It Happened to Me Music

The Soundtrack from My Personal Coming-Of-Age Film

[via Daimnation!] Damian Penny picked up the meme, and I’m running with it:

…find the Top 100 songs from the year you graduated from high school,

list ’em on your site, highlight the ones you like and cross out the

ones you hate. You underline your favorite, and ignore the ones to

which you’re kind of indifferent.

That’s a tricky one for me: the Billboard Top 100 for 1987 is hardly representative of what I was listening to back then:

  • The Dead Milkmen: Eat Your Paisley
  • The Smiths: Strangeways Here We Come / Louder Than Bombs / The World Won’t Listen
  • Sigue Sigue Sputnik: Flaunt It
  • Indochine: Au Zenith
  • Level 42: True Colours / A Physical Presence / Running in the Family
  • Scritti Politti: Cupid & Psyche ’85

  • Joy Division: Substance
  • New Order: Substance
  • Kate Bush: Hounds of Love
  • Beastie Boys: Licensed to Ill
  • Jesus and Mary Chain: Psychocandy
  • Violent Femmes: Violent Femmes
  • Specimen: Batastrophe
  • Generation X: Kiss Me Deadly
  • Public Image Ltd.: Album
  • XTC: Skylarking
  • Images in Vogue
  • Skinny Puppy
  • Big Audio Dynamite: This is Big Audio Dynamite
  • Ministry, when Alain Jorgensen was still singing with his fake British accent

The CFNY playlist for that year (the former name of what is now “102.1 The Edge”;

it was a better and more eclectic station back then) would be a better

list to work from. Still, here’s my run at the Billboard Top 100, with

a couple of stories to boot.

Scroll down to the end of this entry for a special musical treat!

1. “Faith”…..George Michael

didn’t pay much attention to this song when it came out in 1987. It

would take another three years before it came onto my musical radar.

As I’ve mentioned a million zillion times before, I was from the first generation of regular DJs at Clark Hall Pub, a pub run by the engineering students at Crazy Go Nuts University. With the help of supportive managers like Ryan, George, “Beeker” and other great DJs like “Turner”, Lisa, “Archie” and “Johnny O”, we turned the pub into the place you went to when you were tired of the standard musical fare.

Our strong tendency towards alt-rock didn’t mean that we avoided the

classic rock or pop tunes; we just provided a more interesting mix of

songs. It wasn’t unusual to hear a set in which ABBA’s Dancing Queen was followed by Ministry’s Jesus Built My Hotrod, or have KMFDM’s industrial dance hit Godlike followed by Right Said Fred’s I’m Too Sexy (or to see our resident nice-guy skinhead Glen Sloan and me go-go dancing on top of the DJ booth to both).

Certain cheese-pop songs, like the aforementioned I’m Too Sexy or Boney M’s Rasputin

had wide cross-over appeal. Whenever one of these tunes came on, people

rushed the dance floor, whether they were popsters, classic rockers,

alt-rock snobs or one of our small but loyal contingent of goths. My

friend Leesh (then one of our gang, now George’s wife) used to call

songs that appealed to you despite your knowing better “the secret top

ten — songs you’re too cool to like”.

The big “secret top ten song” at Clark Hall Pub was George Michael’s Faith.

One of the managers had bought the album from a bargain bin at the

local CD store and added it to the pub’s then-small music library.

Someone had played Faith on a lark and it turned out to be an

unexpected hit. A little while later, a tradition had formed: as soon

as you heard the opening organ intro — a pipe-organ treatment of the

Wham! song (I Don’t Want Your) Freedom

— you had to stand on your chair. As soon as the guitar chords

started, you clasped your hands above your head and did pelvic thrusts

in homage to George Michael’s dance moves.

This song brings back happy memories: sitting in the DJ booth (arguably

the best seat in the house), high-fiving the guys, chatting up the

girls and enjoying my favourite cocktail at the time: Crown Royal and

cranberry juice*.

* To my father-in-law, who is also an aficionado of Crown Royal: Hey, I was young then.

