Wonderland

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(Pictured: Isaac Hayes, 1980.)

The American Top 40 show from February 2, 1980, was a recent weekend repeat, and as I listened, I was surprised at how vividly it put me back in the studios of KDTH and D93 in Dubuque, where I’d worked since the previous April. I think I was working two shifts a weekend by then, playing country from 6PM til KDTH signed off at midnight, then automation-tending Top 40 D93 until it signed off at 2. Surely there are other images that the show should bring back: I was getting involved with the woman who would become The Mrs., and I was the new program director of the campus radio station. But that stuff doesn’t come back as fast as the KDTH/D93 memories do.

Some of the songs on the 2/2/80 show are pretty obscure now. Let’s tackle a few.

35. “You Know That I Love You”/Santana. From 1977 until about 1982, Santana recorded a number of reasonably successful singles, but they’re completely generic. Even the biggest of them, “Winning” and “Hold On,” sound like they could be by anybody. And so does “You Know That I Love You.”

34. “Wonderland”/Commodores
30. “Do You Love What You Feel”/Rufus and Chaka
I couldn’t recollect “Wonderland” when Casey front-announced it, and I soon realized why: it leaves no impression whatsoever. It’s barely there while it’s on, and after it’s over, it’s gone. Similarly, if it is possible to love four minutes of wondering when a record is going to be over, then I do indeed love what I feel.

Extra: “Him”/Rupert Holmes. Voiceover announcer Larry Morgan refers to Holmes as a British singer. True, he was born in the UK to an American soldier and his British wife, but was raised in suburban New York City from the age of six. Holmes holds dual citizenship, but he’s hardly a crumpet-munching limey.

29. “Working My Way Back to You”/Spinners
20. “Daydream Believer”/Anne Murray

Casey plays a snippet of the Four Seasons’ 1966 original before he brings on the Spinners, and they blow the Seasons away. The reverse happens with “Daydream Believer”—10 seconds of the Monkees’ original beats three minutes of Murray’s cover by many miles.

28. “Forever Mine”/O’Jays. Gamble and Huff had gotten aboard the disco train by 1979, but “Forever Mine” is a pleasant throwback to Philly soul’s still-recent heyday.

27. “Why Me”/Styx. Casey says that according to a new Gallup poll, American kids aged 12 to 19 have a new favorite rock band. For the last two years, it’s been KISS. But in the latest poll, that group has fallen to #4 behind Led Zeppelin, the Bee Gees, and the new #1, Styx.

25. “September Morn”/Neil Diamond
24. “Fool in the Rain”/Led Zeppelin

23. “Third Time Lucky”/Foghat
After “September Morn,” Casey teased a story about a rock star who liked to fish and caught a shark. Having peeked ahead on the cue sheet, I knew “Fool in the Rain” was next, and the first thought that flashed into my mind was “oh god no.” Fortunately, the story turned out to be about Foghat’s Roger Earl (although it happened at the same place as the Zeppelin incident).

18. “Don’t Let Go”/Isaac Hayes. The radio stations I was listening to in 1980 weren’t playing this, and I never paid enough attention to it to realize that it’s a remake of the old R&B song: “Ooh wee / This thing is killin’ me / Aw shucks / Can’t stop for a million bucks.”

17. “Longer”/Dan Fogelberg. Casey says that Fogelberg was up for the job in the Eagles that Joe Walsh got, but that he wasn’t disappointed to lose out. “I get a lot more sleep than they do,” Dan says. Then Casey introduces “Longer” by saying, “Here’s the slumbering Dan Fogelberg.” Sounds about right.

32. “Voices”/Cheap Trick
10. “Don’t Do Me Like That”/Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
7. “Sara”/Fleetwood Mac
One of these is the best record on the show, and I can’t decide.

3. “Coward of the County”/Kenny Rogers
2. “Do That To Me One More Time”/Captain and Tennille
1. “Rock With You”/Michael Jackson
Behold yet again the crazed variety of Top 40 radio in America. These three were in the same positions as the previous week, and they would hold the next week as well. It was Michael’s third of four weeks at the top. “Do That to Me One More Time” would spend eight straight weeks among the Top Three and hit #1 two weeks hence.

(For more on this show and the music of this week, including a handwritten copy of the list, visit Wm.’s site here.)

6 responses

  1. I was a 17 year old in 1980, a Styx fan, and I have no memory of this song.

    Hmm, still no memory.

  2. That was supposed to say:

    I was a 17 year old in 1980, a Styx fan, and I have no memory of this song.
    :Listens:
    Hmm, still no memory.

  3. OK, it’s not “Shaft” or even “By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” but “Don’t Let Go” is a solid effort by Isaac Hayes that should’ve gone top 10, in my opinion. Call it the great lost Barry White single.

    As for the acts in the twenties, please let me know if you can find an oldies terrestrial radio station that plays the Spinners, O’Jays, Anne Murray, Foghat, Led Zeppelin, Neil Diamond and Styx. If you do, give me a link to it so I can hear something not beholden to repeating the same 100 oldies each day (if that much).

  4. I was working at an A/C station in Jamestown, NY from 1979-1981 and we carried Casey’s AT40 on the weekends. Many of these songs never even saw airplay on the station, even at night. If Casey’s A/C countdown had been created by then we’d have probably carried tht instead.

  5. “Wonderland” is the only Commodores track I have ever heard that does not have a hook. If it DOES have a hook, could somebody point it out?

    The best record on the show is “Sara,” and that is coming from one of the most devoted Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers fans you will ever find here (“Don’t Do Me Like That” is no better than about the fifth-best song on the stellar Damn The Torpedoes album).

    1. Not only is there no hook, there’s almost no verse.

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