Sunday, April 30, 2017

Song #55: "Does Your Mother Know?"--Abba (1979)

Welcome back to the incredible music Summer of 1979, and to my all-time favorite Abba song.

The first single from their "Voulez-Vous" album, none of us at the time knew that we were coming to the final stage of a meteoric career for the Swedish quartet who sold an unbelievable amount of albums in the 1970's, all the while absorbing a lot of criticism from music "critics" for their bubble gum style.

Abba didn't care. They laughed all the way to bank, and a new generation discovered them on Broadway thanks to "Mamma Mia" many years later.

This song is quintessential Abba, a simple premise musically and very sing-along. And I sang along, over and over and over, back as I began Year 13 of my life.

Saturday, April 29, 2017

Song #56: "Sex As A Weapon"--Pat Benatar (1985)

On the back end of an impressive run of singles, albums, and radio hits from one of the best female voices of the rock era came the release "Seven The Hard Way" from the great Pat Benatar in 1985. The album is best known for the single "Invincible", which also appeared in the movie "The Legend of Billie Jean".

Late that year, as I was still trying to get settled in to life in Western Massachusetts, today's song was released to radio. Having the word "sex" in a song title back then still caused quite a bit of head turning. The song peaked on the charts at #28.

This is quintessential Pat Benatar. It's straight forward, in your face rock with enough pop elements to make it radio friendly, features Pat's incredible voice, and, frankly, the message is just as relevant today as it was 32 years ago, 32 years before that, and so on, from singles looking for their love, to dating couples, and definitely to married couples.

The song also hasn't been overplayed by classic rock radio like the now-exhausted "Hit Me With Your Best Shot". A very good song when released in 1981, now, I can hardly bear to hear it. Classic rock radio programmers do, for the most part, a lousy job, in my humble opinion, and are one reason why some of their format's mainstays come nowhere near my Top 500.

So proud of Pat Benatar's Richmond roots. I do highly regret never going to see her in concert back in the day.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Song #57: "Leaving Me Now"--Level 42 (1986)

The British band Level 42 had a short stint on the charts in America, but all three of their singles made it into the Top 500, and today, it's the second of those three.

This song, the follow-up single to their biggest radio hit, "Something About You", was perfect for the Adult Contemporary radio format I was playing 31 summers ago at WUPE-FM in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. It's the story of a guy who becomes keenly aware that his latest love interest is on her way out, and he begins to see the "same story" sing its second, or maybe third, verse.

The song also contains, to me, one of the best lyrics of someone who is facing the end of a relationship that they don't want to end, encompassing many of the emotions felt in just four lines:

I always gave my best
Your memory serves you so badly
Some people kill for less
Yet I'd still die for you gladly

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Song #58: "Question"--The Moody Blues (1970)

It was the merging of two half-completed songs into one that created the second biggest single in Moody Blues history, a song perfect for its time back when it was released as the Vietnam War dragged on and on and on, and good to pick up again in 2017, where we find ourselves with some air of uncertainty in the world around us.

While the song certainly had social and political messages, the "other half" of the song was certainly a love song, the search for someone that would transform one's life.

The uniqueness of this song makes it an anthem at Moody Blues concerts, and, as part of the homestretch of Act II, when the great John Lodge thanks us for being a part of their journey, not just that night, but for many years, he always leaves us with one word which sends the crowd into an anticipated frenzy.


And, again, we're honored to go into 20 minutes of musical heaven from The Moody Blues. We'll hear from them four more times before June 23rd.  :)

NOTE: Today's video was taken in Charlotte, North Carolina last year, three days after they were in Richmond. This was the concert where my long-time friend Janice Lloyd Thompson attended!  :)

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Song #59: "Abacab"--Genesis (1981)

I was getting into Genesis thanks to songs like "Misunderstanding"and "Turn It On Again" off their 1980 "Duke" album. I was not a part of their fan club during the Peter Gabriel years, just was a bit too young.

What turned me from casual Genesis fan to huge Genesis fan was the 1981 release of "Abacab". And while Top 40 radio stations were playing "No Reply At All", album rock stations from DC101 and 3WV to the original XL102, started rolling the album's title track, a six-plus minute musical extravaganza that singlehandedly raised my level of interest in a band that would become one of my all-time favorites.

