Saturday Single No. 722

I’ve been seeing a number of similar posts of Facebook lately that deal with No. 1 records. They say things like “The story of your life is determined by the record that was No. 1 on” either your seventh or tenth or fourteenth birthday.

(The posts don’t instruct readers which chart to use – Cashbox, Billboard, or another – but I assume that most folks use Billboard. I will.)

My birthday falls in early September, so let’s take a look at the three that have been mentioned on Facebook:

The No. 1 record on my seventh birthday, in 1960 – seems awful early to have one’s life’s story determined – was “It’s Now Or Never” by Elvis Presley. I know it was a love song, but in the context of determining the life story of a second-grader as he struggled with getting his assignments done on time, it’s sounds pretty fatalistic. There was evidently no point in looking ahead toward third grade and Miss Kelly and the cute girl who would move to town from Redwood Falls.

The No. 1 record when I turned ten, the month in 1963 when I began fifth grade with Mr. Lydeen, one of the four or so most important teachers of my life, was “My Boyfriend’s Back” by the Angels. Well, “He went away, and you hung around, and bothered me every night” sounds like it could have been a romantic modus operandi for a fifth-grader (if you change “night” to “afternoon”). But I think the gods of the 45s got this one wrong (I hope, or somewhere down the road yet, I’m gonna be in trouble.).

When I turned fourteen and started ninth grade at South Junior High, the No. 1 record was Bobbie Gentry’s “Ode To Billy Joe.” Rather than assume this meant I was destined to do a suicidal bridge-jump somewhere along the line, I’d rather interpret this pairing of birthday and record to mean that my life is going to unfold like a Gothic Southern mystery. I don’t think it has; I’m far too Midwestern for that, so that’s another miss.

But let’s take a look at three other birthdays that might have carried portents, as they marked important moments in my life:

I began my senior year of high school in September 1970, and the No. 1 record on my birthday as we headed back to the classrooms was “War” by Edwin Starr. That fits short-term, yes, as that school year brought me into conflict with a sophomore boy whose girlfriend I desperately wanted to date. But as a portent for my life, I think it misses.

On my twentieth birthday, I landed in Copenhagen to start my third year of college and eight-plus months of being away from home for the first time. I thought perhaps I should find out which record had been No. 1 in Denmark at the time, but in messing with the Internet Archive’s Wayback Machine, the closest I could get was to learn that the top Danish single of the year was “Rør Ved Mig” by Lecia & Lucienne, which translates, or so says an online tool, to “Touch Me.” So we’ll skip that, even though I love the record. So, what was No. 1 on the Hot 100 as I flew east? “Brother Louie” by Stories, which – if it’s a marker for my life – seems to mean I’m gonna cry.

The last important birthday during my younger years, I’d guess, was my thirtieth, which fell right about the time I began graduate school at the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism. I was making a life change, so the No. 1 single of the time might have brought some insight as to how that change was going to go. After all, “Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)” by the Eurythmics sounds like it might portend pleasant times. But to my ears, there’s always been a subtext of unease in the record, a hint that those dreams might not be so sweet after all.

So what does all that mean? Nothing, of course, except as a time-waster. And which of those do we want to hear on a Saturday morning? None of the first three, I’d say, and I’ve offered “Rør Ved Mig” here several times over the years. We’ll pass on “War” and, I guess, on Stories.

So “Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)” from 1983 is today’s Saturday Single. Maybe you can catch the undercurrent I always hear.

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One Response to “Saturday Single No. 722”

  1. David says:

    I hear this song and I immediately get out my Air Violin/Cello. And, of course I’m not alone.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UimyAzjEyWU
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VZwLQgT2WBE

    Thanks!

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