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Virtual Ballpark Experience 

As COVID restrictions, which I'm in full support of, continue in Ontario, one thing that I really miss is going to baseball games. To compensate, I've devised what I call the virtual ballpark experience. Here's what you need:

  • an interest in baseball (obviously)
  • subscription to MLB TV or MLB Audio (the latter is dirt cheap: US $19.99 for one year)
  • a device with which to watch a game
  • ballpark-esque food of your choice
  • (optional) a scorecard. This is the one I use; you might prefer something more or less elaborate
  • three to four distraction-free hours

If you have MLB TV, you can watch any game, live or archived, subject to blackout restrictions. Those of us on the cheaper plan can access home and away radio broadcasts of any game, including postseason, with no blackouts. Now, you'll note that earlier, I used the word "watch." How do you watch a game if you're limited to radio feeds? Simple. Every day in the regular season, the fine folks at MLB offer a free game of the day that radio listeners can access. And if you find the TV commentary too minimalist, which I often do when I'm scoring, you can overlay the radio feed. Of course, it helps if the free game of the day involves at least one team you care about, enough to cheer for or against them.

I've had some fun with the food aspect. I try to limit myself to food I can buy at my local ballpark, Rogers Centre. So, my dinner of choice is two mustard-drenched Yves veggie dogs, Smartfood Movie Night Butter popcorn (expertly mimics the dry stadium variety), a can of Coke and a bowl of Breyers chocolate ice cream. To really make it authentic, the Coke is served in the commemorative plastic cup ("White Sox, 2005 World Series champions") I got at U.S. Cellular Field in Chicago, where I saw Mark Buehrle's no-hitter in 2007. Over the years I've collected a fair number of those batting-helmet souvenir ice cream cups, and to honour my beloved cat (surely a Tiger fan), I serve the ice cream in a Detroit Tigers mini-helmet. I must admit, I do cheat a bit with the veggie dog toppings—grated old cheddar and diced tomatoes, neither of which are available at the ol' ball yard.

Once the food is ready, it's a matter of munching away, watching the game and filling out your scorecard. I can't think of a better way to spend a few hours. You're as "at" the ballpark as you can be, arguably more comfortable than the fans in the actual seats on a frigid April night at Fenway Park (a game I watched from home a few weeks ago). The only bummer is having to prep the food and do the dishes afterwards. Still, you can pause the game to cook, clean up, use the facilities, whatever, and not miss a single pitch. The MLB TV interface helpfully includes an in-progress box score and play summary, which makes scoring a breeze.

And you know, that old adage remains true: go to a baseball game and you never know what you'll see. The Seattle/Boston tilt I watched had the Mariners winning in extras, scoring 7 runs on 3 hits. The Seattle radio crew informed me that it's only the eighth time since 1901 that a team has scored seven or more runs on three or fewer hits (last time it happened was 1994). Also, I recently had the pleasure of scoring Joe Musgrove's historic no-hitter, the Padres' first (they went 52 years, 1 week or 8,205 games without one).

So, take yourself out to the ballgame! No need to leave your living room. You won't catch a foul ball or home run, but you can do the seventh-inning stretch if you'd like—a nice little wrinkle I'll try to remember for next time.

Restore Blue Jays Radio 

E-mail recently sent to Sportsnet, media conglomerate responsible for broadcasting all things Blue Jays:



I'm writing to express my outrage at Sportsnet's decision to axe the Blue Jays radio broadcasts. I've been a Jays fan since 1977, and my primary means of processing information is auditory. As such, I don't even own a TV. I fell in love with the game on the radio—first with Tom Cheek and Early Wynn, then the legendary tandem of Tom and Jerry. Both are sorely missed, but in recent years I've enjoyed the quality work of Ben Wagner and Mike Wilner.

For those of us who aren't visual or are visually impaired, radio isn't a frill or an add-on. We need a dedicated radio broadcast in order to follow the game. Your stated reason for ditching the radio broadcasts (COVID-related travel concerns) simply doesn't pass muster. Ben and Mike did a phenomenal job in 2020 broadcasting off monitors from a Toronto studio. Don't kid yourselves. We, the fans, see this decision for what it is: a short-sighted cost-cutting measure.

Though you may not know or believe it, baseball is made for radio. The slower pace of the sport allows the broadcaster to weave into their commentary stories, stats, and baseball history. A great radio voice paints a picture for the listener, enabling us to effectively "be" at the ballpark through the magic of sound and experience the timeless feel of this grand old game.

Alas, as the 2021 spring slate begins, I have no way of following my team. The radio booth lies empty for the first time since 1976. Many Jays games have no radio coverage at all, and those that do feature the opposing team's broadcast. Obviously, their focus is not on the Blue Jays, who are just "the other team" on the field. Lest you think this won't affect my fandom, know that I'm seriously considering switching allegiances to one of the other 29 teams. Unlike you, they recognize the value for money that radio provides.

You also need to understand that I'm not a lone voice. I draw your attention to this petition, which has been signed by over 2,100 irate Blue Jay fans:

I urge you to end this travesty and restore to the airwaves a dedicated Blue Jays radio broadcast. Canada's only major-league team deserves better than bush-league media coverage.

