(Above: The author, 31 years ago, leaving high school.) I've been to a lot of graduation ceremonies. From eighth grade through earning my PhD last year I've had the opportunity to participate in several. In my role as a faculty member at GVSU I'm invited to attend them every term. I don't go every time, … Continue reading Graduation and the Top 40: Adrian Kimberly, “Pomp and Circumstance” (1961)
(Above: The artist, looking just a bit like Dad.) By the end of April, 1985, I was a junior in high school. I was supposed to be concentrating on things like taking the ACT, finishing my classes, and looking for a summer job. Of course, none of those things were priorities with me or most … Continue reading Great lost hit: Julian Lennon, “Say You’re Wrong” (1985)
(Above: These guys made a star out of that guy from Rush.) I've mentioned before that I enjoy listening to the "VJ Big 40 Countdown" on Sirius XM's 80s on 8 channel. I especially enjoy when I catch the list in the first hour or so and catch the tunes that stalled out in the … Continue reading Not all that glitters: The Billboard Top 40, April 17, 1982
(Above: Alex's funeral in The Big Chill, which many people picture when they hear this song.) I was fifteen years old in 1984 when my family rented a copy of The Big Chill. We loaded it into the ginormous VCR that sat atop the television, dragged the cable for its remote to the couch, and … Continue reading But if you try sometimes: The Rolling Stones, “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” (1968)
(Above: J. Geils.) Last night my various social media feeds filled with the news that John Warren Geils Jr. passed away at the age of 71. It's only when you shorten his first name to an initial that the name likely rings a bell. The J. Geils Band was a live show phenomenon in the … Continue reading RIP, J. Geils: “Must Of Got Lost” (1974)
(Above: You may wish to add a few 45's to the table as well.) I grew up in a predominantly Catholic suburb of Chicago in the 1970s and 80s. We didn't stop to ask questions about other belief systems, especially not in grade school. The Spring Break calendar was the same every year: no classes … Continue reading Kosher for Passover: Jewish folk songs reimagined as rock and roll records
(Above: Never before, and never since.) The first week of April 1964 was the peak of Beatlemania. The group did something never before accomplished in the history of the Hot 100: they held down the top five positions on the chart at the same time. "Can't Buy Me Love" shot from #27 to the top … Continue reading The Beatles rule(d) the roost: Billboard’s Hot 100, April 4, 1964.
(Above: My 1969 Chevrolet Impala, nicknamed "The Chariot of Death.") April 4, 1985 was a Thursday. The end of my junior year of high school was in sight. While many of my classmates were making plans for the junior prom, I had no such prospects. Instead, I made a rather questionable investment of about $700 … Continue reading Car tunes: The Rolling Stones, “Jumpin’ Jack Flash” (1967)