It’s kind of odd now to think that, in 1984, my knowledge of Dave Wakeling consisted of the General Public songs “Tenderness” and “Never You Done That.” “Tenderness” was a Top 40 hit on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 in 1985, and I owned the 12” single featuring dance remixes of both songs (originally from the album, …ALL THE RAGE).
25-and-a-half years after “Tenderness” was released, in November 2009, I found myself interviewing Dave Wakeling for my little WMPG radio show, STUCK IN THE 80s, just a week before he and The English Beat were gracing Portland, Maine for the first time, and in honor of the band’s 30th anniversary. If you would like to hear my 2009 interview with Dave Wakeling, here’s the link that will take you there (ba-da-ba-buh-duh):
One of the things Dave and I talked about was how his music was incorporated into the films of two 80s heroes named John – Cusack and Hughes. Sadly, John Hughes had passed away just 4 months prior, at the young age of 59.
John Hughes had a lot of respect for cool music from the 80s, and I asked Dave if he had met John Hughes, and he told me how John went backstage during the General Public tour to say hello, stretched his hand out to Dave and said (of “Tenderness”), “Anybody who’s got the balls enough to put a bassoon in a pop song and get away with it is a man I need to meet.”
Dave Wakeling also told me about John Hughes’ enormous record collection (God, how I would have loved to have been there to see that!), and when John died in August 2009, Dave told me he dedicated “Tenderness” from the stage to John that night (I would have liked to have been there too).
With the exception of last year (2015), I have seen Dave and The English Beat perform in Portland, Maine every year since 2009. For a band I was late getting into, I’ve now seen them more than any other band or singer. There’s just something about being there – the energy, the skanking, the music – and when they play “I Confess” (prolly my favorite song of theirs), I close my eyes and somehow I feel a peace I can’t really describe in a blog post, and I don’t feel it anywhere else but their live shows. Really hope they come back this way again later this year!!
I even contributed to the PledgeMusic fundraising campaign for HERE WE GO LOVE, The English Beat’s first album of new material since 1982’s SPECIAL BEAT SERVICE, which is scheduled for release later this year (this month? around my birthday? maybe? that’d be a swell birthday gift!).
“Tenderness,” today’s “song of the day,” was a great introduction for me to Dave and General Public, and ultimately, The English Beat. “Tenderness” spent a tender week at No. 27 on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 in mid-February 1985, and hung around the chart for more than 4 months. It also reached No. 15 on BILLBOARD’s Dance chart. “Never You Done That” appeared on the other side (I consider the 12” single I own as a double-A-sided single, because both songs are so amazing), and “Never You Done That” actually charted a bit higher on the Dance chart than “Tenderness,” though just missing out on the Hot 100.
On the 12” single to “Tenderness,” the top reads, “Words like conviction can turn into a sentence.” Well, for me, words like “conviction” can also describe how I feel about Dave Wakeling, The English Beat and General Public. “Tenderness” works too…