Rediscovering 1972 

"I listen to CHUM."

In the early '70s, my local Top 40 outlet had a contest whereby if you answered your phone in this way and they were the caller, you'd win $1,000. It struck me as ill-mannered to say anything other than "hello" when picking up the phone, and anyway, CHUM never called. But despite my reluctance to give them free advertising whenever the phone rang, I certainly spent 1972 listening to CHUM. So, for the final instalment in the music-of-my-youth trilogy, I present my Top 100 of 1972, the last great year of the Top 40 era. And as good as 1972 is, intimations of the decay to come were already festering. To be blunt, the goop was overtaking the gold, and things would only get worse from here.

Now, I'll be the first to admit that the charts of 1973—and to a lesser extent, '74 and '75—contain many great songs. However, the goop-to-gold ratio had definitively tipped in the wrong direction, and by 1976 my Top 40 party was over. "Soft rock," an oxymoron if ever there was one, now dominated the airwaves, making them unbearably saccharine. If I recall, the last 45 I ever bought was "Afternoon Delight" by the Starland Vocal Band and I recall giving it a spin and asking, "Why did I buy this?" Sadder still, the dynamite, socially conscious soul and funk of the early '70s had now devolved into disco, which managed to dumb down the groove and the words. I suppose by then I had moved on in other ways, too. Like any self-respecting teenager in the mid-'70s, I'd discovered album rock and FM radio. Which, from this distance—scouring my collection for the Foreigner albums I parted with long ago—was no better than the Top 40; just a different flavour of slick, soppy pablum. All these years later, to paraphrase Mr. Johnny Nash, I can see clearly now why punk had to happen. That, though, is another post for another day.

If you've read this far, you may have noticed several number-one songs missing from my Top 100 of 1970, '71 and '72. I have nothing against chart-toppers as such, but especially then it seemed that the dreck rose to the top far too often. Countless killer songs stalled at #2 because The Osmonds, Tony Orlando & Dawn, The Bee Gees, Bread and their ilk hogged the top spot. When CHUM played any of these (and boy, they did), I changed the station, and you won't find them within miles of my Top 100. Anyway, for what it's worth, this time out I've bunched together five of 1972's number-one songs on my Top 100 below to give you a sense of what CHUM considered the crème de la crème, non-Osmond genus.

The songs are in no particular order, other than what makes sense to me as a playlist. Several singles released in 1972 didn't chart until 1973 on CHUM, and some very late in that year, too. Regardless, they properly belong to 1972 and so are included here. In brackets is the date the song debuted on the CHUM chart, followed by its peak chart position. Chart-topping songs are in bold. A few worthy songs didn't make the CHUM chart, but I heard them somehow. They may have charted on other regional stations I listened to. As for the rest, they're worthy tunes I encountered later that deserved a better fate. Explore, discover and enjoy the very best of 1972!

