Being a teenager, just about anywhere in America meant having your ear at least partially glued to your radio. The British Invasion was going full blast, and every week some new band, some new record, some new sound, was demanding your attention – because you didn’t want to be left out. And being “in the know” was crucial. It was who you were.
And every Top-40 station in every city and town in the country had some secret inroad to what was happening in Britain – some exclusive correspondent, some inside information, some fly-on-the-wall at Abbey Road, some eyewitness account of a Beatles sighting. It was all part of the ritual of being a teenager in 1965; being part of what would become the biggest consumer market in American history.
And while your local radio stations were in pitch-battle to get “the exclusive-never-heard-anywhere” new single by everyone from The Beatles to Herman’s Hermits, you were becoming interested in Rock n’ Roll in a way that hadn’t really happened before. And if you had older brothers and sisters to whom Elvis Presley was the great revelation, you probably got a lot of grief from them – they didn’t get the mania, didn’t understand the hair or the clothes. And even some of your friends who were your age didn’t understand, didn’t get it – kept saying things like “they look like a bunch of girls”. But there were more of you than there were of them, and you didn’t pay any attention to them. It was your music and it was your life – and it was here to stay.
So, no matter where you were, at least once a week there was a countdown – the songs that were popular in Britain. And some of your friends had tape recorders – and they would faithfully record every new song every week. And you took notes – and Monday you would invade your local record store and hound the salespeople. And you did that every week. And you had fun.
And now you wonder why teenagers listen to what they listen to – and you shake your head, not quite understanding what the deal is. And you’re reminded you were that way once too. And you realize it’s always been that way – and always will.
Enjoy the notes and just dance.
Here is a half-hour weekly countdown from the British charts as heard over WLS, Chicago and presented by Ron Riley from February 24, 1965.