That status continued to be solidified with their next two releases, "Genesis" in 1983 and "Invisible Touch" a few years later.

This is undoubtedly one of the top jams in this musical journey. If you've never heard it, take seven minutes out of your lunch break, or throw this one on the laptop when you get home, and transport yourself back to a much simpler time.  :)

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

20 Years Later: A Thank You

On Friday, April 25th, 1997, I conducted my last airshift and worked my final day after nine fruitful, wonderful years at Hoffman Communications, which, at the time, owned and operated Contemporary Christian WDYL-FM, as well as WGGM-AM, a station that saw a frequency change and several format changes during my tenure.

So, today, twenty years to the day of my last on-air show, I have some feelings to share and some gratitude to pass along.

I look back on my nine years there, almost all of it coming out of a non-descript cinder block building in a flood zone at the bottom of a hill on Jefferson Davis Highway in Chester, and my first thought is, we did some incredible radio there. After years of falling into disrepair, I'm happy to see the building alive again as a used car dealership. That building deserves to live.

We crammed three radio studios, a production room or two, two bathrooms, a "lobby" and even a drink machine my children's generation wouldn't recognize. Part of my job as Operations Manager was to fill that machine. 35 cents a can. It looked similar to the one below. You pushed the can you wanted into a slot, deposited your money, then lifted the metal thingy to allow you to take your can. Those were the days.  :)

I did, as the "boss" of the air staff for eight of my nine years, every airshift known there. If I was short employees, off I went. Sunday mornings with live choirs singing in the lobby (I have a special affinity for Rev. Jethro White and the Fireball Singers, and the Harmonizing Echoes), Sunday nights running taped programming, and many shifts producing sporting events from VCU basketball, VMI, James Madison and Virginia Tech football, even the Richmond Renegades hockey team.

That's how I met the late, great Terry Sisisky, running board on VCU hoops starting in late 1988. And who made a trip to our new studios in Chester on the morning of my last day to stop by and say hello? Yep, T-Man did. I'll never forget it.

I conducted hundreds of on-air interviews, played, and programmed, thousands of songs, printed countless music logs, and was honored to watch some special people come through those doors on Jeff Davis Highway.

Tracy Lynn, who many of you have watched on NBC12 for years, began her career out of college with us in my first year there in '88. Less than two years later, a kid fresh out of high school walked in looking for a break. Today, J.J. Surma is one of NBC12's station voices and has been the creative genius for several Washington DC radio stations for years now. Other announcers became attorneys, pastors, and one recently left CBS6 after many years to become a television news director in Louisiana.

So, today, thinking back, a few not very random thoughts.

1) I remember wondering how I would cope without a daily radio show. Radio is at the heart of what I love to do. While I've worked in radio since, I've never picked up a new daily airshift. And, after 20 years, I've handled that just fine. :)

2) You don't know how good you have it until it is gone. Yes, I came home many nights stressed and unhappy about what I look back on today as being "stuff".  With this distance now to look back upon those years, I don't remember 99.9 percent of the stuff. I remember the friends I made, the people I saw grow, and the laughs. There were many, many, many laughs.

3) I was so sad when WDYL was sold and went off the air two years after my departure. We haven't truly had a "Richmond Christian Music Radio Station" since. 90 Joy wasn't, PER wasn't, the new K-Love isn't. National radio cannot and will never replicate local radio. It may replace it, and, when it does, our community is the worse for it.

And, finally, THANK YOU.

First, to God for the opportunity I received as a skinny, wet behind the years almost 21 year old.

To Paul Scott: Thank you for being exactly the mentor I needed at the time you came into my life. You are the very definition of consistency, a steady hand, a level head, and a servant of God. It's hard to do better than that.

To Rob Kennedy: Thank you for being the good friend I needed when I arrived, and for many years to come. Thanks for lunches, the decision bump, and introducing me to illegal games of Nerf Baseball at lunch time. Also, thanks for dropping my name to Bill Roberts in 2002 when he was looking for a play-by-play guy for his Ashland radio station. Without that, The RVA Sports Network and all it entails wouldn't exist today.