  1. Joy - Apollo 100 (1/15/72, #6)
  2. You Wear It Well - Rod Stewart (9/23/72, #11)
  3. Sweet Seasons - Carole King (1/29/72, #12)
  4. Doctor, My Eyes - Jackson Browne (4/8/72, #2)
  5. Treetrunk - The Doors (did not chart)
  6. Black and White - Three Dog Night (8/19/72, #1)
  7. I Believe in Music - Gallery (10/14/72, #12)
  8. Roundabout - Yes (3/18/72, #5)
  9. I Gotcha - Joe Tex (3/4/72, #7)
  10. You're Still a Young Man - Tower of Power (7/15/72, #17)
  11. I'm Still in Love with You - Al Green (8/5/72, #12)
  12. Hold Your Head Up - Argent (8/5/72, #6)
  13. Me and Julio down by the Schoolyard - Paul Simon (5/13/72, #19)
  14. Hello It's Me - Todd Rundgren (11/17/73, #7)
  15. Do It Again - Steely Dan (1/27/73, #7)
  16. Cousin Mary - Fludd (11/3/73, #19)
  17. Operator (That's Not the Way It Feels) - Jim Croce (12/2/72, #18)
  18. Old Man - Neil Young (5/6/72, #11)
  19. Ventura Highway - America (11/25/72, #5)
  20. Go All the Way - Raspberries  (8/12/72, #9)
  21. How Do You Do - Mouth & MacNeal (6/3/72, #3)
  22. Saturday in the Park - Chicago (8/5/72, #2)
  23. Walk on the Wild Side - Lou Reed (4/14/73, #9)
  24. School's Out - Alice Cooper (7/29/72, #1)
  25. Smoke on the Water - Deep Purple (6/30/73, #5)
  26. Long John Silver - Jefferson Airplane (did not chart)
  27. We've Got to Get It on Again - The Addrisi Brothers (1/22/72, #5)
  28. Superstition - Stevie Wonder (12/30/72, #3)
  29. Oh Girl - The Chi-Lites (4/15/72, #1)
  30. Could It Be I'm Falling in Love - The Spinners (2/3/73, #8)
  31. Too Late to Turn Back Now - Cornelius Brothers & Sister Rose (6/10/72, #5)
  32. Listen to the Music - The Doobie Brothers (10/21/72, #6)
  33. Bad Side of the Moon - April Wine (7/8/72, #16)
  34. Beautiful Sunday - Daniel Boone (7/15/72, #2)
  35. Changes - David Bowie (did not chart)
  36. Conquistador - Procol Harum (6/3/72, #7)
  37. Clean Up Woman - Betty Wright (1/1/72, #4)
  38. Superfly - Curtis Mayfield (did not chart)
  39. Let's Stay Together - Al Green (1/1/72, #2)
  40. Backstabbers - The O'Jays (8/19/72, #4)
  41. The Cisco Kid - War (4/14/73, #4)
  42. I'll Take You There - The Staple Singers (4/29/72, #10)
  43. Take It Easy - The Eagles (6/10/72, #12)
  44. Dunrobin's Gone - Brave Belt (7/1/72, #23)
  45. Guns, Guns, Guns - The Guess Who (did not chart)
  46. The Family of Man - Three Dog Night (3/25/72, #2)
  47. Someday Never Comes - Creedence Clearwater Revival (5/13/72, #15)
  48. Long Cool Woman - The Hollies (6/24/72, #3)
  49. The Lion Sleeps Tonight - Robert John (1/22/72, #3)
  50. Summer Breeze - Seals & Crofts (10/28/72, #1)
  51. Precious and Few - Climax (1/15/72, #1)
  52. I'm Gonna Love You Too - Terry Jacks (12/16/72, #12)
  53. Masquerade - Edward Bear (6/3/72, #14)
  54. (Make Me Do) Anything You Want - A Foot in Coldwater (7/1/72, #21)
  55. Rock and Roll Song - Valdy (10/21/72, #21)
  56. Sun Goes By - Dr. Music (7/8/72, #17)
  57. Day by Day - Godspell (7/8/72, #8)
  58. Time in a Bottle - Jim Croce (12/15/73, #8)
  59. Goodbye to Love - Carpenters (8/5/72, #6)
  60. The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face - Roberta Flack (3/18/72, #1)
  61. Betcha by Golly Wow - The Stylistics (3/18/72, #6)
  62. Bang a Gong (Get It On) - T. Rex (2/5/72, #8)
  63. Get Up, Get Out, Move On - Fludd (4/8/72, #18)
  64. Rocket Man - Elton John (6/24/72, #7)
  65. Beautiful - Gordon Lightfoot (5/27/72, #17)
  66. Suavecito - Malo (3/18/72, #8)
  67. If You Don't Know Me by Now - Harold Melvin & The Blue Notes (11/18/72, #4)
  68. You Ought to Be with Me - Al Green (12/9/72, #20)
  69. Lean on Me - Bill Withers (6/17/72, #1)
  70. Why Can't We Live Together - Timmy Thomas (1/6/73, #1)
  71. Heart of Gold - Neil Young (2/12/72, #1)
  72. Alone Again (Naturally) - Gilbert O'Sullivan (6/24/72, #1)
  73. I Can See Clearly Now - Johnny Nash (10/14/72, #1) 
  74. Sylvia's Mother - Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show (4/15/72, #2)
  75. Brandy (You're a Fine Girl) - Looking Glass (6/10/72, #3)
  76. I Saw the Light - Todd Rundgren (5/6/72, #18)
  77. Baby Blue - Badfinger (4/1/72, #12)
  78. Drowning in the Sea of Love - Joe Simon (1/8/72, #17)
  79. Get on the Good Foot - James Brown (did not chart)
  80. Troglodyte (Cave Man) - The Jimmy Castor Bunch (5/27/72, #3)
  81. Runnin' Away - Sly & the Family Stone (2/19/72, #19)
  82. Take the Blindness - Joey Gregorash (11/11/72, #17)
  83. One More Chance - Ocean (9/16/72, #15)
  84. Cotton Jenny - Anne Murray (2/12/72, #18)
  85. Daytime Nighttime - Keith Hampshire (11/18/72, #6)
  86. Runnin' Back to Saskatoon - The Guess Who (9/23/72, #5)
  87. City of New Orleans - Arlo Guthrie (10/14/72, #6)
  88. Use Me - Bill Withers (9/23/72, #9)
  89. Everybody Plays the Fool - The Main Ingredient (8/26/72, #6)
  90. Tumbling Dice - The Rolling Stones (4/22/72, #11)
  91. You Could Have Been a Lady - April Wine (3/11/72, #6)
  92. Mother and Child Reunion - Paul Simon (2/12/72, #4)
  93. America - Yes (did not chart)
  94. Isn't Life Strange - The Moody Blues (4/29/72, #17)
  95. Never Been to Spain - Three Dog Night (1/1/72, #4)
  96. Look What You Done for Me - Al Green (4/29/72, #19)
  97. Freddie's Dead - Curtis Mayfield (11/11/72, #17)
  98. Papa Was a Rollin' Stone - The Temptations (11/25/72, #1)
  99. Vincent - Don McLean (4/22/72, #5)
  100. Amazing Grace - The Royal Scots Dragoon Guards (5/20/72, #1)

Rediscovering 1971 

In my previous post on 1970, I mentioned that the transistor radio I received at Christmas was nothing short of a revelation. By 1971, the artists were my prophets and local Top 40 outlet CHUM and its charts, my bible. Perhaps because 1971 was my first full year of tuning in and turning on, I run out of superlatives to describe this extraordinary year in the annals of popular music.

