Time for another randomly selected year–this time, 1980–and some randomly selected tunes from the Cash Box chart from this week in that year. I was working a lot on the air that winter, because these songs take me back into various control rooms at my paying gig in Dubuque and at college. But it’s no wonder–being on the air was what my life in all the years before had been leading up to.
4. “Cruisin'”/Smokey Robinson. (falling) Smokey hadn’t been on the Top 40 for a while, but this would kick off a brief revival in his chart fortunes. This version is far better than the Huey Lewis/Gwyneth Paltrow version from the movie Duets a few years back–but theirs was better than we had a right to expect.
9. “Coward of the County”/Kenny Rogers. (falling) If there was any way to survey such a thing, this would likely end up one of the most popular records of all time in the Dubuque radio market. We got as many request calls for it six months after it fell off the chart as we did while it was big. As a result, all of us jocks hated it, because when we weren’t playing it on the radio, we were hearing it in our sleep.
10. “Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)”/Pink Floyd. (rising) It was about this time that my pal Shark and I DJed a record hop–the Sophomore Stroll, I believe it was–at a local high school, and the faculty chaperone told us that we were, under no circumstances, to play this record, presumably to avoid whipping the sophomores into a homicidal frenzy.
22. “Sara”/Fleetwood Mac. (falling) Tusk came into my college radio station on a Tuesday toward the end of 1979. That night, on the “Virgin Vinyl” segment of my radio show, I tracked the whole thing–and identified “Sara” as one of my favorite tracks. I’m a Christine man, as I’ve written here before–but Stevie had never been (and has never been) more luminous than she is here.
27. “Give it All You Got”/Chuck Mangione. (rising) ABC-TV used this as one of its musical themes for the Lake Placid Winter Olympics, which were not long over during this week in 1980. Mangione had been the most famous jazz player in the world for a couple of years in the late 70s, but his time on top was just about over during this week in 1980.
29. “I Wanna Be Your Lover”/Prince. (falling) His first single, but if I’m recalling correctly, we didn’t play it very much or for very long on the FM side of the Dubuque operation, perhaps because Dubuque was one of the whitest towns in the country at that time–in tastes, at least, if not in actual demographic fact.
31. “Three Times in Love”/Tommy James. (rising) And there he was, one of my Top 40 heroes, eight years removed from his last trip into the Top 40, back in it again. This isn’t as monumental as his 1969-1971 material, but it fits in his catalog, and it’s a great singalong record.
50. “Call Me”/Blondie. (rising) Another monster hit in Dubuque. This would spend something like four months in the hot rotation on our FM station, which meant it would be on the air every three hours from now until summer.
67. “Pilot of the Airwaves”/Charlie Dore (rising) What a strange little record this was, with that arresting acappella opening:
Pilot of the airwaves
Here is my request
You don’t have to play it
But I hope you’ll do your best
I’ve been listening to your show on the radio
And you seem like a friend to me
If you’re a DJ, you gotta like a song that says nice things about DJs.
75. “The Spirit of Radio”/Rush. (rising) So you gotta like this one, too. And even if you’re not a DJ, you gotta like hearing the word “unobtrusive” in a rock song.