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Reelin' in the years in song lyrics

My colleague Jeff Miers this week reminded me and anyone else who has ever gone through a prolonged period of grief or sadness that music can help in the healing process.

That's one of the many great things about a familiar song, its ability to take you somewhere you might not have been expecting.

Take "All Summer Long." It's a prototypical Beach Boys song about summer fun, but whenever I hear it, I don't think of when it came out - 1964; I think of 1977, and the night my Dad took me to see "American Graffiti" when it was re-released because that song plays over the credits at the end of the film.

That got me thinking about a very specific kind of song: those that mention a year in the lyrics. And THAT got me thinking of how many songs mention a year in the lyrics and how that would be a fun list to put together if I could come up with 10. So I did. And I did.

10: “Battle of New Orleans,” Johnny Horton, (cover version), 1959: "In 1814 we took a little trip, along with Colonel Jackson down the mighty Mississip." 

9: “ ’65 Love Affair” Paul Davis, 1981: " '65 love affair, rock 'n roll was simple and clear."

8: “1985” Bowling for Soup, 2004 (cover version): "Her two kids in high school they tell that’s she’s uncool 'cause she’s still preoccupied with 1985."

7: “Life in a Northern Town” The Dream Academy, 1985: "He said in winter 1963, it felt like the world would freeze, with John F. Kennedy And The Beatles."

6: “Running on Empty” Jackson Browne, 1977: "In ’65 I was 17" and "In ’69 I was 21."

5 “Oh What a Night” Frankie Vali & the Four Seasons, 1975: "Late December back in ’63, what a very special time for me."

4: “1979” Smashing Pumpkins, 1996: "Shakedown 1979, cool kids never have the time."

3: “In the Year 2525” Zager and Evans, 1969: "In the year 2525, if man is still alive …"

2: “Heat of the Moment” Asia 1982: "And now you find yourself in ’82, that disco hot spots hold no charm for you."

1: “1999” Prince and the Revolution, 1982: "So tonight I’m gonna party like it’s 1999."

There are so many other songs that could have been included on this list. "1984" by David Bowie and "1969" by The Stooges are two that certainly are worthy. A couple of years ago, a blogger had pretty good luck coming up with songs that hit every year of the 20th century.

The great thing about these songs is they have the potential to take you two places: the year in the song, and the year of the song.

--- Bruce Andriatch 

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