To ALL My Announcers: Thank you for your hard work, your dedication, for at least pretending to like me (hee hee), for the staff meetings, occasional memos, and helping out at the last minute. I don't regret a single late night frantic call or page. Their names are too many to mention, but one must be. Amy Howard, you were the cornerstone of my staff for years, even as a "part-time" employee. Thank you for everything!

To the rest of the staff I worked with over the years, from office staff (Hi Kathy, Kelly, Debbie!) to the WGCV family when they arrived in 1992, to all the account executives, our memories are great, and we made some mighty fine radio. I appreciate you all.  :)

Snowstorms, near-miss hurricanes (save you, Fran!), The Gulf War, Oklahoma City, O.J. Simpson, the fall of the Berlin Wall, three presidential elections, and much more happened while I watched it come over the old AP wire machine in the room adjacent the studio. There were hot airshifts in summer when the AC system froze over, last minute studio guests, hours of training, commercials made out of reel to reel tape and, if you didn't have a grease pencil to mark edits with, you used White-Out. :)

Christian Skate Nights, Monday morning staff meetings, record company calls, three trips to Nashville, countless concerts and more.

Twenty years ago today, my son was almost five, Rachel was in her car carrier, a day shy of two months old. Today, things are a little different. But I know one thing that remains constant, and that is how incredibly thankful I am that I had a small role to play at WDYL/WGGM.

Wherever you may be in life today, take a moment, breathe it in, and think of all the good things. Because one day, they will be in your past. And when you are twenty years removed, I hope you have the great feelings of appreciation that I do on this day.  :)

Song #60: "The Story In Your Eyes"--The Moody Blues (1971)

It's the one song that became a hit for The Moody Blues from their seventh album, "Every Good Boy Deserves Favour" from 1971. Chock full of classic "Moodies" sound, the song is perfectly placed during Act I of their live shows.

This tune packs an extra punch in a short amount of time, and is a Moody Blues classic for all time. Now, there are a lot of emotional twists and turns lyrically for a small package, from confidently being in a rebuilding of one's life, likely after a lost love, to being worried for the next generation. Hot topics in 1971, and the same today.  :)

The version selected below is from their 2007 Tour, which I caught at Wolf Trap, which is where I will be again come this July.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Song #61: "For You"--The Outfield (1990)

The backstory with me and this song is rather strange. In reality, when it released 27 years ago, I only heard it a handful of times flipping through the radio as, by this time, I was fully immersed in my work as Music Director (and several other titles) for WDYL, and 98 percent of my music time was spent with Contemporary Christian Music, between deciding charts and rotations, listening to new music for possible airplay, and, of course, as Operations Manager, listening to my on-air personalities.

But for as little as I heard today's song, it struck a chord, and I, for years, did not know the song's title or who the artist was, not, at the time, putting two and two together to match the sound of this song to say, The Outfield's other work.

The mystery eventually unraveled, and I even got a copy of the song thanks to my friend Doug Sharp. It's been a favorite ever since the mysterious first time I heard it, and here it is for you now.

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Song #62: "Steve McQueen"--Sheryl Crow (2002)

Today marks the highest ranked song in my Top 500 countdown from the 21st Century, and, to be perfectly honest with you, I have absolutely no idea how I and this song intersected.

However it did happen, it caused me to purchase Sheryl Crow's, "C'Mon, C'Mon" CD, where I also discovered this Top 500 song from last fall.

This tune is tailor made for using, shall we say, maximum effort, from your car speakers. :)

And, given the subject matter of the song, an actor who appeared in two of my favorite movies, "The Blob" and "The Towering Inferno", who had a certain affinity for race cars and speed, it almost feels weird to listen to it in your home or somewhere else that is stationary.

Don't speed, but crank it up!  :)

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Song #63: "Lights"--Journey (1978)

This is the story of a song that, when originally released to radio, really didn't fare that well. In fact, it peaked at all of #68 on the Hot 100.

Journey would find its breakout single a year later with "Lovin', Touchin', Squeezin'", and, as the group continued to churn out hit after hit into the 1980's, today's tune found new life, especially on AOR radio stations, and that's how I discovered it, too.

