Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Tagged by Skittles... talkin' 'bout stacks of golden wax

Barb from Skittles' Place has tagged me with a music meme. Barb, in turn, was tagged by Danielle of Modern Musings; it was from Danielle that I copied these rules:

1. Go to Pop Culture Madness;
2. Pick the year you turned 18;
3. Get yourself nostalgic over the songs of the year;
4. Write something about how the songs affected you; and
5. Pass it on to 5 more friends.

I usually cringe at memes... but I have a soft spot for the pop music of my misspent youth. Who doesn't? One of the more popular posts I've done here recently was a 'no prize contest' to name the worst song of the 1970's.

The hardest part is picking the year I turned 18.... Let's see... I'm still 23 years old... but I graduated from high school in 1974....

I spent a lot of time in one car or another that year (even though the price of gasoline had soared to an unprecedented 60 cents a gallon), punching the buttons between WLS and WCFL -- two 50,000 watt, Top 40, AM powerhouses broadcasting limited playlists and acne commercials in heavy rotation throughout the entire Midwest.

In 1974 I was still going into the record store in town -- not a national chain, just a locally owned record store, right next door to the used book store where I also spent a lot of time. I'd go from one to the other on my lunch break from the jewelry store (I was the mail clerk and delivery boy) picking up copies of the Top 40 surveys from both stations and sometimes a 45 or two at the record store and maybe a National Geographic from the 1920's at the bookstore. The used magazine would cost a dime; the 45's were also under a dollar. I remember being proud, some weeks, that so many of the top 40 45's were in my collection.

I can't recall exactly when I started buying actual albums, but it was around this time: I'd have to choose carefully. Did this album have "enough" on it to justify the $4 or so I'd have to spend at E.J. Korvette's? (Albums cost too much to buy them at the local store.)

I started at the jewelry store for $1.65 an hour. I got a raise, on merit thank you, to $1.75 -- and then the minimum wage went up to $2 and the owners told me they'd have to cut back my hours. I don't think they did.

In 1974, I'd go to work after school. Friday was the late night; I think we were open until 9:00, but it may only have been 8:00 pm. Either way, I had to have dinner -- and I'd get an Italian sausage and beef combo sandwich at "Papa Disease" across the street (no, that wasn't the real name, but it was what we called it) and for 10 cents more I'd get a "dip" -- a sandwich roll dipped in the beef juice. I was still a growing boy.

And I needed the extra energy to make it the block or so to the deli where I could get a quarter-pound of fried clams. And another sandwich.

As delivery boy, I took packages all over the area. Most of these were bridal gifts; I was working at jewelry store, yes, but we had a good line of china, silver, silverplate, and giftware (like Lladro figurines). Local brides-to-be registered at Marshall Field's, of course, but they had to register at our store, too. And I got to drive the bosses' cars. Mr. Jeweler had a station wagon -- yes, with 'wood' on the sides -- which was very practical for deliveries. I once did $389.10 in damage to that car, not that it still bothers me or anything to this very day... but that's a story for a different time. Mrs. Jeweler had an enormous black Buick. You could land a small airplane on the hood. And I cranked up the volume every time I got behind the wheel of either car.

Because these were fancy cars, though, they didn't have manual transmissions. When "Radar Love" came on the radio, even at half past four, I couldn't shift gears. Far better, then, to be in my parents' Maverick with the three-on-a-tree transmission. You needed some kind of imagination to think you were power driving while shifting from second to third in a Ford Maverick... but in 1974 I had just the right kind.

So I would have taken that year... but Barb did. So I'll settle for 1975, a year in which I may in fact have turned 18.....


Here's the 1975 Top 10 from Pop Culture Madness:

1. Get Down Tonight - KC & The Sunshine Band
2. Thank God I'm A Country Boy - John Denver
3. That's the Way (I Like It) - K.C. and the Sunshine Band
4. Cut The Cake - Average White Band (AWB)
5. Lady Marmalade - Patti LaBelle
6. Jive Talkin' - Bee Gees
7. You're The First, The Last, My Everything - Barry White
8. Shining Star - Earth Wind And Fire
9. Some Kind of Wonderful - Grand Funk
10. Send In The Clowns - Judy Collins

Here's the Top 10 according to the WLS Big 89 of 1975:

1. LOVE WILL KEEP US TOGETHER-Captain & Tennille
4. MANDY-Barry Manilow
7. ISLAND GIRL-Elton John
8. BLACK WATER-Doobie Brothers
9. BAD BLOOD-Neil Sedaka w/Elton John

"Get Down Tonight" made it only to No. 16 on the WLS year-end chart. "Thank God I'm A Country Boy" -- a favorite of mine, I must confess, even though I'm not -- made it only to No. 77. "That's the Way I Like It" (uh huh, uh huh) was only No. 20 on the Big 89.

And just to complicate matters further, here's the list of WCFL Top Hits from 1975 (click to enlarge):

The differences among the charts are fascinating. Still, I recognize most of the songs on all the charts... but not all. Something called "Mr. Jaws" by Dickie Goodman held down the No. 13 spot on the Big 89 in 1975. I can't recall ever hearing that. Have you? There are a few others as well.

