Spurgeon's General Warning: Shutdown Soundtrack


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Humans: long lives, short memories. No matter. You wanted it, you got it — a partial shutdown of the the United States government, yet again. How many agains? Well, counting today, the government has actually been shut down a total of 18 times since the rules changed in 1976. I'm sure you can chillax your way through it, though. Grab your pumpkin spice latte, pop on your Beats by Dre headphones, and join me as we run through all of the songs that were Billboard Number 1s during the many, many, many, many, many government shutdowns that have happened over the last 40-ish years. Why, you'd almost think our system is broken!

Sept. 30-Oct. 11, 1976

Wild Cherry, “Play That Funky Music”

Walter Murphy and the Big Apple Band, “A Fifth of Beethoven”

The year is 1976. Rising Hollywood star Chevy Chase will soon exit Saturday Night Live for bigger, better things. Films like All the President’s Men, Taxi Driver and The Bad News Bears force American moviegoers to take a long, hard look at their country’s decay. A young Jeffrey Atkins is born ... though you may know him as Ja Rule.

Also, the government shut down.

Sept. 30-Oct. 13, 1977

The Emotions, “Best of My Love”

Meco, “Star Wars Theme/Cantina Band”

The year is 1977. An upstart little company called Apple Computer is incorporated. America finds a new boyfriend in Woody Allen thanks to Annie Hall, and a tiny James Van Der Beek is born in the mythical land of Connecticut.

The government? Shut down.

Oct. 31-Nov. 9, 1977

Debby Boone, “You Light Up My Life”

The year is still 1977. The soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever is released, taking the country by storm and defining the decade. Elvis Presley dies at age 42 ... maybe younger than you are now. Think about that one. And of course, sports events.

The government again shuts down.

Nov. 30-Dec. 9, 1977

Debby Boone, “You Light Up My Life”

1977 was a great year for Debby Boone.

It was not a great year for the government not shutting down.

Sept. 30-Oct. 18, 1978

Exile, “Kiss You All Over”

The year is 1978, and it is gross. Pope John Paul I becomes the William Henry Harrison of Pontiffs. A nation tunes in to the comforting presence of Robin Williams on Mork & Mindy. Some bad shit appears to be going down in a faraway nation called Afghanistan.

The United States Government shut down.

Sept. 30-Oct. 12, 1979

The Knack, “My Sharona”

Robert John, “Sad Eyes”

The year, my friends, is 1979. President Jimmy Carter is attacked by a swamp rabbit, McDonald’s helps your parents show you that they love you by introducing the Happy Meal, and Iran. Yes, Iran.

If the government shutdown had lasted a day longer, the song would have been “Don’t Stop ‘Til You Get Enough,” but it didn’t, so it’s not.

Nov. 20-Nov. 23, 1981

Hall and Oates, “Private Eyes”

Olivia Newton-John, “Physical”

The year is 1981: a new decade. Dreamboat Joseph Gordon-Levitt is born. Dreamboat Justin Timberlake is born. Dreamboat Josh Groban is born.

The government (get this) shuts down.

Sept. 30-Oct. 2, 1982

Steve Miller Band, “Abracadabra”

John Mellencamp, “Jack and Diane”

Where are we? No, fair wanderer, when are we. We are 1982. Millions of people attend an event in Knoxville — that event is the Wod Fir World’s Fair. The Falklands War, a war that still makes no sense to me, is super-duper happening. Film? How about Annie, you sons of bitches. It’s a hard-knock life.

Why? Because the government once again shut it down.

Dec. 17-Dec. 21, 1982

Toni Basil, “Mickey”

Hall and Oates, “Maneater”

1982, are we still here? (Yes.) Has Ghandi swept the Academy Awards? (Yes.) Did Michael Jackson release mufuggin Thriller? (Yes.) Did Ingrid Bergman and Grace Kelly, two of the ugliest women to ever blight the planet, die? (Yes.)

Did the government shut down again? (Yes.)

Nov. 10-Nov. 14, 1983

Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton, “Islands in the Stream”

Lionel Richie, “All Night Long (All Night)”

It is, can you believe it, 1983. Except in the Hebrew calendar, it’s 5743 (so future!) and in the Islamic calendar, it’s 1403 (so past!), and the Doomsday Clock is holding tight at 11:56 p.m.

What time is it in America? Don’t ask the government, they’re closed.

Sept. 30-Oct. 3, 1984

Prince, “Let’s Go Crazy”
*video not found*

John Waite, “Missing You” (Much Lesser Number Two Song but God at Least There’s Video)

The year is 1984. A precious, beautiful baby (me) is now alive. America gets “Pacman Fever” for the Los Angeles Olympics and henceforth renames all fevers “Olympic Fever.” Knock-knock. Who’s there? Only the gang at Night Court on NBC!

Guess who is not there! The government, that time it shut down.

Oct. 3-Oct. 5, 1984

Wait ... is that the same day?

The three-day spending extension expired, forcing a shutdown. Congress dropped their proposed water and civil rights packages, while President Reagan kept his crime package. Funding for aid to the Nicaraguan Contras was also passed.

Everything is terrible, forever.

Oct. 16-Oct. 18, 1986

Janet Jackson, “When I Think of You”

Wake up, sheeple. It’s 1986. The United Nations designated this the International Year of Peace, and it’s like, nice try. The Chernobyl disaster happens and it’s like, oh, what a surprise. The Mystery of Al Capone’s Vault, for chrissakes.

What else is new? More shutdown!

Dec. 18-Dec. 20, 1987

George Michael, “Faith”

1987 is when this song is from, but I’m saying here and now, in 2013, that it’s high time we learn to re-appreciate the songs and works of George Michael. That shit is good. You know I’m gonna blast “Last Christmas” all over the place in like two months, so you may as well prepare yourselves now.

You know what our parents were prepared for in 1987? Yet another government shutdown.

Oct. 5-Oct. 9, 1990

Nelson, “(Can’t Live Without Your) Love and Affection”

Maxi Priest, “Close to You”

Here we are, 1990. Nelson Mandela is released from prison. A generation of children learn how to weaponize their households thanks to a movie called Home Alone. Margaret Thatcher resigns as prime minister, leading to a total unmooring of English political comedy.

Speaking of political comedy, the United States shut off the government again.

Nov. 13-Nov. 19, 1995

Mariah Carey, “Fantasy”

1995: Here we go! A future Buzzfeed editor looks down at her Lisa Frank Trapper Keeper filled with doodles of hearts around the name “Devon Sawa” and dreams a dream. Die Hard With a Vengeance takes nonstop HBO reruns by storm. Hold Me. Thrill Me. Kiss Me. Kill Me.

Shut it down.

Dec. 15, 1995-Jan. 6, 1996

Mariah Carey feat. Boyz II Men, “One Sweet Day”

Spanning two years, this one! Mariah takeover! Where were you in January 1996? School, probably.

Not if your school was shut down, though. The government was!

Oct. 1, 2013 - ???

Miley Cyrus, “Wrecking Ball”

So here we are. Quite a gap between now and the last one, huh? All that’s really happened is 9/11, all of those wars, the complete introduction, run, and ending of the Harry Potter saga, and, like, the Internet.

Politics is dumb.


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