When I first started assembling playlists of AT40 countdowns to replay on our iPod, I figured I’d be content with picking a few collections from the June 1976-October 1982 period I kept charts. A couple years into the process, I realized there were any number of weeks from deeper into my time at college that I’d be happy to relive, so I began doing the research necessary to reconstruct charts from 1983-early 1986 (I wasn’t especially savvy about leveraging the Web to get that information fifteen years ago). Ultimately I settled on the end of May 1986 as the terminal point for my project, for three reasons: 1) I graduated from Transy on 5/25/86, so it was more or less an inflection point in my life; 2) my tastes in music had begun their turn away from pure pop; 3) since my charts began with the first weekend of 1976, ending it then would make it an even ten-year-long venture.
I’ve had it in my mind for quite some time to one day create the 500+ playlists for all the countdowns between 6/5/76 and 5/31/86–maybe this is the summer I start making real progress on that. I’ve always arranged the songs on my lists like they were on the show, starting at #40, so if I ever got all those lists together and then played them all consecutively, they’d start with Paul Simon’s “Still Crazy After All These Years” and wrap up with Whitney Houston’s “Greatest Love of All.” But if instead one considered the lists as they appeared in Billboard (that is, beginning with #1), in the leadoff position would be “Love Hangover” from Diana Ross, and the very last tune encountered would be by a one-hit/one-off wonder fronted by a couple of prog-rock guitarists who shared a first name and a last initial. The Steves, Hackett and Howe, got together after the latter left Asia to form GTR. “When the Heart Rules the Mind” in some ways sounds indistinguishable from other AOR tunes of the period, but since it never advanced into the classic rock hits canon, I don’t object to hearing it when these summer of ’86 shows crop up. It eventually reached #14.