Activities & Events, Music in the 50's

The Great 88 Experience!

Being enamored of 50’s music, one of the shows I listen to is “The Grooveyard” on WCWP 88.1 FM. WCWP is a public radio station out of Brookville, NY. Every Saturday evening from 7pm to 9pm (4 – 6 Pacific) D.J. Alan Seltzer hosts a show featuring hits from the 50’s and 60’s, including a Top 10 countdown from various years (not extending past the year 1963). The Grooveyard is “where oldies come alive” which is good enough for me, but what’s even better is when they have listener surveys.

I participated in the 2018 Summer Song Survey and I was even more excited to participate in the Seventh Annual Grooveyard Great 88! I think 88 is great for more than one reason. It’s 88.1 FM and 88 MPH is also the speed that the DeLorean in Back to the Future had to go in order to travel through time. Pretty neat, huh?

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One thing to know, however, is that the voting in The Great 88 survey was a lot more complicated than the Summer Song Survey, which only consisted of one single ballot. This survey not only had several parts, but TWO ROUNDS as well. Let me attempt to explain:

The Survey:

Round ONE:

In the First Round, we had a certain amount of days (usually a week) where we could vote for songs from a certain year. Listeners could vote for up to 10 songs per year, once per day until that section closed.

At the end of each voting section, Alan Seltzer posted the Top 5 Results of each survey on WCWP’s website. But that was only Round One!

Round TWO:

In the Final Round, there were three more surveys: Years 1957 and Before, 1958-1960 and finally, 1961 – 1963. You could choose up to 15 songs per list and you could vote every day (once per 24 hours) from November 14th to December 8th.

After months of voting tirelessly in this most extensive survey, the Big Day finally arrived. On Saturday, December 29, 2018, Alan Seltzer counted down the Top 88 Songs in the order they were voted for by listeners.

The Show:

I tuned in at about 4:05 Pacific time to hear Elvis singing “Love Me Tender”. It was number 87, so I’d only missed the first song before it. The show was scheduled to be 2 hours longer than normal, a total of FIVE hours to countdown all 88 songs (plus pay props to some of the 12 songs that didn’t make it and some bonus songs thrown in by Alan) I was hoping my MacBook Air was up to the challenge and would not overheat. Fortunately, it was a cold evening in Santa Rosa so that helped.

For the first hour, I listened to the show as I tried on some new clothes I bought myself for Christmas. One was a new dress from Heart of Haute that makes me look like Harriet Nelson four months pregnant. I LOVE IT! (Well, I could do without the pregnant part. I guess I can wear support top hose.)

As I tried on my new treasures, I grooved to hits such as “Searchin'” by The Coasters, “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” by Jerry Lee Lewis and “Sorry (I Ran All The Way Home)” by The Impalas. I voted for “Whole Lotta Shakin”” and “Sorry” in the First Round, but not in the Finals.

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Jerry Lee Lewis rockin’ a top a piano, circa late 50’s

 

Next was the “first of many” (as Alan said!) Buddy Holly songs on this year’s countdown! “Think It Over” was number 61. This was followed by “Heartbeat” at number 55 which was back to back with one of my favorites, “It Doesn’t Matter Anymore.”

At that point, I was beginning to sense that Alan was somewhat surprised at the amount of Buddy Holly songs on the countdown. And I was like, “Why? Doesn’t Buddy Holly always have a lot of songs on the countdown?” I mean, he was the best, so it just seems natural.

Anyway. That’s when my patient, loving family and I were having dinner and listening to the show. “Poor Little Fool” (Ricky Nelson), “Bird Dog” (The Everly Brothers) and “A Teenager In Love” (Dion and The Belmonts) followed in that order for numbers 53, 52, and 51. All ones I voted for!

When “Sea of Love” by Phil Phillips came on, my Dad remembered that I voted for it in the 2018 Summer Song Survey. I thought that was nice of him to remember. However, I did not vote for it at all in the Great 88. It was number 49.