2. “Alone”…..Heart
3. “I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)” …..Whitney Houston
4. “C’est la Vie”…..Robbie Nevil
5. “Shake You Down”…..Gregory Abbott
6. “La Bamba”…..Los Lobos
7. “Livin’ On A Prayer”…..Bon Jovi
8. “Here I Go Again”…..Whitesnake
9. “Heaven Is A Place On Earth”…..Belinda Carlisle
10. “(I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life”…..Bill Medley & Jennifer Warnes
11. “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now”…..Starship
12. “I Think We’re Alone Now”…..Tiffany
13. “With Or Without You”…..U2
14. “At This Moment”…..Billy Vera and the Beaters
15. “Keep Your Hands To Yourself”…..Georgia Satellites
16. “Heart And Soul”…..T’Pau
17. “Open Your Heart”…..Madonna
18. “Didn’t We Almost Have It All”…..Whitney Houston
19. “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”…..U2
20. “Looking For A New Love”…..Jody Watley
21. “Don’t Dream It’s Over”…..Crowded House
22. “Is This Love”…..Whitesnake
23. “Shake Your Love”…..Debbie Gibson
24. “Shakedown”…..Bob Seger
25. “Notorious”…..Duran Duran
26. “I Want Your Sex”…..George Michael
27. “The Lady In Red”…..Chris DeBurgh
28. “Always”…..Atlantic Starr
29. “Head To Toe”…..Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam

30. “Mony Mony”…..Billy Idol

1987, I was the keyboard player in A.K.A., a band made up of my friends

from high school. Our set list had a large number of Billy Idol

numbers, and to this day I retain a lot of useless information about

Billy (some examples: his real name is William Broad, his girlfriend at

the time was Perry Lister, his hit Dancing with Myself is actually

borrowed from his old band, Generation X and in his “unauthorized

biography”, he claimed to be fond of German expressionistic cinema).

Mony Mony was probably one of our better numbers, and as the keyboard player, the instrumental gave me an opportunity to shine.

I have heard a handful of theories as to why one should shout “Hey

motherfucker, get laid, get fucked!” (the north Toronto alternate with

less cussing was “Oy, bubby, zaidy, get bagels, get lox!”) after every

line in the verses. My favourite one is that the original — performed

by Tommy James and the Shondells — was on the radio when Billy lost

his virginity.

31. “Only In My Dreams”…..Debbie Gibson
32. “Land Of Confusion”…..Genesis
33. “Lost In Emotion”….Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam
34. “Should’ve Known Better”…..Richard Marx
35. “You Keep Me Hanging On”…..Kim Wilde
36. “Touch Me (I Want Your Body)”…..Samantha Fox
37. “Lean On Me”…..Club Nouveau
38. “Catch Me (I’m Falling)”…..Poison
39. “I Knew You Were Waiting”…..Aretha Franklin & George Michael
40. “(I Just) Died In Your Arms”…..Cutting Crew
41. “Control”…..Janet Jackson
42. “Somewhere Out There”…..Linda Ronstadt & James Ingram
43. “U Got The Look”…..Prince
44. “Don’t You Want Me”…..Jody Watley
45. “Jacob’s Ladder”…..Huey Lewis and the News
46. “I Heard A Rumour”…..Bananarama
47. “Little Lies”…..Fleetwood Mac
48. “Songbird”…..Kenny G

49. “Breakout”…..Swing Out Sister

cute funky 80’s brit-pop bauble by a competent but otherwise

unremarkable band. It’s probably more notable for the memories

associated with it.

I had completed all my required high school courses by the end of 1986.

In the second half of the school year — the first half of 1987 — a

had only one course on my schedule: THM 5A0, an experimental technical

course called “Pneumatics, Hydraulics and Robotics”. This course had a

class three times a week and consisted of three hours of classes plus a

little extra lab time for labs. (My final assignment: a programmable

deep-frying vending machine. Genius!)

This incredibly light schedule meant that I had copious amounts of

spare time. Some of it I spent working part-time as a clerk in the

Investigations department of the Investment Dealers’ Association of Canada,

preparing reports on deliquent investment brokers. I learned more about

the strock market in those six months than I did in several business

courses at Crazy Go Nuts University.

The rest of the time was spent partying at McGill University, where my

sister did her undergrad studies. About every two or three weeks, I’d

roadtrip to Montreal with my sister’s then-boyfriend Boober (his real

name was Robert; he didn’t like the nickname “Bob” and I thought “Rob”

was too pedestrian for him). Boober would then spend some quality time

with sis, while I’d party with her floormates. I would often facilitate

their partying by doing their Thursday night computer science

assignments while they got primped to go out.

I got involved with one of these floormates, which constituted my


serious relationship, which led to my first relationship near-disaster

and was quickly followed by my first

I’d-do-it-again-although-it-was-probably-ill-advised relationship. (It

was with her younger sister. Long story. I should blog it.) The

whole experience was bittersweet — thankfully more sweet than bitter

in the end — and it gave me some experience dating American girls,

which would eventually pay off.

