If there was one year during which I transitioned from a person who was enthusiastic about music to one with an obsession, it was in 1975. All of a sudden, I was a middle school student as a sixth grader, listening to the seventh and eighth graders talk about albums in the locker room after school or in the lunch room during lunch. Our middle school had a jukebox that we could play in the gym during lunch so I had another outlet.
Another influence came from my sisters from different parents down the street, Kim and Lori Dunwiddie. At the Dunwiddies’ house, the three of us could listen to the radio on their parents’ console stereo or run through one of our latest album purchase. Eventually, as we all got older, other people (friends, love interests, etc.) would show up as if That 70s Show were somewhat based on us and bring their musical influences in as well.
The final influence of the middle school years was the student-ran radio station that the local high school still has, WEEM 91.7 FM. Back in the beginning of the station, the students were allowed to play whatever the on-air personalities wanted to. Since the station was broadcasting school information to the southern third of the county in which we lived, not too much the same sized area to the south of us which were the northern parts of three counties. Needless to say, the adults of these farming communities simply did not care to hear Black Oak Arkansas, Blue Öyster Cult or Kiss during school hours. However, those ten or so high school kids’ musical tastes would play a role on Friday and Saturday nights in the development of my own.
Within the span of the 1975 year, I discovered Kiss, Rush, Bob Dylan, John Lennon, Black Oak Arkansas, Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, Bachman Turner Overdrive, Bay City Rollers, KC & the Sunshine Band, Donna Summer, Bruce Springsteen, Patti Smith and so many others because I paid attention to people’s discussions about music. And, in 1975, I discovered that music would address all of my insecurities and qualms about being a teen. And, that was the final hook. In so many ways, my albums and singles were becoming my best friends and influencing me to take up writing, since it was quickly becoming so very apparent that I had absolutely no musical talent.
The great thing about 1975 was listening to I believe 16 hours of radio programming with the countdowns of the Top 100 Songs of 1975 from American Top 40 and on WLS-AM Chicago. In both cases, I listened intently to both programs, as AT40 was split into two programs run on consecutive weekends sandwiching New Year’s Day. All the while WLS ran their countdown on New Year’s Eve, beginning at 4 in the afternoon and ending around midnight. That night, my longtime buddy, Mike Bond, and I would run back and forth from my bedroom to write down the current song and artist on the radio and the family room to watch Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve 1975. On a personal note, I was the one driving my parents crazy as I ran back and forth during what ended up being their last NYE together as a couple. Little did I know that I was six months away from my dad moving out of the house.
Of course, I remember the excitement of all the learning I was able to do as a near-teenager about what was actually becoming a nearly fifty year obsession. I miss that excitement of learning about something new and alien.
Now, let’s get this countdown rolling.
50. Tom Waits – Nighthawks at the Diner
49. ZZ Top – Fandango
48. Elton John – Rock of the Westies
47. Bob Seger – Beautiful Loser
46. Nazareth – Hair of the Dog
45. Brian Eno – Another Green World
44. The Meters – Fire on the Bayou
43. Jeff Beck – Blow by Blow
42. Rufus featuring Chaka Khan – Rufus featuring Chaka Khan
41. Eagles – One of These Nights
40. The Who – The Who by Numbers
39. Willie Nelson – Red Headed Stranger
38. The Staple Singers/Curtis Mayfield – Let’s Do It Again
37. Foghat – Fool for the City
36. Burning Spear – Marcus Garvey
35. ABBA – ABBA
34. Donna Summer – Love to Love You Baby
33. Bob Marley & the Wailers – Live
32. Supertramp – Crisis? What Crisis?
31. Neil Young – Zuma
30. Harold Melvin & the Bluenotes – Wake Up Everybody
29. Fela Kuti & Africa 70 – Expensive Shit
28. Kiss – Dressed to Kill
27. Ohio Players – Honey
26. Smokey Robinson – Smokey Robinson
25. War – Why Can’t We Be Friends?
24. Dr. Feelgood – Down by the Jetty
23. Elton John – Captain Fantastic & the Brown Dirt Cowboy
22. KC & the Sunshine Band – KC & the Sunshine Band
21. Electric Light Orchestra – Face the Music
20. Bob Dylan/The Band – The Basement Tapes
19. Alice Cooper – Welcome to My Nightmare
18. Neil Young – Tonight’s the Night
17. Earth, Wind & Fire – Gratitude
16. Bob Dylan – Blood on the Tracks
15. Patti Smith – Horses
14. Led Zeppelin – Physical Graffiti
13. David Bowie – Young Americans
12. Aerosmith – Toys in the Attic
11. Earth, Wind & Fire – That’s the Way of the World
10. Bee Gees – Main Course
9. Roxy Music – Siren
8. Pink Floyd – Wish You Were Here
7. Fleetwood Mac – Fleetwood Mac
6. Parliament – Mothership Connection
5. Paul Simon – Still Crazy After All These Years
4. Kiss – Alive!
3. Daryl Hall & John Oates – Daryl Hall & John Oates
2. Queen – A Night at the Opera
1. Bruce Springsteen – Born to Run