Countdowns to the Top

Photo by Skylar Kang on

This weekend was the magical time wedged between Canada Day on July 1 and Independence Day for our southern neighbours on July 4. What that means, beyond beverages on the patio (even if it’s just our patio this year), barbecue (even if we barbecue most nights of the week, most weeks of the year), is music countdowns. Heck yeah, it does.

In the summers of my youth, it meant the Top Songs of All Time on the radio, playing all weekend until Sunday night when they would reveal the Number One Song.

My dad always shook his head at us, my friends and I, as we were deciding whether Hey Jude was going to take the top spot again, or whether there was something else that might knock the Beatles off the top.

My dad: If it’s the best songs of all time, shouldn’t it be the same every year?

Us: Well yes, but if what you like changes, you might not vote the same.

Us: And you might not vote at all.

Us: And new music comes out *all the time*.

Us: And sometimes, someone ruins a song for you and you can’t listen to it anymore.

Us: But people do like classics

Then, we would discuss why DuranDuran and Echo and the Bunnymen weren’t *really* classics in the same way as the Beatles were and Led Zepplin sometimes was, and the Rolling Stones and David Bowie could be, and my dad would extricate himself from our attempts at squeezing the FM 1150 CKOC countdown into some kind of scientific method, before we even knew what scientific method was.

We used to have a similar conversation every new year’s eve, when the top 100 of the year was on. How wholesome was it that we’d collect ourselves around someone’s stereo with chips and Tahiti Treat and Wink and pizza and sing along for hours and hours and hours. It was even better if someone had gone to the local Sam the Record Man and got the Top 100 poster they gave away. Sometimes, if someone’s parent remembered that we’d want it, we peeked ahead using the newsprint version. If there were a bunch of songs we didn’t love, we could watch Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s eve from New! York! City! For a bit. On the Year End list, for a few years, anyway, our dreams of Echo and the Bunnymen and DuranDuran swirled around us like the best moments of a John Hughes movie. So good.

So this weekend, when my gentleman associate and I were in the yard, painting wicker chairs and otherwise enjoying our new patio, we hit upon the top 77 Garth Brook songs, on the SiriusFM Garth Brooks station (of course).

Me: What lunatic decided 77 was a good number for a countdown?

Gentleman Associate: Maybe it’s the anniversary of Sevens or something?

Me: Is the station marker 77? That seems like a pretty weak reason to have 77 songs. As opposed to 75 or 50 or 100.

GA: No. And I got Nothing.

Me: And who decided the order here? The whims of Garth Brooks himself?

Sidebar: Don’t get me wrong, Garth Brooks LOVES music. He’ll happily put Katie Perry in a set with Bob Seger and Miranda Lambert because Garth Says So. Followed by Gaga and James Taylor and Dolly just because. Anyone who’s listened to any of my Thursday Throwdowns knows that I’ve strung together a half hour of music with less connection than that. But I digress.

Turns out Garth’s fans voted on the list. I had some uncharitable things to say about their decisions along the way. Various highlights from the peanut section in the Casa di Swears yard may or may not have included:

–How is Beaches of Cheyenne this low on the list? Gun-hating liberals obviously voted this down.

–How is We shall be free not higher? Trump-loving Republicans obviously suppressed this.

–There better not be any of the GothGarth in this list or I’m done.

–Ugh Trisha Yearwood songs. –Yes, but this (In another’s Eyes) is a good one. –Yes, but I don’t like any of her music. I don’t have a problem with her, I just choose to not listen to her music. — I bet she makes good biscuits though, for real.

–If Friends in Low Places is not the top 5 what are we even doing here.


There was a side convo about what song we danced to at our wedding – was it The Dance, or If Tomorrow Never Comes, or Shameless? Maybe The River? Definitely not The River, he says. Twenty-four years was a long time ago. He says If Tomorrow Never comes. But I’m pretty sure it was one of the others. But as long as The River isn’t at the top of the list, we won’t have to flip the patio table. (Spoiler alert: Top 3 were The Dance, Friends in Low Places, and Callin’ Baton Rouge.)

At the end of the day (or the middle of the afternoon, as it turned out with this particular list), we were pretty happy with the top part of the chart, and the rest of the list was just as much fun to snark about as those CKOC countdowns all those years ago. I figured out that it doesn’t matter how many items are on the countdown, I just love lists. I love it when I agree with them, I love the spin-off conversations, and I love being able to boo at the choices.

While I’m glad that we are starting to round the corner on the Quarantine of 202x, I’m also glad for warm summer days with my gentleman associate in our yard. So thanks, Garth Brooks, for 77 songs (which still seems random), some quality sass, and an excellent soundtrack for our beginning-of-summer shenanigans.

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