|First posted 8/12/2020.|
September 25, 1982. I was 15 years old and had just started my sophomore year in high school. Arguably, there is no more significant time for musical discovery. I was very much a slave to whatever was popular at the time, but my tastes were starting to shift from more middle-of-the-road artists like John Denver, Neil Diamond, and Barry Manilow to more rock-oriented fare like Journey, Queen, and Styx.
A week before, I’d put together my very first personal song chart. I’d listened to a local radio station’s countdown of the hits of the summer and decided to create my own list of all-time favorites. However, within the week I revamped it and I was on my way to more than a decade’s worth of creating weekly personal song charts.
By that second week, I was hit by an influx of “new” music. Actually, it would be more appropriate to call it “newly acquired music” as the six new albums in my collection were all at least nine months old:
To what did I owe this new treasure trove? Columbia House’s Record and Tape Club. Anyone from my generation should remember the omnipresent ads in magazines to buy 13 albums for a dollar, sometimes a penny, under the agreement that you bought X number more albums over the next few years. The catch was they would automatically send an album each month if you didn’t specifically refuse it, sticking some people with albums they didn’t want.
My friend Nic and I decided to jump into the venture together, each getting half the albums and therefore only spending half as much money. I believe Nic took on the responsibility of mailing in the cards and I think he only got stuck once with the automatically mailed album.
I’d started my music collection three years earlier with the K-Tel compilation High Energy (1979) on eight track. Now I was beginning my transition from eight track to cassette. I’d already bought Styx Cornerstone (1979) and the Xanadu soundtrack (1980) on tape and now, with six new titles in my collection, I was well on my way toward this newer medium surpassing the old. Before year’s end, I would also have John Cougar’s American Fool (1982), J. Geils Band Freeze Frame (1981), and Olivia Newton-John’s Olivia’s Greatest Hits Vol. 2 (1982). In December of that year, I also hit the jackpot when my local rock station played a Beatles’ album every day at midnight for a week. I recorded the Beatles’ 1962-1966 and 1967-1970 collections as well as Magical Mystery Tour (1967), Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band (1967), and Hey Jude (1968).
The impact on my personal chart was immediately apparent. Songs from the above tapes which showed up on my charts in the next few weeks included:
Some of the songs from those tapes still rank on my top 100 songs of all-time list (Foreigner “Waiting for a Girl Like You,” Journey “Open Arms,” Queen “Bohemian Rhapsody,” Queen “We Will Rock You/We Are the Champions,” and Styx’s “The Best of Times”). Styx Paradise Theater and Journey Escape rank amongst my top 100 albums of all time. Perhaps no other week in my life has had more impact on me musically.
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