Top 40 Smash Taps: “Call Me Lightning”

These posts are about the songs that can accurately claim to crossed the key line of chart success, becoming Top 40 hits on Billboard, but just barely. Every song featured in this series peaked at number 40.

The quartet comprised of Roger Daltrey, John Entwistle, Keith Moon, and Pete Townshend, known collectively as the Who, first reached the Billboard Top 40 with their 1966 single “Happy Jack.” They made it into that portion of the chart a total of sixteen times, doing so as late as 1982, by which point dearly departed drummer Keith Moon (who, as much as anyone in history, would seem to be utterly incapable of resting “in peace”) had been replaced by Kenney Jones. Despite that impressive tally, the Who weren’t nearly as dominant as their British Invasion peers, with only one of their hits propelled into the Top 10, and even then just barely. “I Can See for Miles,” a single from the seminal album The Who Sell Out, peaked at #9. It was shortly after that U.S. breakthrough that the Who released “Call Me Lightning” as a single, at roughly the same time that “Dogs” was issued the U.K. The band felt that “Call Me Lightning” would be a little stale for the homeland market, which by early 1968 had already started to move on from straight-ahead rock with dissipating echoes of skiffle. But surely the kids in the States were still prepared to swoon and scream before such material. The band even put together a video that had an odd Monkees vibe to it, proving their sincerity in playing to the audience. It did chart, but petered out at #40, suggesting the maybe listeners of the other side of the Atlantic were equally ready to move on to more complex fare. Luckily, Townshend was only a year away from delivering just that. If the track hasn’t endured like some of the other Who songs that have been nearly ubiquitous on classic rock radio for decades, it at least inspired the band name for a scruffy group of Milwaukee indie rockers.

“Just Like Heaven” by The Cure.
“I’m in Love” by Evelyn King
“Buy Me a Rose” by Kenny Rogers
“Who’s Your Baby” by The Archies
“Me and Bobby McGee” by Jerry Lee Lewis
“Angel in Blue” by J. Geils Band
“Crazy Downtown” by Allan Sherman
“I’ve Seen All Good People” and “Rhythm of Love” by Yes
“Naturally Stoned” by the Avant-Garde
“Come See” by Major Lance
“Your Old Standby” by Mary Wells
“See the Lights” by Simple Minds
“Watch Out For Lucy” by Eric Clapton
“The Alvin Twist” by Alvin and the Chipmunks
“Love Me Tender” by Percy Sledge
“Jennifer Eccles” by the Hollies
“Video Killed the Radio Star” by the Olympics
“The Bounce” by the Olympics
“Your One and Only Love” by Jackie Wilson
“Tell Her She’s Lovely” by El Chicano
“The Last Time I Made Love” by Joyce Kennedy and Jeffrey Osborne
“Limbo Rock” by The Champs
“Crazy Eyes For You” by Bobby Hamilton
“Who Do You Think You’re Foolin'” by Donna Summer
“Violet Hill” and “Lost+” by Coldplay
“Freight Train” by the Chas. McDevitt Skiffle Group
“Sweet William” by Little Millie Small
“Live My Life” by Boy George
“Lessons Learned” by Tracy Lawrence
“So Close” by Diana Ross
“Six Feet Deep” by the Geto Boys
“You Thrill Me” by Exile
“What Now” by Gene Chandler
“Put It in a Magazine” by Sonny Charles
“Got a Love for You” by Jomanda
“Stone Cold” by Rainbow
“People in Love” by 10cc
“Just Seven Numbers (Can Straighten Out My Life)” by the Four Tops
“Thinkin’ Problem” by David Ball
“You Got Yours and I’ll Get Mine” and “Trying to Make a Fool of Me” by the Delfonics
“The Riddle (You and I)” by Five for Fighting
“I Can’t Wait” by Sleepy Brown
“Nature Boy” by Bobby Darin
“Give It to Me Baby” and “Cold Blooded” by Rick James
“Who’s Sorry Now?” by Marie Osmond
“A Love So Fine” by the Chiffons
“Funky Y-2-C” by the Puppies
“Brand New Girlfriend” by Steve Holy
“I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie Honey Bunch)” by Bonnie Pointer
“Mr. Loverman” by Shabba Ranks
“I’ve Never Found a Girl” by Eddie Floyd
“Plastic Man” and “Happy People” by the Temptations
“Okay” by Nivea
“Go On” by George Strait
“Back When My Hair Was Short” by Gunhill Road
“Birthday Party” by the Pixies Three
“Livin’ in the Life” by the Isley Brothers
“Kissing You” by Keith Washington
“The End of Our Road” by Marvin Gaye
“Ticks” and “Letter to Me” by Brad Paisley
“Nobody But You Babe” by Clarence Reid
“Like a Sunday in Salem” by Gene Cotton
“I’m Going to Let My Heart Do the Walking” by the Supremes

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