Hi everyone. Hope you are all well and continue to stay that way during this global health crisis we are facing. But in addition to protecting your physical wellness, what are you doing to stay mentally healthy today?
(Image found online. Original source unknown.)
I know we are still facing a serious situation but a new year gives us hope for the new days, seasons, opportunities & moments ahead. Still, music is something that will never change for me. It is my refuge, the most comforting part of my life & the one thing I consistently count on. So until a more normal semblance of life returns, I am going to share a song I listen to that helps me escape the current state of things, if only for a few minutes each day. And if this helps anyone else, even better.
On April 27, 1932 the man I had a standing date with every Sunday for most of my teenage years was born. Kemal Amin Kasem, known professionally as Casey Kasem, was born 89 years ago in Michigan. Not only was he the voice of Shaggy on Scooby-Doo and NBC announcements but he was also the DJ who hosted the weekly radio countdown program, American Top 40 (AT 40) for nearly three decades. And at the risk of sounding like a heathen, for years that show was more important to me than church. Music had become my faith my religion, my truth & my light. And Kasem led the way there each & every week.
His career in radio started when he became a sports announcer in high school. He continued on various radio programs when he was in college and for Armed Forces Radio while he was stationed in Korea during his time in the U.S. Army. Once he returned home he became a DJ for a station in Flint, Michigan. He bounced around several stations & states throughout the 1960’s and even took on small acting parts both on & off radio which led to his Scooby-Doo gig in 1969.
AT 40 started July 4, 1970. Kasem created the show with three other men as a means to boost Top 40 radio which was in decline then due to the emergence of album oriented rock (AOR) radio. Classic rock became my preferred choice of music by the time I was 12, but staying up to date with current songs & artists was important to me, too. Kasem offered behind the music information to listeners along with the chart progression of each song. Week after week, it was just Kasem & the records-no special guests or interviews needed. The music said everything that needed to be said. And in the rare moments that it didn’t, Kasem filled in the blanks.
Occasionally a song from outside the Top 40 was played, mostly in the form of the long distance dedication. For that Kasem would read a letter from a listener who would request a song for someone they were thinking of. I must admit I was not a fan of that part of the show. The message & the tunes were either too sappy or too maudlin for me. Plus they took precious time away from the real music on the chart. But when they were over, Kasem would recite one of his most famous lines: “And now, on with the countdown”.
The show ran until 1988 at which time Kasem signed a multi-million dollar deal to host a new show, Casey’s Top 40. Shadoe Stevens took over AT 40 which was cancelled in 1995. Kasem still owned the rights to the show’s name and revived it in 1998. He stayed until 2003 when Ryan Seacrest took over. It continues today, although the way sales are calculated now is as different as the industry is in this era of downloads & streaming services. But for me, nothing beat buying a new 45 record & finding out if I helped that song move up on the charts.
So in honor of Kasem & what he created, today I chose a song from the year the countdown started, 1970. I have already featured seven #1 songs from that year so I found one that hit the #2 spot to highlight. It is by the band Creedence Clearwater Revival (CCR) which was another group I enjoyed a lot, yet were on my periphery.
Their fifth album, Cosmo’s Factory, was released July 8, 1970 & included several of CCR’s well known songs: “Looking Out My Back Door”, “Run Through The Jungle”, “Up Around The Bend”, their cover of Marvin Gaye’s hit “I Heard It Through The Grapevine”, “Travelin’ Band” and its B side which is today’s song. And thanks to a local radio station which recently started playing classic AT 40 episodes every Sunday night, I still get to keep my weekly date with Kasem. He changed radio forever in the 1970’s & 1980’s & kept us all “reaching for the stars”.
“Heard the singers playin’
How we cheered for more
The crowd had rushed together
Tryin’ to keep warm“. .
Top: Casey Kasem at the mic circa 1970. Bottom: CCR’s 1970 album. (Images found online. Original sources unknown.)
Creedence Clearwater Revival: “Who’ll Stop The Rain” (1970. written by John Fogerty).
I do not own the rights to anything. I am just sharing what I love and how I am coping with you.