Getting back to the inspiration for this bit of nostalgia: Swing Out Sister’s Breakout was a hit around that time.

50. “Someday”…..Glass Tiger
51. “Bad”…..Michael Jackson
52. “In Too Deep:…..Genesis
53. “I Just Can’t Stop Loving You”…..Michael Jackson & Siedah Garrett
54. “La Isla Bonita”…..Madonna
55. “Let’s Wait Awhile”…..Janet Jackson
56. “Luka”…..Suzanne Vega
57. “You Got It All”…..The Jets
58. “Who’s That Girl”…..Madonna
59. “Don’t Mean Nothing”…..Richard Marx
60. “Come On With Me”…..Expose
61. “Will You Still Love Me?”…..Chicago
62. “Wanted Dead Or Alive”…..Bon Jovi
63. “Don’t Disturb This Groove”…..The System
64. “Change Of Heart”…..Cyndi Lauper
65. “Rhythm Is Gonna Get You”…..Gloria Estefan and Miami Sound Machine
66. “Casanova”…..Levert
67. “When Smokey Sings”…..ABC
68.”Is This Love”…..Survivor
69. “The Finer Things”…..Steve Winwood
70. “Rock Steady”…..The Whispers
71. “Big Time”…..Peter Gabriel
72. “Point Of No Return”…..Expose
73. “We’ll Be Together”…..Sting
74. “Something So Strong”…..Crowded House
75. “Victory”…..Kool and the Gang
76. “The One I Love”……R.E.M.
77. “Causing A Commotion”…..Madonna
78. “Sign O’ The Times”…..Prince
79. “Carrie”…..Europe
80. “Mandolin Rain”…..Bruce Hornsby and the Range
81. “Tonight, Tonight, Tonight”…..Genesis
82. “Can’t We Try”…..Dan Hill with Vonda Sheppard
83. “Diamonds”…..Herb Albert
84. “Heart Of The Night”…..Bryan Adams
85. “Let Me Be The One”…..Expose
86. “Brilliant Disguise”…..Bruce Springsteen
87. “Midnight Blue”…..Lou Gramm
88. “Just To See Her”…..Smokey Robinson
89. “Doing It All For My Baby”…..Huey Lewis and the News
90. “Valerie”…..Steve Winwood
91. “Cross My Broken Heart”…..The Jets
92. “Ballerina Girl”…..Lionel Richie
93. “Nothing’s Gonna Change My Love For You”…..Glenn Medeiros
94. “It’s A Sin”…..Pet Shop Boys
95. “I’ve Been In Love Before”…..Cutting Crew
96. “Wipeout”…..Fat Boys & Beach Boys
97. “Big Love”…..Fleetwood Mac
98. “Respect Yourself”…..Bruce Willis
99. “Who Will You Run To?…..Heart
100. “Right On Track”…..Breakfast Club

The special musical treat: Billy Idol and Simple Minds make up part of

the soundtrack of my youth and the impressive tape collection I kept in

the Deathmobile (my 1983 Volvo wagon). How’d you like to hear the two

of them in one song? Here’s Billy Idol’s cover of the Simple Minds hit,

Don’t You (Forget About Me) [4.5MB, MP3] taken from his “Greatest Hits” album released a couple of years ago. Enjoy!

8 replies on “The Soundtrack from My Personal Coming-Of-Age Film”

Didn’t you once write a while ago that you’d graduated in 1986 and NOT 1987? Did you do grade 14? If so, why?

Hi Joey,

As someone who occupied that same DJ booth (well, before there was a booth, it was a couple of risers on their sides) ahead of you, I like to think the groundwork for the ABBA->Ministry segue was well laid. However, I will indulge you your version of history.

Facinating blog. Keep up the fine work.

I think my weekend will be occupied with putting together my annotated Billboard 100 from 1985.

Now, where did I put all those cassettes….


Holy crap, it’s Colin Climie! Not only my favourite first-gen Clark Hall Pub DJ, but also my favourite electrical engineering lab demo and inventor of the beer-towel-patched jeans!

Glad to “see” you again, dude!

joey…i love when you write about clark. it really was the only option on campus. that or mondays at dollar bills (eeeesh!) i have a photo of you in the dj booth…wanna copy?


OMG- I loved, loved, loved XTC’s Skylarking back then, and I’d completely forgotten about them until today. Thank you!

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