American Top 40 PastBlast: The Top 100 of 1983, Part 1

Every year at this time, Premiere Networks present year-end countdowns from the Casey Kasem era. This year on the 80s side they’re featuring the Top 100 of 1983, with #100-51 being played this weekend.  Since I listened in back then, I can show you what I wrote down–it’s fairly simple.



Even though I’d stopped keeping weekly charts at the beginning of October 82 and had quit listening to Casey regularly by March 83, I still tuned in at the ends of 83, 84, and 85 and wrote them all down (some habits die hard)!

Next week, the Top 50 will appear in this space!

American Top 40 PastBlast: The Top 100 of 1977, Part 1

Every year at this time, Premiere Networks present year-end countdowns from the Casey Kasem era. This year on the 70s side they’re featuring the Top 100 of 1977, with #100-51 being played this weekend.  Since this is one of the years I was tracking things, I can show how I wrote it up. Note that I had created my own logo for the show.


Really love that Dr. Buzzard’s Original Savannah Band, Dean Friedman, and David Dundas are all present here. As you can see, I identified the record label for each act– I was keen on that sort of info in both 76 and 77, but gave it up pretty soon afterward.

Next weekend, you’ll see the Top 50 in this space!

From The Archives: The Top o’ Christmas Morning

My great-aunt Birdie Brown went back to college in middle-age to obtain a degree in order to serve as elementary school librarian in the Gallatin County system. She had retired from that position by the time I was a toddler, but she put her experience and knowledge to work when it came to presents for Amy and me.  Christmas, Easter, birthdays (not just our own)—in the late 60s and first half of the 70s, it seemed that no occasion passed without the gift of a book. She certainly loved us dearly, but she also may have done this in part to pick up the slack for her sister, my grandmother, who had developed dementia.

I had taught myself to read at a relatively early age, probably 5, and I’m sure that my parents put me in their laps and read to me prior to that, just as Martha and I did with Ben. But it is to my great regret now that I didn’t pay much mind to the books I received from Aunt Birdie. While they weren’t used, they didn’t seem exactly fresh off the bookstore shelf, either—they often had the same musty smell that permeated much of her house. The titles and authors are largely unknown today: Tommy Carries the Ball (September 72, for my grandmother’s birthday) by James and Marion Renick, Bayou Hunter (my birthday in February 75) by Louise Jenkins, Little Will the Bugle Boy (Christmas 70) by William Binzen, Jerry Jake Carries On (undated) by May Justus, and Thorntree Meadows (Christmas 74) by Roger Nett are among those she gave me.  But there’s also a book from Else Holmelund Minarik’s Little Bear (April 69) series and Thistly B (my birthday 71) by Tasha Tudor.

As you’ve probably guessed by now, I still have them.  A few years ago, perhaps somewhat out of guilt, I dug out Thorntree Meadows and read it. It’s a sweet book comprised of short episodes about the friendships that exist among a hippo, a pig, and an aardvark. Then, sometime late in 16, while we were doing some reorganizing in our basement storage, I came back across my Aunt Birdie collection. This time, another of the books popped out at me: The Top o’ Christmas Morning.  I remembered the cover—a young girl in riding clothes leading a horse while approaching a boy in a field, indicating she was being chased by another young rider who’s jumping over a fence in the distance—very well from back in the day.  I’d simply never cracked it open. Here’s the inscription.


It’s by Alta Halverson Seymour and was written in 1955. I’ve not had much luck tracking down information online about Ms. Seymour. I’ve found only one web page with biographical information:

Alta Halverson Seymour was born in 1893 in Deer Park, Wisconsin. When she was a little girl, she made up stories for the entertainment of her younger brother and sister, a facility for story-making that led her eventually into the world of writing.  Prior to becoming a published author, she attended the University of Minnesota for both her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, then owned, and operated a stenographer’s company in California, before finally moving to Illinois where she lived the rest of her life.  After her marriage to George Seymour, an economic consultant, in 1922, she and her husband would often travel by freighter or mail-boat to out-of-the-way places.  In this way, Mrs. Seymour found interesting people and unusual situation, which furnished material for her books.  She once wrote, “Sometimes I write for adults, but I like best to write for boys and girls.” Many of her books draw upon the annals and experiences of her own family. Diaries, journals, and family traditions supplied the warm, human material for her books and careful research provided the authenticity of detail. Two of Alta Halverson Seymour’s books—On the Edge of the Fjord and The Tangled Skein—were Junior Literary Guild Selections.

