Monday, September 10, 2007

Opening up the AT40 Vault

(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..."


  1. OMG, where to start? Perhaps with my extreme jealousy that you got to hear Casey Kasem and those irreplaceable 80's hits? Or with the fact that I have absolutely no doubt, what-so-ever, that you actually figured out how much each song was costing you in gas? :) You crack me up, Sir OCD Bone.

    I loved Casey Kasem, in fact, it bordered on obsession. I remember being so angry (well, as angry as an 8-yr-old can get) when Shadoe Stevens took over. I had convinced myself, in my wee-little mind, that he'd forced Casey out of a job and poor Mr. Kasem was going down to the unemployment line every week. :'(

    I don't think I've ever wanted to live in Oklahoma, West Virginia or Michigan so badly in my life. Why aren't there any Pennsylvania radio stations listed?!? *sigh* I'm relegated to feeding my Casey addiction with viewings of the 1980's classic Ghostbusters and rewinding his guest appearance over and over again.

    Pretend I didn't say that.

    Please tell me Axl didn't *really* try and explain to you how a sling shot works . . . I wonder about his sanity.

  2. Count me in on the "can't believe you figured up how much each song cost you" club...what a smile to start my day!!
    And, oh, joy, I happened to think to look up the video for "Shout" on YouTube several months ago. It doesn't sound just like I remembered it (nothing does) but it was close enough that I played it over and over and over again for days...and found other TFF songs as well...ahhhh....wonderful! I put the CD on my Amazon wishlist for a day when I came into a little cash...I managed that this weekend, so I'm off to shop! :)
    Have a great week, Sir Bone :)

  3. 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.

    Um, clearly you needed new friends as badly in high school as you do now, with Axl :) Tell me... was Axl around during those formative years as well? *er* It might explain a few things O:)

    I'm soooo looking up those radio stations... see if I can get any of them on the internet. One of our local stations does a "Sunday at the 80s" program every week, and I love it. Sigh.

  4. oh that's so cool! I'll have to play with my tuner to hear that.

    Have you checked out that TV show on NBC called "Singing Bee"? I'm sure you would love it. Cute dancers called the Singing Bees and they make the contestants go up on stage and try to finish the lyrics to the songs.
    I've been permantly ordered to NOT sing along or snap or clap! Kinda makes it pointless for me to watch, ya know? Maybe I should go watch it upstairs. LOL!

  5. Remember that cheesy, but very cool, "Ah Ha" video? The one where it looked like someone had brought a sketch to life in black and white? Yeah, loved that video.

    Casey Kasem. He too brings back memories and call me an 80's throwback, but I ADORE 80's songs. Cool and cheesy at the same time. (I listen to an 80's station through iTunes all the time). And I too remember lying awake, one ear tuned to Casey Kasem, the other tuned to my parents' activities so I wouldn't get caught listening to Casey Kasem when I should have been asleep. Thanks for bringing back those memories, Bone.

    Oh. And I have a suggestion next time you're at a football game and the cheerleaders are throwing t-shirts. All you have to do is cup your hands around your mouth and yell in a disgusted tone of voice, "Come on! You throw like a girl!" I can almost guarantee you'll get a shirt thrown at you. Date? No. T-shirt? Probably. *grin*

  6. Avery Laine: I had convinced myself, in my wee-little mind, that he'd forced Casey out of a job and poor Mr. Kasem was going down to the unemployment line every week.

    Haha. I think I sort of wondered what Casey was going to do myself. Shadoe just wasn't the same. I'm planning to see if any of the stations have it where you can listen online.

    Jennifer: I love me some Tears For Fears. Glad it made you smile. Hope you have a great week, too :)

    TC: Oh yes, Axl was around. Yeah, I'm hoping the station that was doing the Casey marathon here will start playing an old countdown every weekend. I'll have to save up some gas money. It's better to me to listen in the car.

    Renee: I caught part of one of those lyric shows a time or two. Yes, you're gonna have to go to your room if you're going to be singing :)

    Karen: Oh yes, A-ha. Take On Me! Great song.

    I didn't realize how much I'd missed Casey's voice until Friday night. There was something very peaceful and calming about it.

    Thanks for the cheerleader tip :)

  7. there is something funny about having a sentence where you tell us about "having your feet firmly planted on the ground" following a sentence about driving around in a car everything there is a torando warning...

    I'll one up you on listening to Kasem--I listened to him on a "9 volt transistor radio" (but then I wonder if my dad didn't listen to him on a crystal radio)

  8. deBarge! ha ha i haven't thought of them in ages. now i feel like hearing some new addition.

  9. my my my... a blast from the past.

