24 January 2013

The top 40 songs of January 25, 1964


There's something very interesting about the "top 40" list above.  It's from a popular St. Paul/Minneapolis AM radio station in January of 1964, and it's loaded with what are now considered "golden oldies."  But this particular list brings back a flood of memories because of one entry.  Browse the list (click for bigger) before proceeding below the fold...

YMMV, but for me the salient entry is song #26 ("I Want To Hold Your Hand"  The Beatles - Capitol.  Debut.)  I remember standing in my high school's parking lot one afternoon that week, with my hair frozen*.  A classmate I was riding home with described a new song and my response was "Beetles?  Like insects?"

That's when it all started for me.  For many of my generation the memory of when we first heard The Beatles is as strong as when we heard of JFK's assassination.

I wonder how long it was before the Beatles fell off that top 40 chart.  Many years, I should think.

* (we had basketball practice as the last activity of the day, and after you showered and stepped outdoors your hair would at least frost up and sometimes totally freeze if you hadn't towelled it dry enough)

22 comments:

  1. Very cool. I love that Surfin' Bird made it to #1. What a crazy song that is - especially for the times I would guess.


    Also- reader fun fact - My late grandfather Ray Lark worked for KDWB as an engineer for about 14 years!

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    1. Since he was an engineer there, he probably could have told you something about this story:

      KDWB allegedly was the first station (March 1961) to have been fined by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). It apparently had to pay $10,000 because of repeated willful violations of nighttime broadcast power restrictions on the AM band, enough cash to purchase a 3000 square foot twin cities home or 160 acres prime twin cities residential or three fully loaded showroom new Chevrolet Corvettes or yearly pay for both the morning drive (Hal Murray) and afternoon drive disc jockey, a large amount of money in the early 1960s.

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    2. The Trashmen were from Minneapolis so that may have played a part, although I think it charted really high nationally too. One of the best, for sure.

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  2. It makes me a little sad that, as a 30 year old, I don't have any similar musical experiences. There was never a song that I remember hearing for the first time that shaped culture in such a way.

    Of course there were national moments. 9/11 was my sophomore year of college. I also (with embarrassment) remember when a television was rolled into my middle school music class so that we could watch the OJ Simpson verdict. The Oklahoma City bombing and first invasion of Iraq are also vivid.

    The closest I can come to defining cultural moments that are not tragedies are probably related to computers. I remember the first time I went online. I totally didn't get it. In the pre-internet days it was mostly chat rooms and messaging - I remember thinking it was pretty stupid. Then, just fifteen years later, I remember the first time I got my hands on an iPhone. All of Wikipedia, in my pocket, all of the time! Of course, by that time I knew the internet was important, and here to stay. But the potential for really radical cultural change wasn't clear to me until that day.

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    1. Really? "La Macarena"

      [cringe]

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    2. Sorry about that, but at least we have all of this great music to listen to, as long as we have youtube, anyway! It's true that certain songs from the generations of music are almost a part of us. I love all music, but the two songs that stand out as being the first that really grabbed me was 'Honkeytonk Women' by the Stones & 'She's A Lady' by Tom Jones. His voice just blew me away!

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  3. I used to save those KDWB sheets, and this one is the absolute watershed. Noteworthy are the folk, surf(inc. hotrod), easy listening, and even country songs. It would never be the same. Nearly half of the songs on the list are classics (In My Room, Surfin' Bird, Louie Louie, You Don't Own Me, Anyone Who Had A Heart, The Nitty Gritty, etc.) Wow.

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  4. My sister-who's 64- was a huge fan of Bobby Vinton, Bobby Rydell, Bobby Vee (I remember all the Bobby record albums she had). I'm 56 and by the time I was buying records it was Yes, Bread, CCR etc. In those 8 years we stepped through a paradigm.

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  5. KDWB-AM served the Twin Cities but was based across the river in St. Paul, not in Minneapolis. (Note the K prefix.) I agree with you that the Beatles debuting at #26 was a watershed moment. Mine was seeing a picture of them with Princess Margaret in Life magazine the previous December and wondering, what's with all the hair? It looked strange to me. A few years later, mine was a lot longer than theirs had been then.

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    1. I didn't know (or had forgotten) about the K---/W--- distinction (?because the Mississippi River is in between?). I've changed the text to "St. Paul/Minneapolis." Thanks for the heads-up, anon.

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    2. The lone exception being KDKA in Pittsburgh

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    3. KQV in Pittsburgh is still on the air, as is KYW Philadelphia.

      And Oklahoma boasts three W stations.

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  6. This is off thread, but it appeared on my Facebook feed and Ihad to share it with you:
    http://bookriot.com/2013/01/23/great-library-scenes-in-film/?fb_action_ids=2715234896309&fb_action_types=og.likes&fb_source=other_multiline&action_object_map=%7B%222715234896309%22%3A279686658824184%7D&action_type_map=%7B%222715234896309%22%3A%22og.likes%22%7D&action_ref_map=%5B%5D

    Happy Friday in very sunny NZ

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    1. That should be an interesting book/movie.

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  7. Also in Finland those songs were very famous. Surfin' bird was a real hit for me. When I had my 60th birthday some years ago, the band of my son played it astonishing my old relatives:)

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  8. I was 11 years old then but don't have a clear memory of the very first exposure. The Beatles were always in the background of my growing up and although I was never a big fan, in later years their music brings up strong beautiful feelings. Just yesterday I finally watched the Scorsese documentary on George Harrison. It was wonderful.

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  9. As a then flegling participant in the Great Folk Scare of the '60s - I was still in Jr High on Jan 25,'64, the only one of these I remember, and still have, is the PPM album, "In the Wind."

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  10. Wow.. I've got 3 of the top 10 still on my play list on my phone. (Big changes.. "Play list" "on my phone"... )

    But the Beatles song? OK, I was a guy and somewhere like in elementary school at the time -- but it was like "mehhhhh". Still is. They did some very good and creative stuff, and have had a HUGE impact upon popular music, but to me most of their stuff is still "mehhhhhh"..

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    1. I agree; I was barely even born when the Beatles were taking the world by storm, they never really did it for me, either. They did write a few beautiful songs, though.

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  11. I was 14 when the song showed up, but I can't remember if I heard 'She Loves You' before that or not. Changed my life, haven't been the same since.

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  12. Hm, that "debut" was about a month after the official US release of the single.* It had topped the UK charts in November, and I would have sworn it was released here that month... but I may be confusing that with another notable event -- the one event that every American marks with "where were you when you heard the president was shot?"

    *http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Want_to_Hold_Your_Hand#Promotion_and_release

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  13. My first Beatles song must have been either "Help" or "No reply" because those were the opening tracks of the two albums my parents owned. I must have been able to reach (and operate) the record player by the time I was eight, because I was born in 1972 and I distincly remember being the only one in my class upset by the death of John Lennon. Beatles for Sale and Help! are still two of my favourite albums of all time, though of course some more Beatles and a lot of earlier and later music got added to the list. To me, Blondie was revolutionary :)

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