of the family. Even as young adults we understood there were times when we were just expected to sit quietly, the same as when we were children.

Should we be who our parents want us to be?

Outside the home, as young adults, we were reluctant to share feelings with members of the same sex. I had some close friends who I would never think to tell how I felt about our friendship. One day my best friend surprised me by telling me that he loved me, but would never feel exactly the same way about me as I thought about him. We spent so much time together for perhaps a decade at that point, that we likely knew very well how the other felt, but I could not think to ever say it, even in private.

Imagine saying in front of a large crowd “I am sorry” to your friend of the same sex for a moment of immaturity. Or express your feelings of love and friendship. What if thousands or millions were watching? Could you do it??

We have mentioned the international television hit drama series, Bad Buddy, a few times this year. If you add up the number of times each of the twelve episodes has been streamed, the number would be over 200 million (total, not per episode). Add to that the television broadcast, syndication, and worldwide DVD sales, and you would find that the series achieved success beyond anything the creators could have imagined. They clearly had the right young actors for the lead characters, Ohm Pawat and Nanon Korapat. Their fierce friendship in real life no doubt added to the performances.

Pat (Ohm) left, and Pran (Nanon) in Bad Buddy. The actors are real-life buddies.

With the popularity continuing for many months after the series ended, GMM TV decided to mount a live show depicting scenes from Bad Buddy through song and dance. That would be followed by additional musical numbers. This was billed as Ohm-Nanon 1st Fan Meeting in Thailand. Instead of a theater, GMM TV, acquired the convention center in Bangkok to build a massive, multi-media spectacle featuring Ohm, Nanon, and many of the Bad Buddy actors. Unlike Nanon, Ohm was not a singer or dancer. He worked very hard to perfect his parts. He had a reason hidden in his heart for that.

The show played to many thousands of fans in the convention hall and apparently a rather large worldwide audience streaming it live. By all accounts, it was a huge success. The show was a three and half hour production. It was captioned in English since all but the ending was scripted.

Nanon (L) and Ohm recreate a moment from Bad Buddy.   (GMM TV)

There was a tribute video before the final number was to take place featuring interaction between Ohm and Nanon over the past year. How would you like to have your friendship, public and private, presented to the world? If Nanon was not crying hard enough when that was done, the tears were just beginning, After sitting at the edge of the stage for the video, the boys turned around to face the audience.  Ohm began by thanking everyone as expected, but then he went off script, so to speak, providing a moment only live television can offer.

Ohm looked at Nanon and said, “I’m sorry.” He was apologizing for an immature moment that came after the Maya Awards. Everyone in the audience knew about the episode. Ohm had publicly apologized to fans and Nanon previously. He told Nanon he loved him and said, “I worked hard on this as a way to apologize to you.” It was not a secret that Ohm had been working hard for months, taking dance lessons, and practicing singing and various instruments so that he could hold up his own in a long, live show. It was his gift to Nanon.

Through a steady stream of tears, Nanon also thanked everyone. He told Ohm he was never mad at him, just concerned. “I felt like friends can fight, but we’re stuck together.” He reminded Ohm that they achieved this successful day together and told him that he loved him too.

The live-stream translator was running behind and may have been cleaning up some of the comments as he went along. What Nanon may have really said in response to Ohm was “I love you so damn much, dumbass.”

Ohm Nanon emotional ending

So there it was for thousands on hand to see and millions more later. Two young men had an intensely personal (and usually private) and vulnerable moment at the edge of the stage on live television. They bared their souls and said, “I love you” to the other. Does this mean they are gay? Are they Lovers? Does it matter?

There will be plenty of social media speculation, but that would be missing the point. Two men could express their feelings to one another even though they knew the world would be watching. That would never have happened when I was young.

See also:Bad Buddy” Series Review, rjptalk, Sunday Night Blog, September 4, 2022.
So How Does It End?” Bad Buddy Series, rjptalk, Sunday Night Blog, February 3, 2022.
“Top LGBT Series and Mini-Series,” SERENDIPITY, June 26, 2022.
The Art of Bad Buddy,” Clues, Hints, Irony, and Chemistry, rjptalk, Sunday Night Blog, November 27, 2022.
The Bad Buddy Phenomenon,” rjptalk, Sunday Night Blog, November 19, 2022.