Hearing this song immediately transports me back to the Summer of 1982 and a vacation to see family in North Carolina. I always loved going down there to visit my grandparents and other relatives. I was different. To me, four days with Grannie and Granddaddy Frank shelling peas and snapping beans on the front porch and walking through the garden was fun, and therapeutic. If able to, I would snap my fingers and go back there right now.

Over the past 15-20 years, surprisingly, lots of AC radio stations have played this song rather regularly. It must have "tested" well.  :)

Enjoy Journey's tribute to San Francisco (but was originally meant to salute Los Angeles), and my favorite Journey song.  :)

Friday, April 21, 2017

Song #64: "Red Rubber Ball"--Cyrkle (1966)

We go back 51 years today for a song I discovered in college of all places, thanks to my first professional radio job. I mentioned a dear friend and colleague, "Mr. Mike" Rancourt a couple of days ago. He did the overnight shift on WUPE-FM, and I got to know him originally from my first airshift assignment, which was following his Saturday Night Oldies show.

From that show, I first was exposed to this short but sweet song about a guy who exits a relationship and decides, rather than sit around and mope about that which was lost, he's going to look positively towards the next chapter of his life.

So, rather than the sun rising on the "new day" being a searing object burning him, he looks at it with the joy and optimism that we all did as kids when we got a red rubber ball in our hands. We started to play, and have fun.

Not a bad outlook.  :)

Happy Friday!

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Song #65: "Tragedy"--Bee Gees (1979)

We haven't heard from The Bee Gees in a year on our countdown, having appeared for the first time on this day. They return today for the second and final time with the song they released in their post "Saturday Night Fever" era.

I think the song has more in common with their mid-1970's hits like "Jive Talkin'", and the song at the link above, "Nights On Broadway", than it does with "Stayin' Alive". And I think that is a big reason why I love it so much. The use of so much instrumentation, and the drama that the song provides in building wave after wave, from the beginning to the link from verse to chorus. It's very unique and is a major reason why I think this song is fantastic.

It's also incredibly easy to sing along to in the car all alone.  :)

And we haven't even talked about the emotion of the message of the song, given greatly by the vocals, which, of course, were the signature of the Bee Gees.

It's weird to type these two words together, but enjoy "Tragedy"!   :)

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Song #66: "The Voice"--The Moody Blues (1981)

Today, the second of four songs from the album that really opened the Moody Blues door to me, "Long Distance Voyager", 36 summers ago.

The song led off the album and was the second radio single after "Gemini Dream". I hated the radio edit, which eliminated the classic opening.

Somehow, my vinyl copy of this album got irretrievably warped while I was up in college, but, I do remember my great friend and colleague, the late "Mr. Mike", Mike Rancourt, throwing down the full version of this song on his overnight shift for me after I had returned to Pittsfield from Springfield, Massachusetts, the site of my first Moody Blues concert in October, 1986.

To my friend, Suzanne Smith, who went to the show with me, thank you again for the evening! It would be almost 18 years before I would see them again. So blessed to be able to go at least one more time come July at Wolf Trap.  :)

Appropriate thoughts when considering the line, "oh, won't you tell me again tonight" from today's song.  :)

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Song #67: "Better Days (And The Bottom Drops Out)"--Citizen King (1999)

Now, eighteen years removed from the revolutionary year of 1999 for me personally, I'm still trying to figure out how in the world Rob Witham and Citizen King ever found each other.

I'm thinking maybe via, at the time, B103.7, since, on the good ol' morning newspaper route, by the time I was close to wrapping up, I would occasionally flip over there once I had gotten all the morning information I needed, first from WCBS in New York, then from future co-workers Tim Timberlake and John Harding on WRVA.

It was the last song that, when it grabbed me, it shook me like songs used to when I was a kid, having to, at least, record it off the radio, and then, later, go to the record store and get the 45. In fact, I did record it off the radio with my old 1990's era boom box (I wish I still had that contraption!), so I could listen to it as much as I wanted in the ol' blue minivan.

That, of course, meant the kids would hear it a lot, too, as this was during my third and final summer as the stay-at-home Dad. In fact, if I dig deep enough in my cassette library somewhere in this house, I should be able to find the time, a couple of years later, where I had Robbie and Rachel in one of our production rooms at Clear Channel. I recorded them singing along to the song.

