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In which I listen to the music of my youth.

Those of you that follow my Facebook status may have caught that I spent Sunday morning listening to a 25 year old American Top 40 rebroadcast. Our local retro hits station began reairing AT40s from the 80s last fall and, life with a newborn and two preschoolers being what it is, this was my first chance to sit down and actually listen to one of the shows. Forget about forcing the girls to do something other than stare at the Disney Channel on a cold Sunday morning, I was excited to chill out, feed Lia a bottle, and listen to my boy Casey Kasim for awhile.

This week’s countdown was from the corresponding week in 1984. I caught tracks 20-1, and since the countdown usually lagged a bit behind actual airplay, that meant I was hearing music that I had been listening to in December 1983. Big month, December 1983. That’s the Christmas I got both an Atari 2600 and a sweet boombox. I spent most of that Christmas vacation sitting in front of my TV, working through my pile of new games (I’m pretty sure most of my time was spent playing Pitfall, Q*Bert, and Pole Position) while listening to my tape collection and the latest hits on Q-104 and ZZ99.

As Casey counted down through Peter Schilling’s “Major Tom,” Pat Benatar’s “Love Is A Battlefield,” Lionel Richie’s double shot of “All Night Long,” and “Running With The Night” at #11 and #10, Elton John’s “I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues,” H20’s “Say It Isn’t So,” and Yes’ “Owner Of A Broken Heart,” it was hard not to think of the hours spent playing games while avoiding the bitter cold of that holiday season. I think the only time I left that house that week was to play in a basketball tournament.* Even then, the second I hit the house, I was back in the beanbag, popping in Pitfall, trying to get a high enough score to Polaroid the screen and send it in for the patch or certificate or whatever you got for getting 100,000 points.**

* You think the NFL’s overtime rules are dumb? In the championship game of the tournament, we went to overtime. Still tied after two added minutes, we went to a second overtime, which was sudden freaking death. Sudden death in basketball! I may or may not have missed a shot that would have won the game, the memory is fuzzy, but the other team scored first and we lost. We didn’t lose again until the championship game of our league, in which I played with a broken right hand and couldn’t shoot, pass, dribble.*** So we went 20-2 or something like that, losing only in a tournament title game and our championship game. I was prepared for what KU did in the late 90s, I guess.

** Pitfall II was a much better game than the original.

*** Some would say I could do none of those basketball skills with a healthy right hand, either.

The number one song? For the sixth straight week, Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson with “Say Say Say.” Two things about that song. First, Paul got over on Michael there. It was on his Pipes Of Peace album, while Michael got “The Girl Is Mine” for Thriller. Say-cubed is a exponentially better song. Second, was that the last time McCartney was culturally significant for his most recent work, rather than as a relic of the greatest band ever? Sure, he did the theme for “Spies Like Us,” but it’s not like that was a mega hit like Say3. That’s what he gets for hanging with a pedophile, I guess.

Also in the top 10 was Olivia Newton-John’s “Twist Of Fate.” I had totally forgotten about it, although I recognized it when I heard it. Turns out it was the theme from the desperately-cast Two Of A Kind, which brought together O N-J and John Travolta in a lame attempt to recapture the magic of Grease. It got horrible reviews bombed at the box office. “Twist Of Fate” ended up being Olivia’s final top 10 hit after having 13 previous ones. So the same top 10 saw the final hits of two giants of the 70s and early 80s. Wacky wild stuff.

If you think you might hear more about some old AT40s if I listen to them, you are correct.

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