The Autumn Of The Year, RICH PASCHALL

Photo: Garry Armstrong

When I was seventeen, it was a very good year…

When I turned seventeen, I had finished my Junior year in high school and was looking forward to my Senior year at a new school.  It was a bit scary, I admit.  No one wants to leave his mates behind and start again, but that was my fate, not my choice.

At least the new school was in the neighborhood, and I already knew a few students who were going there. Although we did not admit it at the time, the final year of high school put many new thoughts into our heads.

Photo: Garry Armstrong
It was a very good year

You may think of sex or sexual orientation, but those thoughts had already arrived years earlier.  All the passing of a few years meant was that these thoughts and curiosities intensified.  As you might imagine, a few of the boys and girls were a little more advanced than the others.  I think that stands out to you a little more at seventeen.

The new school brought new friends, new interests, and new teachers.  There were subjects and activities the other school lacked. The final high school year also proved to be, as I suspect it did for many of my friends, one of the best years of my life. Some of those friends and those memories stayed with me over the decades. I had no idea then that it would be the “best of times.”

When I was twenty-one, it was a very good year…

Four years later, brought a similar situation.  It was time to move on to my Senior year of university and hopefully finish my degree on time (I didn’t). It did not hold the lasting thrills of 17, but it did seem in a certain way to represent the transition to adulthood. In reality, I was no more adult than I was at 20 or twenty-two.  It was just a symbolic thing.

The “coming of age” also allows you to drink legally, but that did not mean too much. I was days, weeks, or months older than the friends I hung around with, so it is not like we all headed off to some bar. Still, the year seemed to hold certain energy that young adulthood will give you if you let it.

When I was thirty-five, it was a very good year…

I had finally earned my Master’s Degree.

It was not about career advancement.  It was about reaching a goal I had set years earlier. I sometimes studied for the Comprehensive exams with a woman in her 70s.  She was pretty much doing the same thing, reaching for a past dream.

I could tell her about the courses I had and of books I read, and she pushed me to study things I was certain would never be on the Master’s exam again. She was right about the exam questions and perhaps the reason we both marched up to receive our diplomas on the same day. Sadly, I never saw her again.

It felt like I had hit my stride at 35, although I can not really point to other reasons why. If you have good friends, good times, and a reason for doing things, all seems right in the world.

Well, almost all seemed right. I did not find the right person to share my very good years with. Honestly, I can not say I looked all that hard. I guess I was having too good of a time.

But now the days are short, I’m in the autumn of the year…

The autumn of the year.

One thing that you become acutely aware of as you get older is that the days are short. They don’t seem to last as long as the days of youth, you don’t seem to get as much done and you certainly don’t feel thirty-five. My older brother insists the days are the same length. We are just slower, and that is OK, he says. Perhaps it is that.

As you reach your autumn, you realize, no matter how desperately you try to suppress the thought, that the days are indeed numbered. Even if you are optimistically believing that there are, let’s say, thirty-five years left, you know none will be like the year you were thirty-five.

With any luck at all, some will still be very good years.

If your life is like a fine wine, there will be many years that are a fine vintage. Wine aficionados will refer to this as a “very good year.” I hope to still have them. None are 17 or 21 or 35, nor will they be again. With any luck at all, however, I will be able to drink in the rest and enjoy them as if I were sitting in a vineyard in France with one of my best friends while we recall our great adventures together.

And I think of my life as vintage wine
From fine old kegs,
From the brim to the dregs,
It poured sweet and clear.
It was a very good year.

Although many had recorded this song, it won the Grammy Award for Best Vocal Performance, Male, in 1966 for Frank Sinatra.

It Was A Very Good Year, by Ervin Drake, 1961, lyrics © SONGWRITERS GUILD OF AMERICA OBO LINDABET MUSIC INC


Last year on SERENDIPITY we gave you a 50th-anniversary look at my favorite songs of 1971. In case you missed it, we bring you another opportunity to sing along.

1971 Edition, part two, by Rich Paschall

We are glad to see you have returned to the “Admiral Halsey” gymnasium and auditorium for this week’s sock hop. “Maggie May” will be selling tickets if you did not get yours in advance, and Uncle Albert will be collecting them at the door. This dance is only for teenagers and adult chaperones so you will have to “Go Away, Little Girl.” “Amos Moses” will be guarding your smelly gym shoes until the last dance.