And yeah, I know: everyone believes the music of their youth is the greatest music ever made. Fair enough, but dip into the hundred awesome songs below and tell me I'm wrong. If you're still unconvinced, David Hepworth's Never a Dull Moment: 1971—Rock's Golden Year might sway you. I mean, come on: what other year in rock history has its own book? Now, Hepworth's 1971 is, on the surface, not much like mine. He's a Brit, and as a 21-year-old then, his album-oriented listening overlapped little with that of a nine-year-old Canadian kid grooving to Top 40 radio. Still, we agree that in his words, "1971 saw an unrepeatable surge of musical creativity, technological innovation, naked ambition and outrageous good fortune that combined to produce music that still crackles with relevance today." Right on, brother.

In a more esoteric way, you know a year is special when three distinct songs named "Superstar" hit the charts within seven months. Of course, I couldn't resist placing them back-to-back-to-back on my Top 100, for they showcase the diversity and raw creativity that exemplifies 1971. And locally at least, the introduction of Canadian content regulations (CanCon) that January was to influence the CHUM charts in 1971 and beyond. Canadian radio now had to play at least 30% homegrown music, and as a result a few fabulous obscurities charted, if just barely. (Example: "You're Gonna Miss Me" by Toronto band Wishbone, which should have been a bigger hit and not just in Canada.) In tribute, I've sprinkled my Top 100 with a few CanCon clumps.

As is customary for the early '70s, 1971's charts are graced with some spectacular one-hit wonders. Say hello/goodbye to Ashton, Gardner & Dyke, King Floyd, The Beginning of the End, Wadsworth Mansion, The 8th Day, The Glass Bottle and Daddy Dewdrop. And as someone who heard King Floyd long before Pink Floyd, I should note that at this point I still hadn't heard The Beatles. Fortunately, the music that came in their immediate wake was so stunning that had I known about them, I'd not have missed them much. Nor would I have fretted over hearing Richie Havens' "Here Comes the Sun" (April 1971, #8 on CHUM) well before encountering the original on Abbey Road. Regardless, the individual Beatles arguably peaked as solo artists this year as well, and you'll find all four in their very own John, Paul, George and Ringo section of my Top 100 of 1971.

The songs are in no particular order, other than what makes sense to me as a playlist. A few songs released in 1971 didn't chart until early 1972 on CHUM. Regardless, they properly belong to 1971 and so are included here. For similar reasons, "Your Song," released in late 1970, has been bumped into 1971. In brackets is the date the song debuted on the CHUM chart, followed by its peak chart position. Chart-topping songs are in bold. A few worthy songs didn't make the CHUM chart, but I heard them somehow. Some were double-A sides; others probably charted on regional Top 40 stations I listened to. Come explore, discover and enjoy the sweet sounds of rock's golden year, 1971!

