Remember how Casey Kasem used to rattle off pop-music statistics with such authority on AT40? He’d always sound like he carries this stuff around in his head like baseball announcers do. (Well, maybe they don’t, but they seem like they do.) And with some of it, you’d have to scratch your head and wonder how he could have possibly figured it out. Casey seemed all-knowing, and as a kid, I thought, “that’s something to aspire to. I’ll just keep my feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars, and someday I’ll seem all-knowing too!”
Well, turns out he made some of it up.
A shocking thing, I know. It’s ok. I still like Casey. I read a history of AT40 that reveals all kinds of dirt about the man, and it kind of makes me like him more.
Anyway. He did a special countdown of record-holding records in 1980 and claimed that Donna Summer’s “Dim All the Lights” contained the longest continuously held note in any top 40 song — 16 seconds for that last “up” before the song speeds up. (It’s unusual for a song’s longest note to appear so early in the song. This one’s less than a minute in; usually they’re close to the end.)
My first reaction was to wonder how one would research something like that. I mean, did Casey sit there with a stopwatch playing every song that ever hit the charts? I kind of doubted it. And 16 seconds didn’t seem so long to me, really.
I sort of (but not really) forgot about the whole thing until today when I listened to “I Can See Clearly Now” (just by coincidence, kind of the opposite of Donna dimming all the lights). Johnny Nash spends 18 seconds on “skies” at the end of the bridge…but that may not count because, although it’s continuously held, it’s not all one note. Fair enough. I’ll buy that.
Not to worry, I had another ace up my sleeve: Bill Withers holds a note for 18 seconds in “Lovely Day.” One note. Casey must have forgotten to play that 45. It’s a good one. I won’t claim that it’s the record-holder though. I’ve not yet finished playing every song.
And now back to our countdown.