Looking Back, Track by Track
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OK, so I was chatting with my buddy Tommy Tomlinson — if you haven’t signed up for his fantastic free Substack, “The Writing Shed”, you’re missing out — and as usually happens, about five different ideas emerged. It happens pretty much every time we talk.
One idea was built around a question: What song have you heard most this season?
Which led to another question: What song have I heard most in every year of my life?
Which led to this absurd post where I try, from memory, to determine the song I have heard most in every year for the last 50 years, (since I was six years old). I imagine that the song I heard most the first five years of my life was “Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star,” or “The Itsy Bitsy Spider.” So we'll start in ’73. And remember, these are not the BEST songs or even the MOST POPULAR songs, they’re just the ones I heard the most, based on where I was in my life.
And since this is presumably a sports newsletter, I’ve added a bonus where I also list who I think was the biggest athlete in American sports in each of those years. I mean, hey, why not, right? I’m going to do the first 15 years, and you can tell me if you want me to keep going, OK?
Here we go:
Song: “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree,” Tony Orlando and Dawn.
This was such a big song in our house that I remember we went to the Ohio State Fair in the hopes of seeing Tony Orlando and Dawn live. It was so crowded that we didn’t get anywhere near the stage where they performed. My only memory of that day was seeing Ronald McDonald chasing after the Hamburglar in a stirring dramatic play that I believe, but am not certain, was written by David Mamet.
Athlete: O.J. Simpson.
Kind of a bummer to start here, but this was Simpson’s 2,003-yard rushing season, and he was everywhere. I even vaguely remember him being on the show “Here’s Lucy,” which was Lucille Ball’s show with her daughter Lucie Arnaz. I cannot even begin to describe what a child of television I am.
Song: “It’s Not Unusual,” Tom Jones.
So, OK, this is from memory, and in my memory, my mother’s particular love for Tom Jones led to a LOT of Tom Jones playing in the house. It wasn’t JUST Tom Jones, of course. There was plenty of Connie Francis, Gene Pitney, Neil Sedaka, Elvis (obviously), Ricky Nelson (who, I was assured, was once as big as Elvis) and other such performers. But Tom Jones was the biggest of them all, and this was before I really started listening to the radio. There was plenty of “Delilah” and “What’s New Pussycat,” and “Green Green Grass of Home,” playing, I believe “It’s Not Unusual” was the winner. And you know what? It really isn’t unusual to be loved by anyone.