December 15, 1978: Sweet Life

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(Pictured: Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman.)

December 15, 1978, was a Friday. President Jimmy Carter gives a televised address to the nation announcing the reestablishment of diplomatic relations between the United States and the People’s Republic of China, and explains America’s new relationship with Taiwan. After the speech, President and Mrs. Carter fly to Camp David for the weekend. The city of Cleveland, Ohio, defaults on $15.5 million in short-term loans it had received to meet its financial obligations. It’s the first major American city to go broke since the Great Depression. Today is the last day of manufacture for aerosol products containing ozone-destroying fluorocarbons, following a federal government order last spring. The exhibit of treasures from the tomb of King Tut, which has been touring the country for over a year, opens at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

Nine games are played in the NBA tonight. In a battle of top teams, the Los Angeles Lakers edge the Seattle Supersonics 100-98. Dennis Johnson of the Sonics leads all scorers with 28 points; Norm Nixon leads the Lakers with 26. New movies at the box office this weekend include Superman starring Christopher Reeve and California Suite starring Jane Fonda, Walter Matthau, Michael Caine, and Richard Pryor. The Deer Hunter opens in New York after its Los Angeles premiere last Friday. It will go into wide release in February. Philips/MCA puts laserdisc technology on the market under the name MCA Discovision. A laserdisc edition of Jaws comes out today. Actor Chill Wills, famed as the movie voice of Francis the Talking Mule and for many western roles, dies of cancer at age 76. Carter’s China speech preempts or delays scheduled network TV programming. NBC has Diff’rent Strokes, the final episode of the soon-to-be-cancelled Who’s Watching the Kids, and a two-hour episode of The Eddie Capra Mysteries. On CBS, it’s Wonder Woman, The Incredible Hulk, and Flying High, a comedy/drama about flight attendants starring Connie Sellecca. On ABC, it’s a Christmas episode of Donny and Marie followed by the TV movie Long Journey Back starring Mike Connors and Cloris Leachman.

In The Crusader, the campus newspaper at Susquehanna University in Pennsylvania, music critic Tim Brough names his top albums of 1978. Billy Joel plays Madison Square Garden in New York City, the Grateful Dead plays Birmingham, Alabama, Bob Dylan plays Lakeland, Florida, and Cheap Trick plays Boston. Bruce Springsteen plays San Francisco in a show broadcast on KSAN. Across town at KFRC, “Le Freak” by Chic and “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers” by Barbra Streisand and Neil Diamond continue at #1 and #2 on the new survey out today. There’s little movement among the top 11 songs on the survey. Al Stewart’s “Time Passages” makes the biggest move of any song among the Top 30, moving from #19 to #12. There’s one new song in the Top 20, “Sweet Life” by Paul Davis, at #18. The highest debut on the chart is Cheryl Lynn’s “Got to Be Real” at #22. The top albums on KFRC are Barbra Streisand’s Greatest Hits Volume 2, Let’s Get Small by Steve Martin, and The Best of Earth Wind and Fire, Volume 1. At WSUP, the campus station at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville, final exams mean some changes in the regular Friday DJ lineup. A freshman who did his first-ever live radio show yesterday will be on the air today from noon til 6.

Perspective From the Present: The freshman was, of course, me. My six-hour Friday show was supposed to be my debut, but I got asked at the last minute to fill in on the morning show the previous day. I was too busy to think much about it on Thursday, but that Friday show was the most exhilarating experience of my life. That afternoon represented the single biggest dream of my life coming true. It’s no exaggeration when I say that nothing else in my life since then—nothing else—has ever come close to the thrill of it.

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October 7, 1978: First Edition

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(Pictured: Bob Seger, rockin’ a Springsteen T-shirt, 1978.)

(This post is a historic one, as it’s the very first One Day in Your Life post I ever wrote at The Hits Just Keep on Comin’. The first few editions looked a lot different than the later ones would. Although I have revised most of the early ones that have and will appear here, I’m gonna put this one up almost exactly as it appeared back on October 7, 2004. I’ve made some cosmetic edits and added a link, plus Perspective From the Present at the very end. If I’m recalling correctly, I wrote the original on some public library computer while killing a morning on the road. )

Any given day can be filled with historic events, but some time has to pass before we recognize them as such. October 7, 1978, was one of those days. The Los Angeles Dodgers advanced to the World Series that night, and after the game was over, we turned on the radio.

Bob Seger’s “Hollywood Nights” peaked at #12 on the singles chart that day. It’s the quintessential Bob Seger record—a smart lyric about making your way in a world that wants to steal your money and break your heart, delivered with Seger’s trademark crunch. All-time classic lines: “She had been born with a face that would let her get her way / He saw that face and he lost all control.” Boston’s “Don’t Look Back” peaked at # 4. We would have been surprised to know that it would be their last major hit for eight years, until “Amanda” in 1986.

