Chart-based stories on Willie Nelson, the "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" soundtrack, and the late George Harrison.
ON THE CHART AGAIN: By debuting at No. 43 on The Billboard 200 with "The Great Divide" (Lost Highway), Willie Nelson has his highest-charting album since 1983, when "Tougher Than Leather" peaked at No. 39. While Nelson has earned legendary status in his own lifetime, he's only had two top-10 albums in his long career. "The Outlaws," a collaboration with Waylon Jennings, Jessi Colter, and Tompall Glaser peaked at No. 10 in 1976, and "Always on My Mind" spent four weeks at No. 2 in 1982.
FOUR OR MORE: With Usher earning a fourth week at No. 1 on The Billboard Hot 100 with "U Got It Bad" (Arista), there have now been five consecutive No. 1 songs that have remained in pole position for four or more weeks. This current run includes:
"Fallin'," Alicia Keys (6 weeks)
"I'm Real," Jennifer Lopez featuring Ja Rule (5 weeks)
"Family Affair," Mary J. Blige (6 weeks)
"U Got It Bad," Usher (4 weeks)
"How You Remind Me," Nickelback (4 weeks)
It's the longest run of songs that have been on top for four or more weeks since the period that ran from Feb. 13, 1999, to June 12, 1999. The five songs that held down the top spot during that time were:
"Angel of Mine," Monica (4 weeks)
"Believe," Cher (4 weeks)
"No Scrubs," TLC (4 weeks)
"Livin' la Vida Loca," Ricky Martin (5 weeks)
"If You Had My Love," Jennifer Lopez (5 weeks)
BROTHER TO BROTHER: The Mercury soundtrack to "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" rebounds to No. 11 on The Billboard 200. That matches the peak position of the album, which first went to No. 11 the week of Sept. 1, 2001. If the album can move up just one place next week, it could make the top-10 for the first time in its 57th week on the chart.
POIGNANT RETURN: Exactly 31 years ago this week, George Harrison's "My Sweet Lord" debuted on the British singles chart. The following week it became his only No. 1 single in his home country.
With the reissue of "My Sweet Lord" re-entering at No. 1, Steve Young of Hull, England, notes that Harrison's single is only the second title in the 50-year history of the U.K. chart to return to the top in the same exact version. The first single to repeat at No. 1 was Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody," which first went to No. 1 in November 1975, and then again in December 1991 after the death of lead singer Freddie Mercury.
Young also points out that as a solo artist, Harrison now has the third longest span of No. 1 hits in the U.K., bested only by Cliff Richard and Cher. Richard's span is 40 years, four months, and three weeks, from "Living Doll" in July 1959 to "The Millennium Prayer" in December 1999. Cher's span is 33 years and four months, from "I Got You Babe" in August 1965 to "Believe" in December 1998. Counting in his time with the Beatles, Harrison's span of No. 1 hits increases to 38 years, eight months, and three weeks, from "From Me to You" in May 1963 to "My Sweet Lord" in January 2002.
One more note from Young: Harrison's gap of 31 years between No. 1 songs is an all-time record in the U.K., even though it is with the same recording. The previous record for longest gap between chart-topping titles was the 25 years and nine months between the Righteous Brothers' "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" in January 1965 to "Unchained Melody" in October 1990.