Sunday, July 31, 2016

Song #328: "Tarzan Boy"--Baltimora (1985)

As 1985 closed and 1986 began, up at college on stations like 99 GFM and Fly 92, both in Albany, New York, we got our first listen of the group Baltimora, whose chart success lasted as long as the chart life of today's tune.

It's another one-hit wonder from that middle stretch of the 1980's where there seemed to be a thousand "groups" consisting of two to five guys with long hair, make-up, usually from outside the United States, playing the same style of music. People weren't able to keep up with all of them.

"Are you sure Pet Shop Boys don't sing this song?"
"What about Blow Monkeys or OMD?"

That's the way it was for a few years. Luckily, out of all of it we received some good music, and "Tarzan Boy" certainly ranks as one of them. Enjoy the extended version posted below. Oh, yeah, everyone had extended or 12-inch single versions, too. To add to all the uncertainty. And the singles that were now the same size as albums. They took up more space in the already crammed office of the radio station music director. But I digress.... :) :) :)

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Song #329: "Driver's Seat"--Sniff 'n The Tears (1979)

As the great Summer of 1979 musically came to a close and I got my new notebooks and pencils together for my seventh and final year at Beaverdam Elementary School, I was introduced to Sniff 'n The Tears on my radio with what ended up as their one and only American hit.

It took the band several years to get that success, and while they only scored once on the charts, they scored very well. It's another of the "Songs of 1979" that are showing up all over The Rob Witham 500, and who also signaled a seed change in music as the new decade edged closer and closer.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Song #330: "So Good"--B.o.B. (2012)

Whenever I hear this song, I think softball.

Yes, softball.

Specifically, I think about the first season I covered Atlee Raiders softball in 2012, coming to their home games, and hearing this song on their warm-up CD. Head Coach John Earley allowed each team member to add a song to a compilation disc which they played as they warmed up during pre-game.

And that's the way I first was exposed to today's tune. The more I heard it, the more I liked it. Nothing crass, nice beat, and I thought, you know anyone that can rap references to Gershwin and Picasso gets two thumbs up by me.  :)

A year later, after my April 8, 2013 heart attack, it needs to be noted publicly that the first get well card I received was from the Atlee Raiders softball team. I still have that card; I'll never let that one go.  :)

So, let's turn two, bunt the lead runner over to second, get that rise ball to the letters, and head to Mexico. You've never had it so good.  :)

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Song #331: "Backwards"--Rascal Flatts (2006)

I bow to the greatness of Marcel Francois Chagnon and Tony Mullins, who created this riot of a song, creating a fantastic caricature of country music, popularized by perhaps the hottest country act of a decade ago, Rascal Flatts.

First, a back story. I had a phenomenal friend at Clear Channel's ticket selling arm, Live Nation, in early 2007 who heard my plea to surprise my daughter Rachel with two tickets to see Rascal Flatts in concert for her tenth birthday.

Dee did so, so much better than two tickets. Rachel had no idea where we were going when we hit the road that Friday evening. As we approached Charlottesville, she looked at me and said, "Daddy, this is a long way to go to go out to dinner." I smiled. I had her.

We parked, walked up to John Paul Jones Arena, and, just before we entered, I handed her her ticket. I don't think I'll ever get a better or more surprised look on my baby's face than I did at that moment. Too bad we didn't have Instagram then.  :)

The seats, by the way, were at the front of the stage, which I didn't even realized when I received them. Rachel was in complete awe. She's just feet away from the band, which had a "mobile stage" which took them over top of us into the middle of the arena in the air. The pageantry and showmanship that night was unreal.

And, that's impressive because I'm selective on what country music I like. Basically, it has to be before 1982 with very few exceptions. I'm very old school country. But Rascal Flatts got my props and thanks that night for great entertainment and for shocking the living daylights out of Rachel.

Now, they didn't do today's song that night, and probably for good reason. Some songs I'm sure are just hard to do on the road live, night after night.

