American Top 40 PastBlast, 11/14/87: John Cougar Mellencamp, “Cherry Bomb”

In the late 80s, WPGU, Champaign-Urbana’s album/college rock station, started a new game during their weekday morning show.  It centered around a character called the Lounge Lizard; the selected caller was treated to a twenty-or-so-second snippet of a rock tune sung “lounge style,” and to win one had to correctly identify song and artist.  It was around this time of year in 90 that I got my chance to square off against the LL.

That was the year I had an apartment by myself.  John, my roommate the previous three years, had been dating Ann since the second half of 87.  They got married in July 90, after she graduated from vet school, and moved to Chicago.  In August, when the lease on our place ended, I moved to a one-bedroom somewhat closer to campus.  John kept his teaching assistantship at the U of I, so he’d drive down to C-U Tuesday morning, crash on my couch for two nights, and return home after his Thursday classes were over.

Since John wasn’t a witness, it must have been a Monday, Tuesday, or Friday morning when LL and I did battle (I’d guess Friday).  I imagine the guy who played the Lounge Lizard was a friend of one of the morning jocks.  He was a bit unreliable; he didn’t always show up, and there were times when he literally phoned it in.  You likely wouldn’t be surprised to learn LL was portrayed as having alcohol issues.  I even recall a time when they attempted to kill him off, complete with a plot line that involved him getting shot (probably by an irate husband, with whose wife LL had, uh, consorted).

While I did reasonably well “playing at home,” I by no means got them right anywhere close to all the time—the nightclub affectations really did get in the way, even when lyrics might have sounded familiar.  I was a little worried I’d whiff, but nothing ventured, etc.  I don’t remember trying regularly to take a shot, but I doubt that I was the right caller on my first attempt.

It’s lost to me now which portion of the song LL crooned, but I’d bet on the chorus: “That’s when a sport was a sport, and groovin’ was groovin’…”  It didn’t click at first, and for a second I saw myself going down in flames. They were known to give hints to struggling contestants, and I may have received a nudge. Regardless, all was suddenly revealed.  I gave the required information about today’s song (debuting at #40 here, peaking at #8) and was soon providing my address to them off-air.  I suspect I was pleased enough with myself over this.

My prize was a copy of a recently released CD, one that I actually was happy to receive!  I’ll feature a song from it tomorrow.

3 thoughts on “American Top 40 PastBlast, 11/14/87: John Cougar Mellencamp, “Cherry Bomb””

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