Many of Ms. Seymour’s books appear to be Christmas-themed: titles include The Christmas Donkey, Arne and the Christmas Star, and Kaatje and the Christmas Compass (they really were influenced by her travels). None seem to be in print, but some titles are available used at Amazon and eBay. My curiosity has been sparked now; I’ll see how I might find out more about her.

Upon rediscovering The Top o’ Christmas Morning last year, I plucked it out of the milk crate housing it and resolved to make sure it was read at Christmas. Alas, I placed the book on a shelf that I walk by only when going to our storage room, so December of 16 came and went before I realized I’d forgotten about it. It nagged at me all this year whenever I passed by (I’ve been dealing with the stuff in our storage space pretty regularly lately), and finally in the fall, I took it down, started it and got maybe 40% of the way through. As Christmas drew closer, I put it out on an end table in our basement; I finally finished it three days ago.

The story takes place in rural Ireland. Its three protagonists are Sheila Courtney, the granddaughter of the local squire, and Kevin and Nora Donohoe, the two oldest of eight children in a hard-working, proudly independent, but rather poor family.  They’re all between 10 and 12 years old. The book begins with their meeting (that’s Sheila and Kevin on the cover, of course) and traces their adventures and growing friendship over the final five months of the year. There are happy endings all around, culminating just after midnight on Christmas morn. The author displays sympathy aplenty for the characters, even if they aren’t particularly deeply drawn (it is children’s lit, after all). I’m glad to have finally taken it on—I’d like to think that I would have enjoyed it forty-five years ago, as well.

So, what next? Well, to write this, I got my whole collection out of that old milk crate.  If you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some reading that’s more than four decades overdue calling. Thank you for thinking of me, Aunt Birdie.


American Top 40 PastBlast, 1980s: Year in Review, 2017

A few months ago, my friend Mark suggested I might create a Spotify playlist of all the AT40 songs I’ve featured.  Year’s end seems like a good time to put that together.  Today it’s the 80s, in the order presented.  Yesterday I did the analogous thing for the 70s.

Some notes:
–I put these on Facebook only from January to mid-July, before this ol’ blog got started. A few of those early posts have migrated over here; maybe all of them will eventually.
–I skipped the weekends when a show from 1988 played.  To be honest, my interest in Top 40 music was sufficiently fading that I was worried I wouldn’t have much to say.
–One track, “Cry,” by Godley and Creme, isn’t available on Spotify, so you’ll just have to play that one in your head at the appropriate time.  Also, I could find only a live version for “Shock the Monkey” by Peter Gabriel.  C’est la vie.

Here’s the track list; I’ve got links for those tunes that have appeared on the blog.  Enjoy!

1/14/84: Motels, “Remember the Nights”
1/25/86: Pete Townshend, “Face the Face”
1/24/81: Michael Stanley Band, “He Can’t Love You”
2/9/80: Steve Forbert, “Romeo’s Tune”
2/19/83: Moving Pictures, “What About Me”
2/25/84: Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, “Runner”
3/2/85: John Parr, “Naughty Naughty”
3/8/80: J. Geils Band, “Come Back”
3/15/86: Opus, “Live is Life”
3/20/82: Quarterflash, “Find Another Fool”
4/4/87: Crowded House, “Don’t Dream It’s Over”
4/4/81: Phil Seymour, “Precious to Me”
4/23/83: Frida, “I Know There’s Something Going On”
4/26/85: Eric Clapton, “Forever Man”
5/10/86: Honeymoon Suite, “Feel It Again”
5/12/84: Cyndi Lauper, “Time After Time”
5/23/81: Franke and the Knockouts, “Sweetheart”
5/31/80: Bruce Cockburn, “Wondering Where the Lions Are”
6/6/87: Pseudo Echo, “Funkytown”
6/11/83: Little River Band, “We Two”
6/19/82: Stevie Nicks, “After the Glitter Fades”
6/30/84: Wang Chung, “Dance Hall Days”
7/12/86: Moody Blues, “Your Wildest Dreams”
7/13/85: Bryan Adams, “Summer of ‘69”
7/25/81: Jim Steinman, “Rock and Roll Dreams Come Through”
7/30/83: Martin Briley, “Salt in My Tears”
8/9/80: George Benson, “Give Me the Night”
8/18/84: Bananarama, “Cruel Summer”
8/22/87: Danny Wilson, “Mary’s Prayer”
8/31/85: Godley and Creme, “Cry”
9/4/82: Frank Zappa, “Valley Girl”
9/10/83: Rick Springfield, “Human Touch”
9/13/86: Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam with Full Force, “All Cried Out”
9/26/81: ELO, “Hold on Tight”
10/3/87: Swing Out Sister, “Breakout”
10/13/84: John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band, “On the Dark Side”
10/18/80: Larsen-Feiten Band, “Who’ll Be the Fool Tonight”
10/22/83: Men at Work, “Dr. Heckyll and Mr. Jive”
10/31/81: Diesel, “Sausalito Summernight”
11/8/86: Howard Jones, “You Know I Love You…Don’t You?”
11/17/84: Tommy Shaw, “Girls with Guns”
11/14/87: John Cougar Mellencamp, “Cherry Bomb”
11/30/85: Kate Bush, “Running Up That Hill (A Deal with God)”
12/4/82: Peter Gabriel, “Shock the Monkey”
12/13/80: John Lennon, “(Just Like) Starting Over”
12/20/86: Timbuk3, “The Future’s So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades”
12/28/85: Clarence Clemons and Jackson Browne, “You’re a Friend of Mine”

