When you are 16 and the two of you are on your first date since getting back together and the football game is over and the evening is getting late and you want to be alone, what can you do? A trip to the park seems like a good idea. There’s a secluded lot way in the back, just beyond the place where a little creek runs across the road. You pull the ’74 Hornet into a parking space. She slides across the bench seat (all hail the bench seat) and the two of you fall into each other’s arms.
There are only two songs from the fall of 1976 on my Desert Island list, although there should probably be more. But over many years and many iterations, I’ve never officially added anything beyond the first two that made it.
There’s “Say You Love Me” by Fleetwood Mac, as perfect a single as they ever made, although as the years go by, I prefer the album version, which lacks the big lead guitar line that’s jacked up on the 45. After the first couple of dozen times I heard that irresistible fade, “fallin’ fallin’ fallin’,” I had fallen for Christine McVie, and I still have a little thing for her to this day. The cool in that voice is among the sexiest damn things I’ve ever heard.
And there’s “Still the One” by Orleans. This is one of the greatest radio records of all time, and one of the best ever with which to start a radio show. The introduction is the sort of thing a jock can have a lot of fun with—four seconds to the bass and drums, seven to the electric piano, 14 to the vocal. Ex-jock and consultant Dan O’Day tweeted the other day that no listener has ever said that what he loves about a DJ is the way he can talk up a record. I know that’s true, but should you happen to hear me talking up “Still the One” on the air sometime, you should know that whatever I’m doing is mostly to entertain myself.
I can’t remember whether we were listening to the radio that night. Maybe, but I just don’t know for sure. For one of the rare occasions during my favorite year, I was much more interested in something else.
Programming Notes: This weekend’s vintage American Top 40 countdown to be broadcast around the country features the week of October 23, 1976. It’ll be on Magic 98 Saturday from 9 to midnight (US Central), right after my show. Also, commenter WestBerkeleyFlats tipped us to a story from the San Francisco Chronicle on the 40th anniversary of “Mill Valley,” which I can’t recommend highly enough. Click here. And I’m a couple of days late on this, but I also recommend the post at 30 Days Out featuring some classic-rock singles and B-sides from the 80s: rare tracks from Bob Seger, Bruce Springsteen, and John Mellencamp.