(The setting: A football game. During a break in the action, cheerleaders began throwing t-shirts into the stands. None of them are quite reaching our seats on the eighth row...)
Axl: "Aw man. This sucks! What they need is one of those slingshots to get the shirts up here."
Bone: "Yeah. Or a cannon."
Axl: "No, they don't need a cannon, just one of those big slingshots. Two girls hold the ends and one pulls back in the middle-"
Bone (interrupting): "I'm aware of how a slingshot works."
Random guy in front of us who has apparently been eavesdropping laughs heartily.
Driving home Friday night, I was scanning the radio when I came across a station playing "Everybody Wants To Rule The World." Obviously, I stopped scanning. When the song was over, a familiar voice came on, a voice I hadn't heard in many years. It was the voice of Casey Kasem.
It seems I'd found the American Top Forty Countdown. Yes! I thought. No more Ryan Seacrest. Casey's back! But why is he playing Tears For Fears? I hadn't really been listening closely, so I figured it was probably a countdown flashback, like the number one song twenty years ago this week or something. A commercial came on next, but I couldn't turn away from that voice.
Casey Kasem was as much a part of my formative years as Bob Barker, General Hospital, and riding around in the car everytime there was a tornado warning. He's the main reason I keep my feet firmly planted on the ground, my inspiration to keep reaching for the stars.
In ninth grade, I would lie in bed every Sunday night listening to the countdown on my Sony Walkman. OK, so I didn't really have a Sony Walkman. I had an off brand imitation Walkman, but do we really have to get into that here?
The countdown would go off around midnight and I would drift off to sleep shortly thereafter. The next day at school, I would ask my friends if they heard something Casey had said on the countdown, or if they heard what the number one song was that week. Time and again, their answer was no.
Anyway, back to Friday night. When the commercials were over, the countdown came back on at number twenty-three. Casey said, "Here's Englishman Howard Jones with Things Can Only Get Better."
Whoa-oh, oh oh oh, whoa-oh oh oh, I was blown away! In addition to Tears For Fears and Howard Jones, I heard Donna Summer, Depeche Mode, and DeBarge. And not even a real popular DeBarge song, but "Who's Holding Donna Now!" I was in Frequency Modulation Heaven.
Casey came on saying it was the top forty countdown from July 13, 1985! What was going on? Had I hit 88 miles per hour and gone back in time while driving down the interstate? I looked around. Lots of SUV's, no Chevettes. No, this was still 2007.
Finally, a promo came on the station. They were having a Casey Kasem marathon weekend! When one countdown went off, another would come on. When I was a little boy listening with my headphones--of which the foam pads had come off, so the hard plastic hurt my ears--everytime the countdown would go off, I would wish it wasn't over. And now, those dreams were finally coming true, albeit twenty years later and only for one weekend.
I didn't want to go home. I just wanted to ride around in my car and listen to Casey all night long. But then I calculated that at 60 miles per hour and 28 miles per gallon, assuming the average song was four minutes long, and with gas at $2.59 a gallon, each song was costing me about thirty-seven cents. So I said good night to Casey.
When I got home, I wiki'd a few things and discovered some radio stations are airing Casey's countdowns from the 70's and 80's once a week! American Top Forty: Eighties can be heard on great radio stations around the land like Magic 97.9, WMGA, Huntington, West Virginia; Classic hits 94.3 The Fox, in Traverse City, Michigan; and 106.1, KQLL, Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Now on with the countdown...
"People are people, so why should it be, that you and I should get along so awfully..."