The hits from coast to coast

Growing up, one of my New Year's Eve traditions was listening to the Big 89 countdown of the top songs of the year on WLS in Chicago. I'd sit by the radio to listen and actually wrote them all down a few years. Some New Year's Eves my parents went out, others they didn't do as much and would take us out to dinner and get us home by midnight. The countdown would start at about 6, our babysitter might make us a pizza, and I distinctly remember reading a Hardy Boys book one year while listening. When I was 10, the countdown was as much a highlight as staying up until midnight.

So what has my over-nostalgic self done to relive those New Year's Eves? Assembled those Big 89s on my iPod. It's not the same as listening to the original broadcasts with DJs and in AM, but it's still fun. My only dilemma -- I have eight playlists for eight years: 1979-1986. Too much music to listen to in the week before the New Year. I'm enjoying 1981 right now. I'm trying to find any Z95 countdowns (Z95 was WLS-FM and started compiling their own charts, by 1986 I mostly listened to it instead of WLS-AM) and might compile Billboard's year-end charts, too.

The No. 1 songs for those years I have. Without even looking:

1979: My Sharona, The Knack
1980: Lost in Love, Air Supply (what kind of year was it for music that this was No. 1 on a more-rock-than-Top-40 station?)
1981: Start Me Up, The Rolling Stones
1982: Hard to Say I'm Sorry, Chicago
1983: Every Breath You Take, The Police
1984: Let's Go Crazy, Prince
1985: Sussudio, Phil Collins
1986: Sweet Freedom, Michael McDonald

Cool, huh? OK, it's official, I'm a geek.


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