In junior high, music was a big topic of conversation as teammates fought for control of the stereo in the locker room with Billy Squier, Van Halen, and Led Zeppelin being in heavy rotation. There was music on the bus rides to games and meets with rock stations tuned in during football season and – with girls on the team – Top 40 during track season.
Slowly I began to develop my own interests and it was Casey Kasem who first provided me with information and knowledge that wasn’t so easily found before the advent of cable, the internet, and electricity.
(though I had no idea that I had met Casey years earlier on Scooby-Doo)
It was January of ’82 when I first stumbled across Casey on a cold, snowy Saturday morning with a broadcast of American Top 40 on WRIA 101.3 out of Richmond. I was familiar with the concept of musical countdowns from listening to Q102’s Top Ten at 10 most nights (though as the station was in Cincinnati and in the Eastern time zone and we were in the Central, it was actually 9 for us).
From that point on, American Top 40 was appointment listening on sleepy Saturday mornings, though, if I missed it for some reason, I soon found several other stations that broadcast the show each weekend.
The show was a chance to hear a lot of my current favorites – songs that were showing up on crude mix tapes I was recording from the radio – as well as songs with which I was not familiar. With no concept of radio playlists or the other basics of the music industry, though, I was often puzzled.
There were songs that I heard constantly on the stations to which I listened which were not in the Top 40 or that ranked far lower than it seemed they should. Conversely, there were songs which I wasn’t hearing much (or at all) which were moving toward the top of the chart.
It was an education, a chance to learn some of the history of pop music and about some of the iconic artists as well as more trivial items that Casey would offer up during each week’s show.
Maybe it’s been the snow and slush we’ve endured the past few weeks, a winter unlike most I’ve experienced over the past twenty-years, which has made me think of those early months of ’82.
Some of the songs I was hearing Casey count down this week in 1982 as, more than likely, I was sprawled out on my bed listening on a cold Saturday morning…
Rolling Stones – Waiting On A Friend
from Tattoo You
Personally, I’ve always thought that Waiting On A Friend was one of the Stones’ finest post-’70s moments. The song is so casual and the vibe so laid-back that it’s always welcome when it pops up on shuffle.
Apparently it was the first video by the Stones played on MTV (with reggae great Peter Tosh hanging out on the steps). Casey well might have told me about jazz legend Sonny Rollins providing the saxophone.
The Police – Spirits In The Material World
from Ghost In The Machine
Though I had just started diving full-on into music in late ’81/early ’82, I was well familiar with The Police. Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic was deservedly huge and my friend Beej was already a massive fan from their first three albums, so I heard them through him.
If I had to choose a top five from The Police, Spirits In The Material World would have a good shot at making the cut. It sounded so eerie and otherworldly, and it’s so concise, clocking in at just under three minutes.
Quarterflash – Harden My Heart
Thanks to Casey I know that Quarterflash got there name from…I think it’s an Australian saying…yeah, I had to look it up. “It came from an Australian slang description of new immigrants as ‘one quarter flash and three parts foolish.'”
The song was catchy and seems to have retained a bit of a presence.
(and lead singer/saxophonist Rindy Ross had a certain appeal to us at the time)
Huey Lewis & The News – Do You Believe In Love
from Picture This
I hear the name Huey Lewis and I have a Pavlovian moment and think Marin County. It seemed like every time I heard Casey mention the band, he noted that they were based in Marin County.
(or, that’s what I remember)
I had an unusual pizza with clams as a topping in Marin County once and I didn’t see them.