Wednesday, February 9, 2011
Some Are Mathematicians
A timely tweet from friend of Debris Slide Andy Greene reminds us that not only is Slow Train Coming a terrific album, easily the best of Dylan's three Christian records- which may not sound like it's saying much, but we're fond of all three - but it was very popular at the time. Street Legal, released in June 1978, had only gone gold and peaked at Number Eleven on the Billboard album charts, but Slow Train, which came out in August 1979, went platinum and climbed all the way to Number Three. It would be Dylan's last Top Five album until "Love and Theft" made it to Number Five in 2001; since then, in a time of greatly reduced album sales, both Modern Times and Together Through Life have peaked at Number One.
"Gotta Serve Somebody," Slow Train's first single, was also a big hit, relatively speaking, going to Number Twenty-Four on the Hot 100. With the marginal exception of "We Are the World," "Gotta Serve" will almost certainly be Dylan's last-ever Top Forty hit. The closest he's come since then is... come on, go ahead and guess.
For the record, Dylan never had a Number One album in the Sixties, but he had three in the Seventies: Planet Waves, Blood on the Tracks and Desire. Planet Waves? Really?
Anyway, the closest Dylan has come to the Top Forty since 1978 was in 1984, when "Sweetheart Like You" went to Number Fifty-Five. But you knew that. Didn't you?