Just started on the 1976 records, and not yet anywhere near ready to sum up the year, but I will say if 1977 was the year of cocaine, 1976 was surely the year of CB. While listening to “Convoy” the other day, I noted that the mighty convoy of lore got underway on the sixth of June, prompting me to want to plot on a calendar all of the dates mentioned in popular songs.
Just a day later, I was reminded by a friend that it was the third of September, that day I’ll always remember, yes I will, as the day that Temptation’s no-good, rolling stone daddy died. And so began my quest to fill in the calendar. I found that it wasn’t so easy — the songs that mention specific dates (as opposed to just days of the week or months or years or holidays) are somewhat few and far between.
A couple other easy ones came immediately to mind: “Saturday in the Park” by Chicago — and a slew of other songs — mention the fourth of July, the only holiday that most often goes by the name of the calendar date (Who says Independence Day anymore?). That got me thinking, should it count if they mention a holiday that falls on the same day every year?
I could see maybe counting “New Year’s Day” by U2 as January 1, and any number of songs that mention Valentine’s Day or Christmas, but would not count something that mentions those floating holidays like Thanksgiving or Sadie Hawkins Day.
June 3 famously figures in “Ode to Billy Joe” and also “Desiree.” I wonder if Neil Diamond took that into account when he wrote his song, which came later. This song about Neil’s most memorable one-night stand gets double credit since it mentions June 4 as well. (I wonder what happened June 5.)
Bob Dylan married Isis on the fifth day of May, James Taylor was heading down the turnpike December 1 in “Sweet Baby James,” Earth Wind and Fire remember the twenty-first night of September, and by May tenth, Richmond had fell — we’ll overlook the grammatical issue for now; chalk it up to dialect — in the Band’s (but not Joan Baez’s, interestingly enough) version of “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.”
A few other historical dates crop up: Martin Luther King’s assassination April 4 is referenced in “Pride (In the Name of Love)” by U2, John Kennedy’s assassination November 23 figures in Jefferson Airplane’s obscure “Hijack” (which also anticipated the group’s later Starship incarnation), and “April 29, 1992” by Sublime — named for the day the Rodney King riots began in LA — mistakenly names April 26 in the actual song (though they got it right in the title).
Others? There must be some obvious songs I’m forgetting, but still, I have a feeling I’ll never fill in all 366 days unless I commission some of the songs…and that would be cheating, kind of, wouldn’t it?