So, you want to know what happens to you when you play a country song backwards?

Just hit play below.  :) :)

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Song #332: "We Just Disagree"--Dave Mason (1977)

If someone wanted to present the softer rock slice of the kaleidoscope of music found in the 1970's to someone in the year 2070, they should pick this song.

Dave Mason's solo career, from a popularity standpoint, wasn't long and wasn't as great as many others. But he can always stake his claim to an absolute masterpiece of this portion of the rock era.

A simple, yet sad song about the realization of a couple concerning "the end of our love song".

"So let's leave it alone, 'cuz we can't see eye to eye.
There ain't no good guy, there ain't no bad guy,
There's only you and me and we just disagree."

Heartfelt, powerful, easy to sing along to. All the ingredients for a classic. And now, 39 years later, that's exactly what this song is.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Song #333: "I'm OK"--Styx (1978)

I owned Styx's album "Pieces of Eight", a work that contributed much to their success commercially with singles that continue to be played by classic rock radio stations today like "Blue Collar Man (Long Nights)" and "Renegade".

But hidden on side one after the powerful opening track "Great White Hope" is today's entry in the countdown. To me, it was the gem of the album. A driving classic of a late 1970's tune, tremendous drum work, and a stirring chorus that highlighted the obviously incredible vocals of Dennis DeYoung, not to mention some good guitar work from Tommy Shaw that pulled it all together.

And, I LOVE the organ in the bridge!

If you aren't familiar with this Styx song, please take about five minutes and treat yourself to one of the most underrated "be positive" songs of its era, one with a take-no-prisoner attitude.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Song #334: "Home By The Sea/Second Home By The Sea"--Genesis (1983)

If you look on the "Genesis" album released in 1983, these tracks are listed separately.

The first time I heard "Home By The Sea" on the radio, it was not accompanied with "Second Home By The Sea". Man, the great deep cuts you would hear in my day on AOR (Album Oriented Rock) radio opened up an entirely new world of music to someone like me.

Once I heard them together, however, it became clear that it's very, very hard, as a fan, to play one without the other. So, to me, this is an eleven-minute suite of sorts.

This is Genesis' second appearance in our countdown, and there will be several more. When it comes to the actual 1980's, in real time, Genesis was the most influential band of the decade for me. My love for the Moody Blues has grown over a longer period of time.

I definitely regret never getting a chance to see these guys live, and I bet the tour supporting "Genesis", the album, was fantastic. Side A of the LP is a masterpiece, and the first three cuts of Side B are great, too. I guess you know by now that there's more of this album to come as the countdown continues.

You can catch the song(s), or suite, beginning at 11:18 on the video below.....

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Song #335: "Watching And Waiting"--The Moody Blues (1969)

From their "To Our Children's Children" LP released during the year of the Moon Landing, Woodstock and the Miracle Mets (I don't care for the Mets, they beat my Orioles in the World Series.....), comes the second of many Moody Blues tunes to hit our countdown.

Interestingly, it was the only single released from the album, and it didn't even chart. Still, the album itself was a success, coming seven months after the release of  "On The Threshold Of A Dream", and peaking at #2 in Great Britain, #14 in the United States.

This LP contains a concert favorite of Moody Blues fans which we'll reveal later in our musical journey. Today, however, enjoy the introspection and wonder of a fantastic "wind down" song, perfect for the end of a long day or the middle of a lazy day, and also a concert favorite, "Watching and Waiting"......

"Soon you will see me
Cos I'll be all around you
But where I come from I can't tell...."

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Song #336: "Something About You"--Level 42 (1986)

Today's song is the first of three songs on the countdown from easily, in my humble opinion, one of the more underrated groups of the 1980's, Level 42.

The band had been around several years before finally making it big both at home in Great Britain and in the United States, thanks to this song, which peaked in the Top 10 here at the end of May, 1986, early in my tenure on WUPE-FM in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.