  1. Sweet Hitch-Hiker - Creedence Clearwater Revival (7/17/71, #8)
  2. Joy to the World - Three Dog Night (4/3/71, #1)
  3. Brown Sugar - The Rolling Stones (5/1/71, #1)
  4. You're Gonna Miss Me - Wishbone (6/5/71, #22)
  5. Broken - The Guess Who (did not chart)
  6. Woodstock - Matthews' Southern Comfort (3/20/71, #4)
  7. Draggin' the Line - Tommy James (6/19/71, #2)
  8. Theme from Shaft - Isaac Hayes (10/2/71, #2)
  9. For All We Know - Carpenters (2/27/71, #7)
  10. Sunshine - Jonathan Edwards (11/20/71, #2)
  11. Ain't No Sunshine - Bill Withers (7/31/71, #6)
  12. Here Comes the Sun - Richie Havens (4/21/71, #8)
  13. Morning Has Broken - Cat Stevens (4/22/72, #2)
  14. Don't Pull Your Love - Hamilton, Joe Frank & Reynolds (6/12/71, #1)
  15. Groove Me - King Floyd (1/2/71, #5)
  16. Want Ads - Honey Cone (5/1/71, #4)
  17. Rock Steady - Aretha Franklin (11/6/71, #4)
  18. Funky Nassau (Pt. 1) - The Beginning of the End (5/15/71, #8)
  19. Get It On - Chase (7/3/71, #16)
  20. Resurrection Shuffle - Ashton, Gardner & Dyke (7/10/71, #7)
  21. Everybody's Everything - Santana (10/30/71, #10)
  22. It's Too Late - Carole King (5/22/71, #5)
  23. Anticipation - Carly Simon (12/18/71, #7)
  24. You've Got a Friend - James Taylor (6/26/71, #2)
  25. Signs - Five Man Electrical Band (5/29/71, #3)
  26. I'd Love to Change the World - Ten Years After (10/9/71, #4)
  27. Sweet Mary - Wadsworth Mansion (1/9/71, #2)
  28. Hey Big Brother - Rare Earth (12/11/71, #8)
  29. (For God's Sake) Give More Power to the People - The Chi-Lites (5/29/71, #12)
  30. Imagine - John Lennon (9/11/71, #3)
  31. Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey - Paul & Linda McCartney (7/17/71, #1)
  32. What Is Life - George Harrison (2/27/71, #5)
  33. It Don't Come Easy - Ringo Starr (5/8/71, #5)
  34. Albert Flasher - The Guess Who (4/24/71, #5)
  35. An Old Fashioned Love Song - Three Dog Night (10/30/71, #5)
  36. Me and You and a Dog Named Boo - Lobo (4/24/71, #7)
  37. What's Going On - Marvin Gaye (3/13/71, #10)
  38. Respect Yourself - The Staple Singers (11/20/71, #12)
  39. Turned 21 - Fludd (11/27/71, #16)
  40. Lovin' You Ain't Easy - Pagliaro (11/6/71, #9)
  41. Ain't It a Sad Thing - R. Dean Taylor (1/30/71, #21)
  42. Carry Me - The Stampeders (3/6/71, #10)
  43. Amos Moses - Jerry Reed (1/23/71, #5)
  44. It's a Cryin' Shame - Gayle McCormick (11/13/71, #22)
  45. Stay with Me - Faces (12/25/71, #7)
  46. One Fine Morning - Lighthouse (9/4/71, #13)
  47. Family Affair - Sly & the Family Stone (11/13/71, #8)
  48. If You Really Love Me - Stevie Wonder (9/4/71, #4)
  49. She's Not Just Another Woman - The 8th Day (6/19/71, #14)
  50. Treat Her Like a Lady - Cornelius Brothers & Sister Rose (4/24/71, #13)
  51. She's a Lady - Tom Jones (2/13/71, #1)
  52. Love Her Madly - The Doors (4/17/71, #7)
  53. Two Divided by Love - The Grass Roots (10/2/71, #3)
  54. The Story in Your Eyes - The Moody Blues (8/28/71, #14)
  55. Day After Day - Badfinger (12/4/71, #3)
  56. So Far Away - Carole King (9/4/71, #12)
  57. Fly Across the Sea - Edward Bear (12/25/71, #22)
  58. Carey - Joni Mitchell (did not chart)
  59. Fast Train - April Wine (6/12/71, #23)
  60. Rain Dance - The Guess Who (8/7/71, #3)
  61. Indian Reservation - Raiders (5/29/71, #1)
  62. Do You Know What I Mean - Lee Michaels (8/21/71, #7)
  63. Superstar - Carpenters (9/4/71, #3)
  64. Superstar - Murray Head (5/8/71, #1)
  65. Superstar - The Temptations (12/4/71, #13)
  66. Mr. Bojangles - Nitty Gritty Dirt Band (1/23/71, #10)
  67. One Toke over the Line - Brewer & Shipley (2/27/71, #11)
  68. Moonshadow - Cat Stevens (8/7/71, #23)
  69. Chick-A-Boom (Don't Ya Jes' Love It) - Daddy Dewdrop (4/3/71, #3)
  70. Trapped by a Thing Called Love - Denise LaSalle (10/9/71, #21)
  71. Have You Seen Her - The Chi-Lites (11/13/71, #1)
  72. Proud Mary - Ike & Tina Turner (2/27/71, #3)
  73. If You Could Read My Mind - Gordon Lightfoot (1/2/71, #6)
  74. Jodie - Joey Gregorash (4/10/71, #11)
  75. Absolutely Right - Five Man Electrical Band (10/9/71, #6)
  76. Oh What a Feeling - Crowbar (3/27/71, #14)
  77. I Ain't Got Time Anymore - The Glass Bottle (8/14/71, #17)
  78. Maggie May - Rod Stewart (8/21/71, #1)
  79. I Just Want to Celebrate - Rare Earth (8/7/71, #13)
  80. Sweet City Woman - The Stampeders (7/10/71, #1)
  81. The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down - Joan Baez (8/21/71, #2)
  82. Wild Night - Van Morrison (10/30/71, #17)
  83. Your Song - Elton John (12/26/70, #4)
  84. Sour Suite - The Guess Who (10/30/71, #7)
  85. Liar - Three Dog Night (7/10/71, #4)
  86. Peace Train - Cat Stevens (10/9/71, #7)
  87. Tired of Being Alone - Al Green (10/2/71, #8)
  88. Won't Get Fooled Again - The Who (8/21/71, #6)
  89. Lucky Man - Emerson, Lake & Palmer (5/8/71, #7)
  90. American Pie - Don McLean (11/27/71, #1)
  91. I Feel the Earth Move - Carole King (did not chart)
  92. Heavy Makes You Happy - The Staple Singers (3/6/71, #19)
  93. You Are Everything - The Stylistics (12/25/71, #4)
  94. Just My Imagination (Running Away with Me) - The Temptations (2/20/71, #13)
  95. Smiling Faces Sometimes - The Undisputed Truth (7/31/71, #4)
  96. Slippin' into Darkness - War (4/15/72, #4)
  97. Riders on the Storm - The Doors (7/24/71, #1)
  98. Put Your Hand in the Hand - Ocean (1/23/71, #1)
  99. One More Mountain to Climb - Dr. Music (did not chart)
  100. Wedding Song (There Is Love) - Paul Stookey (9/18/71, #7)

Rediscovering 1970 

On Christmas Day, 1970, I received a Westinghouse transistor radio as a gift from my grandparents. I was nine years old, and little did they know what they were about to unleash. I inserted the supplied AA batteries, turned it on and tuned in 1050 CHUM, Toronto's Top 40 powerhouse. I discovered rock 'n' roll, and my life would never be the same.

