From the top of the Top 500:
10. There isn’t a Spinners’ radio hit from their halcyon and gorgeous period between 1972 and 1976 that doesn’t flat out make me happy. None makes me happier than One Of A Kind (Love Affair).
9. As I approach Merrick Road, make the next song Baby Baby by Amy Grant. Nothing ever sounded better in my life than that song did at that moment on that spring morning 15 years ago.
8. Rosanna was my soundtrack. It was the music bed for the chase scene, the one where I put hundreds of ragged, uncertain miles behind me. Come to think of it, “Rosanna” wasn’t driving music. It was flying music. Because I swear my Toyota had wings for those five or so minutes Toto played.
7. Others can dismiss Ice Ice Baby for any reason they like. For me not to acknowledge how much I love that record, how much it got under my skin and never left, how much I still hum it about once a week…it’s like the man said: anything less than the best is a felony. For me circa September and October 1990, “Ice Ice Baby” was practically the best song I ever heard. So sue me for questionable taste.
6. Stephanie microwaved popcorn and I poured Barq’s Diet French Vanilla Creme and we spun Ariel over and over and over again on June 19, 1990. Those were the first times I had heard it since 1977. If I close my eyes I can smell the popcorn and taste the soda and feel the grief dissipating just a little. About a week later, I’d adopt “Hold On” by Wilson Phillips, as my on-the-nose, get-through-this anthem of the summer of ’90, but really the emotional perseverance really began to take hold way on the other side of the Hudson. If I listen to “Ariel,” there’s no way I won’t hold on for one more day.
5. I’ve yet to come into contact with a sole fellow aficionado of Get Used To It. Voudouris was not only the embodiment of that most misunderstood pop music creature, the one-hit wonder, his hit wasn’t terribly pervasive.
4. A big part of the 90% or so of Come On Eileen I literally didn’t understand was Rowland confessing to Eileen that his thoughts “verge on dirty”. You know when I figured that out? When I Googled the lyrics last week to write about how much I loved “Come On Eileen”.
3. My feel for the pop scene, or at least the pop charts, was fraying by the time I was 32, but it was the right time for Roll To Me, a song that doesn’t require me to lean even a little on period context to enjoy it.
2. When I hear The Night Chicago Died, it turns me back into an eleven-year-old…not from a reminds-me-what-I-was-doing-that-summer standpoint, but by appealing to my preteen values of what’s exciting and thrilling and suspenseful. Namely a song with sirens and stage whispers and martial drums and gruesome body counts and sound effects intended to replicate a clock and a round of indefatigable na-na-na’s and rhymes so obvious that you couldn’t believe every song on the radio hadn’t seen the genius in pairing night with fight, all with wall, said with dead. Seriously, I’m 11 when I hear this. This is, like, the coolest song…EVER!
1. By the time American Pie was finished, I had begun. I had begun to love pop music. I had begun to understand what pop music was. I had begun to identify with pop music. I had begun to follow pop music. I had begun a lifetime love affair with pop music.