What I miss about chart countdowns — a random mention of Air Supply over on ILM today got me to thinking about the last time I was thinking about them at all, which would have been 1983 or so. I was about two years into realizing there was a Top 40 chart and America being America that meant it was presented by Casey Kasem, who I now find out has only retired from the job or a variant of it at the start of the year. Quite happily for a while I had a little graph thing going tracking the various songs during one stretch of time, and I don’t remember much about it except that one week Bonnie Tyler’s “Total Eclipse of the Heart” and Air Supply’s “Making Love Out of Nothing At All” were going head to head for the number one spot. Later years made me realize that both were in fact Jim Steinman songs, so maybe he was my real hero as such (c’mon, Bat Out of Hell is undeniable).

The weird blend of information and ads and long-distance dedications and all that was just part of the reason when that tape of Kasem swearing his head off over a dead dog surfaced — and which I heard before Negativland had fun with it, so I guess I was keeping it real or something like that — it was so gleefully great, it was the equivalent of hearing Reagan suddenly break into a foul-mouthed rant on live TV (didn’t happen, more’s the pity, maybe then the funeral hash earlier this year would have had another talking point).

Part of me really misses weekly listening in to such stuff, which is perhaps why I adore William Swygart’s brilliant weekly takes on the British chart and the BBC show there — I still don’t know anything about ‘Wes’ except that he’s a plague unto the nations, apparently, and I’m fine with that. But in much the same reason that I could never have tried for a commercial radio DJ spot as such despite allegedly having the voice for it, I can’t bear to listen to the radio either now and thus listening to the countdown — whatever one there is, Billboard‘s I guess is still the one but there are eight million subcharts now as well — is out for me. There’s still some nostalgia to a slow sure progression up the charts, hearing what’s where and what’s now in and out, just letting it flow. But I have to admit, it’s darned nice not to have to listen to the songs I hate as well as the enjoyable ones.