Your First Time?

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I use Google Chrome both at home and at work. One of its features that I like is being able to pin tabs so I can keep some frequently used websites open all the time. Stereogum in one. My TNOCS spreadsheet is another.

And another is Google News. That’s been one of my pinned tabs for years. It has sections for top stories, US news, world news, technology, health, science, and entertainment news. There’s also a section called “For You.” This is where Google posts links to news items its algorithm thinks I’ll like. Unsurprisingly, they usually have to do with music.

I generally don’t read them because most had clickbaity titles. “Why Bob Dylan Won’t Sing This Song Ever Again.” “You Won’t Believe What This Go-Go Looks Like Now.” “Top Ten Rock Star Meltdowns – #3 Will Shock You”

The sixth GoGo: Belinda Dylan.

But in 2018, I started seeing titles that started with “The Number Ones.” I finally clicked one and it took me to a really interesting article about a song I liked when I was in junior high school. I don’t remember now what song it was, but it was a well-written and well-researched article.

When “The Number Ones” showed up in my “For You” section again, I clicked it. And again the next day. And then I pinned the Stereogum tab. I was hooked. The articles were always a good read, and the comments below the article were often funny or insightful or both.

I went back to “Poor Little Fool” and read all the articles from the beginning. At some point, I started recognizing avatars/usernames and mentally connecting them to each person’s personality. I’m pretty sure my first comment was on The Fifth Dimension’s “Aquarius/Let The Sun Shine In.” Tom gave it a 4 and I said the bass part alone is a 10. 

“…the bass part alone is a 10.” Clearly, this guy would know. -mt

So, my questions for all you TNOCS aficionados are, how did you learn about The Number Ones, when did you start reading it, had you been to Stereogum before that, did you read all the articles from 1958 forward, and when did you first comment?

1

Bill Bois

Bill Bois - bassist, pie fan, aging gentleman punk, keeper of the TNOCS spreadsheet:
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/138BvuV84ZH7ugcwR1HVtH6HmOHiZIDAGMIegPPAXc-I/edit#gid=0

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lovethisconcept
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March 17, 2022 9:56 am

I also found The Number Ones in my suggested feed. Read it and loved it. Being just a tiny bit OCD, after the first one, I had to go back and start reading from the beginning. Don’t really remember when I first commented, but it was when I caught up to the column in real time. I felt that I already knew many of the regulars personally, and I just had to introduce myself to this fabulous group of people. Have never looked back.

Pauly Steyreen
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March 17, 2022 10:16 am

I started reading sometime in the mid-70’s, don’t recall exactly when. I reached the ‘Gum when I found a pretty cool article about Priests through Google (Priests were awesome… topic for another day). I saw a column on The Number Ones and checked it out. I don’t remember exactly which, but I believe I was virtual ’74.

Anyway, I first got hooked on Tom’s writing, who could turn even a crappy song a must-read column. I started browsing the comments and realized that there was a goldmine of cool info and good folks there. I think I de-lurked around virtual ’79 or ’80 (I could look this up but far too lazy for that this morning).

NGL I was kind of hesitant at first. Like when you are the new kid at school and want the cool kids to notice you. But I soon realized TNOCS folks may be cool, but they’re not like the “cool kids” — they’re — ok we’re — more like the band kids. Fun and welcoming and smart and unpretentious.

Soon, as I had daily, then thrice-weekly, conversations in TNOCS with folks from all over, I realized it’s so much more than swapping stories and info and fandom… it’s a community in the truest sense. We’re friends, we have each other’s backs, we encourage and support each other. It’s like a little utopia but one that really exists. And my favorite part of this utopia is our diversity in every way… geographic, gender, race/ethnicity, sexual preference, and most notably, taste in music. I love that we can disagree so strongly on our musical opinions and still be such tight friends!!!

I try to show up at least once in every column when life allows (usually commenting on your content rather than starting my own thread). I’ve seen friends depart from TNOCS or enter emeritus status, and I’ve made new friends as other have de-lurked and joined the community. It’s been a blast, a little anticipation I have 3 times a week, a little joy in my life.

And even if the end of the road in ‘Gum terms may be two years out, I am SO happy and grateful that mt58 has made this oasis where we can continue our community in perpetuity. Good on you brother!!!

blu_cheez
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March 17, 2022 12:55 pm

Tom also writes several columns for avclub.com, and in the comments to one of his movie articles, someone mentioned his write-up of Abba’s Dancing Queen, which is what got my looking at The Number Ones (great first column to start with, BTW). I then spent the next month going back to reading all the previous articles and comments.

My first comment for for ONJ’s “Magic” because Tom’s 3/10 really pissed me off (#JUSTICEFORMAGIC!!), and I’ve been at it ever since.

