Ah, those were the good old days
One of the local Oldies radio stations has started playing reruns of Casey Kasem’s American Top 40. They were playing one from June 17, 1978 and it was likely one that I listened to when it first aired all those years ago. This was back when the Top 40 was an amazing mix of styles and artists, before music charts became so specialized that virtually anyone who releases a single will end up with a number one somewhere.
I caught the top twenty or so songs of the broadcast, and I was surprised that I had never heard of a couple of the songs. One was by the “king of bubblegum pop” Sweet. I have never heard of Sweet or the song that had landed them in the Top 20. I’m not sure I had ever heard of Bubblegum Pop either, now that I think about it. Another unknown was a group called Celebration, which turned out to be a studio backup band for Mike Love of Beach Boys fame.
So there the usual suspects of the time that I remember and still hear on stations like Jake FM and Bob FM and the like-Bob Seager, Meatloaf, Paul McCartney, and Gerry Rafferty. Mixed in are people who I was surprised to hear-Chuck Mangione, George Benson, Bonnie Tyler, and-wait for it-Johnny Mathis.
Chuck Mangione? With the exception of a few tracks by Moby and the Chemical Brothers, does anyone record instrumentals any more? And when was the last time a country song was on the Pop Top 40? Or is there even a Pop Top 40 anymore?
It’s pretty much standard for each new generation to listen to music that the previous generations hate, so I can understand why I hated rap and-what was that other stuff that was sort of like rap only more bubble gum like? Oh yeah, Hip Hop.
But now, with Lady Gaga doing disco and Madonna impressions and plenty of other groups doing what sounds like soft rock or maybe grudge-I can listen to some newer stuff without instantly wanting to change the channel. Of course, music is like movies and books-it’s all been done before and will be done again.
So listening to these old songs from 30 years is kind of fun. But it’s only a sampling of what I was really listening to. This was when I discovered The Beatles and my little brother discovered Jan & Dean and my Mom was still listening to Johnny Cash’s Greatest Hits Vol 2.
My little brother was really the record hound, he bought a couple of thousand 45s and had them all neatly arranged in those cute wooden crates from Peaches. This back the dark ages when you had to buy a song if you wanted to listen to it.
Now I have every song ever recorded at my fingertips, just a quick google away. Free and clear on YouTube, Grooveshark, Rhapsody, and countless other online radio stations. My brother had to search all over town to find a copy of Bilolboard magazine-now available easily online, with more information about Charts than anyone could possibly want. But to me, the Charts died about twenty years ago. They keep track of Ringtones for crying out loud-who cares about bloody ringtones?
So The American Top 40 just isn’t want it used to be, and good Casey Kasem is just a ghostly voice from the past. Think I’ll google Dance With Me and relive the glory days of Disco one more time.
These were some of the first songs I really fell in love with:
#40 “WARM RIDE” – Rare Earth
#39 “GREASE” – Frankie Valli
#38 “EVERYBODY DANCE” – Chic
#37 “ONLY THE GOOD DIE YOUNG” – Billy Joel
#36 “THIS TIME I’M IN IT FOR LOVE” – Player
#35 “DISCO INFERNO” – The Trammps
#34 “I CAN’T STAND THE RAIN” – Eruption
#33 “WONDERFUL TONIGHT” – Eric Clapton
#32 “CHEESEBURGER IN PARADISE” – Jimmy Buffett
#31 “MISS YOU” – The Rolling Stones
#30 “ALMOST SUMMER” – Celebration
#29 “FOLLOW YOU, FOLLOW ME” – Genesis
#28 “I WAS ONLY JOKING” – Rod Stewart
#27 “THE CLOSER I GET TO YOU” – Roberta Flack w/Donny Hathaway
#26 “BABY HOLD ON” – Eddie Money
#25 “OH WHAT A NIGHT FOR DANCING” – Barry White
#24 “HEARTLESS” – Heart
#23 “LAST DANCE” – Donna Summer
#22 “EVEN NOW” – Barry Manilow
#21 “YOU’RE THE LOVE” – Seals & Crofts
#20 “BLUER THAN BLUE” – Michael Johnson
#19 “DEACON BLUES” – Steely Dan
#18 “EVERY KINDA PEOPLE” – Robert Palmer
#17 “WITH A LITTLE LUCK” – Wings
#16 “STILL THE SAME” – Bob Seger
#15 “BECAUSE THE NIGHT” – Patti Smith
#14 “TWO OUT OF THREE AIN’T BAD” – Meat Loaf
#13 “THE GROOVE LINE” – Heatwave
#12 “USE TA BE MY GIRL” – The O’Jays
#11 “DANCE WITH ME” – Peter Brown
#10 “LOVE IS LIKE OXYGEN” – Sweet
#9 “YOU BELONG TO ME” – Carly Simon
#8 “ON BROADWAY” – George Benson
#7 “FEELS SO GOOD” – Chuck Mangione
#6 “TAKE A CHANCE ON ME” – Abba
#5 “TOO MUCH, TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE” – Johnny Mathis w/Deniece Williams
#4 “IT’S A HEARTACHE” – Bonnie Tyler
#3 “BAKER STREET” – Gerry Rafferty
#2 “YOU’RE THE ONE THAT I WANT” – John Travolta & Olivia Newton-John
#1 “SHADOW DANCING” – Andy Gibb