  10. I do believe that you counted the cost per song, however somethings are priceless But you wikied and found

    This is in your top ten funniest

  11. Who doesn't love Casey Kasem?!?!

    Thanks for the comments on the engagement pix! I think Dave did a fabulous job! ... and that's only a fraction of the shots we did!

    Let me know next time you're going to the driving range.


  12. Hey Bone :)
    I'm almost as bad with VH1's "I love the 80's", I recorded all of them and made hubs burn a few to dvds. Sounds like a lovely trip down memory lane-
    Sigh- I wonder if such things happen again- you know, 20 years from now- will we be sentimental over any of todays music? I mean, will it really be the same?
    I don't think so.

    I do, however, get a little nostalgic when I hear a song that was popular when I was pregnant with my son- gasp...14 years ago!
    Toni Braxton sang, "You are the world to me, you are my everything, I swear that nothing else matters...matters to me- Oh baby, baby, baby...cause you mean so much to me"
    lord- I'm sitting here with tears in my eyes (really).
    Perhaps there is hope?

    There was nothing like being a teen in the 80's though. Loved it :)


  13. I loved Casey Kasem. We would listen to him on the way home from chruch. We'd always get home around the time #1 would come onto the radio.

    My dad would always make fun of the dedications, which I thought were silly. I always wanted to send one to Casey, but never did.
    I guess I could start sending them to you. Would you play a song for me?

  14. I didn't think about it when I heard it, but I just realized I too heard the voice of Casey Kasem just the other day. In fact, I'm pretty sure I heard the Tears for Fears song too. I remember those countdowns too. Except our stations played them on Sunday mornings. Ah, memories. This is a good one.

  15. Of course it's better to listen while in the car, but for those of us poor souls that don't have a radio station that will play them on our actual radio, we'll have to make do with the 'net.

    By the way... $2.59 for gas???? You're sooooooooo lucky. We dropped over the weekend, from $3.09 all the way down to $3.04. Woohoo!

  16. I hate Ryan Seacrest with a passion so I don't think I've heard a Top 40 countdown in a while. Casey Kasem still does a countdown but it's syndicated so it's really up to whatever radio stations want to pick it up.

  17. Sage: I can assure you that putting those lines back to back was completely unintentional. Which pretty much sums up my entire blog.

    Sizzle: So DeBarge was a "them." I don't think I was ever completely sure :) What about when El DeBarge came out with songs? Was that just a "him" or still a "them"?

    Shelby: That, it was. Winds of yesterday blowing across my mind on a September Friday night. Or something.

    Pia: Wiki is priceless! To me, anyway. Thank you. Hope you're enjoying Myrtle Beach.

    Java Boo Boo: No problem. Those were really good. Cool poses.

    Mayden: Somehow I doubt it. I don't recall ever hearing my Dad say something like, "Boy, I wish Culture Club would make a comeback. That was good music."

    I still don't know how you make those tiny hearts, but I can copy and paste :) ♥

    OK Chick: Yes, go ahead and send in your dedications to "Dear Bone."

    Lass: Seems like it came on at different times here, sometimes on Sunday mornings and sometimes at night. And now, Casey's back!!!

    TC: Ooo, maybe they'll eventually have Casey Podcasts!

    Xinher: I don't have anything against Ryan. He's just blah, not entertaining, and eight million miles away from Casey.

  18. Maybe your flux capacitor sent you back in time. You weren't driving a Delorean were you?

  19. LOL! Yeah, I don't know who Jeff is either.

    and that's so not fair that you're gonna send me to my room to sing too! >:(

    I can't help it that I know the lyrics better than they do.

    Course on the songs where no one ever understood them I get them wrong. "I love the night life, I've got to boogy, on the disco ?????" It took 3 folks to figure that one out and I think they just kept trying words until one fit.

  20. Carnealian: That's exactly where I was going with the 88 mph line ;)

    Renee: Let's keep the Wiggles conversation confined to your blog :)

  21. I loved Casey Kasem, many memories of listening to his countdown while I was growing up. I also remember "Wolfman Jack" with great fondness...I'm showing my age here. lol Thanks, Bone, for the trip down memory lane! (Oh, I'm also a big TFF fan -- love them)

  22. You make me laugh - thanks!

    Such good ole memories of Casey Kasem and the AT40 - I too, would listen every week. I even kept track of the top hits. Somewhere, in all my 'memorabilia of my youth' are my notebooks (yes, notebooks) of the hits from the 80's 'according to radio and billboard sales'. I guess I had no life, eh? :-)

    Thanks for making me remember - and for the laughs.

  23. Fledgling Poet: Thanks. He's just got that golden voice. And how could anyone not love TFF? :)

    Cindy: LOL That's nothing. I used to rank my top ten current commercials on TV every week.

    Thank you. Glad you got a laugh out of the post :)