American Top 40 PastBlast, 1970s: Year in Review, 2017

A few months ago, my friend Mark suggested I might create a Spotify playlist of all the AT40 songs I’ve featured.  Year’s end seems like a good time to put that together.  Today I’m doing that for the 70s, in the order presented.  The 80s get the same treatment tomorrow.

Some notes:
–I put these on Facebook only from January to mid-July, before this ol’ blog got started. A few of those early posts have migrated over here; maybe all of them will eventually.
–During the FB phase of this project, I skipped a few weekends when a show from the early 70s played.  To be honest, I was so young then that I had a fear I wouldn’t have much to say.
–One track, “Street Singin’,” by Lady Flash, isn’t available on Spotify, so you’ll just have to play that one in your head at the appropriate time.  Also, I could find only a live version for “Girl of My Dreams” by Bram Tchaikovsky.  C’est la vie.

Here’s the track list; I’ve got links for those tunes that have appeared on the blog.  Enjoy!

1/24/76: Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, “Wake Up Everybody”
1/28/78: Commodores, “Too Hot Ta Trot”
2/3/73: Hurricane Smith, “Oh, Babe, What Would You Say”
2/19/77: Jackson Browne, “Here Come Those Tears Again”
2/24/79: Al Stewart, “Song on the Radio”
3/8/75: Hot Chocolate, “Emma”
3/18/78: Andrew Gold, “Thank You for Being a Friend”
3/20/76: Melissa Manchester, “Just You and I”
4/12/75: Bob Dylan, “Tangled Up in Blue”
4/13/74: Joni Mitchell, “Help Me”
4/22/72: Don McLean, “Vincent”
4/30/77: Firefall, “Cinderella”
5/6/78: Michael Zager Band, “Let’s All Chant”
5/15/76: Billy Ocean, “Love Really Hurts Without You”
5/31/75: Grand Funk, “Bad Time”
6/16/79: Rickie Lee Jones, “Chuck E.’s in Love”
6/19/71: Paul Humphrey and His Cool Aid Chemists, “Cool Aid”
6/29/74: Gordon Lightfoot, “Sundown”
7/8/72: Mouth and MacNeal, “How Do You Do”
7/17/76: Lou Rawls, “You’ll Never Find Another Love Like Mine”
7/25/70: Melanie, “Lay Down (Candles in the Rain)”
7/26/75: Gwen McCrae, “Rockin’ Chair”
8/7/71: Chicago, “Colour My World”
8/14/76: Lady Flash, “Street Singin’”
8/19/78: Kinks, “A Rock ‘n’ Roll Fantasy”
8/25/79: Bram Tchaikovsky, “Girl of My Dreams”
9/7/74: Guess Who, “Clap for the Wolfman”
9/15/73: Stevie Wonder, “Higher Ground”
9/20/75: Carpenters, “Solitaire”
9/23/72: Leon Russell, “Tight Rope”
9/24/77: Sanford/Townsend Band, “Smoke from a Distant Fire”
10/9/76: Bay City Rollers, “I Only Wanna Be with You”
10/16/71: Dells, “The Love We Had (Stays on My Mind)”
10/21/78: Crystal Gayle, “Talking in Your Sleep”
10/26/74: Raspberries, “Overnight Sensation (Hit Record)”
11/7/70: R. Dean Taylor, “Indiana Wants Me”
11/10/73: Jim Croce, “I Got a Name”
11/15/75: Simon and Garfunkel, “My Little Town”
11/26/77: Babys, “Isn’t It Time”
12/8/79: Blondie, “Dreaming”
12/9/72: Spinners, “I’ll Be Around”
12/13/75: C. W. McCall, “Convoy”
12/18/71: Hillside Singers and New Seekers, “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing”

Sixty Minute Tape, Song 16: Northside, “Take 5”

Late in 2016, I posted on Facebook about the contents of a mix tape I put together sometime in early 92.  It’s the only sixty-minute tape of its kind in my collection.  Here’s the last of the modified versions of those sixteen posts.