 

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“Sea of Love” by Phil Phillips was Number 2 in the 2018 Summer Song Survey on WCWP’s The Grooveyard.

 

Number 47 on this year’s Great 88 was “Maybe Baby” by Buddy Holly and The Crickets! And Alan said something like:  “Are you keeping track of ALL the Buddy Holly songs in the countdown this year?” That tickled me. I almost expected him to say:

“FOUR FOR YOU, BUDDY HOLLY! YOU GO, BUDDY HOLLY!”

Alright, now that the obligatory Mean Girls reference is out of the way… Let’s continue.

Next up were more Rock n Roll Pioneers: Little Richard (with “Lucille”) and Chuck Berry! But my Wi-Fi didn’t seem to like “Johnny B. Goode” and cut out just as the classic guitar riff at the beginning came on. I had to take my computer back upstairs and re-connect. But not a problem, I didn’t miss a thing.

The next of my votes was number 40 with “Rave On!”. This should have been in the Top 20 at least, and do I need to say it’s by Buddy Holly? Because, if you’re reading this, you should already know that. Once again, D.J. Alan Seltzer seemed somewhat perplexed at the number of songs by The Father of Rock n Roll. But as far as I’m concerned, no countdown is complete without lots of Buddy Holly. Rave on!

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Buddy Holly (purrr!) in Clovis, NM. circa 1958.

 

“Great Balls of Fire” by Jerry Lee Lewis slipped from its number 6 slot in 2017 to number 37. I wonder what happened? It’s a fantastic song, and yes, I picked it in the Finals.

At number 34, D.J. Alan Seltzer said: “It’s Buddy Holly. AGAIN.” and the song was “Everyday”. I thought to myself, “Yep! That’s when I voted. Everyday.”  So then I wondered… Did that really make a difference? I mean, could my obsessive-compulsive overly loyal voting habits have caused part of this? Had I influenced the outcome of the 2018 Great 88 Survey that much? And if so, is that a crime? What’s next for me? Cutting off the “Do Not Remove” tag from my mattress?

During “Everyday”, I had the sound all the way up on my Mac and the synthesizer solo came through something fierce! Who knew that an innocent, lullaby-like musical interlude could hurt your ears so much. If my pet bird Micki had been here, his head would have exploded.

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Micki (1992-2014)

 

Okay. So Alan said he was surprised by all the Buddy Holly songs on this year’s countdown. But the biggest surprise, he said, was that Del Shannon’s “Runaway” went from number 10 allll the way down to number 30. Poor Del. I mean, I hate that song, but poor Del. Although don’t get me wrong, I respect it as a classic. I remember it being one of the most popular choices on the juke when I used to frequent retro-themed diners in my youth.

The Everly Brothers made number 29 with “‘Til I Kissed You” which is about the sweetest song a guy could possibly sing to a gal. And even better, we were in the Top 20 now which meant closer to the Top 10. Of course, in The Great 88, songs go in sets of 11’s (because 8 x 11 = 88, at least, that’s what my calculator tells me.)

The next Buddy Holly (well, technically Crickets) song was “Oh Boy!” coming in at number 18 on the countdown. Alan said that it was the NINTH of the Buddy Holly songs on the countdown this year and that SET A RECORD for the most songs by an artist ever on the Grooveyard Great 88! I was at a loss for words, which is actually a good thing because no one was around anyway… but I was thrilled!

Numbers 17, 16, 15 and 14 were “Angel Baby” (Rosie and The Originals), “The Wah Watusi” (The Orlons), “He’s So Fine” (The Chiffons), and “Duke of Earl” (Gene Chandler), respectively. All 60’s songs, but I like “Duke of Earl” because it reminds me of the re-run of “Cheers” I saw when Cliff Clavin sings it with the other Cheers guys. I’d totally have voted for it if I were into the 60’s.

