I found my deep interest in popular music in the summer of 1987. Sure, I had listened to pop music before, knew words to whole songs, etc., but the summer of 1987 is when I started really following and learning about popular music. It began with watching Dial MTV counting down the Top 10 vote-getting videos of the day, and it would continue into listening to Rick Dees’ Weekly Top 40, followed by listening to American Top 40 with Casey Kasem and within a couple years subscribing to Billboard magazine and religiously following the Hot 100 chart.
I feel fairly certain the interest in popular music I cultivated that summer led me to love popular culture, which led to me to study popular culture, which led me to my career today. So, really, the summer of 1987 was pretty influential for my life.
As I said, it started with watching Dial MTV and the songs that consistently made the daily chart. I remember developing a crush on Whitney Houston, who I thought was so beautiful in “I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me).” I remember Ann Wilson belting out Heart’s “Alone,” which seemed to be the most heavily played song of the summer. I remember wanting to watch Beverly Hills Cop 2 because of Bob Seger’s “Shakedown.” I remember thinking about the word “monogamy” for probably the first time in my life after seeing George Michael’s “I Want Your Sex” video. And I remember my reaction the first time I saw Whitesnake’s “Here I Go Again” video.
My first reaction to “Here I Go Again” was to think this was just another long-haired 80s rock band having a popular song. I didn’t really even listen to the song. I sort of dismissed it as something I would find run of the mill. But sometime soon thereafter I actually did listen to the song, and not only did I realize my first reaction was wrong; I was blown away. This song spoke to me like no song ever had before. Every line seemed to sum up my life and my identity, and the sound of the song itself seemed to emphasize those lines so perfectly. This was my song if ever there was one.
Of course, once I had become attached to the song, I maintained a firm interest in its chart performance. It rose to the Top 10 and then the Top 5, and it seemed like it might stall out at number 2. But, then, “Here I Go Again” forged upward to the number one spot on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart. I hoped it would stay for more than one week, but alas, the song was already well into its run, and Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam had other plans for the next week. So, disappointedly, I listened as Whitesnake fell from the top spot after just one week on top. Still, though, the song that spoke to me had made it, achieving the pinnacle of pop song success by topping the chart.
Incredibly, today marks exactly 30 years since “Here I Go Again” rose to number one. Every now and then, I think that maybe a song has replaced “Here I Go Again” as my favorite. I’ve loved many songs in the past three decades. Yet, all it takes is one listen to the song, and all of those doubts subside. "Here I Go Again" still speaks to me like no other song ever has. Its sound still resonates through my bones, and its words still seem to represent not just my life, but my career interests – the very interests upon which it played such a profound influence.