Tuesday, November 21, 2006

An old music meme

Maybe it's the holidays, maybe it's that I've read one post-election analysis too many, but I'm not much in the mood for "serious" subject matter this week. So here's another songlist for you folks to chew on for a few days.

I picked this one up from Gina, who runs a fine blog called Just Another Day, which I discovered while exploring previously untraveled paths through the internets. according to Gina, this meme's been around a bit, so I don't think she'll mind too much my nicking it from her. The rules are: Find the top 100 songs from the year you graduated high school. Boldface the songs you really like. Strike the ones that you can't stand. Leave the rest. The list to follow applies these rules to the year of my graduation, 1978.

First, some observations. 1978 was the year of Saturday Night Fever. You couldn't turn on Top 40 radio without running into one of the Brothers Gibb. It was also the year of the monster musical Grease. This will become apparent from a glance at the list.

Of course, if you were cool and lived in the big city, you didn't listen to much Top 40. The real rockin' stuff was on FM album rock radio, although by 1978 a number of those bands had crossed over to mass popularity and started on their way to becoming arena dinosaurs. Some great albums came out in '78 that spawned no major hits. Examples include Bruce Springsteen's Darkness On The Edge Of Town, Elvis Costello's This Year's Model, and the first efforts of the Cars and Van Halen, two of the best debuts ever. You know lots of songs from these discs now because they would become album rock staples over the next decade, but none of them burned up the charts when originally released.

Finally, across the pond, punk was in full flower. England in 1978 had dozens of punk outfits that all burned with righteous anger, and some had even managed a basic knowledge of three chords. Many received their inspiration from Long Island's Ramones; few bands have been talked about more while picking up virtually no airplay. One of the first guys I met in the dorm that fall dropped off with me two of his albums - the Ramones' Rocket To Russia and Never Mind The Bollocks, Here's The Sex Pistols, claiming they would change my life. They may not have changed my life, but they definitely altered my perspective. In 1978, the forces that would eventually bring the demise of Top 40 radio were gathering steam.

Without further ado, the list, with commentary as appropriate:

1. Shadow Dancing, Andy Gibb. Wouldn't have had a career without his brothers.
2. Night Fever, Bee Gees. Money in the bank.
3. You Light Up My Life, Debby Boone. The sound of virginity.
4. Stayin' Alive, Bee Gees. Greatest disco song ever.
5. Kiss You All Over, Exile. And then in the 80's they went country.
6. How Deep Is Your Love, Bee Gees. Every disco needed a slow one now and then.
7. Baby Come Back, Player. Last of the polyester leisure suit groups.
8. (Love Is) Thicker Than Water, Andy Gibb. Five Gibb songs in the top 10.
9. Boogie Oogie Oogie, A Taste Of Honey.
10. Three Times A Lady, Commodores. A good year for wedding songs.
11. Grease, Frankie Valli. I despised Grease. Still do.
12. I Go Crazy, Paul Davis. At one time held record for most weeks in Top 100.
13. You're The One That I Want, John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John. Ugh.
14. Emotion, Samantha Sang. Might as well have been a Bee Gee.
15. Lay Down Sally, Eric Clapton. So laid-back it barely has a pulse.
16. Miss You, Rolling Stones. I can't get no satisfaction.
17. Just The Way You Are, Billy Joel. See #10.
18. With A Little Luck, Wings. Without Lennon, McCartney could get awful sappy.
19. If I Can't Have You, Yvonne Elliman. The fourth Saturday Night Fever song here.
20. Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah), Chic. Yowsah!
21. Feels So Good, Chuck Mangione. Nice instrumental.
22. Hot Child In The City, Nick Gilder
23. Love Is Like Oxygen, Sweet I liked Sweet, but this one drives me nuts.
24. It's A Heartache, Bonnie Tyler
25. We Are The Champions / We Will Rock You, Queen. Sums up their career.
26. Baker Street, Gerry Rafferty. That sax is the sound of summer.
27. Can't Smile Without You, Barry Manilow. Manilow. 'Nuff said.
28. Too Much, Too Little, Too Late, Johnny Mathis and Deniece Williams.
29. Dance With Me, Peter Brown. The only one that I honestly can't remember.
30. Two Out Of Three Ain't Bad, Meat Loaf. Then it only got worse.
31. Jack And Jill, Raydio. Up the hill they went...
32. Take A Chance On Me, Abba. When they were good, they were good. When they were bad...
33. Sometimes When We Touch, Dan Hill. Where'd he come from?
34. Last Dance, Donna Summer
35. Hopelessly Devoted To You, Olivia Newton-John. Tolerable.
36. Hot Blooded, Foreigner. Always reminds me of WKRP's Les Nessman.
37. You're In My Heart, Rod Stewart.
38. The Closer I Get To You, Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway. They sang purty together.
39. Dust In The Wind, Kansas. I should strike it, but I don't have the heart.
40. Magnet And Steel, Walter Egan. A cross between Brian Wilson and Fleetwood Mac.
41. Short People, Randy Newman. Highly misunderstood at the time.
42. Use Ta Be My Girl, O'Jays.
43. Our Love, Natalie Cole.
44. Love Will Find A Way, Pablo Cruise. More polyester suit music.
45. An Everlasting Love, Andy Gibb. See #1.
46. Love Is In The Air, John Paul Young. Dude, that's just pollution.
47. Goodbye Girl, David Gates. Soundtrack work-for-hire.
48. Slip Slidin' Away, Paul Simon. As we all are.
49. The Groove Line, Heatwave.
50. Thunder Island, Jay Ferguson. Ferguson is part of the inspiration for this blog.
51. Imaginary Lover, Atlanta Rhythm Section. Taking matters in hand...
52. Still The Same, Bob Seger and The Silver Bullet Band. Another of Seger's beautiful losers.
53. My Angel Baby, Toby Beau. A precursor to the dreadful Alabama.
54. Disco Inferno, Trammps. We don't need no water...
55. On Broadway, George Benson. Can't beat either Benson or Leiber-Stoller.
56. Come Sail Away, Styx. Whooshing synth sounds that define an era.
57. Back In Love Again, L.T.D.
58. This Time I'm In It For Love, Player.
59. You Belong To Me, Carly Simon.
60. Here You Come Again, Dolly Parton. Dolly's first big crossover.
61. Blue Bayou, Linda Ronstadt. Buy those old Roy Orbison records.
62. Peg, Steely Dan. For these guys, upbeat.
63. You Needed Me, Anne Murray.
64. Shame, Evelyn "Champagne" King.
65. Reminiscing, Little River Band. Saling off into the dreck.
66. Count On Me, Jefferson Starship. Another classic band starting a long decline.
67. Baby Hold On, Eddie Money. His first was his best.
68. Hey Deanie, Shaun Cassidy. Better than most teen idols.
69. Summer Nights, John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John. The best Grease song.
70. What's Your Name, Lynyrd Skynyrd. On the road again.
71. Don't It Make My Brown Eyes Blue, Crystal Gayle.
72. Because The Night, Patti Smith Punk poetess makes Top 40 with Springsteen song.
73. Every Kinda People, Robert Palmer.
74. Copacabana, Barry Manilow. Barry gets down at the Copa.
75. Always And Forever, Heatwave.
76. You And I, Rick James. Get down withcha bad self!
77. Serpentine Fire, Earth, Wind and Fire.
78. Sentimental Lady, Bob Welch. The original version from Fleetwood Mac's Bare Trees is far better.
79. Falling, LeBlanc and Carr. Sappy, sappy, sappy.
80. Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood, Santa Esmeralda. Hard to screw this one up.
81. Bluer Than Blue, Michael Johnson.
82. Running On Empty, Jackson Browne. I hear ya, brother.
83. Whenever I Call You "Friend", Kenny Loggins.
84. Fool (If You Think It's Over), Chris Rea. Across the water, he's called "the British Springsteen".
85. Get Off, Foxy. Good advice.
86. Sweet Talking Woman, Electric Light Orchestra. See #66.
87. Life's Been Good, Joe Walsh. Anyone who still gets away with his stoned-hippie schtick after 35 years has earned the right.
88. I Love The Night Life, Alicia Bridges. Enough bad disco already!
89. You Can't Turn Me Off (In The Middle Of Turning Me On), High Inergy. Oh yeah? Also, see #51.
90. It's So Easy, Linda Ronstadt. Buy those old Buddy Holly records.
91. Native New Yorker, Odyssey.
92. Flashlight, Parliament. Get down witcha bad self!
93. Don't Look Back, Boston. Good advice for them and the rest of the arena dinosaurs.
94. Turn To Stone, Electric Light Orchestra. They were so good at mid-decade.
95. I Can't Stand The Rain, Eruption.
96. Ebony Eyes, Bob Welch.
97. The Name Of The Game, Abba. See #32.
98. We're All Alone, Rita Coolidge. Butchered Boz Scaggs.
99. Hollywood Nights, Bob Seger and The Silver Bullet Band. With a noseful of coke...
100. Deacon Blues, Steely Dan. Your soundtrack for cruisin' the strip.