This was a very fun song to play on the radio, and it spent pretty much all of spring of that year in what we call heavy rotation. Interestingly, though, it is not Level 42's best charting song ever when taking worldwide into account. You would think it was, considering this is their only song that has been accepted by today's classic hits radio format some three decades later.

We'll pick up this subject at a later (much later?) date, but for now, enjoy "Something About You"!

P.S.--It's a crazy hot one here in the Mid-Atlantic today. Hydrate!  :) :)

Friday, July 22, 2016

Song #337: "Rock n' Roll Music"--The Beatles (1964)

So, we have a song originally recorded and made famous by Chuck Berry re-recorded by two legendary groups, The Beatles and The Beach Boys.

The Beatles sang this song, a lot, early in their career, recording it in 1964 for an album. It later became the "title track" of the 1976 compliation double album "Rock n' Roll Music", which was what really introduced me to the Fab Four.

That same year, the Beach Boys came out with their version, a little slower, with a definite Beach Boys twist, and it was good, too.

But my vote is for the Fab Four's version. Here they are live in concert, just missing the hot piano at the end of the last verse, with #337 in the Rob Witham 500.  :)

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Song #338: "Is There Something I Should Know?"--Duran Duran (1983)

We welcome one of the dominant groups of the first half of the 1980's to the countdown, Duran Duran, who might have had more "on the cusp" songs when we put this list together than anyone else, including The Moody Blues, The Beatles, and The Eagles.

One of MTV's early superstars, the members of the group were as wildly popular as Princess Diana for a time in their heyday, when they zoomed to stardom in the UK, then across the pond with their first hit, "Hungry Like The Wolf", which peaked here early in 1983.

About that time, today's featured song hit British radio, and would present its unmistakable drum opening to America in the summer of that year. The Duran Duran craze was unstoppable.

I liked their music, a lot. But it's amazing how many of their songs just missed our countdown. They only appear one more time, so, we'll wait until then to discuss some of the very good music that just missed the cut so as to not give away the other song that did.

Until then, go answer the question!  :) :)

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Song #339: "One Piece At A Time"--Johnny Cash and The Tennessee Three (1976)

Some, including some hard core Johnny Cash fans, will consider this a "novelty" song. I certainly don't. I just think it's brilliant.

Cash hit the charts (and we bought the single) in 1976 with the story of a man who left Kentucky for Detroit and a career on the automobile assembly line, where he was the "wheel man" for Cadillac. He apparently didn't make enough money to purchase one of his own. So he, as he said, "devised myself a plan that should be the envy of most any man", deciding he'd somehow sneak pieces of the car out of the plant in his lunch box, hoping to complete the car "by the time I retired".

Gears and a fuel pump were first. A buddy of his used his mobile home as an accomplice to get the bigger parts out of dodge (pun intended).

Of course, over time, there were issues, as his developing car wasn't exactly one model year.

As for the rest? Find out below, and enjoy a gem from the Man in Black, who will return again on our countdown.  :)


Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Song #340: "Girlfriend"--Avril Lavigne (2007)

For most of you faithful followers of our musical journey, this song will likely feel like it's coming out of left field. But there is a definite back story here.

It's early 2007 and I'm living....err.....working at the then-Clear Channel (now iHeartMedia). 70 hour weeks are the norm, sometimes more, especially Wednesday and Thursday nights, always trying to get the production orders out ahead so my awesome producers upstairs could hit the ground running each morning, get the work done, and get out of dodge on time. That was my mantra.

So, at some point, maybe walking down the hallway on studio row upstairs or some other way, I came across a song that immediately stopped me dead in my tracks. And this was my thought:

"If 'Mickey' by Toni Basil (1982) had a child, it would be this song."

Now, you won't see Toni on the Top 500, in fact, my sophomore year in high school my "group" of lunch friends got so tired of this song on the jukebox (yes, Patrick Henry had a jukebox in the cafeteria), that one day we decided we'd walk out if it came on.

