My school experience as a kid was not all it could have been. I was bright and talented and sensitive, but also gawky, shy, and insecure as hell. (Oh, the more things change...) Mostly, I was lonely. I had four siblings and a number of friends, but in most areas of my life I walked my own path. My adolescent, pre-girl, pre-guitar obsessions consisted of STAR TREK, comic books, and radio (TV was more a necessity than a hobby). For a few years my most prized possession was a crummy little AM clock radio, not unlike the one pictured above, and night or day you would find me tuned into New York City's 77 WABC, 66 WNBC, or 710 WOR. The first two stations were for music, but WOR was the home of my beloved CBS Radio Mystery Theater, hosted by E.G. Marshall.
As for music: in the days before I could afford my own records, and before I had formed any real opinions on what kind of music I liked, I listened loyally to WABC and WNBC, the former having once been the biggest and most famous Top 40 radio station in the country, and the latter known best for launching Howard Stern into stardom. On fall nights, that crummy little clock radio was a comfort to a kid who was mostly fraught with fear about the impending school day, and for some reason some songs stand out in my memory more than others -- not because I liked all of them all that much, certainly, but because they were played so often they got stuck between my ears. So when you go through this list, think of these songs not as old nostalgic favorites but as companions, for better or worse, on nights when I most needed to keep my heart from faltering.
1. The Eagles, "New Kid in Town"
2. Leo Sayer, "You Make Me Feel Like Dancing"
3. Electric Light Orchestra, "Do Ya"
4. Andrew Gold, "Lonely Boy"
5. Bob Welch, "Sentimental Lady"
6. Diana Ross, "Theme from Mahogany"
7. Donna Summer, "Last Dance"
8. Aerosmith, "Dream On"
9. Kansas, "Dust in the Wind"
10. Carole King, "It's Too Late"
UPDATE: Rich Kurlantzick, one of my older brother's schoolfriends, posted his own list on my Facebook wall, so seeing as he went to all that effort I am adding it here.
1. Gerry Rafferty, "Baker Street"
2. 10cc, "I'm Not in Love"
3. Pablo Cruise, "Love Will Find A Way"
4. Bob Seger, "Night Moves"
5. Looking Glass, "Brandy"
6. America, "Ventura Highway"
7. Jackson Browne, "Fountain of Sorrow"
8. Steely Dan, "Rikki Don't Lose That Number"
9. Donna Summer, "MacArthur Park"
10. Earth, Wind, and Fire, "September"