JJ Live At Leeds
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March 17, 2022 1:43 pm

I’m not sure exactly how I came across The Number Ones. I’d previously found the British version that another Tom had been compiling over at a site called Freaky Trigger. That one went back to 1952 when the official British charts kicked off with Al Martino’s Here In My Heart (UK Tom gave it a 4) and led to a whole lot of easy listening, crooning and Winifred Atwell’s party piano before the onset of rock ‘n roll. I only discovered it as it was winding down, as it made it into the 2000’s the gap between posts got longer and longer and it looks like it may have stalled for good in 2003 with Gary Jules version of Mad World (UK Tom says its a 3).

I read that from start to finish but had missed the boat in terms of commenting. I needed something to fill the time during the TV ads and to satiate my need for music trivia. I don’t remember what I had searched for when Stereogum came up in my Google search results. I think I was looking for information about a band, which band I don’t know but they must have had a US #1 cos the Stereogum entry caught my eye. I was instantly hooked.

I did what I’ve seen some other commenters do and started at the beginning. Read through every entry and comment from 1958, I wanted to know the full story before I joined in. Doing that way meant I felt like I knew everyone before I became a part of it. By the time I got upto date I made my first contribution to Christopher Cross; Arthur’s Theme. Everyone was so welcoming, it felt like coming home.

Tom’s columns are great even if I don’t agree with his rating, each to their own and its always entertaining. The comments section is like a family, there’s always something of interest, new music to discover and so much to learn about everyone’s lives. Personally I love it when things go off at a complete tangent, I dont remember the song but it was the early 80s and a thread started up on memories of early VCRs. I think my all time favourite comment section was Toto’s Africa.

Its great to know that when we run out of number ones to discuss there’s a home here for us.

mt58
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mt58
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March 17, 2022 3:00 pm

Very cool. I think we all have a great story about how we stumbled upon Tom’s column, and how we all enjoy the camaraderie.
My plan for this place is to have new content on Tuesdays and Thursdays, sort of our off days of our SG counterpart.
So while I initially thought I’d wait until 2024, I decided to take the two day a week plunge.
And here we are, and I hope that people will consider participating here on those two days of the week.

Last edited 8 months ago by mt58
cstolliver
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March 17, 2022 2:51 pm

The mothership has the old comments back up, so I was able to find that I jumped aboard in virtual ’77 to correct Tom on his assertion (made in the Meco’s “Star Wars” column) that John Williams’ “Jaws” theme didn’t hit the Top 40. Funny … these days, more familiar with TNOCS and with Tom’s writing overall, I’m not so sure I’d be inclined to jump in immediately to correct him (or anyone).

On the other hand, I did stir up the hornet’s nest by taking issue with someone’s assertion (or shall we say assumption) that Amy Grant was a homophobe just because she’s Christian …

Back on point: I think Google pointed me, as well, to The Number Ones (a late 1975 charttopper, I think, although I can’t remember which). All it took was one column and I was hooked. But I didn’t dip my toes into the waters of TNOCS until Meco.

Aaron3000
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March 17, 2022 6:00 pm
Reply to  cstolliver

If I may have the honor of speaking for irishbear:

Screenshot_20220317-175857-946.png
Aaron3000
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March 17, 2022 5:49 pm

Much the same as others… showed up as a Google suggestion. I had a lot of Beatle related recommendations at the time, and while I’m not positive at this point which Fab Four tune was my gateway to Stereogum, it may just have been “Penny Lane” (which is obviously higher than a 6). I read Tom’s new articles daily while also going back to catch up on what I’d missed. Didn’t even think to look at the comments section at first; I believe it was virtual 1974 before I thought to scroll all the way down and start lurking in TNOCS, and didn’t actually start posting anything until 1978. My plan now is that once Tom gets caught up to the present in a few years, I’ll go back and re-read his earlier write-ups and dive into those earlier comments sections for the first time.

ArchieLeech
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March 17, 2022 10:20 pm

Hello, old friends. I first learned about TNOCS from my good SU buddy tleo. I started by reading the first column, and read forward. It didn’t take all that long to catch up at the time, because the columns were short, and so were the comments sections. I started posting sometime in virtual 1968 or ’69.

I may have said this before, but that (this) community came at exactly the right time for me. My business needed a steady lead inside the building, and although I’ve always been a sales guy, I needed to do some grunt office work. It was dreary and unexciting work, but having my musical life play out five days a week was diverting. It also kept my mind off my mother’s failing health. Then, by magic, just as my interest in the series dropped, I needed to do the job I was hired for.

I’m excited about this format and will definitely participate. Congratulations on getting the plane off the ground, mt.

JB

PS – Holy crap! An edit button!