It did.

We did.

But fast forward a quarter-century. I absolutely DUG this song. I'm like, this is "Mickey" but with a super attitude. "Mickey" on steroids. Driving rock, not annoying cheerleader hand claps (until the bridge, of course, but I accepted that....)

So, for many nights in the last nine months I labored on Basie Road, I would fire this tune up on NexGen and play it right before I left. Some nights, it would be played over and over and over again to get me over the hump and out the door.

And thus, the reason why, of all people, Avril Lavigne is in my Top 500 countdown.

Of course, the CLEAN version is posted here. Had there not been a clean version, A) it never would have aired on the radio, and B) I never would have accepted it.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Song #341: "Could It Be Magic"--Barry Manilow (1975)

As yesterday's song was saying goodbye to the charts, today's song began its ascension. It is the third song on the Top 500 from an artist who oozed the decade of the Seventies.

Yes, some of his stuff was cheesy, but he also had some epic performances. Today's song, co-written by Manilow in 1971 before he was world famous, was recorded in 1973, but didn't hit the charts until its single release in that unforgettable Summer of 1975 using a re-recorded version.

Chronologically, in 1975, Manilow released the following singles:

--It's A Miracle
--Could It Be Magic
--I Write The Songs

Those came on the heels of his breakthrough #1 song, "Mandy".  I'd say Manilow had a pretty good year.

And, no, this is not Barry's swan song on our countdown. He'll be back once more, somewhere down the road (pun intended....)

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Song #342: "Magic"--Pilot (1975)

Just for me personally, I think the best summers for music in the decade of the 1970's were 1975 and 1979. Today, we feature a song from the former, a summer where music helped me and my family escape some upheaval.

Early in the year, my parents separated. In late June, my dad suffered his first, and worst, heart attack at age 43. We almost lost him. I distinctly remember finally getting to visit him at Mary Washington Hospital in Fredericksburg for the first time on the Fourth of July that year.

He came home a couple of weeks later, my brother and I spending those weeks he was away with two of the greatest friends my brother could have. And while we spent hours outside playing baseball, football, walking through the woods, we also spent lots of time listening to music. That summer was dominated on our radio by "The Spirit of America--1480, WLEE". Yes, AM radio.  :)

Today's song is one of a large group of tunes from that unforgettable summer that made our countdown, this time from the Scottish group, "Pilot". In America, they were considered a one-hit wonder, as "Magic" reached #5 on the charts that summer.

Time to transport yourself back 41 years to this time in 1975. Gerald Ford is President, the Steel Curtain was celebrating its first Super Bowl title, and my brother's Philadelphia Flyers were still celebrating their second straight Stanley Cup title. Indeed, a little "magic" for his team, consisting of several players who were former Richmond Robins!

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Song #343: "If I Can't Have You"--Yvonne Elliman (1978)

"Saturday Night Fever" was everywhere as 1977 turned into 1978, the height of the disco era, and the soundtrack that carried the torch for an entire genre of music.

And while we best remember the work of the Bee Gees for that movie, their version of today's song only appeared on the B-side of the single for a little number you may have heard of called "Stayin' Alive".

It would be Yvonne Elliman, who enjoyed a hit single of her own earlier in 1977, "Hello Stranger", who would end up recording the version that had the biggest success. Saturday Night Fever executive producer Robert Stigwood, who also managed the Bee Gees, made a switch before the "SNF" soundtrack was finished.

Elliman was pegged to record "How Deep Is Your Love", which is why there was already a Bee Gees version of this song in the can. But Stigwood swapped songs and artists, which is why there are two versions of "If I Can't Have You", and one unforgettable version of "How Deep Is Your Love" from the Brothers Gibb.