The entire Partridge Family will be in charge of concessions and would appreciate it if you all would stop calling them “Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves.” It might be “Just My Imagination” but we think they are “Sweet and Innocent.” You boys remember when you look at your date, “She’s a Lady” so be sure to “Treat Her Like A Lady.” And for you guys in the back, “Where Do I Begin?”

Paul and Linda McCartney

It’s a “Wild World” and “I Just Want To Celebrate.” “If You Could Read My Mind,” you would know we are getting ready for the Top Ten Countdown. “Me and Bobby McGee” are in the DJ booth. When you look at your friendly DJs remember, “You’ve Got A Friend.”  From up here, we see “Smiling Faces Sometimes,””Do You Know What I Mean?”  “I Feel The Earth Move” so we will start the countdown with this “Superstar:”

10. Uncle Albert / Admiral Halsey, Paul McCartney, Linda McCartney. This is the first number-one hit for Paul after The Beatles. If the song sounds a bit disjointed, perhaps it is. It is allegedly some song fragments Paul put together as one. Uncle Albert may be an actual uncle of Paul, and Admiral Halsey is reported to be based on the American Admiral “Bull” Halsey.
09. For All We Know, The Carpenters. This is one of three Carpenters tunes that finished the year on the Billboard Year-End Hot 100. The song was written for the movie, Lovers and Other Strangers and performed by Larry Meredith. The Carpenters covered it to great success.
08. Ain’t No Sunshine, Bill Withers. It was the first hit for the singer-songwriter.  The unique feature of the song was repeating “I Know” 26 times in the middle of the song. He meant to write more lyrics for that part. Perhaps it is good that he did not.
07. Riders On The Storm, The Doors. This was reported to be the last song recorded by all four members of The Doors. That was December of 1970. It is believed that the title track of the album LA Woman was not finished until January of 1971, however, due to the difficulty of working with Jim Morrison.
06. Take Me Home, Country Roads, John Denver. This tune is so beloved in West Virginia that it became an official state anthem. It is also a karaoke favorite and I confess to singing it once or twice (or more).

05. It’s Too Late/I Feel The Earth Move, Carole King. Both sides of this record were A-sides. They topped the charts in February of 1971. King wrote the music and lyrics for I Feel The Earth Move while writing only the music for It’s Too Late. Toni Stern wrote the Lyrics. They are both on the critically acclaimed Tapestry album.

04. What’s Going On, Marvin Gaye. The song was written by Al Cleveland and by Renaldo Benson of the Four Tops, who turned it down. Benson gave it to Gaye who worked with it and produced it himself. It is considered one of the best R&B songs of all time.

03. If, Bread. This is basically all singer-songwriter David Gates. He produced the song and his group, Bread recorded it with Gates as the lead singer. It was a popular wedding song for decades.

02. Joy To The World, Three Dog Night. No, it is not the Christmas song. It was written by Hoyt Axton and taken to number 1 by the rock group. You might think the title is “Jeremiah Was A Bull Frog.” Our band did a Christmas Lunch for a Mothers’ Club at some point in the 70s and listed this as the last tune on the program of traditional Christmas music. We were young and we thought it was funny.  This is from Soundstage in 1975:

If you are from the midwest you probably know there is nothing like Chicago in Chicago.

Chicago the band

01. Beginnings / Colour My World, Chicago.  Beginnings was recorded for the band’s first album but failed to chart as a single. When the group found some success it was released again with Colour My World on the backside. It became a two-sided hit for the group. Here I am enjoying the band from my sit on the shore of Lake Michigan at Northerly Island, Chicago:

What is your 1971 number 1 song? To hear any song, click on the title, or to hear all 22 Golden Oldies, click on our playlist here.

See also: “GOLDEN OLDIES“, 1971 Edition, Part one, Serendipity, September 14, 2021.


Last year on SERENDIPITY we brought you a golden anniversary of 1971 Golden Oldies. It is time to give them another listen. Sing along!

1971 Edition, part one, by Rich Paschall

In 1971 you may have been reading The Pentagon Papers. You would have learned the government was actually lying to us. Richard Nixon, a Republican, was President. It made an unpopular war even more unpopular.

You may have visited the new Walt Disney World in Florida. Walt had been secretly buying up land since 1965. He died before the place was finished. Roy Disney, Walt’s older brother, took charge of the project. He died shortly after the theme park opened. Mickey Mouse lives on, along with a variety of Walt’s creations.