The Rolling Stones performed “Beast of Burden” and “Respectable” on Saturday Night Live. [Editor’s note: And also “Shattered.”] This was the night Mick grossed out America by licking Ron Wood’s cheek in mid-solo.

Toto’s first single, “Hold the Line,” was released debuted on the Hot 100 at #84. [I stopped using release dates in these posts fairly early on because a large percentage of Internet resources get them wrong, and chart dates are better anyhow.—ed.] Can you think of an artist that sold more records and got less love than Toto? “Hold the Line” became a radio hit because it sounded like it should be one—perfect for both Top 40 and album-rock formats.

John Mellencamp celebrated his 27th birthday. It would be the last time he celebrated a birthday without having it mentioned on lists of notable birthdays, because by the time he would turn 28, the album Nothin’ Matters and What If It Did would be out, and the single “I Need a Lover” would be on its way up the charts.

Perspective From the Present: On the Billboard Hot 100 dated 10/7/78, the top two were the same as the previous week: “Kiss You All Over” by Exile and former #1 hit “Boogie Oogie Oogie” by A Taste of Honey. Nick Gilder’s “Hot Child in the City” was up to #3 in its 18th week on; three weeks hence it would finally take out “Kiss You All Over” and set a record for the slowest-cooking #1 hit of all time. “How Much I Feel” by Ambrosia made the biggest leap within the 40, from #29 to #16; “Double Vision” by Foreigner went from #38 to #26. New songs in the 4o were “Took the Last Train” by David Gates, “Ready to Take a Chance Again” by Barry Manilow, and “Sweet Life” by Paul Davis. In addition to “Hold the Line,” eight other records debuted on the Hot 100, all between #80 and #90. Other than “Hold the Line,” Justin Hayward’s “Forever Autumn” (#82) and Chaka Khan’s “I’m Every Woman” (#86), the rest of them remained obscure. If you remember “Martha” by Gabriel (the highest debut of the week at #80) or “Mellow Lovin'” by Judy Cheeks (#88), maybe you should be writing this blog.

March 18, 1978: Family Reunion

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(Pictured: the Bee Gees with brother Andy in Florida, March 1978.)

(Promotional announcement: this is the first of four posts that will appear here in the next five days. Tell your friends.)

March 18, 1978, is a Saturday. Deposed Pakistani prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto is convicted of murder and sentenced to death. Before their annual banquet, members of the fire department in Frostburg, Maryland, ring the firebell 111 times to honor the members who have died fighting fires since the department was founded 100 years ago today. In the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, Kentucky wins the Mideast Regional final over Michigan State, 52-48. Leon Spinks, who upset Muhammad Ali to win the heavyweight boxing championship in February, is stripped of the title for refusing to fight Ken Norton, who is declared champion. Future NBA player Brian Scalabrine and future NHL player Jan Bulis are born; author Leigh Brackett dies, shortly after turning in a script for The Empire Strikes Back. Although she will receive a writing credit, practically none of her words or ideas will make it onto the screen.

Lindsey Wagner of The Bionic Woman is on the cover of TV Guide. This morning, CBS broadcasts the final original episodes of The Robonic Stooges, an animated kids’ show reimagining Larry, Moe, and Curly as crime-fighting robots of the future. Tonight, CBS airs the final episode of Kojak. On NBC, Jill Clayburgh hosts Saturday Night Live with musical guest Eddie Money, whose debut single “Baby Hold On” is in its fourth week on the Billboard Hot 100.

A 15-year-old girl in Illinois buys a copy of the Bee Gees’ Children of the World; looking at the cover, her father declares that the Bee Gees look “like long-haired hippie gangsters.” On the latest Hot 100, the long-haired hippie gangsters hold down the top two spots with “Night Fever” and “Stayin’ Alive.” Samantha Sang is next with “Emotion,” a song the Bee Gees wrote, produced, and sing on; Andy Gibb’s “(Love Is) Thicker Than Water,” a former #1 song, is at #5. (The lone interloper at the family reunion is Eric Clapton, whose “Lay Down Sally” has sneaked up to #4.) If that isn’t enough, the Bee Gees’ former #1 hit “How Deep Is Your Love” is hanging on at #35 in its 26th week on the Hot 100.

The Jerry Garcia Band plays Washington, D.C., U2 plays Limerick, Ireland, and Yes plays Los Angeles. The second California Jam concert is held in Ontario, California. Headliners include Ted Nugent, Aerosmith, Heart, Foreigner, Santana, Frank Marino & Mahogany Rush, Dave Mason, Rubicon, and Bob Welch, who brings out surprise guests Stevie Nicks and Mick Fleetwood. Nearly 300,000 fans show up, but critics focus on the generally substandard quality of the performances and the extravagance of the backstage amenities some performers demand, from pinball machines for amusement to plates of M&Ms with the yellow ones removed.

In Wisconsin, a young music geek misses all of this. He’s gone to the state basketball tournament to watch the Class A finals, although not before catching hell from his parents when they discover him trying to sneak a bottle of his favorite liquor along. For some reason, they let him go anyway.