Hmmm.....gotta get my hands on that one.  :)

From a massive one-hit wonder, here's Citizen King, and a song that makes me think of The House The Withams Built (But Never Lived In) and Summer Parent/Kid Bowling League. Good times.  :) :)

Monday, April 17, 2017

Song #68: "I Do I Do I Do I Do I Do"--Abba (1975)

Recorded in 1975, and released in America early in 1976, comes Abba's second major hit after "Waterloo", the song they used in the Eurovision Song Contest (think "American Idol"), and won with, starting what would be one of the greatest runs by any group in any era of music.

Abba has a unique sound, but this song is even unique inside of that realm. It doesn't have the fast pace of songs like "Take A Chance On Me" or "Mamma Mia", and, especially at the start, sounds like a jam started at a seedy nightclub on the wrong side of town. But as soon as the vocals hit, you'll feel like you're at the exclusive lounge uptown that is by invitation only.

It's the fifth of six Abba songs in the Top 500, so we'll visit Sweden by way of Abba once more this spring.  :)

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Song #69: "Hold On"--Yes (1983)

Time to feature the seventh of eight songs from Yes, and the fifth of six from the "90125" release. On the album, this song follows the most well-known tune from the release, "Owner Of A Lonely Heart" on Side A.

Driving drums, a beat that feels faster than it is, and a wonderfully positive message. An almost perfect package, and, perfectly placed on the album.

In fact, it's placement on the countdown on this Easter Sunday is perfect for its message. The answer is looking for you. Even today.  :)

If you're not familiar with this song, take five, and discover "Hold On".  :)

My favorite Yes song? Yes, it's from "90125", and we'll hear it.....soon.......

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Song #70: "I Saw Her Standing There"--The Beatles (1963)

Today, the eighth and final contribution from the most iconic musical group of the rock era.

After leading off The Beatles' 1963 LP, "Please Please Me", this song was placed on the other side of the 45 RPM single for "I Want To Hold Your Hand" by Capitol Records for American release at the end of the year. Of course, the A-side was red hot when the Fab Four made their unforgettable appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show in February, 1964, but as weeks progressed, "I Saw Her Standing There" found its way onto the charts, and broke the Top 20.

In junior high, I would get up in the morning, as I had the house to myself by 5AM. I'd get up and jam to favorite songs before having to hit the bus for the long, two-bus trek to Liberty Junior High School my eighth grade year.

I had a group of songs that I would play on the record player every morning, a morning routine if you would. "Coming Up" from Paul McCartney, featured a couple of weeks back, was part of it, another song still to come was, too, as was today's song.

It's one of many Lennon-McCartney "two-minute powerhouse collaborations", but it's my favorite.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Song #71: "'39"--Queen (1975)

For all the crazy twists and turns you'll find musically on what I think is Queen's best album, "A Night At The Opera", there is a rest stop in the middle. That is today's song.

It seems simple and reflective, but in truth, from the mind of group member Brian May, it's the story of a group of space travelers who, in theory, take on a year-long mission of discovery, only to return home to find it is, in fact, 100 years later, thanks to "time dilation" effect of Einstein's Theory of Relativity.

It's a complete and utter dichotomy. A song that seems to take you back in time, especially with its sound, actually propels you a century into the future.

It's my favorite Queen song. For all the copious amounts of variety of music this incredible group made, in the end, simplicity wins out for me.  :)

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Song #72: "Meanwhile"--The Moody Blues (1981)

Two weeks ago, we talked about how my true discovery of The Moody Blues came when I bought their 1981 album, "Long Distance Voyager". Today we have the second of four songs from that album to make, not just my Top 500, but my Top 100.

Like "22,000 Days" before it, "Meanwhile" wasn't a commercial single to Top 40 radio (though some rock stations did air it), but a song I discovered with the album in hand. It's the story of a man thinking about the woman he loves being in the arms of someone else, and how daydreaming, hoping and wishing won't change the reality.

"But in this part I've got to play;
It doesn't quite turn out that way..."

Whimsical in its sound, but heavy on the heart with its vocals and message, here's "Meanwhile".

