The Day of the Big Gulp: WLS Top 45s, August 1979

(Above: The Brementowne pool.  Not pictured: the WLS Magic Bus.) Yesterday's piece on how going back home is impossible got me thinking: What if time travel is possible on a blog?  What if we try to preserve the memories in print? (If I can jog enough memories, can they take on a life of their … Continue reading The Day of the Big Gulp: WLS Top 45s, August 1979

Fall, football, and forgetting: U2, “A Sort of Homecoming” (1985)

(Above: My senior picture, Fall 1985.  You'd think someone would have said "Do you want a comb?") The past week has been Homecoming Week at my high school.  I was at Victor J. Andrew High School in Tinley Park for four years. I haven't been back to it in twenty, or five times as long … Continue reading Fall, football, and forgetting: U2, “A Sort of Homecoming” (1985)

As I look back now, the summer seemed to last forever: The Billboard Hot 100, July 27, 1985

(Above: me, representing AM radio, circa 1985-86.) In some ways, the Summer of '85 was my last truly carefree summer.  I know I've made a similar argument about 1988 in another piece, as that was the last time I had had a summer vacation at all until leaving the world of radio for teaching. But … Continue reading As I look back now, the summer seemed to last forever: The Billboard Hot 100, July 27, 1985

RIP Dave Pell: “I’m an Old Cowhand” (1957)

(Above: The LP jacket for Swingin' In the Old Corral) Word filtered to me that jazz saxophonist Dave Pell passed away in May on 2017 at the age of 92. Dave Pell is not a household name, except perhaps to those who collect the "lounge" music of the 1950s. In the 1990s Capitol released a … Continue reading RIP Dave Pell: “I’m an Old Cowhand” (1957)

Dark of moon on the 6th of June: C.W. McCall, “Convoy” (1975)

(Above: the sort of thing that might be in your grandparents' cupboard.) In the mid-1970s in America it was hard to escape the citizens band (CB) radio craze. A simple hobby allowing ordinary people to communicate back-and-forth with each other wirelessly (this was a pre-cellphone time, after all) became a national obsession almost overnight. T-shirts … Continue reading Dark of moon on the 6th of June: C.W. McCall, “Convoy” (1975)

A sixth-grader’s records: The Billboard Hot 100, May 17, 1980

  (Above: The place where my radio career started, in a very loose sense of the word.) The big story in the middle of May 1980 was the eruption of Mount Saint Helens in Washington State.  More than fifty people lost their lives in the blast, and it dominated the news cycle for several days.  … Continue reading A sixth-grader’s records: The Billboard Hot 100, May 17, 1980

Happy birthday, Pet Sounds: The Beach Boys, “I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times” (1966)

(Above: Brian Wilson and a goat, from the album cover.) One day last semester during a lecture on the Sixties, I made an offhanded comment that 1966 may have been the greatest year ever in popular music.  As I would hope that they would, students respectfully challenged me to defend my position. "Simple," I said.  … Continue reading Happy birthday, Pet Sounds: The Beach Boys, “I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times” (1966)

But if you try sometimes: The Rolling Stones, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” (1968)

(Above: Alex's funeral in The Big Chill, which many people picture when they hear this song.) I was fifteen years old in 1984 when my family rented a copy of The Big Chill. We loaded it into the ginormous VCR that sat atop the television, dragged the cable for its remote to the couch, and … Continue reading But if you try sometimes: The Rolling Stones, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” (1968)

Kosher for Passover: Jewish folk songs reimagined as rock and roll records

(Above: You may wish to add a few 45's to the table as well.) I grew up in a predominantly Catholic suburb of Chicago in the 1970s and 80s.  We didn't stop to ask questions about other belief systems, especially not in grade school.  The Spring Break calendar was the same every year: no classes … Continue reading Kosher for Passover: Jewish folk songs reimagined as rock and roll records

Car tunes: The Rolling Stones, “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” (1967)

(Above: My 1969 Chevrolet Impala, nicknamed "The Chariot of Death.") April 4, 1985 was a Thursday.  The end of my junior year of high school was in sight. While many of my classmates were making plans for the junior prom, I had no such prospects. Instead, I made a rather questionable investment of about $700 … Continue reading Car tunes: The Rolling Stones, “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” (1967)