The Golden Hits of Top 40 Radio

Nov 12, 2014 | 4:02 PM


The Carpenters, Late ’70s


Forty-plus years ago, folks flocked to the AM side of the radio dial to hear the latest, greatest pop hits. While I was certainly not around back then, I did grow up totally thrilled by the sensational sounds of Top 40 songs in the ’70s and ’80s, and you’d better believe I could be found dancing around in my bedroom to Casey Kasem’s  American Top 40 show every Sunday!


Casey Kasem hosting American Top 40 in the 1980s


The writer in me also loved all the stories we got to hear about the making of these musical gems. Of course, now we can find everything we ever wanted to know about The Supremes‘ squabbles over lyrics, Tina Turner’s childhood struggles or Debbie Harry’s backstage routine on the Internet. But back in the day, this weekly countdown was the only time we got served up the skinny on band member battles, heartbreaks, and those gossipy “fun facts” that somehow make the songs we love sound even sweeter.


Harry Belafonte Chatting with the Supremes

The Supremes with Harry Belafonte in the mid-1960s


Debbie Harry and Clem Burke of Blondie preparing for a show in 1977


Mr. Kasem’s recent passing in many ways marked the end of an era, and ever since, I’ve been thinking a lot about my favorite songs from the AM Gold days:  those toe tappin’, groovy, sometimes hip-shakin’ ’60s ’70s tunes that still get me going!


While it was before my time, I loved the 1969 hit “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In” by the 5th Dimension so much that I covered it on my debut album!

And it’s still darn-near impossible for me to hear the chart-topping Carpenters hit “Top of the World” without singing along (with or without a hairbrush microphone).


What about Captain and Tennille’s “Love Will Keep Us Together,” which hit #1 in the summer of 1975? (You can hear my own tribute to that beauty on Trouble in Paradise!)

Of course, these are just a few of the ditties that still move me. There are so many more that bring back all kinds of vivid memories every time I hear them!


The fact that I was always so dazzled by the great songs I heard on the radio has made it that much more exciting to me to hear “Trouble in Paradise”  hit the charts and resonate with so many people. And while there is no longer an official national American Top 40  show to be had, I can only hope all the fine folks tuning in at home have as much fun listening to that single as I did when I was rockin’ around in my room on the weekend.


Who else remembers those Gold AM days? What were some of your favorite songs? Let’s share stories, videos … whatever you’ve got!





One thought on “The Golden Hits of Top 40 Radio”

  1. Ross Penny     Reply

    Yes, my nephew (who could be your twin with the music and arts parallels) really liked the Carpenters.

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