Got all that?  :)  Enjoy Yvonne's Top 500 contribution, which came when I was, ahem, in the fifth grade.  :)

P.S.--Today's video is a bit, well, interesting. Of course, we only mean to use it to feature the song. Tell your kids or young grandchildren the featured machinery is a "record player" or "turntable".  :) :)

Friday, July 15, 2016

Song #344: "I Want Ya"--The Knack (1980)

The flaming-hot, but short-lived star rockers of the turn of the decade are back with another entry, this time from the much-less successful second LP, "But The Little Girls Understand".

As my all-time favorite television show is "The Flintstones", the back end of The Knack's career reminds me of the episode where Fred becomes this out-of-nowhere teen idol rock star named "Hi-Fye". Thanks to his hit, "Rockin' Bird", Fred ends up on a seemingly never-ending tour from town to town, that is, until Wilma and Betty devise a plan to end it all and get back home. (Hint: it has to do with a geometric shape that wasn't considered cool back in the Kennedy years....)

Well, The Knack last a little, but not much longer than a 30-minute episode of a television show.

Today's song never was a single, but, as cut two of the album, received immediate attention once I had bought my copy. Basic Knack formula here, and, even though the second album fails woefully by comparison to "Get The Knack" in most cuts, this song and "The Hard Way", hold up well, and, in my opinion, could've been on the first LP and held their own easily.

The rest of the album?  Oh, boy, how the mighty fell as quickly as they rose. More on that meteoric rise later on down the road.  :)

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Song #345: "Carolina In My Mind"--James Taylor (1968)

I bet most of you believe today's song has to be among the biggest selling singles in the long, storied career of James Taylor. So did I.

But upon further research, his 1968 release of the song originally did not do very well. A re-release as the decade of the 1970's began didn't do much better. Meanwhile, everyone from George Hamilton IV, Glen Campbell, and the pop group Crystal Mansion (ever heard of them??) recorded it, the latter reaching #73 on the pop chart.

So, come 1976, when there were issues getting the original version of the song from Apple Records, Taylor simply re-recorded it, slowed it a bit, and it became a concert staple for the next 40 years, and garnered much more critical and fan acclaim than ever before. An now, when you hear the term, "Carolina In My Mind", you think of North Carolina, and James Taylor.

And yes, the song was written with North Carolina in mind, Taylor having spent much of his childhood there near Chapel Hill.

With half of my family North Carolina natives, there's no way there's not a spot available for this song in our Top 500 countdown. And, with a recent return to Carolina now in the books, it's time to reflect, and wish we were back with family. And at Smithfield Barbeque.  :)

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Song #346: "Wildest Dreams"--Asia (1982)

I remember hearing the news that several members from other groups, John Wetton, Geoff Downes, Carl Palmer and Yes guitarist Steve Howe were going to form what was then dubbed a "supergroup", eventually known as Asia.

Their first song on the radio lives on thanks to classic hits and classic rock radio, that being "Heat Of The Moment". While neither that song, or their other hit off the debut album, "Only Time Will Tell", made our countdown, today's song is the first of four deeper cuts that did make the Top 500.

I bought this album in the Summer of 1982, and boy did it help me through some tough times. The deeper I played it, the better the unreleased tracks sounded. It didn't hurt that, for my 15th birthday that year, my present was a pair of stereo headphones. :)  #CrankItUp

In a tumultuous summer that saw me have to put up with some things placed in my hands that I didn't want, then losing my only girlfriend ever, I found lots of solace from Asia's music, and this album is one of the five must-have LP's of my high school years.

Here's the first of four unforgettable Asia hits, at least in my book.

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Song #347: "When Will I Be Loved"--Linda Ronstadt (1975)

One of the easiest premises to write about. In two short minutes, the great Linda Ronstadt asks the simple question, "When Will I Be Loved?".

She's tired of being put down and pushed around, and now wonders if she'll be able to recognize true love when it comes her way, since previous attempts ended in heartache, heart breaks and lies.

And, all the while she's asking this and lamenting her past, you find yourself singing along, maybe agreeing wholeheartedly with her, in this upbeat classic about a subject that's been around, well, as long as love has been.

