I remember with fondness those Saturday mornings back in the 90s when, before we owned our own ghettoblasters, my sisters and I (and my mom) would drop everything we were doing and race downstairs to the kitchen to control the big bad radio when Shadoe Stevens’ American Top 40 came on. This was one of the few things Radio 5 did right back in the 90s. Oh the joy of being able to capture a song from start to finish – without interruption from the radio host or an electronic voice announcing what number the song on the chart was. I remember my mom working out that the best way to tape the song was to have the record button permanently engaged along with the pause button and then only releasing the pause button to start and finish recording. You see, to record you had to really put your back into depressing the record and play buttons simultaneously. How far we have come. I remember the feeling of my heart racing, hoping and praying that this would be the Saturday I’d capture Wilson Philips’ ‘Hold On’ successfully. None of us had a clear recording and we all wanted it. And then there were those fluke moments when you might be casually making a sandwich in the kitchen and one of your songs would come on. You would squeal with delight and glee and call everyone who would come running to enjoy and bask in your glory. If they liked the same song that is.
I think we eventually worked out a taping roster – the fights got quite intense. Especially when it turned out that while it was say Nomzi’s turn to tape the show, Zanele wanted to record a song that Nomzi didn’t want and then this argument would be followed by a flurry of deftly exchanging tapes before the song started and getting it out of there before Nomzi missed the song that followed. Eventually we each got our own radios — but Saturdays were never as festive as we all locked ourselves in our respective rooms for three hours indulging our ears. ‘Did you get it did you get it?’ one of us would occasionally pop our heads out our rooms and scream down the corridor to the other one, boasting that I’d managed to get the whole song. You see toilet breaks, making tea for parents, tidying up… all threatened to make us miss that track.
And oh the depression that would ensue that Saturday when it turned out that Shadoe Stevens was on holiday or the station didn’t manage to get the recording to air or whatever the reason and Ursula Stapelfeldt would fill in. Nothing against Ursh but we loved Shadoe so much and it was almost like the weekend was starting off on a very flat note.
So anyway, thinking about all those tunes that bring back such a warm rush of almost liquid emotion threatening to spill over has inspired me to create a list of my greatest songs of all time. Songs that have made me feel that squishy and warm and inside and completely spellbound. And I thought I’d kick off with one of my all-time favourites. Watch out for that list coming out soon. It’s going to be a painful process but dammit, it’s going to be helluva fun! Suggestions welcome.