Top 40 Smash Taps: “Where You Lead” and “The Way He Makes Me Feel”

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.

By my count, Barbra Streisand has amassed twenty-one Top 40 singles during the course of her career. To my surprise, her sustained success on that particular Billboard chart didn’t really begin until the nineteen-seventies. From her double-barreled debut in 1963 (The Barbra Streisand Album was followed by The Second Barbra Streisand Album within months), she always sold albums at a steady clip, making her still the top female solo artist when it comes to total units moved. Singles were a different matter. Despite a run of eight straight Top 10 albums in the decade (and that doesn’t even include the Funny Girl Broadway cast album, which peaked at #2), Streisand notched only two Top 40 singles, though one of those was a significant enough hit to become one of her many signature songs. By the early seventies, her luck on the Hot 100 hadn’t change much with most singles scuffling in the lower reaches of the chart. A mild exception arrived with “Where You Lead,” the lead single from her 1971 album Barbara Joan Streisand. A cover of a song that originally appeared on Carole King’s wildly successful Tapestry album, which had been released a mere six months earlier, “Where You Lead” includes a version of Streisand that is almost unrecognizable as she dips down into her lower register and perhaps takes cues from the bluesy, funky vibe of the all-female band Fanny, who’d been recruited to contribute to Streisand’s album. Maybe the different sound worked as it at least nudged across that mythic dividing line, peaking at #40. Streisand must have liked the song, since a year later it was on another one of her singles. It’s mashed up with “Sweet Inspiration” on the first single from her album Live Concert at the Forum. This time it charted three slots higher. King never released the song as a single, but she did rerecord it years later so it could serve as the theme song for the television series Gilmore Girls.

Following the live track “Sweet Inspiration/Where You Lead,” Streisand’s next trip to the Top 40 was a dominant one, as the title song from The Way We Were went all the way to the top spot, eventually being designated by Billboard as the biggest hit of the year. That still wasn’t the tipping point, as Streisand’s next few singles went nowhere on the chart. It took her three years before she next made the Top 40, and it was again a soundtrack song serving her well. “Evergreen (Love Theme from A Star is Born spent three weeks at #1 and won Streisand and co-songwriter Paul Williams Oscars. That’s where the hits began piling up, with her next ten charting songs all reaching the Top 40 (the weird ballad “Superman” is the one outlier during this stretch). She had a couple formulae that worked for her, as many of these singles were from soundtracks and several others were duets. This fertile patch was starting to dry out when Streisand took one of those soundtrack offerings into the Top 40, though, as the feature implies, just barely. “The Way He Makes Me Feel” was the the first single issued from the soundtrack to Yentl, the movie musical about a young woman posing as a man so she can study Talmudic Law that also served as Streisand’s directorial debut. Streisand made only two more trips to the Top 40 after that, one of of which was a terrible, syrupy duet with Don Johnson, of all people. She kept selling albums, though. Her most recent, Partners, is another hodgepodge of duets. It went to #1 on the Billboard album charts and was certified platinum, her thirty-first album to receive that designation.


“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
“I’d Love to Change the World” by Ten Years After
“Friends” and “Married Men” by Bette Midler
“Spice of Life” by the Manhattan Transfer
“You Can’t Roller Skate in a Buffalo Herd” by Roger Miller
“Don’t Pity Me” by Dion and the Belmonts
“Ask Me No Questions” by B.B. King
“Can’t Leave ‘Em Alone” by Ciara
“All I Really Want to Do” by the Byrds
“Love Rollercoaster” by Red Hot Chili Peppers
“Just a Little” by Brenda Lee
“Sweet Maxine” by the Doobie Brothers

15 thoughts on “Top 40 Smash Taps: “Where You Lead” and “The Way He Makes Me Feel”

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