And my eyesight isn't what it used to be, but I can't find either "Love Will Keep Us Together" or Elton John's "Pinball Wizard" on the Pop Culture Madness chart anywhere. WCFL had "Love Will Keep Us Together" as No. 1 in 1975 also, but "Pinball Wizard" is nowhere to be found. "Have You Never Been Mellow" isn't on the Pop Culture Madness chart either... although Pop Culture Madness advises that this song by Olivia Newton John held down the No. 1 position on the Billboard chart between March 8 and March 14.

"Amie" by Pure Prairie League -- a song that I still sing along with, badly, every single time I hear it -- was only No. 43 on the Pop Culture Madness chart. I can't find it at all on the Big 89 or on the chart from Super 'CFL. But it was in extremely heavy rotation on the juke box at places I hung out in 1975, '76, and '77. And I went to college in Chicago, too.

I could go on like this for days... but I really have to get some work done. So I'll tag SQT, Sari, Susan, Claire (although she's got so many memes backed up now I don't know when she can get to it), and Chris.

Yes, there's a theme to my selections and, no, it's not (intentionally) picking on anyone: All of these people would move the music selections out of the 70's and into what is for me largely terra incognita. I will be interested to see if I recognize anything they come up with....


Anonymous said...

1974? I was only 1....

1991 was such a long time ago, I'll see what I can do ;-)

Barb said...

As I was reading this I was thinking OMG we're the same age! Did you have one of those wire rack thingies to put your 45's in?

I actually kept my 45's until about 15 years ago. My kids would listen to them.

The first album I ever got was actually two albums as Christmas gifts. Mama's & The Papa's California Dreamin' and Hermans Hermits There A Kind Of Hush.

I kept my albums until I had to move out of our house and into an apartment. I sold the three album Woodstock set for 25 cents at the moving sale. *Sigh*

Mike still has all 200+ of his and he's burning them into MP3's on his USB turntable.

The Curmudgeon said...

I don't have my old 45's any more *Sigh* although somebody gave me a box full some years ago and I think that might still be in the house somewhere.

I have the albums, though. Lots and lots of them -- and the crummy turntable I have is so lightweight it won't play any of them. I replaced a lot of these with CD's -- which have since gone into the computer -- but there are still a lot I haven't been able to find. I would love to make digital copies of the records... but it's not at the top of the To Do List. Unfortunately. Sigh.

Lawfrog said...

Thanks for the comments on my most recent blog entry! The Lizzie Borden To Do List comes from a book by Jonathan Katz called "To-Do Lists Of The Dead."


Jean-Luc Picard said...

Elton John had a good year in 1975.

Shelby said...

cool and funky post! my husband was looking over my shoulder as I reading this - and he said (he's older than me :) by the way) "ooooh I remember when gas went to sixty cents!"

I got tagged too on this one.. today's my bloggin' day... nuthin' by bloggin' it.

Tomorrow I'll do something productive. (watch tv.)

hey thanks for your comment today - I needed that!

Shelby said...

forgot to add - where's your exam post? don't forget... y'know your law stories are always a hoot!

Empress Bee (of the high sea) said...

my mom worked for korvettes! i saw her retirement check when she died, it was $2.62 a month. cheap bastards... ha ha ha ha and they call those cars "woodies", but now i think it means something else.

smiles, bee

OHN said...

Wow...I always thought you were older being a curmudgeon and all, but you are my age and I AM NOT OLD! I am supposed to turn 50 in July and I refuse to cooperate.

Thanks for the walk down memory caused alot of a melancholy sort of way.

sari said...

I'm up for this! I may wait a day or two to think it over properly, but I'll participate.

I was ten in 1974 and love a lot of these songs. I'll admit, I sing along badly to Amie as well. I also really like Bad Blood by Neil & Elton, and Someone Saved My Life Tonight. I can play that one loudly (and halfway decently) on my piano.

crpitt said...

Its a stretch for me to remember 1999 but i will try :)

Micki said...

I was 18 in 1982, but that is old enough to remember almost every word to every song! Great post - it was fun to remember those songs.

Lahdeedah said...


I was thee in 1974! But, I love Queen's Killer Queen and Pinball Wizard.

SQT said...

Tough to remember 1999? Wasn't that yesterday?

This is a fun one. I'll try to get it up by tomorrow but I can totally see this stroll down memory lane taking me awhile.

Danielle said...

1974 was a great musical year though it was 2 years before my birth.
It's funny since me and my sons still sing "That's the way I like it" almost daily.

Thanks for the mention now off to read more of what you got.

Be well and enjoy the day.

Unknown said...

For reasons I'm not sure of WLS and WCFL would have a different playlist even though they represented the musical tastes of the same city. For instance Barry Manilow's "Could it be Magic" hit WLS' survey but never saw the light of day on WCFL in 1975.
"Mr. Jaws" was a novelty break-in record. Dickie Goodman asked questions as if he were a news reporter and his questions would be answered with phrases from a popular tune. He'd been doing those records since the '50s.
"Pinball Wizard" was never released as a 45. It was only on the "Tommy" soundtrack LP but received heavy rotation dude to Elton's HUGE popularity at the time.