Last edited 8 months ago by ArchieLeech
Bayouradio
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March 18, 2022 10:24 am

I’d been reading Tom’s AV Club movie columns which are now officially the last gasp of greatness that site produced. He’d finished A History of Violence (action movies), Age of Heroes (superhero movies), and was freshly into Popcorn Champs, a study in the top box office movies of any given year. In the middle of his essay on Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid Tom mentioned (and linked) that he wrote this other column about number one songs and that B.J. Thomas was not a fan of his. I was thrilled to hear that there was a whole fresh Tom column somewhere and that it (at that point) was daily. (“50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” was the Number Ones #1 on the day my Number Ones love was born.) I decided to start from the beginning and catch up. I’m not a big comment section person so it took a while to read below the article but that was the final hook. It lead to a lot of memories and being able to sort out personal history in a way I hadn’t been able to. I’ve learned and rediscovered so much thanks to Tom and the rest of you.

In virtual years, the column is entering a period where there are more memory holes than song associations with each column. The whole 1987-1990 run made me remember that that was when I more or less abandonned popular music and entered a classic rock phase (which is largely why those early columns resonated so much). In virtual years, the column is catching up to the part of my life where I settled down in one place, met the person who shares my house (and is working from home right behind me), and will not too long from now mark when I barely recognize the songs in the column for weeks on end. But I’ll keep reading regardless. It’s opened up the world in so many ways. There’s so much to learn.

It was luck to have landed on the column in 2019 but it came just in time. I still remember reading the first 1980s column at my desk on a Friday morning in March 2020. Soon after, I packed up my computer and loaded it into my car and told my boss I was taking it home “just in case.” I’ve been reading the column at home ever since. It’s helped a lot. Last year got very dicey all around, personally and globally. There were points I wasn’t sure there was a way forward. It’s a very different time now, despite the global part not looking better at all. I can’t imagine these last couple years without the people in my life. But that includes Tom and the people drawn to that column. We may not actually know each other, but you’ve all been there at necessary times making life a little better when it was heading the other way.

Anyway, it’s good to click hyperlinks is what I’m saying.

Pauly Steyreen
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March 19, 2022 10:36 pm
Reply to  Bayouradio

Bayou, I just de-listed AV Club from my feeds. Between all the great content they dropped and how they left their Chicago based team out in the cold, I thought enough is enough. After 10+ years of being a loyal reader, I’m outta there.

Let this be a lesson… appreciate Scott! Stereogum is an outlier and home to great content and a great community thanks largely to our dear Mr. Lapatine (which my phone autocorrected to Laxative — lol!) keeping the ‘Gum true to its values.

dutchg8r
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March 18, 2022 10:40 am

Similar journey here – first discovered Stereogum via Google’s algorithm when the Careless Whisper #1 column got posted. I just read what Tom wrote up for quite awhile, I didn’t start to read the comments for a few months. Then I chastised myself because the comments were just as entertaining and informative as the feature attraction.

But I was fine to lurk, until jenjadeeyes did her whole write up on the 40th anniversary of Duran Duran’s debut album last June. The dam broke, I had to pipe up, and I haven’t shut up since. It’s so addictive to reminisce, learn about more music, music trivia yumminess, hysterical commentary, oh its so good!

Signed,
Proud Owner of a Gold VIP ticket to the August Merriweather Post Pavilion Duran Duran concert, as of about a half hour ago during presale… 🙂

feetontheground
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March 18, 2022 3:32 pm

Greetings all!

I believe I found out about this column on the Pulse Music Board Chart Discussion, where a decidedly younger demographic discusses the current Hot 100. I think my first column was somewhere around “Rock the Boat,” and I may have waited to comment until around “Dancing Queen” (a 10 of a column if there ever was one).

LinkCrawford
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March 18, 2022 7:39 pm

One day in some free time I was googling the song I Want To Hold Your Hand. That’s weird because it’s far from a favorite of mine. But it’s so iconic and I must’ve been in a Beatles mood. That’s the first Breihan article I read. I was put off by our hero’s vulgarity but liked his writing as I hopped around some of my favorite #1s. I think we were around virtual 66 or 67 at the time. I would occasionally comment, but I don’t think I started commenting daily till the early 70. I think I started my throwback features on the Rhinestone Cowboy day. It’s been a fun experience!

thegue
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March 18, 2022 7:41 pm

Hi everyone!

Mt, this is fantastic!

On April 8, 2019, I received an email from an old friend of mine:

Seems up your alley… with a link for The Number Ones.

I am a HUGE fan of lists, so I immediately jumped in, reading “Frankenstein”, then began going back through time…and then said what the hell and started at the beginning.