 

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L-R: Norm (George Wendt), Cliff Clavin (John Ratzenburger) and Frasier (Kelsey Grammer) perform “Duke of Earl” on an episode of “Cheers”. (screen cap from YouTube)

 

Number 13 was the 10th Buddy Holly song on this year’s countdown: “That’ll Be The Day” which is probably my favorite song in the whole wide world. I’d hoped it would make it into the Top 5, but number 13 is pretty good… In 2017 it only reached number 48 which is a sin, but let’s not dwell on bygones. I was sitting on my bed and tapping to the beat, when my Kuromi Pyoconoru hanging plush suddenly flipped off the flat screen of my TV and did a face-plant into the DVD player below, completely defying the laws of physics. The TV is on my desk, next to the bed, but I guess the vibration caused it to fall. Still, it should have fallen backwards, behind the screen, like the Hello Kitty one did. And not only did it fall forward, it somehow managed to flip in the air so the head was facing the screen when it landed. This freaked me out somewhat and distracted me, but I figured that although strange, it was nothing paranormal. So I went back to listing to the show.

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Kuromi takes a fall that defies physics.

 

Number 12 was “Will You Love Me Tomorrow” by The Shirelles. Yawn… BUT NOW finally, we’d made it to the Top 11 and Alan was about to reveal the FINAL set of songs in The Grooveyard’s Great 88 Survey for 2018!

Up until that point, I had not been nervous. But now, I was beginning to get very, very nervous. Nervous in sort of a good way, but nervous none-the-less. What would be Number One? Alan was dropping hints about this year’s survey being different, and I was trying to decode what he was saying, but we had to wait and see!

The Top 11:

Number 11 was “Wake Up Little Susie” by Don and Phil (The Everly Brothers, if you are not so savvy)… That song catapulted up from number 77 on last year’s survey and I’m not even going to begin to try and do the math on that one. But there you go.

 

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The Everly Brothers’ “Wake Up Little Susie” jumped 66 spots up from last year’s countdown.

 

And then… Number 10. Alan’s favorite Buddy Holly song and the eleventh song by Buddy Holly on the countdown this year… “True Love Ways”. Alan is right. It is beautiful. Buddy wrote that song for his wife, Maria Eléna… You know, I never looked in the mirror, but I bet when I hear this song, I have the same look on my face that Gretchen Wieners had when she didn’t get any candy canes in Mean Girls.

 

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So, okay. I need to get over myself. Not every woman can be lucky enough to have the love of her life write her a beautiful, romantic hit song. But I’m just sayin’, it would have been nice!

When the song ended, (with Buddy’s Texas drawl gently twanging the word “ways”) D.J. Alan Seltzer again declared it as his favorite Buddy Holly song. Then he said to us listeners: “You guys have great taste.”

So did I vote for it or not? Wouldn’t you like to know. 🙂

Alright people! The kitten whispers and tickle fights end now! We’re in the Top 10, and this is serious business! In surveys such as this, the competition is fierce and I had a very special song in mind for Number One. As we approached the Great 88 Finale, my pulse began to quicken and I began to sweat, even with the room at a chilly 70 degrees…

Number 9 was “The Locomotion”. I thought that was an 80’s song? No matter. I’m not sure how or why it made it to number 9, but let’s get to 8. “True Love Ways” again. No. It was a glitch and it accidentally began playing. Number 8 was actually “Be My Baby” by The Ronettes, another one on the Dirty Dancing soundtrack. Hmm. Number 7. “A Hundred Pounds of Clay” by some dude named Gene McDaniels. Never heard of it. Number 6. “My True Story” by Jive Five, whatever that is… Number 5. “Runaround Sue” by Dion. YES! I love that song. It’s one of my favorite songs in the broad spectrum of things even though it’s technically from 1961.

And that meant…

ONLY FOUR SONGS TO GO!!!

I STILL hadn’t heard the song I was hoping might possibly be the new Number One. Could it be… Would it be…???

