When I was a teenager, one of the highlights of my weekend was tuning in to Casey Kasem’s American Top 40 radio show. I loved finding out which of my favorite songs might be in the top ten for any given week, and I loved hearing some of the stories behind the songs and the singers or bands that performed them. The long-distance dedications were fun too, and I liked to try to guess from the contents of the letter what song the writer would choose to dedicate to a friend or relative.
Like most things from my childhood, AT 40 has kind of fallen by the wayside. Casey Kasem passed away a few years ago, and I’m not all that interested in most of the music that is popular today. In fact, I don’t even know if they still do countdowns.
One day recently, my husband was fiddling around on the internet, and he came across iHeart radio. I’d heard of iHeart, but I never really looked into it myself. But he did, and he came across old reruns of Casey Kasem’s AT 40 from the 70s and 80s. Really?!?! Needless to say, we’ve found a new favorite source for background music at our house.
Last evening, we were listening to a countdown from 1982. I was just 13 then, and was pretty much just discovering popular music. As I listened to the songs that were hits back then, some of which aren’t played much anymore, I allowed myself to drift back to a time when my life was in some ways simpler, yet in some ways way more difficult than it is now. Dan Fogelberg’s “Run For the Roses” was on that countdown, and I recalled how at the time I loved horses. In fact, I was still juvenile enough to wish I could be a horse, running free across a field in Kentucky with the wind rushing through my mane. Other songs, like Ronnie Milsap’s “Any Day Now” and Alabama’s “Take Me Down” reminded me of our family road trip to Texas to meet my newborn niece Amber. Memories of Friday nights at the skating rink came back with songs like 38 Special’s “Caught Up in You” and Dazz Band’s “Let It Whip.”
There were some songs as well that I liked well enough at the time, but I really didn’t have an understanding of what they meant. Charlene’s “I’ve Never Been to Me” made me cry even back then, but it really meant nothing since I lacked the maturity and life experience to understand what it was to be “a discontented mother and a regimented wife.” It was just bittersweet to hear and now fully comprehend the situations she sang about.
I could go on and on about the music that meant so much to me then, and that still plays such a big part in my life, but I’ll leave it here for now. And for all you younger folks who prefer Beyonce, Justin Bieber, Skrillex, Ellie Goulding, or whoever else is popular nowadays, I’ll just quote another 80s song:
“Call me a relic, call me what you will.
Say I’m old-fashioned, say I’m over the hill.
Today’s music ain’t got the same soul.
I like that old time rock and roll.”