More likely you were at home watching Archie Bunker insult everyone on All In The Family on CBS. Flip Wilson put NBC into the number two spot while Marcus Welby, MD was making house calls on ABC. Matt Dillon was still seeing Gunsmoke on CBS and the Cartwrights were ruling the Ponderosa on Bonanza.


The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Here’s Lucy were tied for 10th place in the ratings, both for CBS. Lucille Ball was starring in her third consecutive hit series.  If it was comedy you wanted there was also Sanford and Son, The Partridge Family, and the Sonny and Cher Comedy Hour.

Mannix, Cannon, Ironside, and The Mod Squad were solving crimes. The FBI, Adam-12, and Hawai Five-0 (the original starring Jack Lord) were out there keeping us safe. The NBC Mystery Movie also brought us some crime fighters.


It was certainly a good year for music. When I finished my shortlist to bring you a Top Ten, I found I had a rather long list and could have made like Casey Kasem and brought you America’s Top 40. Musical acts could find their way onto one of several television Variety shows. Some popular television hosts of the 1960s carried on with annual specials. Perry Como had a regular television series from 1948 to 1967. From that point on he had one or more specials per year until 1986. In 1971, you could have heard him do this one:

20. It’s Impossible, Perry Como. Recorded and released in late 1970, it became Como’s first Top Ten hit in 12 years in February of 1971. He had many hits in his long career, but this would be his signature tune in the later years. It is the English adaptation of the Latin hit, Somos Novios.
19. Love Her Madly, The Doors. Lead singer Jim Morrison could not be any more different than Perry Como. The Doors rocked the charts a number of times in 1971. This was the first hit off the album L.A. Woman.
18. Proud Mary, Ike, and Tina Turner. The cover version of the Credence Clearwater Revival tune did almost as well. Tina Turner would continue to perform the song for decades to follow.
17. If You Really Love Me, Stevie Wonder. Singer and songwriter Stevie Wonder wrote the tune with his wife of the time, Syreeta Wright. Wonder played multiple instruments on the recording and Wright provided backup vocals.
16. Rainy Days and Mondays, The Carpenters. Admit it, you like The Carpenters. This one climbed to number 2 but could not overtake a Carole King hit. The Official Vevo music video has almost 44 million views.

15. Don’t Pull Your Love, Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds. OK, I thought the group’s name was based on newscasters of the day Joe Hamilton and Frank Reynolds. Maybe they thought of it, or maybe not but they are Dan Hamilton, Joe Frank Carollo, and Tommy Reynolds. Who knew?

14. It Don’t Come Easy, Ringo Starr.  George Harrison produced and played guitar on Ringo’s first hit after the Beatles. Richard Starkey is credited with songwriting. He may have gotten a little help from his friends.

13. That’s The Way I Always Heard It Should Be, Carly Simon. Jacob Brackman wrote the complex and emotional lyrics and Simon wrote the music. It was the first hit single from her debut album.

12. Never Can Say Goodbye, The Jackson 5. Yes, 12-year-old Michael is singing about love. This was a big hit for the group. In 1974 Gloria Gaynor would have a disco-style hit with the tune.

11. Superstar, The Carpenters.  The 1969 Delaney and Bonnie tune was reimagined by Richard Carpenter. His work received a Grammy nomination for Best Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist. This one also went to number 2.

After that slow tune where you played snuggle bunny with a close friend, Marilyn is turning up the lights. That means the sock hop is over for this week. Garry has been guarding your shoes against the east wall. Don’t forget to take only yours on the way out. We will continue the countdown next time.

To hear any tune just click on the title. For the complete playlist of 1971 Golden Oldies, click here.


The following thoughts appeared last year on SERENDIPITY.

Black artists and white singers, Rich Paschall

At the dawn of Rock and Roll in the 1950s and even into the early 1960s, it was not uncommon for white singers to cover African-American singers. Black artists did not get radio play on white radio stations. That shut them out of a lot of markets and kept much of America from hearing their songs. This opened the door wide for white singers to record songs heard only on black R&B stations, leaving the impression in many areas that they were the original artists.

