Rock ‘n’ Roll High School 13: Secrets of the Math Nerd’s Top 25 Revealed

I’ve known Glenn Boothe for a long time.  He was music director at WXYC when I started my college radio promo job at Twin/Tone in Minneapolis and we all know that was a bajillion years ago.  Glenn and I used to hang out at music conventions and were asked on many occasions if we were brother and sister.  Never mind that his last name has an “e” and my maiden name does not.  After a while, we got sick of it, and started telling people that we were ex-husband and wife, but were still friends.  Never mind that we were both twenty at the time.  I suppose people get married and divorced by twenty.  I could tell some funny stories about Glenn, like the one about his top restaurant choice in Chapel Hill in 1990, but that would be sort of embarrassing.  Let’s just say this restaurant had the best fried dairy product appetizer in town, is no longer there, and was across from The Siena Hotel.

But I digress…Glenn’s RNRHS entry is completely awesome–the story about his crafting of his own Top 25 chart is simply genius on many levels.  I laughed out loud (yes, I LOL’d) at his criteria for the list and his great attention to detail, although it did not surprise me knowing Glenn’s never-ending love of music.  But, Glenn.  Dude.  Why not just buy another notebook?  You could have kept that puppy going for a long time.

Glenn Boothe

Morehead High School, Eden, NC, Class of 1985, Currently: Owner, Local 506 – Music venue in Chapel Hill, NC

Band and/or song that reminds you the most of high school: I have to go with Adam and the Ants. Even though the band itself had broken up by my freshmen year, I was so obsessed with Adam Ant that it lasted through my senior year…and most of my high school friends would associate me with Adam. The thing is, when I got turned on to them in ninth grade, there was really no one my age in my hometown that knew about them. So I was talking about this band that I was fanatical about and no one really knew what I was talking about. It really wasn’t until my sophomore year that people started getting MTV, and that was right around when Adam put out his first solo album, Friend of Foe.

By the time of graduation my entire bedroom was covered with Adam-related posters, some from the more risqué Strip album era (which I’m sure had my parents second-guessing my sexuality.) There is a great photo that someone posted on Facebook of my high school Science Club – the photos were taken in the winter, so most people are wearing coats…except me, I’m sporting an Adam Ant t-shirt that I wore specifically for photo day! (I just looked and now can’t find the photo online…dang.)

Favorite piece of music memorabilia (poster, t-shirt, etc.) in high school: So my favorite piece of music memorabilia from high school is not something I bought but something I created. Math was always my favorite subject in high school so once I got obsessed with music, it didn’t take me long to combine my love of the two. In turn, inspired by Billboard magazine, in early 1982 I started keeping a chart of my own favorite songs. Yes, a chart where each week I ranked my 25 favorite songs!!

And being the numbers nerd that I am, I also kept separate statistics about the chart. For example, The Cars “Since You’re Gone” spent the most time at Number One and the only song to debut at Number One was “All Over Town” by April Wine (that song blew me away on first listen needless to say!)

The chart also had strict guidelines; for a song to qualify, I had to actually hear it on the radio. This ruled out me adding every song off an album by my favorite bands; however, luckily for me, the album rock station in Winston-Salem, WKZL, started a Sunday night show called New Generation that was inspired by what college radio was playing at the time (as I couldn’t actually hear any college radio stations on a regular basis.) In addition to introducing me to new chart-worthy acts like REM and U2, New Generation also impacted the chart by playing album tracks from bands I was already listening to (I actually remember being particular excited when I finally heard Duran Duran’s ‘Hold Back the Rain’ on New Generation so that it finally qualified for the chart!) In retrospect, this chart clearly reflects my tastes shifting from more mainstream acts (“Superfreak” was the first number one) to the so-called ‘college rock’ acts of the time.

My weekly chart finally came to an end in 1983, not because I outgrew it but because I finally filled up the notebook I was using! And now, what’s funny, thirty years later, I’m still kind of obsessed with charts and do a year-end music chart (inspired by the Village Voice Pazz & Jop Poll.)

Band that you hated that everyone else at school seemed to love: This one is difficult because I’m way more open-minded now about music than I was in high school. Back then, I primarily liked punk, new wave and the aforementioned ‘college rock’ so didn’t appreciate much that was very popular. My first concert was Joan Jett and the Blackhearts and even though I can now say it was awesome, not long after, when Joan Jett got much bigger, I painted a ‘no’ symbol (the circle with a slash) on the t-shirt I bought at the show (and had worn proudly before.) I’m just now realizing this wasn’t much different than Johnny Rotten writing “I Hate” on a Pink Floyd shirt but that wasn’t the inspiration, I just happened to come across a can of red paint.

But I digress, back to the question. I have to say, the bigger bands that everyone in Eden seemed to like that I didn’t at the time included Led Zeppelin, AC/DC, Iron Maiden and Hank Williams, Jr but I can now appreciate those (or love in the case of Zeppelin.) I think what I hated more at the time was when my friends started liking ‘my’ music. Sure, I was happy that acts like Adam Ant or Duran Duran were getting more fans, but it still seemed personal. I remember feeling disappointed when I got a ride from a friend in high school and she was listening to The Clash album ‘Combat Rock’ – I bought that album the week it came out and this was a year later after ‘Rock The Casbah’ had been a hit. The Shareef wasn’t the only one that didn’t like it…

Best show or concert you saw in high school: This one’s easy – U2 at Kenan Stadium in 1983. First date of the War tour. It was only my second concert and is still my favorite concert of all-time. And I’m not the only one – most people I’ve met since who were in attendance agree it was a magical experience (and I’m amazed how many people I now know who were there.) I can still visualize The Edge sitting at the piano with his guitar playing both instruments during ‘New Years Day.’

The funny thing is U2 weren’t even the headliner – Todd Rundgren had to follow them playing solo! There were also two openers, one of which was, amazingly enough, Grand Master Flash and the Furious Five. I didn’t get rap music at all at the time (nor did most of the crowd unfortunately,) so kind of bummed I didn’t appreciate them as much as I enjoyed the timeless new wave of The Producers!?!?

Optional bonus question: Best high school make-out song: I wish I had an answer to this…but I wasn’t kissing many girls because of my music obsession…and when I did have the chance, playing DJ was the last thing on my mind. I did date a girl most of my senior year and I tried to turn her on to the music I liked but, in retrospect, she did a better job turning me onto her music. She was into hip-hop and I distinctly recall hearing The Beastie Boys “She’s On It” at her house and realizing this rap music I absolutely hated at the time wasn’t so bad when you added guitars.

Not long after, I remember making a tape of Run-DMC’s Raising Hell with only the songs with guitar. That tape didn’t include the guitar-less lead track “Peter Piper” which I now consider one of the baddest rap songs of all-time – and not bad meaning bad, but bad meaning good!

5 Comments on “Rock ‘n’ Roll High School 13: Secrets of the Math Nerd’s Top 25 Revealed

  1. Have to say that I’m jealous of everyone who got to see the U2 Kenan Stadium show–it sounds like it was amazing.

  2. Yes, I still have fond memories of seeing Oingo Boingo – was blown away by guitarist Steve Bartek at that show. And even though I never replaced my vinyl with CDs (which means I haven’t listened to them since the 80’s!), I still oddly enough find myself sometimes singing “Who Do You Want To Be” to my son Walter when I’m dressing him.

    And on my first pass of writing this, I actually included this link ( about the U2 show but decided to cut it since I realized most people reading this would know the legendary stories about that show.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Get a FREE eBook sampler of Karen's bestselling books.