road trip to the 80s

Recently, I discovered the absolute best thing about XM Radio – on Sundays, the 80s station replays the original Casey’s Top 40 countdowns from the 80s. On paper, this doesn’t sound as exciting as it actually is. But the first time I heard it, I literally got chills down my spine. Whenever we go on a Sunday road trip, now, I get to take a trip back in time, too. Because as soon as I hear that jingle, that Americaaaannnn Top Fooooooorrrtyyyy, I am …

… 13 years old again, sitting on the floor of my bedroom next to my super-cool boombox, waiting for the countdown to start, fingers poised on the “record” button so I can tape whichever essential songs I know will be on the countdown this week. I’m hoping the latest Duran Duran song will hit Number 1 this week; that Rick Springfield has moved up and not down; that The Fixx have entered the charts with their latest single; that Kajagoogoo is still in the countdown. I listen to Casey spew his amazing and sometimes irrelevant pieces of trivia. I listen excitedly in the hopes that he’ll mention my local station when he does the part about “each week, AT40 is heard around the world on stations like … .” I wonder about the people who write in the long-distance dedications. I cheer excitedly when Michael Jackson gets knocked out of the top spot and my whole week is ruined when the same happens to Duran Duran. I wonder why anyone would ever buy a Lionel Ritchie album, and I don’t understand why the whole world doesn’t listen to The Fixx. I lie on the shag carpet next to the boombox staring dreamily at the walls covered with posters; mostly Duran Duran, of course, but lots of Men At Work, some Jack Wagner here and there, a Rick Springfield or two, and some randoms like Wham, Big Country, Spandau Ballet, Kajagoogoo. These are pinups torn from the pages of 16, Tiger Beat, Teen and the like; magazines designed for the millions of teenage girls like me who wonder just how they will ever survive if they don’t grow up to be Mrs. John Taylor. I ponder such all-important issues myself as I endure the nail-biting wait to hear my bands, and to see if My Song by My Group will be Number 1.

So today, we caught the countdown at the very beginning. First thing Casey did was recount the previous week’s Top 3 … Duran Duran “Wild Boys,” Jack Wagner “All I Need,” and Madonna “Like a Virgin.” I literally did a time warp and got all giddy wondering if Jack or Duran would make it to Number 1.

Barry thinks I’m nuts. The 5 1/2 year age difference between us isn’t even noticeable most of the time, but at times like this – well, let’s face it, when I was originally listening to this week’s countdown, from January 1985, I was a freshman in high school. He was in second grade. And yet, he sits with me in the Target parking lot until All I Need has finished (Number 2, dammit. Madonna was still Number 1).

And to top it off, I watched “Music and Lyrics” again tonight. Love that movie – Hugh Grant as an 80s has-been, a la Andrew Ridgely of Wham. My favorite line in the movie is in the song he sings to Drew: “and I haven’t felt like this since before Frankie said Relax.” I get goosebumps. Because I remember when Frankie said Relax. I had the T-shirt. And there are times I’d give anything to go back there.

I miss you, 1980s. I’m grateful for the visiting rights XM Radio gives me.

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