Chart Week: November 6, 1982
Song: “Maneater” – Daryl Hall and John Oates
Chart Position: #36, 4th week on the chart. Peaked at #1 for three weeks in December and January.
I was hoping to turn on the local AT40 replay last weekend and hear a countdown from a Thanksgiving weekend past that would stir up some holiday-themed memories. Alas the station that plays the countdowns had already switched to Christmas music, and the countdown was one of the special Christmas shows that Casey did late in his life. He sounded very old and ill in the few seconds I listened.
With that not helping me, and the Sirius countdown from 1988, I decided to hop back a few weeks to a countdown I bookmarked just in case I needed something. Turns out it was perfect.
I strongly connect songs to times of year. If I heard a song at the pool in the summer of 1983, I will always think of that as a summer song. Thus, despite having singles scattered all through the calendar, I always think of Hall and Oates as a fall band. That’s because my three favorite songs of theirs were huge hits in three consecutive holiday seasons. “Out of Touch” was dominating in 1984. An uncle from New York rode with my mom and I out to central Kansas for Thanksgiving that year, and he had a copy of H&O’s Big Bam Boom that we listened to over-and-over. Christmas 1983 saw the peak of “Say It Isn’t So,” my favorite Hall and Oates track.
Thanksgiving 1982 kicked off that run. I remember that being a year when my mom and I drove out to her parents overnight, something we did on occasion. I would get home from school, watch some TV, make dinner, attempt to nap but fail, and when my mom got home from her second job around 10:30 she would make a pot of coffee, pack up the car, and hit the road around midnight. There was less traffic, AM radio reception was better meaning we could listen to good music the whole way, and we would arrive at my grandparents’ right around breakfast time. I would doze throughout the night while my mom powered away in the driver’s seat.
As the Kansas City radio stations would fade out the signal from WLS in Chicago was always easy to find on those chilly autumn nights. Many of my earliest radio memories are of listening to WLS and the various St. Louis pop stations we could receive after dark when we lived in southeast Missouri. So listening to WLS was like finding an old friend. They were playing basically the same music as Q–104 and ZZ–99 in Kansas City, but there was something about hearing those songs from Chicago that made them seem bigger, more important, and even more universal. The whole world could be hearing these songs, not just weird kids in Kansas City.
I know we heard “Maneater” several times on that six hour drive. That loping bass line grabbing my attention even if I was drifting off with my head against the window. I swear I remember NBC using it as bumper music during its Thanksgiving Day football game, which I thought was pretty cool, too.
By Thanksgiving week “Maneater” was in the top ten, about a month before it topped the chart. This countdown I heard a couple weeks back was the song’s first week in the top 40. Casey commented about it surely being another big hit for the Philly duo. He was pretty smart, that Casey.
I remember a few friends of mine not liking “Maneater.” They claimed the song was literally about a woman that would eat men. “That’s disgusting!” Eleven year old boys aren’t always the brightest humans. I knew, thanks to listening to Casey, that the song wasn’t about a modern cannibal, but rather about the pressures of living in New York City. I think I tried to argue this with some kids on the bus one day, but was told I was an idiot. I’m not saying I understood metaphor and allegory all that well; I was just going along with what I heard on the radio. Those other kids, though, clearly hadn’t developed their literary minds yet to take songs any way other than literally.
One more memory from that weekend that isn’t related to the song at all. I borrowed a friend’s Dungeons & Dragons basic players manual for the break. You know, the one with the red cover that you had to start with. I say borrowed when, in fact, I kind of snuck out of school with it on Wednesday. I had borrowed it during the day and, conveniently, decided not to swing by his locker as we left the building for the holiday. My goal was to copy every page and then give it back to him on Monday. I indeed spent that weekend at my grandparents’ home in central Kansas doing exactly that. I was frustrated because I didn’t have the different sided dice I needed to roll up characters. I was nervous when I gave it back to him on Monday. He told me he had been pissed when we left school, but he was cool with my by Monday. This was all extra dumb because a month later I got the D&D basic game for Christmas.
Oh, one more quick thing: this was the year I nearly got arrested before Thanksgiving for throwing snowballs at cars and hitting an unmarked police car. Good times!
Here’s to hoping you, or even better your kids, make some musical memories this week they will still be thinking about in 30 years.