The “Madchester” sound (originating in Manchester, England) and its evolutions made landfall in the US during my last couple of years of grad school.  “Step On” by Happy Mondays and “The Only One I Know” by the Charlatans are probably the two songs that I most distinctly remember, but I also heard stuff by (among others) the Farm, Stone Roses, Inspiral Carpets, and Soup Dragons.  In the end I liked it all well enough but was never an ardent fan.

Northside is another band that usually gets lumped in with that scene.  Greg plugged me into this one.  Somewhat silly but also pretty infectious and groovy–I dig the “More Than a Feeling” feel to the riff in the background.

From The Archives: Christmas Past

Like virtually all families who celebrate Christmas, we took plenty of pictures at this time of year while I was growing up. Most of them now reside in a bin I keep in a storage unit that I rented after clearing out my parents’ home. One of my resolutions for 2018 will be to catalog and organize the photos (some dating back over a century) I’ve inherited.

I retrieved that bin a couple of days ago to fish out a few pix for posting here. I found the one above in a small flip album that belonged to my father’s mother; she took it on Christmas Day 1964, when I was 10+ months old. On the back is an excellent sample of her handwriting.

This one was taken a year later, after Amy had arrived in early October. Both of these early pictures were taken in our house in La Grange, KY.


Continue reading “From The Archives: Christmas Past”

American Top 40 PastBlast, 12/28/85: Clarence Clemons and Jackson Browne, “You’re a Friend of Mine”

Late 85 was a “friendly” time on the charts.  In the 11/23/85 edition of AT40, “That’s What Friends Are For,” by Dionne & Friends, debuted back-to-back with this song, at #39 and #38, respectively.  Even though the sentiments being expressed in the two tunes were similar, their fates were rather different.  Dionne, Gladys, Stevie, and Elton rocketed to the top for four weeks and wound up at #1 on Casey’s year-end countdown for 86.  Clarence and Jackson had a tougher slog; they only reached #18 (they’re at #23 here) and were off the chart by mid-February.

My reactions to the songs were the opposite of the public at large.  “That’s What Friends Are For” was recorded for an excellent cause (proceeds went to AIDS research), but I’ve never been a big fan—looking back, I find that many ballads of that era leave me cold.  On the other hand, the passion and energy of “You’re a Friend of Mine” (not to mention Clarence’s wailing sax) really hit the spot.  Having a good time together is what friends do a lot, no?  I thought enough of its message that winter that I bought ten or so copies of the 45 to give to college buds near and dear to me, in appreciation of their friendship.

The Big Man was able to call on Jackson until 6/18/11.

WordPress is telling me that this is nominally my 200th post–they add up fast when over a third of them get ferried over (with modest modification) from Facebook.  I’m pretty sure it’ll take longer than five months for the next 200 to make it here.  Thanks to all who’ve been checking in from time to time!

American Top 40 PastBlast, 12/18/71: Hillside Singers and New Seekers, “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing”

I can think of three times while I was keeping my Top 40 charts that two versions of (more or less) the same song were in the countdown simultaneously.  In late spring 77, Bill Conti and Maynard Ferguson scored with “Theme from ‘Rocky’.” Later in 77, Meco took on the London Symphony with the “’Star Wars’ Theme,” and then he did battle with John Williams on “Theme from ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’” early in 78.

I’ve learned in recent years of times earlier in the 70s when this phenomenon occurred.  In early 74, “The Americans,” a spoken-word recording of an editorial written by Canadian journalist Gordon Sinclair, hit in versions by Sinclair and Bryan MacGregor (MacGregor’s reading was by far the bigger seller—go figure).  There were three versions of “Theme from ‘Love Story’” on AT40 for four weeks in Feb-Mar 71 (two instrumentals, by Henry Mancini and Francis Lai, and one vocal, by Andy Williams).

And then there was the song adapted from a commercial for Coca-Cola (courtesy of Don Draper, right?).  Starting with this show, the Hillside Singers (#26) and New Seekers (#28) went mano-a-mano for nine weeks.  The Hillsiders had a head start, debuting the previous week, but the New Seekers won the war, peaking at #7, versus a high of #13 for their competitor.  The NS version sounds more like what I remember of the ad, but the HS version definitely has its folky charm.  You have to think that they hurt each other’s sales—would a single charting record have come close to #1?  We’ll never know.

Can’t help but notice in writing this up that the multiple-version thing at that point in popular music appears to have been limited to movie themes and novelty-ish stuff.