What I heard that afternoon was probably something like this J. Michael Wilson aircheck from December 23. And if perchance CHUM was playing something drippy like The Partridge Family, four alternatives were on offer: 790 CHIC (Brampton), 1150 CKOC (Hamilton), 1280 CHAM (Hamilton) and 1430 CKFH (Toronto).

Fast forward 49 years and with the help of the CHUM Tribute site, I'm rediscovering the music of my youth, creating my personal Top 100 for 1970, 1971 and 1972. I consider these the prime years. From 1973 onward, the music grew increasingly saccharine. Then came disco. Regardless, I just downloaded every CHUM chart from January 3, 1970 till they stopped publishing them in mid-1975. I consider them pure gold: touchstones of my youth that I never expected to see again. I've been scouring the charts, especially their lower reaches, for obscurities I missed when I first assembled my playlists for the big three years, and I found some gems that fleshed out my Top 100.

So ... what can I say about 1970? I feel rather unqualified to discuss the year as a whole because I only signed up in the last week. I'm in the strange position of having heard The Beatles' debut solo singles before I'd heard of The Beatles. I remember thinking, sometime in 1973 maybe, "You mean John, Paul, George and Ringo were all in the same band once? Wow. I should check them out." And that, of course, sent me on another wonderful journey. Certainly, the breakup of The Beatles is the single biggest musical story of the year, followed by the deaths of Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin. But 1970 is, as you'll discover below, so much more than that. Here you'll find pile-driving rockers, bubblegum classics, killer pop songs and the first stirrings of soul mutating into funk, not to mention a few oddball novelties. This was a time when white and black musics sat side by side on the charts in their many guises: soul, funk, rock, gospel, pop, folk, country and more. Music wasn't segregated and segmented as it is now. From fuzzed-out guitars to funky grooves to lush orchestral passages, 1970 has it all.

My Top 100 is in no particular order, other than what makes sense to me as a playlist. The nine songs that kick it off are among the first I ever heard, which is why I've given them prominence. A few songs released in 1970 didn't chart until early or even mid-1971 on CHUM. Regardless, they properly belong to 1970 and so are included here. In brackets is the date the song debuted on the CHUM chart, followed by its peak chart position. Chart-topping songs are in bold. You'll note that a few songs in my Top 100 didn't chart at all. Some may have charted on the other Top 40 stations mentioned above; as for the rest, they're worthy tunes I encountered later that deserved a better fate.

But enough rambling—here's my Top 100 of 1970. Explore, discover, and enjoy the great sounds of a terrific year!