It's a brilliant symphony concerning a universal subject in a fantastic sing along.

Congratulations to Phil Everly of The Everly Brothers for composing the song, and making a hit with it in 1960. Fifteen years later, Ronstadt took it to another level. Much more from Linda as the countdown rolls on.  :)

Monday, July 11, 2016

Song #348: "Ol' 55"--The Eagles (1974)

It was the waning days of Watergate and the end of first grade for me when The Eagles released their third studio album, "On The Border", in March, 1974. The release gave us two classic radio hits in "Already Gone" and "Best Of My Love".

Having an older brother who was a huge Eagles fan at the time pretty much guaranteed me that I would hear the whole album as soon as he could get a copy in his hands. We pretty much wore out "On The Border", filled with excellent deep cuts, including the title track, "Midnight Flyer", which was Song #499 on our countdown back in February, "James Dean", and today's song.

The late Glenn Frey and Don Henley handle the main vocals, and the classic signature Eagles harmony just kills it come each chorus.

It's the perfect song for a mood of lament, wishing you could go back and enjoy a good time past, the company of an old friend, while simultaneously taking you into the future via a new sunrise.

It's worth four minutes. Do a lickety-split-ly and give it a listen.  :)

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Song #349: "Love On Your Side"--Thompson Twins (1983)

After being introduced to this British band with the song "Lies" from the previous year, our next dose of Thompson Twins to hit our shores was in the form of this song. Both songs came from their "Side Kicks" album release, and, by the time this song was firmly entrenched on radio, America began to instantly recognize the unique sound of this band.

The Top 40 wasn't kind to our pick here, but it did well on the dance charts, and, after all, by this point, the hope was you'd hear this song in the middle of a 30-minute continuous mix of music on the late, great KS-96 in Williamsburg, who in 1983 was mounting an attempt to catch Q94. Had their tower not been knocked down, they may have given Q a good run for their money.....

So, here now, the first of two entries in our Top 500 from Thompson Twins. When and what will the other be? :)

Saturday, July 09, 2016

Song #350: "The NFL on CBS Theme (1990-1992)"--CBS Sports

The first sports theme to appear in our countdown, very early on, was from NBC. But, at heart, I've always been a CBS Sports fan.

I think it goes back to my childhood with fall Sundays spent with Pat Summerall and Tom Brookshier, and being fed Washington Redskins games every week due to the "regional" nature of football coverage, then and now. Add to that the NBA, The Masters, U.S. Open Tennis, then, the addition of college basketball and football in the early 1980's, and most major events were found on what was called "The Tiffany Network".

Overall, they had, in my mind, the better theme music overall, as this will not be the only CBS theme in our countdown.

As for the NFL, they had several themes through the years, none more known than the long-time theme song for "The NFL Today", plus one used through much of the 1980's affectionately referred to as "The Pots and Pans Theme" due to the undertone instruments.

Today's song debuted at Super Bowl XXIV in 1990, when the 49ers destroyed the Broncos, and only lasted two seasons, replaced at the start of Super Bowl XXVI two years later. Under utilized, and underrated, I've always loved this song. Classy, great crescendo, and, if you listen carefully, a quick ode to the, at that point, still-to-be-debuted CBS Sports theme for Major League Baseball, their coverage of that beginning three months later in April, 1990 and appeared in our countdown a week ago.

I think I've listened to this song 500 times in the last 2-3 weeks, recapturing just how good this theme is. I'm not exaggerating.  :)

I've posted the opening to Super Bowl XXIV so you can hear how the theme worked in the context of a broadcast. You can also enjoy some Bud Bowl II and a brief promo using an ingenious idea, "CBS Sports '90: The Dream Season", as the network, in one calendar year, had the Super Bowl, the NCAA Tournament, The All-Star Game (when it mattered a lot more), The World Series, The NBA Finals, College Football, The Daytona 500, The Masters, U.S. Open Tennis, and were starting to promote their Winter Olympics coverage later in the decade. A full version of that promo is here.

