On Valentine’s weekend in 1982, I had an engagement ring burning a hole in my pocket.
It hadn’t cost very much—in fact I can remember the guy at the jewelry store cracking wise about how little I was paying for it—but I had spent as much as I could justify, making $185 a week with no credit card and almost nothing in the bank. She had been expecting a ring for a while. When she didn’t get it at Christmas or her birthday, she figured Valentine’s Day was the next likely date. That was my plan, too. She was coming over to spend the weekend with me in my new place, and I thought that I would give the ring to her on Valentine’s Day, which was Sunday. When she arrived on Friday night, she brought a few housewarming gifts, odds and ends, things I’d said I needed in the new place, and I suddenly decided I couldn’t wait until Sunday. So on Friday night, in the living room of my crappy furnished apartment, I whipped out the ring and proposed to her.
She said yes.
I was a little baby disc jockey only a couple of weeks into my first full-time radio job at KDTH in Dubuque. My responsibilities also included the care and feeding of the automation system for D93, the FM Top-40 station. And on the Cash Box chart dated February 13, 1982, were a lot of the songs D93 was playing, a few that were heard on KDTH, and a few I wouldn’t discover until years later. The stuff as the top is either burned out from years of exposure or was rather undistinguished to begin with, but there’s more interesting stuff further down.
14. “Waiting on a Friend”/Rolling Stones (holding at 14). A song with a remarkable history, the instrumental track for “Waiting on a Friend” was born in 1970, and the Stones tried recording it on the sessions that resulted in the 1973 album Goats Head Soup. It sat in the can for seven years, until the band’s co-producer started scouting for songs to go on Tattoo You. Mick Jagger wrote lyrics for it, and the band rounded up jazz saxophonist Sonny Rollins for a solo. But some of what we hear is that original instrumental track from years before, including Mick Taylor on guitar.
20. “Through the Years”/Kenny Rogers (up from 23). I’d never been much of a Kenny Rogers fan. His late 70s material sounded cheap and tossed off, so I welcomed the craftsmanship I heard in his collaborations with Lionel Richie as producer. “Through the Years” doesn’t sound much different from anything else he’d done, at least not until about two minutes into the record. At that point, he starts singing with a conviction I’d never heard before—and then, at about 3:25 in, he goes up and gets a beautiful high note and proceeds to sing the hell out of the rest of the song. It blew me out of the chair in the radio studio the first time I heard it. This is the only Kenny Rogers record you need.
32. “All Our Tomorrows”/Eddie Schwartz. (holding at 32). D93 played a lot of records of dubious value in hopes of being among the first stations in the country to break a new hit. We probably played “All Our Tomorrows” more than any station outside of Schwartz’s native Canada, but it was worth the attention.
36. “Trouble”/Lindsey Buckingham (down from 22). In which Buckingham’s gift for massive hooks, which had served Fleetwood Mac so well since 1976, is deployed on his own behalf. If “Trouble” lasted 10 minutes, I’d listen to every second.
60. “Do You Believe in Love”/Huey Lewis and the News (up from 83). If you remember the winter of 1982, you remember that the country was deep in a recession. In Dubuque, a factory town tied to the cratering farm economy, times were especially hard. But there was something encouraging about the tight, radio-ready sound of this new band. As long as you believed in love, they seemed to be saying, you’d be OK. For a young couple pledging their troth in that season, the answer to “Do You Believe in Love” was an emphatic yes.
“All Our Tomorrows”/Eddie Schwartz (This and other songs by Schwartz are back in print on a new compilation that includes his demo of the Pat Benatar song “Hit Me With Your Best Shot,” which he wrote. As a result, this song will be up only over the weekend. Buy the album here.)