Top 40 Smash Taps: “I’d Love to Change the World”

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 U.K. blues-rock band Ten Years After was only together from 1966 to 1974, but they were incredibly prolific in that span, releasing eight studio albums and two live discs, the second of which was, of course, a double album. In 1970 and 1971 alone, the band issued four albums. As with many other hard rock bands of the era, Ten Years After had more success on the album charts than on the Billboard Hot 100. (Led Zeppelin, as one example, had six #1 albums on the U.S. charts, but only one single that was able to crack the Top 10.) Indeed, the song that is clearly considered the biggest hit Ten Years After ever enjoyed peaked at a tepid #40. “I’d Love to Change the World” appeared on the band’s 1971 album, A Space in Time, which was considered a bit of a departure because it incorporated more acoustic guitar parts and a gentler approach to songcraft. The song’s lyrics seemed to take aim at the prevailing protest culture, opening with the lines “Everywhere is freaks and hairies/ Dykes and fairies, tell me where is sanity.” I goes on to complain about taxes and reference the tangle of debate around heavy topics, ultimately concluding, “I’d love to change the world/ But I don’t know what to do/ So I’ll leave it up to you.” Some have speculated that songwriter Alvin Lee was being ironic in the lyrics, but his intent isn’t all that clear. What is certain is that Lee grew to hate the song, which was surely an extension of the animosity he had towards any level of success that distracted from him ability to just noodle away on stage because audiences wanted to hear the hits. Lee largely refrained from ever playing the song live. Ten Years After officially broke up in 1974, but there were reunions later on, including a few more studio albums. Lee was initially part of the revived group, but left them for good in 2003. The remaining members persisted under the name Ten Years After, even though Lee was the main creative force. Lee died in early 2013 at the age of sixty-eight.

“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
“Call Me Lightning” by the Who
“Ain’t It True” by Andy Williams
“Lazy Elsie Molly” and “Let’s Do the Freddie” by Chubby Checker
“Second Fiddle” by Kay Starr
“1999” by Prince
“I’ll Try Anything” by Dusty Springfield
“Oh Happy Day” by Glen Campbell

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