‘Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes . . .’

A quick look at the Billboard Hot 100 for June 16, 1990, revealed a few records I remember and a lot of stuff I don’t. Having left higher education a year earlier – and the contact with students and current music that came along with teaching – I’d lost track of who was doing what, and I wasn’t all that much interested in the Top 40.

I still listened to radio, though, maybe more than ever during the spring and early summer of 1990, as I spent a lot of time in my car, driving from my home in Conway Springs, Kansas, to my newspaper offices in two other small towns. And despite the country music prevalent in nearly every establishment where I shopped, ate lunch or bought gas in those three small towns, I’d found a decent classic rock station in nearby Wichita; it was rewarded with the first button on the car radio.

One mid-June morning, as I was driving the back road between Conway Springs and Cheney, the classic rock station cued up David Bowie’s “Changes,” a record I’d not heard for a while. I don’t recall it from 1972, when it went to No. 66, but I do remember it from the Atwood Center jukebox when it was reissued in late 1974 and went to No. 41. My friends at The Table and I had played it a few times on the jukebox, and I enjoyed it that summer morning as my Toyota rolled toward my office in Cheney.

And when the record ended, it began again, right from the start. A glitch at the station, I thought, and I pushed a button for a new station, one that got me to the door of my office. Two hours later, having gone through the mail and written a few pieces for the next week’s edition, I left the office, likely heading to the high school to take a photo. As I drove away, I pushed the first button on the radio. And the station was still playing Bowie’s “Changes.”

I switched stations and pondered things for a moment. Not being entirely dim, I guessed that the station was changing its format and was using Bowie’s song to prepare its audience (or to warn its audience to find another station). As the day and evening went on, I checked the station a few more times: Still Bowie.

Before I headed off to Cheney the next morning, I checked again, and Bowie was gone from the airwaves. The station had switched to Top 40. The new format got a bit of play in the car for the next few days, but I wasn’t impressed with much that I heard, and I changed the button in my car to a station whose format was probably called Adult Contemporary. And I was much happier with that.

I heard “Changes” the other day, and that, along with the look at the mid-June Billboard Hot 100, made the tune for today’s post an easy choice. If I get here tomorrow, it’s likely to be with a look at the chart from June 17, 1967.


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