  1. Games - Redeye (12/12/70, #10)
  2. Love the One You're With - Stephen Stills (12/19/70, #1)
  3. My Sweet Lord - George Harrison (11/28/70, #1)
  4. Born to Wander - Rare Earth (1/9/71, #8)
  5. I'm Eighteen - Alice Cooper (3/27/71, #6)
  6. Express Yourself - Charles Wright and the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band (9/26/70, #15)
  7. Stoney End - Barbra Streisand (12/12/70, #6)
  8. Hey Tonight - Creedence Clearwater Revival (did not chart)
  9. We Gotta Get You a Woman - Runt (12/19/70, #7)
  10. Evil Ways - Santana (2/7/70, #5)
  11. Are You Ready - Pacific Gas & Electric (5/30/70, #24)
  12. Celebrate - Three Dog Night (3/7/70, #16)
  13. Get Up (I Feel Like Being a) Sex Machine - James Brown (did not chart)
  14. Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes) - Edison Lighthouse (2/21/70, #3)
  15. Make Me Smile - Chicago (4/18/70, #5)
  16. Bus Rider - The Guess Who (did not chart)
  17. Spirit in the Sky - Norman Greenbaum (2/28/70, #4)
  18. The Witch's Promise - Jethro Tull (did not chart)
  19. Do What You Wanna Do - Five Flights Up (10/10/70, #22)
  20. Turn Back the Hands of Time - Tyrone Davis (4/4/70, #11)
  21. Tears of a Clown - Smokey Robinson & the Miracles (10/24/70, #3)
  22. Blue Money - Van Morrison (2/27/71, #16)
  23. Who'll Stop the Rain - Creedence Clearwater Revival (1/31/70, #1)
  24. Ohio - Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (7/25/70, #6)
  25. Hitchin' a Ride - Vanity Fare (5/2/70, #4)
  26. As the Years Go By - Mashmakan (7/4/70, #1)
  27. We've Only Just Begun - Carpenters (9/26/70, #2)
  28. Black Magic Woman - Santana (11/14/70, #2)
  29. Cecilia - Simon & Garfunkel (4/25/70, #2)
  30. Big Yellow Taxi - Joni Mitchell (6/27/70, #3)
  31. In the Summertime - Mungo Jerry (7/18/70, #4)
  32. ABC - The Jackson 5 (3/21/70, #3)
  33. Somebody's Been Sleeping - 100 Proof Aged in Soul (11/14/70, #12)
  34. Give Me Just a Little More Time - The Chairmen of the Board (1/24/70, #5)
  35. Signed, Sealed, Delivered I'm Yours - Stevie Wonder (7/11/70, #14)
  36. Mr. Monday - The Original Caste (4/25/70, #3)
  37. No Time - The Guess Who (1/3/70, #9)
  38. One Man Band - Three Dog Night (1/2/71, #20)
  39. Travelin' Band - Creedence Clearwater Revival (1/31/70, #1)
  40. Who Needs Ya - Steppenwolf (1/16/71, #17)
  41. Mexico - Jefferson Airplane (did not chart)
  42. You, Me and Mexico - Edward Bear (3/14/70, #3)
  43. Temptation Eyes - The Grass Roots (2/20/71, #7)
  44. My Baby Loves Lovin' - White Plains (4/11/70, #2)
  45. 25 or 6 to 4 - Chicago (8/8/70, #1)
  46. The Letter - Joe Cocker (5/2/70, #2)
  47. Tighter, Tighter - Alive and Kicking (6/20/70, #6)
  48. Corrina, Corrina - King Biscuit Boy & Crowbar (9/12/70, #23)
  49. Band Bandit - Tundra (did not chart)
  50. Yellow River - Christie (7/25/70, #5)
  51. Wild World - Cat Stevens (did not chart)
  52. All Right Now - Free (9/12/70, #2)
  53. You're the One - Little Sister (4/11/70, #12)
  54. Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin) - Sly & the Family Stone (1/24/70, #1)
  55. The Long and Winding Road - The Beatles (5/23/70, #1)
  56. No Sugar Tonight - The Guess Who (3/21/70, #1)
  57. Reflections of My Life - The Marmalade (3/14/70, #7)
  58. Question - The Moody Blues (5/9/70, #7)
  59. Come Saturday Morning - The Sandpipers (5/2/70, #16)
  60. Come Running - Van Morrison (4/4/70, #8)
  61. Up Around the Bend - Creedence Clearwater Revival (5/2/70, #1)
  62. Fire and Rain - James Taylor (10/3/70, #6)
  63. Love on a Two-Way Street - The Moments (5/16/70, #3)
  64. Ball of Confusion - The Temptations (5/30/70, #7)
  65. I'll Be There - The Jackson 5 (9/26/70, #1)
  66. O-o-h Child - The Five Stairsteps (6/28/70, #9)
  67. Mama Told Me (Not to Come) - Three Dog Night (5/30/70, #2)
  68. American Woman - The Guess Who (3/21/70, #1)
  69. Vehicle - The Ides of March (3/28/70, #2)
  70. Lucretia MacEvil - Blood, Sweat & Tears (10/24/70, #11)
  71. Up the Ladder to the Roof - The Supremes (3/14/70, #13)
  72. Go Back - Crabby Appleton (8/15/70, #10)
  73. Lola - The Kinks (10/3/70, #2)
  74. Ride Captain Ride - Blues Image (5/9/70, #8)
  75. Teach Your Children - Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young (6/13/70, #5)
  76. Oye Como Va - Santana (3/13/71, #19)
  77. No Matter What - Badfinger (11/21/70, #3)
  78. Indiana Wants Me - R. Dean Taylor (7/25/70, #4)
  79. Joanne - Michael Nesmith and the First National Band (8/15/70, #6)
  80. I Hear You Knocking - Dave Edmunds (1/16/71, #3)
  81. Instant Karma! - John Lennon (2/28/70, #1)
  82. Me and Bobby McGee - Janis Joplin (2/20/71, #9)
  83. Immigrant Song - Led Zeppelin (12/5/70, #2)
  84. (They Long to Be) Close to You - Carpenters (6/28/70, #1)
  85. Hand Me Down World - The Guess Who (7/11/70, #3)
  86. Out in the Country - Three Dog Night (9/12/70, #11)
  87. Spill the Wine - Eric Burdon & War (7/4/70, #4)
  88. Neanderthal Man - Hotlegs (9/5/70, #18)
  89. Hey Lawdy Mama - Steppenwolf (did not chart)
  90. Venus - The Shocking Blue (1/3/70, #1)
  91. If I Were Your Woman - Gladys Knight & the Pips (12/26/70, #6)
  92. 5-10-15-20 (25-30 Years of Love) - The Presidents (11/28/70, #7)
  93. Colour My World - Chicago (7/7/71, #3)
  94. One Tin Soldier - The Original Caste (1/3/70, #1)
  95. War - Edwin Starr (7/18/70, #1)
  96. Have You Ever Seen the Rain - Creedence Clearwater Revival (2/20/71, #16)
  97. Domino - Van Morrison (11/21/70, #4)
  98. Bridge over Troubled Water - Simon & Garfunkel (2/7/70, #1)
  99. Share the Land - The Guess Who (10/17/70, #3)
  100. Let It Be - The Beatles (3/21/70, #1)

Play Ball! 

