DEAR JERRY: Your web page says you have answered over 3,000 questions, over 30 years, but here's one I don't think you've gotten.
On a Sirius/XM music trivia show, the host said Billy Joel's "The Longest Time" was the only Top 100 record with the word "longest" in the title. True or false? I can't think of another one.
Lorrie Ruffin, Columbia, S.C.
DEAR LORRIE: Change one word in the claim, and it would be true, but if it was stated exactly as you suggest, it is false.
Let's first assume you are quoting correctly, and he or she didn't mean one thing and say another.
Billy Joel's "The Longest Time" reached the Top 15 in 1984, but it's neither the first, nor the only, "Longest" tune found among the Top 100 songs. There are at least two others:
In 1955, "The Longest Walk," by Jaye P. Morgan (RCA Victor 6182), made the Top 12 on all three charts: Billboard, Cash Box, and Music Vendor.
Also, Mitch Miller's Orchestra & Chorus charted on Cash Box in 1962, at No. 86, with "The Longest Day (Vocal)"/"The Longest Day (Instrumental)" (Columbia 42585). Both sides were written by Paul Anka, for the film of the same name.
What would make the statement true is if the host said "Top 100," but really meant "Hot 100." If so, that would eliminate any records not on Billboard's singles chart on or after August 4, 1958. That was when they changed the name of their weekly 100 song surveys, from "Top" to "Hot," abandoning thousands of earlier hits as though they never existed. They could have just as easily changed the name, and not create an unnecessary demarcation. Fortunately, most in the music industry realize there were hit records before August of 1958.
Of course Jaye P. Morgan's 1955 tune, "The Longest Walk," would have pre-dated the "Hot" era.
As for "The Longest Day," Mitch Miller made the Cash Box Top 100, but only "Bubbled Under" Billboard's Hot 100, peaking at No. 109.
My research on this topic turned up other "Longest" singles that did not appear on a national survey, but are performed by familiar artists who did chart with other tunes. You might like to get acquainted with these titles:
1961: Barbara Lewis "The Longest Night of the Year" (Karen 313)
1962: Barbara Lewis "The Longest Night of the Year" (Atlantic 2141)
1962: Sonny James "On the Longest Day" (Dot 16419)
(As with "The Longest Day" film, this is also about D-Day)
1963: Ray Pennington "The First Step Down Is the Longest" (King 5783)
1969: Jim Ed Brown "Longest Beer of the Night" (RCA Victor 9677)
(Reached No. 35 on the 75 "Hot Country Singles" chart)
1977: Mary K. Miller "The Longest Walk" (Inergi 304)
1979: Freda Payne "The Longest Night" (Capitol 4775)
1979: The Kingston Trio "Longest Beer of the Night" (Nautilus 2-45)
1983: Jules Shear "The Longest Drink" (EMI America 8163)
2008: John Mellencamp "Longest Days" (Hear Music 21054)
DEAR JERRY: Of the top rock era stars, which ones never wrote, or co-wrote, a charted hit for themselves? I have a hunch that some will surprise us.
Phillip Humphrey, Kingman, Ariz.
DEAR PHILLIP: Indeed, of the two dozen names that qualify, there's bound to be a surprise entry. Some stars did write songs that they or someone else recorded, but not ones that appeared on the charts.
(In 1956, his name appeared on some of his RCA Victor labels as a co-writer, a financial gimmick by the publishing company. Elvis never wrote a song.)
Sammy Davis Jr.
IZ ZAT SO? In these two examples, the singer wrote the uncharted B-side of a big hit:
(In 1985, Dionne & Friends Featuring Elton John, Gladys Knight and Stevie Wonder had a No. 1 hit with "That's What Friends Are For," written by Burt Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sager. On the reverse side is "Two Ships Passing in the Night," written by Dionne Warwick, but it did not chart.)
(Dusty wrote "Once Upon a Time" and "Something Special," the B-sides of her first two solo hits: "I Only Want to Be With You" and "Stay Awhile")