Number 4 was “In The Still of The Night” by the Five Satins which means that the song I had in mind had to be in the Top 3, because I knew it must have made the survey, it always does. And with this year’s inexplicable surge in Buddy Holly’s popularity, it had a pretty good chance. A pretty, pretty, pretty good chance. (If you get what I’m hinting at.)

Number 3 was “I Wonder Why” by Dion and The Belmonts. Excellent choice. But I was too nervous to enjoy it this time. With just two songs remaining, I began to tremble with anticipation. Alan said that if we thought this next one was Number One, because we hadn’t heard it yet, we were wrong… and Number 2 was “Earth Angel” by The Penguins.

OMG… That left the song I had in mind free and clear to be crowned the new Number One on the Great 88 Countdown. Finally, the moment of truth. The recording announced… “NUMBER ONE!!!”

I already began to hear the guitar intro in my head… then Alan said: “The new Number One song is… The Del-Vikings with ‘Come Go With Me’!”

And the song began. “Dum, dum, dum, dum, dum… Dum dee doo dee…”

Now. I love the Del-Vikings and I love that song. But at that point, I could not have been more shocked or disappointed if the Number One song had been “Dancing Queen” by Abba.

WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED TO PEGGY SUE???

How could it not be on the countdown? I’d listened to every song, except for number 88, because I tuned in at 87… It had to be on the countdown, but where? 

I rushed over the WCWP Grooveyard official website where Alan had listed the songs on the  countdown in groups of 11 videos. Number 88 was “Little Darlin'” by The Diamonds. I clicked through the lists and there, at number 24, was “Peggy Sue”. It was just after the Del-Vikings other song “Whispering Bells” and just before Buddy Holly’s “Not Fade Away”.

 

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So that solved one mystery. But how did I miss it? I listened to the ENTIRE show! All five freakin’ hours of it. I simply don’t know where I was when “Peggy Sue” came on. It was as if I was experiencing one of those “missing time” phenomenons.

Let’s back up a bit. Picture it, my room, December 29, 2018 just after 7 pm Pacific. What was I doing around then? I remembered hearing “Whispering Bells,” but the next song after that I remember was number 23: “Not Fade Away.” I was hanging up clothes and buttoning my retro-style secretary blouse with the peplum waist. I distinctly remember grooving along to: “A love for real a-not fade away…”  According to the list, “Peggy Sue” was right before that… I don’t understand how I missed it… I didn’t go to the bathroom, my laundry was finished, I was not drinking at all that night, and I don’t smoke pot or do any other recreational drugs. And yet, here we are.

The only thing I can figure is I might have gone into the kitchen for a bit. One of my CD’s lists “Peggy Sue” at 2 minutes and 18 seconds. That’s not a lot of time to be out of a room. I guess that’s what happened? Still, it seems odd. Well, I tell ya. It’s a mystery.thealien
So there you have it. The Grooveyard Great 88 Countdown, seen through the eyes of an obsessed fan. I have to say it was a lot of fun, and Alan Seltzer is pleasure to listen to,  compared to most D.J.s. I can’t wait for the next survey which will probably be their Summer one, unless they do something in the spring. If you would like to see the official list of the Great 88 2018 Countdown complete with videos and everything, go HERE to WCWP’s Grooveyard official site at WCWP.org and enjoy!

But wait! There’s more! (If anyone is still actually reading this, that is.) In an upcoming entry, I will REVEAL the complete, uncensored list of all of the songs that I voted for in the Final Round of The Grooveyard Great 88 Survey. So stay tuned, bookmark this site, and follow Retro Dee’s Guide to The Best Era Ever here on Word Press. And remember, don’t leave the room even for a second if you’re listening to a countdown.

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I am not associated with, nor do I get paid or compensated to endorse any companies, products or productions. 

Public images, photos and media on this site are used in the fair use context. I do not claim ownership of any such images. The original owners retain all copyrights.

“Gretchen Wieners” and “Peggy Sue” graphics created at imagechef.com.