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Song #73: "A Swingin' Safari"--Bert Kaempfert (1962)

Also known as the original theme to the original run of "Match Game" in the 1960's, which was a much more staid version of the show than its 1970's updated, more comedic version, I didn't discover this song fully until my first radio job.

At WUHN-AM in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, we had a stack of instrumental music carts, all that timed in at around 2:53 in length. Why? So that when we got close to the top of the hour, and had to hit ABC News on time, after the last full song of the hour played, we grabbed an instrumental cut and played it to successfully "back time" to the Legal ID, then the news.

Back in the good ol' days of radio, you would spend the entire hour working up to that point, especially in the final 20-30 minutes, making sure you could play full songs, get your commercial stopsets and other obligations in, and not have to cut any vocal tracks off early in order to make the news on time.

In fact, there, and later in my work here in Richmond on WDYL and WGGM from 1988 to 1997, I always wore a watch when I owned one, and I used it to help me back time hour after hour after hour. The best watch I ever had had both a traditional clock face and a digital readout at the bottom, and I would feel lost without it on my left wrist in the studio.

Interestingly enough, when I left that job 20 years ago this month (really? 20 years??), I took off that watch, and I've never wore one since. I also haven't had a regular airshift since then, either.

So, back to Pittsfield, my song of choice from the instrumental cart bunch was today's song, a great little tune from Bert Kaempfert. Still sounds as good as back in 1986, when I'd grab the pre-recorded cart provided by ABC, and, after a song, you'd hear:

"I'm Bill Diehl. Total News is next on 1110 AM, WUHN!", as today's song faded in.  :)

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Song #74: "Long Long Way From Home"--Foreigner (1977)

There were three singles released from the debut album from Foreigner, today's song being the last one late in 1977.

And though it didn't fare as well on the charts as "Feels Like The First Time" and "Cold As Ice", over the years, it has grown to be my favorite Foreigner song. It's a simple premise that most of us have experienced in our lives either short-term or long-term, and that's dealing with being away from our home, whether that be a place of residence, or, in this case, not in your hometown and familiar surroundings.

Classic Foreigner sound that was so fresh and invigorating 40 years ago when this song first debuted, and to me, a sound very unique, and timeless.  :)

Monday, April 10, 2017

Song #75: "Who Said I Would?"--Phil Collins (1985)

Four of Phil Collins' six solo contributions to our musical journey came from his monster 1985 release, "No Jacket Required", which I believe I've mentioned in the past how I purchased this cassette (yes, cassette), when I got my first Sony Walkman shortly before moving to college on September 1, 1985.

In the early days at Berkshire Christian College, my work to help pay tuition was to clean several parts of the first floor of the academic building, Vannah Hall. Yes, I said "the academic building", for there was but one. The college was very, very small.

To pass the time with the vacuum and other implements of cleanliness was my Walkman, and "No Jacket Required". In the end, today's song made the biggest impression, a song with a perfect start, launching into a driving song that utilized the vocal ability of Collins in an incredible way.

It was never a single, never featured on the radio, but it's my favorite solo effort from the great Phil Collins.  :)

Sunday, April 09, 2017

Song #76: "25 Or 6 To 4"--Chicago (1970)

The seventh and final Chicago song in the Top 500 is an absolute classic whose chorus alluded to a personal experience of mine, twelve full years before it ever happened.

First, a confession. I'm a bouncer. No, not the kind that kicks you out of the bar, I mean the kind that can't stop moving. As a young kid, I occupied a certain place on the living room couch every single day, and, a few years later, you could tell where said spot was.

By the time the couch was replaced in the mid-1970's, my spot was at least an inch lower than the rest of it. Imprint sealed.  :)

By the early 1980's, I'd moved down to the floor. In 1981, I promised myself I would stop bouncing on the "new" living room furniture, which was four years young by then, because I should. So, off to my room, onto the almost room-sized carpet that covered the wood floor. Add my brother's stereo a year later, which was later given to me, and the stage was set.

July 21, 1982. I had just returned from a vacation to North Carolina, me to visit grandparents and family, my brother to make his preparations to move down there the following month. And, within 24 hours of getting back to the Old Dominion, my first girlfriend, well, broke up with me.

