American Top 40 PastBlast, 7/22/78: Boney M, “Rivers of Babylon”

Over a decade before he blessed us with Milli Vanilli, German producer Frank Farian assembled this quartet, two of whom actually sang on their records (Farian supplied some of the male vocals himself). Boney M had several hits all over Europe, and “Rivers of Babylon” (whose lyrics come from a couple of Psalms) was a #1 smash in fourteen countries. It fared far worse in the US, though, topping out at only #30; it’s debuting at #39 on this show.

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Happy Blogiversary To Me

One year ago today, I started this blog.  I had no idea where it would lead, but it’s been darn satisfying. To note the occasion, two lists and a reflection.

First, the twelve posts with the most views, in descending order (there is a tie for second):

1)  Observing the centennial of my father-in-law’s birth
2)  Noting the fourth anniversary of getting the dog that calmed my son’s fears
2)  Playing a Wizard of Oz character in my kindergarten year-end play
4)  Reminiscing about my high school cross-country experiences
5)  Recounting the time I may have met my future wife (with a twist ending)
6)  Reviewing the local high school’s production of Les Miserables
7)  Remembering my dad on the anniversary of his death
8)  Touring with my paternal grandparents as they taught all over KY during the 1920s
9)  Reliving my dreams of becoming a disc jockey in my early teen years
10) Thinking about my 16th birthday
11) Offering a tribute to David Cassidy
12) Deciphering patterns in a radio station’s playlist

I think there’s a little wonkiness with the numbers for a couple of those, but I’m just the messenger here.

Next, a dozen of my favorite posts other than those listed above (#2, 5, 8, 9, and 12 on the most-viewed list would qualify if I allowed them). These are in the order they appeared.

1) My years-long quest to see 10,000 Maniacs in concert
2) My son’s odd thoughts on what might qualify as a Christmas song
3) The 40th anniversary of Elvis’s death
4) The first day of my college life
5) A review of the very few letters I wrote home while in college
6) A visit to the town where I lived when I was five years old
7) Winning a standoff with a lounge lizard
8) An overview of Christmas songs I just don’t need to hear all that often
9) My in-laws’ square dancing days
10) The well-known country singer that was in my father’s high school class
11) Riding the bus when I was in third grade
12) A look back at my mother’s teen years

There are two sometimes orthogonal themes consistently running through my efforts so far: a desire to share songs I enjoy (with more than the occasional reminiscence attached), and various bits of family history. I often say that this is meant to be a book of memories for my son, but to date it’s been considerably more than that at times. If you dig around enough, it’s clear that I’m still grieving over the loss of my parents, both of whom died within the last five years. I have things related to their final years still to be worked out in my head, and maybe writing about Mom and Dad helps with that. I hope you haven’t minded being a party to that.

On the more upbeat side of things, I’ve also tried to display gratitude, whether it’s to long-time pals or to newer friends I’ve made through the blog. I owe thanks to many, many folks; whether you’ve offered advice, promoted this site via link or tweet, or dropped by to read, please know all of it is greatly appreciated. I’m looking forward to what happens next, whatever it is.

I wrote last November that the direct inspiration for The Music of My Life was a conversation one year ago yesterday with my college friend Judy.  But if July 20, 2017 was its date of birth, that moment had a couple of parents.

Winter 2014: Discovering music blogs. On a Saturday evening (either January 25 or February 1), I was in the ER with my mother, who we knew was terminally ill; within a few days she would undergo a procedure that would offer her some relief.  While waiting for her to be examined and ultimately admitted, I did an internet search for something I’d been meaning to look into for some time: the National Album Countdown, a radio show I’d listened to some in the summer of 76 (WSAI would play it on Sunday evenings after AT40 ended).  One of the top results was an article from a few years earlier on The Hits Just Keep On Comin.  I learned some things about the NAC I didn’t know, but over the following days I became engrossed in the many articles jb had written about AT40.  It was an eye-opener to find someone writing about things that had interested me for so long. No doubt his work has been an influence on mine; I’ve pretty much poached the idea of looking back on the previous year’s posts at one’s blogiversary from him!  In the years since, and particularly over the last 12 months, I’ve continued to learn about many other interesting voices in the music blogosphere.

