Friday, December 31, 2010

New Years Eve 1984 in Chicago

I grew up in the Chicago area. My early music education came from the Chicago airwaves. It started with stations like WLS, the Loop and WMET. While I gravitated to the more rock oriented stations like The Loop of WMET I still would tune into WLS from time to time. If there was a popular tune say for instance Jukebox Hero by Foreigner or "Centerfold" by The J. Geils Band and you wanted to hear that song, you knew you could tune in to WLS and hear it within an hour or two. It is the blessing and curse of a top 40 style radio station.

Another thing I loved about WLS was that on New Years Eve as soon as it struck midnight they would play this music collage that was basically a history of pop and rock music. It consisted of all the number one songs since 1960. Each year the collage was the same, but at the end they would add a few more hits from that previous year. Well New Years Eve 1984 I recorded the entire thing and have kept it all these years. This was also one of the first things I digitized back in the day, because I knew I wanted to preserve it so I could share it with people. I'm glad I did, because this blog is a great way to share it.

In addition to the music I hope you like the vintage WLS Calendar image I found online. I found a great site that has that entire calendar online. Check it out here. It is another great time capsule.


As a kid I loved the New Year's collage so much that I made some of my own. I would spend hours and days and weeks adding to it a few seconds at a time. There are all recorded on cheap cassette tapes. In the early 80's much of tapes were the cheapest ones you could buy, because I didn't have a lot of money. They were purchased at K-Mart more than likely. The quality may be hard to bare sometimes because of the tape hiss of static on the radio, but in a way that also captures the essence of the conditions within which they were created. These are from around that same time period '83-'84 (maybe even '82, but I'm not positive) and provide a great window into the Chicago airwaves in the mid 80's. I would scan all sorts of stations and so there is quite a variety. You'll also hear some repeats or themes, which perhaps give some insight into what I was liking at the time.

The interesting thing about these is I think they are a sort of precursor to the sample filled world of music we live in then. I find these interesting also because I think it is also a good glimpse at the mind of someone growing up in the MTV generation. The attention span was getting shorter and shorter, so short that just snippets of songs would satisfy. It should be noted that I didn't just make these and forget about them. I would listen to them over and over. There are songs on here that when I hear them even today I hear the next sample on the collage in my head before I hear the actual next lyric of the song.

There are also bits of songs that I didn't even know what the name or artist of the song was. However I knew the little snippet really well because I listened to it over and over. Some songs I would discover the title and the artist years later. One example was "Pussy Strut" by the Waitresses. There is a snippet from that song in one of the collages, but I never knew what the song was. In recent years when I picked up that first Waitresses album on vinyl I was thrilled when I was listening to that song and that snippet came on. It was like finding an old lost friend. There are other examples as well, but that one comes to mind.

So here they are. I've numbered them, but I'm not positive that they are chronological.


H A R R Y G O A Z said...

Have a Super New Year, Spencer!!!

Spencer said...

Thank you. Have a fantastic New Year yourself.