Insert sad face here.

So, to deal with the disappointment, I did what I always did, hit the stereo, now complete with the BEST birthday present of my life, a pair of headphones. My Dad and Stepmom were also thrilled with themselves for making that purchase as well.  :)

My brother and I came home from Carolina the night before very, very late. In fact, we pulled into Beaverdam at about the time Dad would get up to go to work at Ukrop's in Ashland. We passed each other in the hallway about 3:45 in the morning.

Thus, the following night, after sleeping in earlier in the day, I wasn't even close to sleepy. So, off to the stereo, where I jammed to the radio until about 3:40am the next morning, July 22nd.

So, long story short, that memorable night 35 years ago, I was, literally, "sitting cross leg on the floor, 25 or 6 to 4."

Here's my favorite Chicago song, a song about trying to write a song in the dead of night.

Saturday, April 08, 2017

Song #77: "Hold The Line"--Toto (1978)

It's October, 1978. We're about to get a World Series rematch between the Dodgers and the Yankees, and disco dominated the airwaves. I was settled into my first semester in sixth grade in Mr. Taylor's class at beloved Beaverdam Elementary School.

And, coming out of our radio speakers for the first time was the group Toto, and what a debut it was. It was a song that was the perfect "counter play" so to speak, for a Top 40 radio format deluged with one disco song after another.

Toto had a very underrated career, in my opinion, and they've now appeared four times here in the Top 500. For me, their best work was their first. "Hold The Line" will stand the test of time. It has for 39 years, and will be just as powerful, just as fresh, 39 years from now.  :)

Friday, April 07, 2017

Song #78: "Changes"--Yes (1983)

Yes has eight overall songs in the Top 500, and six of them, as we've discussed before, come from one of my "must-have" albums, "90125". You've heard the old question, if you were stuck on a deserted island, which five albums would you want with you, right? This one would definitely make the list.

This is the fourth of those six songs, one that builds on the combination of the "progressive rock" sound that Yes used so successfully as its foundation, with a nice early 1980's twist with the extended opening to the song, complete with xylophone. If I ever got to learn how to play one, this would be the Holy Grail of tunes to learn.  :)

Will we hear from Yes twice more before our journey concludes? Why yes....and yes.  :)

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Song #79: "Tusk"--Fleetwood Mac (1979)

Like the Eagles yesterday, Fleetwood Mac spent much of the 1970's enjoying massive success, and encountering massive relationship issues within the band. In fact, their dynamics were much different.

After "Rumours" became one of the iconic albums of the decade, it simply became a question of how does a group with such dysfunction follow that up??

The answer was controversial, at least at the start. When "Tusk" was released in the fall of 1979, the title track became the debut single. It's a unique collaboration between the band and, of all groups, the University of Southern California Marching Band, who were much better known for this song at the time, thanks to college football on ABC during the John McKay era (go Student Body Left!!).

So, when today's song hit the radio, it was one of the most polarizing singles, not just of the 1970's, but in Top 40 history. No one "liked" it. People either loved it, or, the more popular view, they hated it.

Me? I've always held a special place in my heart for this song and I give huge kudos to the band for thinking outside the box. Now, they bounced back on radio with later singles "Sara" and the underrated "Think About Me", so they were just fine.

I know this won't sit well with some of you, but this is my Fleetwood Mac jam..  :)

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

Song #80: "Wasted Time/Reprise"--Eagles (1976)

We haven't heard from the Eagles in about four months, but they return today with the fourth of five entries in the Top 500 with a suite that, when you went to Gary's or the Album Den, or Woolco, to buy it in 1976, you'd find it separated.

That's because "Wasted Time" was the final song of Side A. When you flipped the vinyl to Side B, you began with the "Reprise", then launch into one of the more underrated sides of a rock album in history, to be honest. Every song is very strong, from "Victim Of Love" and "Pretty Maids All In A Row" to "The Last Resort".

All three of those songs made the "B" side of the three singles released from "Hotel California", and most of us don't remember that, when the album came out, it was "New Kid In Town", and not the title track, that was first to hit the radio. In early 1977, when "Hotel California", the song, hit the airwaves, the popularity of the Eagles went from stardom to super-stardom.

