In the late 1990s, just like every other driver, I was dependent on CDs or the radio for my in-car entertainment; and, given that my daily commute to and from the office was a mere 10-15 minutes, that meant the radio more often than not. In no specific order save for the last, stations in my rotation at the time included KYW-1060, Philly’s all-news station, which I listened to for the weather; WIP, a sports-talk station; WXPN, which featured (and still features) the “adult album alternative” music format; WMGK, a “classic hits” station that leaned heavily on the ‘70s; and WOGL, which programmed more traditional oldies.
In those days, I should mention, my company gave us an hour paid lunch. That meant that I zoomed home at noon and, fifty minutes later, zoomed back. It was great. And while the specific year of the sun-soaked spring day that I’m remembering has been lost in my memory banks, in a sense it doesn’t matter. What does is this: On the way back to work from lunch, I tuned to WOGL only to hear the Pretenders’ “Brass in Pocket” saunter from the speakers like a wisecracking diner waitress.
“Brass in Pocket” was an oldie?! If not for the fact that I was stopped at a red light, I would’ve driven off the road. The oldies in my mind then and now basically equate to the songs Michael St. John played on his Saturday night oldies show on WPEN-AM in the late 1970s – a musical milieu of pop, rock and doo-wop from the 1950s and early/mid-1960s. They weren’t the songs of my youth.
But, of course, by the late ‘90s they were becoming just that.
So, for today’s Top 5: Oldies, but Goodies (aka, Singles I Purchased in 1977, ’78 & ’79)… in the order that I bought them. I think. (Not all were “oldies” at the time, but those that weren’t definitely are now.)
1) Jan & Dean – “Sidewalk Surfin’.”
2) Dion – “The Wanderer.”
3) The Zombies – “She’s Not There”
4) Carly Simon – “You’re So Vain.”
5) Al Stewart – “Song on the Radio.”
And one bonus:
6) Eddie Cochran – “Twenty Flight Rock.”
Okay, a second bonus…this one from 1981.
7) The Go-Go’s – “Our Lips Are Sealed.”
Oldies. The line in the sand keeps moving, shifting as time keeps ticking away. I’ve done a few classic rock radio research groups and it is always entertaining to listen to others in my peer group argue about where the lines should be drawn. The first couple of times it was usually agreed that music from the mid to late Sixties up through the Seventies as a whole, could be considered Classic Rock. At the last session I went to, there was a lot of harrumphing when Pearl Jam and the Red Hot Chili Peppers songs were played even though they are now both Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame inductees. My Pretenders moment probably occurred around the time yours did but my group was Def Leppard and their song “Photograph” being played for the first time (to my ears at least) on my Classic Rock station of choice.
I have no one but my father to blame for my love of the music that came along before I did. He had a record I took an immediate shine to as a five or six-year-old called Jan & Dean Anthology Album. They were surf music to me before the Beach Boys came into my life just a couple years later with Endless Summer. Interesting that you went with “Sidewalk Surfin'” as a single – given the choice, even back then well before 1977, I’d have gone with “Surf City” even though at that young age “two girls for every boy” seemed a bit excessive.
We also are thisclose on our choice of Dion single – you went with “The Wanderer” and it is awesome as is “Runaround Sue” but even as a grade-schooler, I gravitated towards the very similar-sounding “Lovers Who Wander”. It still rocks my world to this day and will end up on the vintage jukebox I might obtain in the future.
Bold choice with “Song On The Radio”, too. Any memories to go along with these 45s?
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I also have “Surf City”/”Ride the Wild Surf” and “Little Old Lady”/”Popsicle” on 45s, all purchased within a few weeks in late 1977. I went with “Sidewalk” because I assumed it’s not as well known. And I think I had that anthology! I bought it sometime in 1978 – had their version of “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away” on Side 4. This link has the cover pic. https://www.discogs.com/Jan-Dean-Anthology-Album/release/1522041
(I didn’t have much time this morning, which is why I skipped from my intro to just the scans/songs. I do plan/hope to return to some of them in the coming weeks/months – especially the Carly.)