DOT, a Memphis area record label founded in 1950, became big by hiring white singers to cover black songs. In fact, they made stars out of some of these singers. Among the biggest was Pat Boone, who you might see selling walk-in bathtubs these days. The crooner recorded Fats Domino’s 1955 song “Ain’t That a Shame,” which became a big hit. It had been suggested that Boone change the lyric to “Isn’t That A Shame,” perhaps to sound more “white.”  Fortunately, they resisted that bad idea. Boone followed with a number of covers that made him a household name. His next success was the Little Richard song, “Tutti Fruitti,” which Boone did not want to record. To Boone “it didn’t make sense” but he was talked into it and it went to number 12.  A song that went all the way to the top was “I Almost Lost My Mind,” originally by Ivory Joe Hunter. Nat King Cole even covered the song, but Boone had the hit. The main reason was that Boone got a lot of radio play. The others did not.

DOT made a star of Gale Storm when she covered the Smiley Lewis R&B hit, “I Hear You Knockin’.”  She also recorded “Why Do Fools Fall In Love?” Snooky Lanson and The Fontane Sisters benefited from the practice of covering other artists as well. Eventually, DOT cashed in off admitting to the practice with an album of 30 of these songs. “Cover to Cover,” includes 7 recordings by Pat Boone alone. It also includes a mediocre version of Chuck Berry’s Rock Classic, “Maybelline,” by Jim Lowe.

The white versions were generally slower and toned down in comparison to the R&B versions. They were playing to a different audience so they produced versions they thought would be more appealing to that audience. It was a sign of racially segregated times and something that would not happen now. Of course, there are still many covers, but for various other reasons.

When Elvis Presley hit the scene, he also brought with him his cover versions of older songs. His 1956 hit “Hound Dog,” was originally by Big Mama Thornton, but Elvis may have been influenced by the 1953 novelty version by Jack Granger and his Granger County Gang, aka Homer and Jethro. The 1954 hit, “That’s All Right,” belonged to Arthur “Big Boy” Crudup and was originally called “That’s All Right, Mama.”

One of the consequences of all these cover songs was they helped pave the way toward acceptance of this genre of music and eventually of some of the black artists who originated the songs.  Little Richard is said to have claimed that while teenagers and young music lovers may have had Pat Boone on top of their dressers, but they had “me in the drawer ’cause they liked my version better.” 

By the late 1950s, with the segregation of music dying out, the Doo-Wop group Little Anthony and the Imperials came along and started to hit the big time. While many of their early songs found great success for other artists, they found wider radio and television play than earlier Black R&B stars.

For a look at the Linda Ronstadt version of this song, see this past article.


Last year I posted my top ten songs of 1971 on SERENDIPITY. Here they are again in case you need another walk down memory lane.

One Hit Wonders, 1971 edition, by Rich Paschall

It’s another Golden Anniversary and we are here at the SERENDIPITY dance hall and tea room to bring you another top ten list of songs you may have forgotten, or perhaps never knew at all. Come on over in your Hot Rod Lincoln and Get It On. Mr. Big Stuff will be here and claims, “I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing.” So have a piece of American Pie as we wait for Layla to show up.

Some lists will show you American Pie as the greatest One Hit Wonder of all time. The song certainly gave Don McLean a long career. I don’t consider it a one-hit-wonder because McLean also scored with Vincent (Starry, Starry Nights), even though it did not crack the top ten on the Billboard Hot 100. It did make number 1 in the UK.

You can also find “Layla” by Derek and the Dominos on the list. Let’s face it, the band was Eric Clapton and friends. Clapton was performing under another name for personal reasons, “We were a make-believe band. We were all hiding inside it.”  It didn’t last long and Clapton certainly had more hits, including a slower version of Layla.

record player

Two groups actually scored with “I’d Like To Teach The World To Sing (In Perfect Harmony).” The Hillside Singers were the ones who appeared in the Coca-Cola commercial singing, “I’d like to buy the world a Coke” instead.  It’s the real thing! The tune was so popular they released a version without the reference to Coke which became their one-hit-wonder. The New Seekers also released a version of the song.  Between the commercials and the radio play, you could not escape this song in 1971.

Now grab a twelve-ounce bottle of your favorite beverage and the countdown will begin.