Plus, you get to hear Summerall, my voice of football. What's better than that??

Friday, July 08, 2016

Song #351: "Ballerina"--Nat King Cole (1957)

From the year before my older brother was born, the year that saw Perry Mason defeat Hamilton Burger for the first time, plus saw the second inauguration of President Eisenhower, here's a little something from one of the giants of pop, jazz and adult standards from the middle of the 20th Century.

Imagine how much more work, how much more genius we could have received had cancer not interrupted our love affair with this man and his music.

Again, here's a song I was first exposed to thanks to playing the best hits of the Big Band and Adult Standards era on "The Music Of Your Life" radio format in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. The time spent on the air at WUHN-AM was priceless, giving me so much exposure to great music and artists I either knew in passing, or didn't know at all.

This won't be Mr. Cole's only contribution to our countdown. In fact, he makes a major contribution later on. How much later remains to be seen. In the meantime, enjoy Ballerina!

Thursday, July 07, 2016

Song #352: "Hello Again"--The Cars (1984)

For the second straight day we bring you an influential band of the 1980's that, sadly, will make a total of one contribution to our Top 500 countdown.

The Cars, of course, enjoyed influence in the late 1970's as well, and were one of rock's most consistent, durable groups when they released "Heartbeat City" in 1984. With another deep body of work, today's song was actually the fourth single to beat released from the album, following the success of songs like "Drive" and "You Might Think". In fact, "Magic", the third single, received definite consideration.

I'll always appreciate The Cars because their song, "Just What I Needed" was used at one time for the ill-fated national radio advertisement campaign to get people to buy HD Radios. One time, Clear Channel was in a bind and needed someone along the way to record some commercials for their HD Radio push in then Circuit City stores.

I readily admit swelling just a bit with pride, mostly in my right thumb, when, one day in 2007 driving in North Carolina, I heard myself on a Raleigh radio station trying to hustle on of the two worst ideas radio ever had from a technical standpoint, the other being AM Stereo.

A member of The Cars will return with a solo effort down the road, but for now, enjoy, and maybe say, "Hello Again"!

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Song #353: "On The Western Skyline"--Bruce Hornsby (1986)

For this Williamsburg native, 1986 was his breakthrough year, thanks to Bruce Hornsby's smash album, "The Way It Is". He began radio airplay with "Every Little Kiss", transferred later in the year, and absolutely dominating adult contemporary radio, with the title track, and then, it was time for today's song to get its opportunity.

"Skyline" found its home on mainstream rock stations, never charting on the Top 40 chart. I don't know, but to me, this song encompasses many of the great traits of Hornsby, from storyline, the part-rock, part-ballad nature, great drum work, and much more. He was more than just a piano player and vocalist.

This is Bruce's lone (shock!) contribution to our countdown, so take a moment and pay tribute to our fellow Virginian as he continues to wish he could be with her tonight. Maybe you know the feeling...

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Song #354: "Walk Like An Egyptian"--The Bangles (1986)

In my final months working at WUPE/WUHN Radio in Pittsfield, Massachusetts before moving home from a closing college at the end of 1986, a video began appearing on MTV that occasionally made me forget to queue up the next song or get my commercial carts pulled for the next hour about to begin.

It would become a smash hit for The Bangles, the song people usually think of first when their name is mentioned. The video, for young American males, was must-watch for, duh, obvious reasons. But it was also a lot of fun, creating a brief dance craze as the calendar moved into 1987.

This is the second of five appearances on our Top 500 from this group, and I can go ahead and reveal that their breakthrough debut single from '86, "Manic Monday", is not one of them. I suspect, then, we'll be walking with The Bangles again down the road.  :)

(Full disclosure: I decided to come home three weeks before the college announced its closing to change career paths. Their shutdown just sealed the deal.)

