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I call this the "musical flashpoint." My musical flashpoint would be 1978 since I was nine years old at the time. That summer, the tube on our TV went out and my parents didn't fix it for along time. This may have been responsible for my discovering pop music and radio in general. During that summer, I noticed that the Springfield Leader and Press (Now the News Leader) published the Billboard Top 10 in the Sunday edition. I would flip around the dial to the see if I could find these songs being played on the local radio stations. I even started keeping a chart that tracked how often these songs were played and on what radio station (This is how boring my life was at age nine).
In those days, you could find more "popular hits" on the radio. In those days, most radio stations felt that you had to play what was popular especially if you were the only radio station in town. Many small town radio stations had what was called a split format. Usually, they played country from sign on through the early morning for dairy farmers, easy listening during the midday for housewives and rock/pop from the afternoon until sign off. The horrific plague of "we-can-only-have-country-or-talk-in-the-Ozarks" only came about in the 90s.
I found a chart on ARSA to use as an illustration of that summer's great music. I look down the list and notice many of my favorite songs: Gerry Rafferty "Baker Street," Eddie Money "Baby Hold On," The Sweet "Love Is Like Oxygen," Rolling Stones "Miss You," Jefferson Starship "Runaway," Patti Smith Group "Because The Night," Foreigner "Hot Blooded," Donna Summer "Last Dance," Meat Loaf "Two Out Of Three Ain't Bad," Bob Seger "Still The Same," Styx "Fooling Yourself," Pablo Cruise "Love Will Find A Way" Abba "Take A Chance On Me," and The O'Jays "Use Ta Be My Girl" are there, as well as the guilty pleasures like Andy Gibb's "Shadow Dancing," Chuck Mangione "Feels So Good," Steve Martin "King Tut," The Trammps "Disco Inferno," Bonnie Tyler "It's A Heartache," Yvonne Elliman "If I Can't Have You," Frankie Valli "Grease," England Dan & John Ford Coley "We'll Never Have To Say Goodbye Again," Barry Manilow "Copacabana" (the only Barry Manilow song I have ever really liked).
I've also figured out that even if I didn't hear the song or group in 1978, I usually like anything made at that time. An example of this would be a big British hit by Scott Fitzgerald and Yvonne Keeley called "If I Had Words." Sure it is a sappy bubble gum/reggae song based on a song by Saint-Saens "Symphony No. 3," but I like it, because it has an energy and playful nature like many of the songs of that era. I really didn't hear the Sex Pistols until sometime in the early 80's (although I knew of them back then), but they immediately became one of my all-time favorite bands. I don't think I heard Pousette-Dart Band until college, unless they weren't identified on radio (the late 70s was the beginning of that bad trend in radio).
There, of course, are other singers and bands that were popular in 1978 that were not on that particular radio survey that I cannot live with out. Groups like Kiss, the Eagles, Boston, REO Speedwagon, Van Halen, the Cars, Bruce Springsteen, the Bee Gees, Kenny Rogers, the Jacksons, Kansas, Earth, Wind and Fire and...I could go on and on.
Now, if you are waiting for me to trash today's popular artist, you can keep on waiting. I like most popular music and enjoy listening to it, as a matter of fact I'm madly in love with Katy Perry (Okay, okay, I HATE COUNTRY MUSIC, but I admit it). I'm not be one of those old guys who sit around complaining about what younger people do, because I never liked for older people to say disrespectful things about the music I liked. Also, I have more friends who are younger. I wonder what year was their musical flashpoint?