American Top 40 PastBlast, 1/20/79: Talking Heads, “Take Me to the River”

A few months ago I mentioned that my sister was quite the speedster when we were growing up. She was fiercely competitive in pretty much all phases of her life and that served her well on the cross-country course and basketball court throughout high school (and in the case of hoops, college). But her greatest success came from running track, where she focused on the sprints.

Her coaches recognized her talent immediately, while she was in 7th grade. So, it was on a Saturday in early February of 79, before her 8th grade track campaign had begun in earnest, that Amy found herself at Freedom Hall in Louisville. She was there to compete in the 60-yard dash in the Mason-Dixon Games, then a pre-eminent indoor track and field meet for both high schoolers and collegians. Rosie, a junior who ran the hurdles, was also on hand to give it a go. Dad and I drove in a separate vehicle to watch.

Nothing special happened for Amy that day; she hadn’t been training for track, and it was a BIG event with fairly stiff competition. (I remember roaming the concourse and watching all the activity going on—it was impressive.) But her coaches weren’t wrong about her promise. In ninth grade, she finished 2nd at the state meet in both the 220 and 440, as well as 3rd in the 100 in Class A (the lowest of three classifications, for the smallest schools). Injuries and the maturation of her body took their toll on her performance as a sophomore, but she managed a great comeback as a junior, qualifying again for state in those same three races. She was a marvel to watch.

As often happened back in the day, events in my life, both small and large, had a song associated with them. For that trip to the Mason-Dixon Games, it was “Take Me to the River” (#30, heading toward #26); it was on replay in my noggin throughout the day and I can only assume it’d been on the radio in the car as we were en route. It would be five years before my appreciation for the Heads would really bloom—while I know I heard “Life During Wartime” occasionally in the interim, I’m not sure I can say the same for “Psycho Killer.” Looking back, though, I take my active digging of “River” as a sign of where my musical tastes were ultimately head…, er, going.

2 thoughts on “American Top 40 PastBlast, 1/20/79: Talking Heads, “Take Me to the River””

  1. It’s funny — I first heard of the Talking Heads in the very late 70s. There was a 20/20 episode (or some news magazine show of that ilk) that had an installment on “New Wave.” They played a bit of “Psycho Killer”, so that was the only song of theirs I knew until WEBN started rotating “Take Me to the River.” Pretty sure that same segment was where I learned about Klaus Nomi.


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