American Top 40 PastBlast, 8/6/88: Tracy Chapman, “Fast Car”

This is the final show that Casey hosted in his first run at American Top 40. Mom, always thinking of her son and his interests, sent me a clipping out of the Cincinnati Enquirer about it (that sort of thing wasn’t unusual at all for her to do). At that point it had been over five years since I’d checked in to AT40 with any regularity save for year-end shows, and while I’d catch Rick Dees or Shadoe Stevens very occasionally while scanning stations in the car in subsequent years, my countdown-listening days remained firmly in the past, at least until 2012.

The beginning of August 88 was right around the time when John and I moved from Elm St. to Michigan Ave., where we would stay for the next two years, until John got married. Just a short time earlier, I’d gotten together for a couple of days with Maria, the sister of my high school friend Frank. She was living in DeKalb, having just graduated from Northern Illinois University (Maria was two years behind her brother and me at W-V). I brought her down to Champaign-Urbana, where we saw Big (I think I’d love to see that again, knowing now where Hanks’s career was headed). I suspect she’ll pop up in posts another time or two someday; we had exchanged letters occasionally-to-regularly over the years but I probably saw her only a couple more times after this visit.

One of the most affecting songs of the late 80s, “Fast Car” was at #14 on this show; it would reach #6.  I bought Tracy Chapman that summer, probably as much because of what Rolling Stone had to say about the album as how much I liked its first single. I haven’t listened to it in quite a while, but “Baby Can I Hold You” and “Talkin’ ‘bout a Revolution” are still both well-planted in my mind.

Stevens took over for the 8/13/88 show and held the reins until early 95, when AT40 ceased to exist, at least in that incarnation. Meanwhile, Casey’s Top 40 debuted in January 89 and continued through February 98, when Kasem wriggled out of his contract with Westwood One and resurrected the AT40 name. Ryan Whatshisname took over in January 04.

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