Monday, April 4, 2011

American Top 40!!!!!!!

It's a chore, sometimes, driving through rural Vermont if you don't have decent music in the car, and you have to rely on radio stations to keep you entertained.  Consider my experience as I drove the two hours home from Rutland to St. Albans the other night:

Hmm, the oldies station. Click:
The Carpenters wail, "Don't you remember you told me you love me baby. Baby, baby, baby baby, oh baybeeee!!"

Click. The top 40 station.
Some pop tart's on: "Sticks and Stones will break my bones but chains and whips excite me."

A country station?
".....I took a Louisville slugger to both headlights...."

A familiar radio jingle: .American..Top 40!!!!!"
It was a rerun, of all things, of American Top 40 with Casey Kasem from April 5, 1986.
Casey Kasem kept me company the
other night with a 1986 blast from the past

Wow, a time warp from the 1980s. I need somebody with big hair and parachute pants, pronto!

I quickly got immersed in Casey's minutae of the chart toppers of 1986.

This particular Top 40, had two differents songs with the same name, Casey tells us, both called "I Can't Wait."  What fun! I can't wait to hear them, to see if I remember the songs

I do remember them! Stevie Nicks angrily warbles through one of the "I Can't Wait" songs, over a background of urgent '80s era thunks and clanks and fake drums. Fun Fact: Her "I Can't Wait" is off her "Rock A Little " album. "Rock A Little" is also the current name of Nick's official Web site.

Turns out I recalled the other "I Can't Wait,"  by a now-forgotten group called Nu Shooz. I actually like this danceable song, even if it does sound a bit like a really bad earthquake at a wind chime factory. It turns out Nu Shooz is still going strong, though their sound has changed to something they call pop/jazz/cinema. The reviews look good, though.

Another blast from the past follows almost immediately after "I Can't Wait as Casey plays something called "Beat's So Lonely," by Charlie Sexton, who, when he was on the chart in April, 1986, was a 17-year old wunderkind who apparently was on his way to being a huge superstar.

I hadn't  heard of Sexton since 1986, though I've learned, upon looking him up, is that he is still a well-respected musician, band members for big acts like Bob Dylan, and has been producing many hit records. So good for him!

I remember loving the song "Beats so Lonely" in 1986, but upon hearing it again the other night, it sounded so overwrought. Which is what you'd expect from a 17-year old.

Then it was time for the highlight of the snow, the Long Distance Dedication. It was from a guy from North Dakota, who was sending it out to his wife, who presumably lived in the guy's house, so there wasn't much of a distance to carry.

No matter. Mr. Fargo wrote that he was cleaning out his garage and found some eight track tapes, one of which featured Bobby Vinton's song, "I Love How You Love Me."
Bobby Vinton helped soothe my drive home the other night

Good gawd, I thought that song was so cheesy and hokey back in my wild semi-youthful days in 1986. Casey Kasem sure is old school, I thought.

Then the song played. It immediately made me think of my lover, and I melted. What a beautiful tune. Yes, it's cheesy as hell,  but since it conjures up great thoughts, what the hell.

Radio stations obviously play Casey Kasem reruns to appeal to our nostalgia, of course. That's OK. Indulging in "American Top 40" gives us a chance to indulge in assessing where we've been, where we're going, and provides a soundtrack to get the juices flowing with those thoughts.

I see the musicians in the 1986 Top 40 countdown have also evolved and grown and changed, so we're all in this together.  As I neared home, Van Halen's song "Why Can't This Be Love" blasted from my truck's radio (The biggest mover within the countdown!,"  Casey gushed)

I pulled into the driveway, took one last look at 1986, and pronounced myself happy to be home, alive and well in 2011.

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