But my favorite song from the iconic album is a beautifully penned piece sung absolutely perfectly by Don Henley, a lament about a couple ending their relationship, and based on a real-life break-up between Henley and his girlfriend shortly before the recording for "Hotel California" began.

You can tell by his performance that it was heartfelt and experiential. Rolling Stone readers made this the ninth best song in Eagles history in a poll conducted back in 2015.

It's number two in my poll. They'll be back once more, and, with the exception of my brother, I don't believe anyone can guess what that song will be.  :)

I'm posting both the song and the reprise, because frankly, I don't want to hear one without the other.

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Song #81: "Couple Days Off"--Huey Lewis and The News (1991)

In the period between 1982 and 1987, after the successes of Michael Jackson and Madonna, you could argue that, as a hit-making machine, no one else was more successful than Huey Lewis and The News.

The group had twelve top ten hits and sang one of the most iconic movie soundtrack songs of the decade with "The Power Of Love" from "Back To The Future" in 1985. Huey and The News were all over radio for over half of the decade.

So, after a small pause, the group returned with a new CD in 1991, and from it, my favorite song from the group. It's quirky, a bit disjointed in a good way, and, I think, their best "jam", though some of you may counter that argument with "Hip To Be Square" or "I Want A New Drug".

I think we all can agree with the premise of the song. A little time off does everybody some good.  :)

Monday, April 03, 2017

Song #82: "Love's Been A Little Bit Hard On Me"--Juice Newton (1982)

We heard from Juice Newton earlier at Song #187 and today she returns with my favorite song from her catalog.

Coming off a very successful 1981, she released a new album, "Quiet Lies", in 1982. By this time the "Urban Cowboy" effect on Top 40 radio had waned, but Newton bucked the trend with a couple of big hits from the album, the first being today's song.

If you've never seen the video, it's pretty good, remembering it was back when MTV was less than a year old and "The Nashville Network" was still a year away from being born. Do you remember The Nashville Network?  :)

Sunday, April 02, 2017

Song #83: "Four Little Diamonds"--Electric Light Orchestra (1983)

In the five years between ELO's final Top 10 hit, "Hold On Tight", and the final Top 20 hit, "Calling America", came their 1983 "Secret Messages" release.

Best known for the song "Rock 'n Roll Is King", the third single released in the Fall of 1983, to me, was the hidden gem of the album. Radio didn't care for it and it never appeared with Casey Kasem on American Top 40, in fact, not even close.

But this song is fantastic, the story of a man searching for the lover who spurned him, cheated on him, and took away a pretty expensive ring. He makes it very clear that he'll take the law into his own hands if "the law don't get her".....

A feel-good beat and rhythm to a message of heartbreak. One of the amazing things rock 'n roll can do. This is the seventh of nine ELO songs in our musical journey.  :)

Oh, and by the way, this song has one of the greatest openings ever.


Saturday, April 01, 2017

Song #84: "Coming Up (Live At Glasgow)"--Paul McCartney & Wings (1979)

It was Monday, December 17th, 1979. The place was Glasgow, Scotland. Paul McCartney and Wings performed a song that would eventually be released as a single to radio in April, 1980.

The original version, recorded in studio, was a bit slower, McCartney's vocals, frankly, overproduced. But that "Coming Up" blazed up the charts in Great Britain. Herre in America, however, Columbia Records preferred the live version that ended up on the B-side of the "Coming Up" single release.

Columbia got the live version to radio, and even though he liked the studio version better, I suspect McCartney didn't mind when it became the final number one hit in the United States for Wings.

The song is also credited with playing a part in getting McCartney's former songwriting partner John Lennon back into the studio. The result of that was "Double Fantasy", the last piece of the Lennon legacy before the tragic events of December 8th, 1980. Also a Monday.

McCartney and Wings will join us two more times on our musical journey.  :)

Side Note: I tried several times as a young teenager to play 24 consecutive hours of music, pretending to be a DJ (I started "building" radio stations in my mind when I was like four years old. Long story.), and this would always be the song I played in the four minutes before the 24 hour period began. Sadly, I never made it. I never made it through the entire Jerry Lewis Labor Day MDA Telethon, either.  :(