This morning I was listening to the radio in my car on the way to Starbucks. I have SiriusXM, so I can listen to what I want. Because I’m old and unhip*, my presets fall into three categories:
- channels full of talking
- channels with the word “classic” in the title
- channels named after a decade other than this one
On the weekend, most of the “decade” stations I listen to have some sort of countdown show. I rarely listen to the one on the Pop2K channel, because I don’t recognize most of the music, and I have no idea who host Lance Bass is. (Disclaimer: I’m pretty sure he’s one of the N’sync Boys from Down the Block, or possibly an actor on the CW.) I will occasionally catch snippets of the 90’s countdown with “Downtown” Julie Brown (from the days when MTV played music and employed Julie Browns by the truckload — kids, ask your parents). I catch the 80’s countdown show because it seems to be on all the time. It is hosted by MTV: The First Generation (Martha Quinn, Nina Blackwood, Alan Hunter, and Mark Goodman). (Disclaimer: Because I happen to live in a racially obsessed society, I found myself thinking, “What about the black guy?” Apparently, J.J. Jackson was disqualified when he died in 2004.)
But my favorite of all are the rebroadcasts of Casey Kasem’s American Top 40 radio shows from the 70’s. This is not just because 70’s pop is the music of my people. (Disclaimer: I grew up in suburbia in the 60’s and 70’s. The “culture of my people” includes things like Wonder Bread, Spam, knobs on TVs, drive-in movies, and Sugar Sugar by the Archies. (Nested disclaimer: It is too a culture!))
The thing I love about AT40 is that these are actual rebroadcasts of the original shows. All the other shows are a contemporary “look back” at the decade in question, where the hosts talk about the songs from a historical perspective. Casey Kasem is “looking back” at the songs from last week.
What makes this so entertaining to me is that Kasem has no historical perspective. His show is the quintessential definition of “stuck in the 70’s”, which means that occasionally it makes him sound like a total doofus. Every song in this week’s countdown is, by defnition, a Top 40 hit, and he can’t help but give them all the same level of eager enthusiasm.
On today’s show (from April 1972), Casey was heaping praise on the song Back Off Boogaloo by Ringo Starr, describing it as “another big hit from Ringo Starr”. I’ve never heard of it. (Apparently, it went all the way to #2.) By the same token, he has no idea what’s going to last, so every new thing is an interesting tidbit. I’m paraphrasing, but every so often I’ll hear Casey Kasem say something like this:
And the count goes on. Our next song is the first hit from a four-man band out of Los Angeles, California. At number 31, here’s The Eagles and Take It Easy.
One of the things on my time-travel todo list is to stop by the AT40 studio in Los Angeles and tell Casey, “Trust me on this. Take It Easy is a bigger deal than Back Off Boogaloo. Don’t sound like a doofus 42 years from now.”
Apparently, he didn’t listen.
* I am also uncool, unrad, unfly, and/or whatever came after those. For proof, reread the previous sentence.