August 11, 2016: Writing about music (and memories) in earnest. I’d been thinking about “live blogging” old mix tapes on Facebook for a while, and this was when I took the plunge, taking 44 days to go over two cassettes I’d recorded in May 85. (Those articles were reposted here over TMoML’s first six-plus weeks.) That led to writing about other songs and moments on FB, which led to what turned into the PastBlast posts, which led to that lunch with Judy…

I’ve written far more in the last year than I ever dreamed I would, but ideas for posts still come to me regularly.  I imagine for some visitors it’s an exercise in witnessing self-absorption—far too many first-person singular pronouns, with an insufficient number of punchlines—but on the personal side it’s allowed me to conduct a little bit of accounting of successes and mistakes, both large and small, from across the course of my life (heavier on the mistakes—that’s just my nature), even if those sorts of things don’t show up here all that often.

For Year #2 of the blog, I’ve decided to up my Twitter game.  My handle is @music_life_blog.  Follow along if you wish!

Finally, here’s a song I posted one year ago, my first Song of the Day.  This is what I had to say about the origins of SotD then.  As it happens, I’ll be visiting Greg and Katie next week, and we’ll be going to a couple of concerts. I’m pretty stoked.

Okay, one more thing: next Tuesday I’ll be hosting my first guest post. Luckily, I got HERC to write something up for me before he took off to help with his new grandchildren!

American Top 40 PastBlast Redux, 7/13/85: Bryan Adams, “Summer of ’69”

Before I started this blog, I posted about songs from old AT40s on Facebook, January-July 2017. I’ve been moving them here over time, and this week I’m wrapping them up with the last two I wrote pre-blog–here is the final one! This entry has been edited a little from the original.

In the timeframe highlighted in this song, Bryan Adams would have been 9.5 years old.  I hope that those weren’t really the best days of his life!

I remember liking “Lonely Nights” (probably heard it on WEBN) as a HS senior in the spring of 82.  Always dug his rockers MUCH more than the slower numbers (which meant counting me out when he recorded all those movie ballads that went to #1 in the 90s).  Bought the Reckless cassette while in college.  My favorites are “Run To You,” “It’s Only Love,” and of course this one.  It’s debuting at #38 and got to #5.

By the way, I discovered a while ago that Bryan Adams and Ryan Adams share a birthday (November 5, 15 years apart).  Coincidence?

American Top 40 PastBlast Redux, 7/17/76: Lou Rawls, “You’ll Never Find Another Love Like Mine”

Before I started this blog, I posted about songs from old AT40s on Facebook, January-July 2017. I’ve been moving them here over time, and this week I’m wrapping up with the last two I wrote pre-blog. This entry has been edited a little from the original.

Lou Rawls got his start with gospel groups in the 50s.  He grew up knowing Sam Cooke and sang backup on “Bring It On Home To Me.”   All told he had six AT40 hits; this one, a Gamble-Huff penned/produced slice of sweet Philly soul, was by far the biggest, reaching #2 (it’s at #32 and climbing in this countdown).  He had such a smooth, fantastic voice.

After his charting days were over, Mr. Rawls could be heard promoting Budweiser and his hometown Chicago’s WGN; additionally, he devoted a great deal of energy to an annual telethon to raise money for the United Negro College Fund.  He died at age 72 in early 2006.

American Top 40 PastBlast, 7/9/83: Human League, “(Keep Feeling) Fascination”

This is one of the few videos I remember encountering prior to my parents getting MTV, when they moved to Florence in September 83.  I’m betting I saw it over the summer at my grandparents’ house in Erlanger.

The second of four Human League AT40 appearances during the 80s, “(Keep Feeling) Fascination” reached #8; this week it’s stopping off at #28.

American Top 40 PastBlast, 7/14/79: Joe Jackson, “Is She Really Going Out with Him?”

I really, really loved this song during its run on the chart (and I still do). Don’t think Q102 gave it the time of day, but I know I heard it on WEBN. I very much consider this to be a harbinger of where my music tastes would trend over time . It’s at #35, steaming toward a peak of #21.

Joe Jackson scored three more Top 40 hits; “Steppin’ Out,” from the fall of my freshman year in college, is another stunner, and the others are plenty good.