Well, not here, not yet. But soon enough: opening day is March 28. Anyway, down in Florida and Arizona, all 30 MLB teams are playing ball in what's rather oddly called spring training. I say that because the first game took place on February 21. That's winter on any calendar, no? Regardless, I relish the arrival of spring training every year because it signifies the beginning of the end of winter.

Now, up here in Toronto, we've had more snow than we know what to do with, it's bitterly cold, and winter can hang around till mid-April. That's why I said beginning of the end. But the mere fact that baseball, that quintessential summertime sport, is being played somewhere means Old Man Blizzard and his good buddies Ice Storm and Wind Chill are on their way out. Good riddance, I say.

Baseball and radio go together like peanut butter and jam, and every year at this time I celebrate the return of my favourite broadcast teams: Jon Miller and Duane Kuiper (Giants); Dan Dickerson and Jim Price (Tigers); Ed Farmer and Darrin Jackson (White Sox). As for the hometown Blue Jays crew, I miss Tom Cheek and Jerry Howarth, but Ben Wagner and Mike Wilner do a decent job and their chemistry is good.

One pet peeve, and this is not confined to Blue Jay broadcasts, is the incessant use of player-specific adjectives. Examples:

  • "Three outs, all on fly balls. Now, that's an un-Marcus-Stroman-like inning."
  • "He just flailed at it. What an un-Miguel-Cabrera-like swing that was!"
  • "He's already issued five walks, which is so un-Sam-Gaviglio-like."

I've never understood this. Why invent new words when you've got old ones that work fine? It's as though they feel they must conjure up fresh adjectives for each player, because of course un-Marcus-Stroman-like is completely different than un-Sam-Gaviglio-like.

Newsflash, boys: there's an elegant, simple word that encompasses un-Marcus-Stroman-like, un-Miguel-Cabrera-like, un-Sam-Gaviglio-like and un-Insert-Player-Here-like. That word is "uncharacteristic." If it seems unwieldy, try "unusual." And you can even use "unlike" sans player name in the middle, like so: "He's already issued five walks, which is so unlike Sam Gaviglio."

I'm happy to report that things are looking up, though. Why, on a broadcast last week Wilner said of some pitcher, "He's just not himself today." Yeah! Beautiful. See? Pithiness is next to godliness.

But whatever your quirks, all you broadcasters out there, I thank you profusely for bringing the old ball game to us season after season, 162 games a year. Baseball is the sound of summer, even in these un-baseball-like frigid temperatures.

Yes, Sir, Let's Admire That One 

If you follow baseball in Canada at all, you know who I'm talking about. The title alone gives it away. That's how deeply and ubiquitously the voice of Jerry Howarth permeated baseball culture in this country. With last week's retirement announcement, the baseball world has lost one of its golden voices.

Stephen Brunt's warm, insightful tribute, which I urge you to read, says it best: "What will summer sound like now?" For legions of Torontonians, Ontarians and Canadians, myself included, Jerry was the Voice of Summer for 36 years, especially after assuming the Jays' lead announcer role when his long-time partner Tom Cheek died in 2005.

Baseball and radio are made for each other, and as a primarily auditory person, I'm wired to lap it up. The best broadcasters keep the listener informed,  entertained and when necessary, amused. Beyond that, the cream of the crop—and Jerry is certainly one—are gifted storytellers, taking on the persona of a wise, kindly uncle who slips in a life lesson or two amidst the grand slams, gold gloves and chin music. Sometimes I think the reason I've spent so many summers with Jerry, all 162 games' worth, is more about palling around with the uncle I never had than the race for the pennant.

As we sit on the cusp of spring training and a new season of Blue Jays baseball, we don't yet know who will take the reins as lead radio voice. But we do know who we'll miss. To the man who opened every broadcast with a warm "Hello, friends," I say farewell, friend, God bless, and enjoy your well-earned retirement.

On a related note, Leo Cahill, legendary '60s and '70s coach of the Toronto Argonauts, passed away earlier this week. Flamboyant, outspoken and quick-witted, Leo was a larger-than-life personality on Argonaut teams that had more than their share of outrageous characters. I can't recall any coach or GM, save perhaps the Leafs' Harold Ballard, who so thoroughly dominated the local sports scene. Cahill's brilliance as a coach was often overlooked, and as a recruiter he had no peers. Among his many accomplishments, Leo lured Joe Theismann away from the Miami Dolphins to lead the 1971 Argonauts to the Grey Cup, a game which left quite an impression on a certain 10-year-old.

Cahill never won a Grey Cup, but as a CBC colour commentator he got to call the second half of the Argos' 1983 victory, the one that broke Toronto's 31-year championship drought. And it's somehow fitting that the Boatmen won the last Grey Cup game played during his lifetime, last November's 27-24 victory over the Calgary Stampeders, the very team that beat Leo's squad in '71. Ironically, the heavily favoured Stampeders blew the 2017 game in a manner eerily reminiscent of the 1971 Argos.

Goodbye, Leo, God bless, and thank you. We won't see your like again anytime soon, and whenever I don my Mike Eben jersey—which arrived in the mail the day you died—I'll remember you, double blue forever.