Monday, July 04, 2016

Song #355: "Johnny Can't Read"--Don Henley (1982)

The first time we heard Don Henley as a solo artist on the radio after the end of The Eagles (until hell froze over, of course) was when "Johnny Can't Read" hit the airwaves in 1982.

This song, though not his biggest hit by any means, gave great signals as to how Henley's solo work would definitely differ from what we were used to hearing from him, as he now had the opportunity to use all of his musical influences while growing up in Texas, and his subsequent professional years.

This one had a sixties feel, perfect for the summertime, and it did arrive in the latter part of summer that year. MTV loved the video, so did their viewers. I tried to link to the original video, but since first crafting this page, YouTube has blocked it. BOO!!!!

And no, this, the third solo song from Henley, is definitely not his last on our countdown. In fact...... :)

Sunday, July 03, 2016

Song #356: "April In Paris"--Count Basie (1956)

Taking a song written for a Broadway show nearly a quarter-century earlier and making it into his own, Count Basie was able to transform a number performed by countless artists and groups into a classic for all-time.

The Count was easily one of the most influential jazz musicians ever, and, if you've never had the chance to watch Ken Burns' 2001 documentary series "Jazz", I highly recommend it. It's phenomenal, as is most of Burns' work.

I discovered this tune working on "The Music Of Your Life" on WUHN Radio in Pittsfield, Massachusetts in 1985 and 1986. And I've loved it ever since.


Saturday, July 02, 2016

Song #357: "Arrow Through Me"--Paul McCartney and Wings (1979)

Sir Paul makes his third "non-Beatle" appearance on the countdown, this time a hit single from the "Back To The Egg" LP that was only released in the United States (the single, that is.....)

This song was part of a group of great songs that started to finally break the back of disco at the time (August, 1979), signaling the end of its dominance. In fact, I believe the Summer of 1979 was one of the best ever for music, as our countdown will continue to harken back to those three months between, for me, sixth and seventh grades, several more times.

So, for now, Ballroom Dancing, Listen To What The Man Said, and now, Arrow Through Me. Hail, Sir Paul!

Friday, July 01, 2016

Song #358: "CBS Sports Major League Baseball Theme"--CBS Sports (1990-1993)

In this age where agreements between sports properties and mega media conglomerates can last upwards of twenty years (see: Olympics and NBC, NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament and CBS/Turner), today's song harkens back to a then-seismic shift in sports television.

Many people were stunned (myself included), and many upset, when Major League Baseball announced a four-year agreement to move everything that mattered to CBS starting in 1990. It would be the first time in 15 years that the All-Star Game, League Championship Series and World Series would all belong to one network. NBC was baseball king way back in the day, before having to share the kingdom with ABC from 1976 to 1989. (Another huge change was the reality of Howard Cosell calling Monday Night Baseball, but that's another story....and yes, Monday Night Baseball on network television used to be a thing....)

Then, on the eve of CBS debuting its baseball coverage, they fired their face, their voice, and the person everyone thought would be the lead announcer on their coverage, Brent Musburger. And while Jim Nantz was waiting in the wings for college basketball, he wasn't ready to be, well, the second coming of Brent Musburger that he is now.

So CBS went back to the future and hired Jack Buck to join Tim McCarver, a move universally panned by critics and fans, who, frankly, were all guilty of age discrimination. Had Buck lost a half-step? Yes. But, as history has proven, zillions more people remember his call of Kirby Puckett's game-winning home run in extra innings of Game 6 of the 1991 World Series than do Sean McDonough's call of Joe Carter's World Series winning home run in Game 6 two years later.

The preceding was not an indictment of McDonough, in fact, I'm thrilled for him getting Monday Night Football. But that, too, is another story.  :)

Let's get to today's song. It, too, elicited reactions from both sides. But I always thought it was a fantastic "throwback" tribute to the grandeur, the glory, and the historic allure of "America's Pastime". It's certainly better than Fox's current lazy use of its now-tired football theme for anything and everything.