This trip in "The Time Machine" takes us to a time we were still mourning John Lennon's death & soon before Ronald Reagan was inaugurated as President. It's Sunday, January 4, 1981, & these were the local top 10 singles (I'll play them on New Jersey 101.5 just after midnight).

  • 10

    "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" by Pat Benatar

    (#10 last week) One of the most enduring songs of its era. It sounds like a woman wrote it, but no,Canadian singer/songwriter Eddie Schwartz (he had a mid-chart hit with "All My Tomorrows") penned it. Ms. Benatar turns 61 on January 10.

  • 9

    "Hungry Heart" by Bruce Springsteen

    (#8 last week) Bruce wrote this for the Ramones, but producer/manager Jon Landau convinced him to keep it for himself. Jon felt Springsteen was giving his catchiest melodies away, & this was a surefire top 40 radio hit. Correct!  (Too bad for the Ramones, who never had a hit on top 40 radio). Springsteen's voice was slightly sped-up on the recording, producing a higher-pitched vocal. Dog whistle for top 40 fans?

  • 8

    "More Than I Can Say" by Leo Sayer

    (#11 last week) If this sounds more like a song from the pre-Beatles era, you'd be right. It was written & first recorded by Sonny Curtis & Jerry Allison of Buddy Holly's Crickets, just a short time after their leader died in that tragic plane crash. Bobby Vee first charted (barely) with this in 1961, but it was a bigger hit in the U.K., & Leo Sayer remembered it when coming up with songs for his latest album.

  • 7

    "Master Blaster (Jammin')" by Stevie Wonder

    (#5 last week) Stevie's homage/salute to the late Bob Marley, whose best-known song was "Jammin", of course. This was the first single from the LP "Hotter Than July", but ironically, a hit in December & January! The words "hotter than July" are in the lyrics here, too. Strangely, this doesn't get a lot of airplay today. Don't know why.

  • 6

    "Love On The Rocks" by Neil Diamond

    (#7 last week) First single from the "Jazz Singer" soundtrack. Diamond starred in the movie (Laurence Olivier played his father!), which was critically roasted, especially for Neil's acting, but was a box-office hit, duplicating the reception given the original version in 1927 (the first "talkie")..

  • 5

    "Another One Bites The Dust" by Qjueen

    (#4 last week) Queen got R&B & disco play for the first time with this smash from their album "The Game". The song was written by Queen's John Deacon, If it sounds more than a little like Chic's 1979 #1 hit "Good Times", there's good reason. Deacon's bass line was inspired by it. In an interview, Chic co-founder Bernard Edwards said, "that Queen record came about because that Queen bass player spent some time hanging out with us in the studio". Did they give Edwards a partial royalty?

  • 4

    "Whip It" by Devo

    (#3 last week) I can't show you the original video for this some here because it's just too controversial, but you can easily find it if you want to. Devo funded that video with $15,000 of their own money. Here they are invading Merv's MOR-world.

  • 3

    "Woman In Love" by Barbra Streisand

    (#2 last week) This hit could have set a Guinness world record, believe it or not, for holding a note the longest! According to Casey on AT40, this was the longest unaltered note held by a soloist in a #1 song, though it would later be surpassed by Whitney Houston in "I Will Always Love You". BTW, the video made for this first single from the "Guilty" album was old film clips from Barbra's previous movies.

  • 2

    "(Just Like) Starting Over" by John Lennon

    (#6 last week) The original title for this song was to be simply "Starting Over", but "(Just Like)" was added at the last minute because a country song with the same title had just been released by Tammy Wynette. The length is usually about 3:54, but a promo version on vinyl was released to radio then which was a bit longer, about 4:17. This is now VERY valuable on the collector's market. STILL, to this day, when I hear those opening chimes ("Yoko's personal wishing bell"), I choke up. Oh, how I wish John could have grown old together with us. I have a feeling John would still be relevant, all over the new technology used today.

  • 1

    "Lady" by Kenny Rogers

    (#1 last week; 6th week at #1) HUGE hit, Kenny's biggest. "Lady" would prove to be an important record for both Kenny & songwriter Lionel Richie It certainly has the same feel as Richie's 80s ballads, doesn't it? It became the first single of the 80s to chart on the Hot 100 pop chart, country, AC & R&B.