Forty four years ago Friday (December 1, 1973), this was the #1 song in the USA…
On “American Top 40,” host Casey Kasem pointed out that Carpenters overcame having five of their hits reaching #2 in previous years before breaking through with “Top Of The World.” I had the pleasure of interviewing the drummer for this hit song back in 1991–ex-Mouseketeer Cubby O’Brien. Ironically, over on the AC chart, “Top Of The World” reached #2…but the Carpenters had 15 other hits go #1 AC.
Just before playing #1 on AT40, Casey told perhaps the best human interest story of this 12/1/73 show. It dealt with Ringo Starr’s health woes as a kid. For instance, he had appendicitis at age six. All part of the buildup to the song at #2, “Photograph.”
Still, this AT40 show gained fame as the “Scarecrow” show. About halfway through the then-three-hour show, there was an unteased feature. Casey answered an interesting question letter posed by John Shriver of New York City. John pointed out that a segment of “American Top 40” was heard in the background during a key scene towards the end of the movie “Scarecrow.”
Casey replied, “While they were still making the picture earlier this year, Warner Brothers asked if they could get an authentic-sounding portion of a radio broadcast. And we told them we’d build them a sample piece of ‘American Top 40’…and if it wasn’t quite right, they didn’t have to use it and we’d get them something else. But they LIKED it. And into their movie went the piece of ‘AT40’ that you hear on the radio in the scene where Al Pacino phones his ex-wife. Very dramatic scene, by the way.
“I wouldn’t recommend seeing the movie just to hear a piece of ‘AT40’ in it, but all of us here thought ‘Scarecrow’ was a good picture. Good script. Good direction. And some great acting. John, you didn’t mention whether you liked the movie or not, but thanks for your letter anyway. And the countdown continues.”
In the the key scene in “Scarecrow,” you can tell that the “American Top 40” show isn’t an actual show. That’s because Casey’s playing a song that was popular about two years before the show began. “The House That Jack Built” by Aretha Franklin was played. That Aretha song peaked at #6 in September, 1968, 22 months before “American Top 40” was born.