10. One Toke Over The Line, Brewer and Shipley.  If it is 1971, we don’t have to explain this one to you. Apparently, no one explained it to the conservative Lawrence Welk when his group did it. Yes, there is a video that you can find HERE.
09. Help Me Make It Through The Night, Sammi Smith. The song was written and recorded in 1970 by Kris Kristofferson. At the end of the year, Smith released her version which climbed the charts in early 1971.
08. Do You Know What I Mean, Lee Michaels. When you see your girl stepping out with your best friend, it can hurt. Do you know what I mean? The song made it to number 6 on the Hot 100.
07. Funky Nassau, The Beginning of the End. The R&B hit has been recorded by a number of artists over the years and appeared in the 1998 Blues Brothers film.
06. Theme from Summer of 42, Peter Nero. The song was a hit, and so was the movie. The score was mostly composed by Michel Legrand, including the hit theme.

And now a word from the sponsor (not our sponsor, just a sponsor):

05. Theme from Love Story, Francis Lai. The movie was a three-hanky weeper and the theme song was a hit. Paramount felt the theme song needed lyrics and many recorded “Where Do I Begin.” Henry Mancini had a bigger hit with the instrumental theme, but we give you the original.

04. Sweet City Woman, The Stampeders. The Canadian rockers topped out at number 8 on the US Billboard Hot 100 but were number one in Canada.

03. Smiling Faces Sometimes, The Undisputed Truth. It may have sounded like a Temptations song to you.  In fact, the Temptations released another version earlier in 1971. This version made it to number 3.


02. Signs, Five Man Electric Band. Another Canadian rock group makes the list. This was a big hit in Canada, the US, and Australia. It was originally the B side of another song that did not do as well. Re-released as an A-side, it climbed the charts.

01. I’ve Found Someone Of My Own, The Free Movement.  This R&B hit could have made our Breaking Up playlist recently. We will finish with a slow dance, but you may not want to pick your “ex” for a partner.

To hear any of the one-hit wonders, click on the title. To hear the entire playlist, click HERE.


Last summer on the SERENDIPITY website, we took the opportunity to update a short profile of a great American singer, Linda Ronstadt.

No silencing Linda Ronstadt

All through the 1970s, you could not leave your transistor radio on for long without hearing the distinctive voice of Linda Ronstadt.  She emerged from her early time with The Stone Poneys in the mid-’60s as broke, from paying for much of their third and final album, but with a solo career emerging.  Her cover of Mike Nesmith’s “Different Drum” became a hit and she was on her way.

After assembling a strong group of musicians and friends, she went ahead with both covers of songs from the 50s and ’60s as well as some new songs.  The combination brought her hit after hit and made her one of the best-selling female artists of all time.  She posted 10 top ten songs and one of her hottest was a cover of the Little Anthony and the Imperials’ song, Hurt So Bad,” which peaked in 1980.

In a career that lasted until 2011, Ronstadt sold over 100 million records and her voice can be heard on an astounding 120 albums.  She has an impressive collection of awards, including 12 Grammys.  She remained popular until her retirement in 2011 when she declared herself “100 percent retired.”  While some walk away from their careers as they get older, it is always somewhat of a surprise when a famous person retires.  You really expect them to come back at some point.  That was never going to happen for Ronstadt, at least not as a singer

The problem was she could no longer sing.  She was physically unable.  In 2012 she was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and in August 2013 the news was stated publically.  Her induction to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame came too late in her career. In April 2014, the disease progressed to the point where she could not perform at her induction, or even attend.  Her friends took her place on stage, singing out her biggest hits in tribute.

In July 2014, President Obama handed out twelve 2013 National Medals of Arts and Humanities, including one for Linda Ronstadt.  This honor was not to be denied to her.  She was brought to Washington and wheeled into the East Room by a military aide, but she stood and walked up to the President of the United States to receive her award “for her one-of-a-kind voice and her decades of remarkable music.”  After the ceremony, President Obama admitted to the crowd,  “I told Linda Ronstadt I had a crush on her back in the day.”  It’s OK to admit that.  Millions of other boys did too.

In 2019 she received the Kennedy Center Honors and again made the trip to receive the award. Stars paid tribute.

As she has done a few times in recent years, Linda sat down at the Kennedy Center for an interview about her long and illustrious career. It was cut short by disease but she has expressed peace with all that she accomplished.

That same year she contributed comments to the documentary “Linda Ronstadt: The Sound Of My Voice.” She won another Grammy for Best Music Film. It was awarded at the 63rd Grammys in 2021. The presentation had been delayed by the Coronavirus.  In 2020 she worked on another documentary. “Linda and the Mockingbirds,” a road trip to Linda’s musical roots in Mexico. This month Linda Ronstadt turned 75.