As the 70s were drawing to a close, I was busy thinking about the new decade. I was 15, a sophomore in high school, and for whatever reason, I felt at least mild excitement about the change over to the 80s. Not surprisingly, a number of my schemes were related to my music-listening habits/obsessions. For instance, my AT40 charts underwent a major overhaul in appearance—1980 was the year I used yellow legal paper for them, and switched back from cursive to printing.
Even though I’m much better about making New Year’s resolutions than sticking to them for any length of time, the prospect of making New Decade’s resolutions was too tempting to pass up. The most grandiose (and foolhardy) plan I concocted was to write down every song I heard, in order, starting 1/1/80, until…? It wasn’t long before the existential angst set in. What fraction of a song did I have to catch for it to count? How would I address playing my 45s and LPs? What if I didn’t know the name of a song? How would I handle repeats? (I wound up writing subsequent occurrences on the line of the song’s first appearance–that is, if “Don’t Do Me Like That” had been the tenth one I heard and it came up again 23 songs later, I just wrote a 33 next to the title on line 10.) It was a messier project than I anticipated, and clearly I hadn’t adequately thought things through. I kept at it for a few hundred songs, maybe for a month or so, but it was essentially doomed from the start. I imagine I still have the records from those efforts somewhere, though I haven’t come across them in a while.
I do remember which song was first on the list, however.
Growing up, we had always spent the last part of 12/31 with Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians on CBS. Guy died in November 77 (on the day I broke my wrist, as it happens), but it wasn’t until New Year’s Eve 1979 that the network began broadcasting a different program, Happy New Year, America. I’d guess that due to inertia, we rang in 1980 watching CBS (and no, I wasn’t going to count “Auld Lang Syne” for my list), but soon afterward, the TV got switched over to Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve, on ABC. Then, as now, they interweaved footage from Times Square with performances by the ostensibly hip-and-happening musical artists of the day. Not long after midnight, they cut to Blondie, who performed their recent #27 hit (it’s down to #31 in this countdown). While I like plenty of their stuff, this is by far my favorite from them.