I’m not sure when it happened, but at some point I began to take notice of the comments, and in particular Stobgopper’s review of songs/artists that didn’t quite hit the top…and then I had to stop and start all over again, going to the end of the columns to see what commenters had said. At first, it was easy…maybe 20 comments to read, but then a few things happened:

  1. I began to feel like I knew these commenters. Stob. Vails. YBB. Cokeparty. And then others joined the party, and were welcomed, each bringing their own thoughts and ideas to a place where one could talk freely about the song, the band, and the world around it.
  2. While I did away with the practice for a while, as I was reading to catch up, I looked up “Cats in the Cradle”, a song some of you might remember hit me right in the heart strings, and by my best calculations, I realized it was going to be covered by Tom right around Father’s Day, and my dad’s birthday (Sir Paul’s twin!).
  3. I took it as a sign. Not “The Sign”, but a sign. I dropped a comment about TNOCS being the H-D-H of comments sections, and began to figure out how to share something so intimate with a bunch of complete strangers.
  4. And the love I’ve felt from this group was amazing. Thank you all for putting up with a bunch of stories that are at best tangently related to Tom’s column, and caring for my contributions. I only hope I’ve been able to share those same feelings with you all.
  5. Link then found me on FB, in a Messenger post that dropped into my “other” box and went unseen for weeks. There, I began to realize who some of you were, and (dare I say?) consider you friends. I used to have a rule – I didn’t become friends on social media with people I hadn’t met in real life. That rule has since been tossed aside.
  6. I know there’s been some banter about getting together in real life, once Covid goes away (Narrator: it probably never will), but a few of us are considering meeting up this summer in north Jersey. I hope many of you can make it.

Again, thank you for reading my Mitchener-esque comment. More importantly, thanks for being a friend.

jmf74
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March 21, 2022 3:27 pm

I learned about the Number Ones through social media. A colleague linked to the Nick Gilder column. I was overjoyed that such a column existed and went back to the beginning until I caught up. Took me a long time to start commenting, but I loved reading everyone’s comments–I made an account and started liking comments long before I felt comfortable joining the conversation–and now there is this too!

LTS
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March 26, 2022 8:35 pm

Just popping in briefly to say hello! Really glad to have stumbled onto this offshoot of TNO’s. I have had nothing but problems with the new commenting system, so it’s nice to have a spot to catch up with old friends. I will share my intro to TNO’s soon.

mt58
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March 26, 2022 8:55 pm
Reply to  LTS

Elated to see you, LTS! Glad that you found us!
Please spread the word, and make sure to visit often!

LTS
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March 27, 2022 3:09 pm
Reply to  mt58

I went back to my first comments and true to my handle (Love the 70s), it was for the first number 1 of the 70’s, My Sweet Lord. I’m sure I found TNO’s the same way as most of you, as a suggestion from Google. I’m not sure what I would have been looking at or listening to that would have triggered it. My interest in the Beatles has ebbed and flowed many times over the years. MSL is definitely one of my all time favorite songs, as are many songs from 1970. It was the first year that I really started listening/obsessing over music (I was 11). Once I started, I quickly became immersed in the TNO’s community, as did many others, as I can see that interest really took off right around that time. I’m sure COVID had a lot to do with it – I know it was a lifeline for me during that first year! Sadly, work has gotten very busy and coupled with my declining interest in pop music in the 90’s, I haven’t been on as much. I still enjoy the polls and the columns on alternative music – it was all I listened to in the 90’s. I have never gone back to the beginning to read Tom’s early reviews and the comments – I may need to do that! As I mentioned, the new commenting system has made it nearly impossible for me to participate, so I’m very glad that you all are here!

Dance Fever
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March 27, 2022 6:22 pm

Great to see some familiar names and (memes) find their way here.
I first found out about The Number Ones from a fascinating website called “The Sheila Variations” by Sheila O’Malley, a frequent collaborator on the Roger Ebert website.
Sheila’s an actress and director whose posts are great essays on novels, poetry, movies and music.
She mentioned on day in a post about an intriguing idea by a Stereogum writer who had the zany idea of reviewing every Billboard Number One from Ricky Nelson on down the line.
Those days, Tom was writing three columns a week and it was quickly addicting. I lurked about for several months ( this would have been about the early ’70’s) up voting the posts I was struck by but not fully commenting until “Gonna Fly Now” when I took a deep breath and jumped into the deep end of the pool with a story how the movie “Rocky” had a profound influence on my life.
I was met with warmth and hospitality and have been a loyal reader ever sense.
Now that mt58 has set us up with own toy factory, I’m looking forward to
fun and creative stories and/or presentations.

Analogbrat
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March 29, 2022 12:47 am

I wish I could recall the specifics of when and where! I want to say I found it sometime in the virtual 60s, greatly anticipating the Beatles hits and beyond, and probably commented around the same time, chiming in with an occasional reply to a better comment or just feelings of betrayal for Tom’s 3 rating of “Magic”. Glad to have this place to stalk as well, one of the best communities on the Net!

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