song of the day – “The Prisoner” | HOWARD JONES | 1989.

In antici-PA-tion (thank you Rocky Horror) for the Howard Jones / OMD show TONIGHT(!) (6.24.2016) in Portland, Maine (they are opening for Barenaked Ladies, though I think it should BNL opening up for HoJo and OMD), I wanted to share this today. 


As I’ve expressed on the blog before, I’ve loved the Synthpop brilliance of Howard Jones since the moment I heard “New Song.”  I’m so excited to be able to see him perform again, for first time in nearly 20 years.  Back in 1998, I saw HoJo (with Culture Club and The Human League) on The Big Rewind Tour at the then-Harbor Lights Pavilion in Boston.  I enjoyed all three acts, but seeing HoJo perform was the thrill of the concert for me.

RON higgins beach 98 v.2

That’s me at Higgins Beach, Scarborough, ME, in October 1998, enjoying the warm sun by the water and sporting my (then) new Howard Jones shirt.

Howard Jones is such an amazingly-gifted performer and prolly one of the nicest people in the business.  From the moment I met my dear friend Shawn in Portland back in the mid-90s, I always half-joked with him how much he looked like Howard Jones.  He still kinda reminds me of him.  Both very classy guys;  maybe that’s the connection – not so much about the looks, but more like the classy way about them.cross that line

There were so many great HoJo songs I could have put up here on the blog today, but this underrated gem came to mind right away.  From Howard’s fourth album, 1989’s CROSS THAT LINE, “The Prisoner” was HoJo’s last hit of the 80s, and one of my all-time favorites of his.

“The Prisoner” was the second single released from CROSS THAT LINE (following the sweet “Everlasting Love” (a No. 12 hit on the BILLBOARD Hot 100), and became his eighth U.S. Top 40 hit, spending a week at No. 30 in late August 1989.  It was also a Top 30 hit on BILLBOARD’s Modern Rock chart.

the prisoner

I had forgotten how incredibly innovative the video for “The Prisoner” was for the time, and I still think it’s pretty damn cool today.  The video was done without the benefit of computerized graphics and instead with some photo and video editing (orchestral-like?) maneuvers.  You should check it out by clicking the link at the end of the post.c3lebrati0n

Back in 2013, Howard Jones released C3LEBRATI0N, songs specifically chosen from his (then) 30-year career.  You’ll find “The Prisoner” on there, and hopefully he’ll dig it out for the show tonight, where you can find me in the first section, and in a manner so unlike “The Prisoner,” without the aid of a camera.  I’m going to celebrate and watch HoJo perform like I used to watch concerts back in the 80s – with my own eyes and not through a lens…

HoJo 1989


song of the day – “So In Love” | ORCHESTRAL MANOEUVRES IN THE DARK | 1985.

In antici-PA-tion (thank you Rocky Horror) for the Howard Jones / OMD show tomorrow night (6.24.2016) in Portland, Maine (they are opening for Barenaked Ladies, though I think it should BNL opening up for HoJo and OMD), I wanted to share this today. 


Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark (or OMD for short), the English Synthpop band formed in 1978 by Andy McCluskey (vocals, bass guitar) and Paul Humphreys (keyboards, vocals).  OMD had already released five albums between 1980 and 1984 when they were brought to my attention in the second half of 1985 with their song, “So In Love” (from the brilliant album, CRUSH).


In their native U.K. homeland, the Synthpop pioneers charted 17 songs and one EP in the U.K. Top 40 singles chart between 1980 and 1996, including seven Top 10 hits, led by two songs that went to No. 3: 1981’s “Souvenir” and 1991’s “Sailing On The Seven Seas.”  Here in the U.S., they charted just five songs on the BILLBOARD Hot 100, led by “If You Leave,” a No. 4 hit from the 1986 film John Hughes wrote and produced, PRETTY IN PINK.

so in love

“So In Love” (and parent album, CRUSH) was produced by Portland, Maine native Stephen Hague (I still dig the fact he was born here), and it became OMD’s first hit in America.  I love a lot of the music that came out of 1985 (the best year of my youth), and still, “So In Love” (with Andy’s lush vocals complimenting Paul’s amazing keyboards) was a breath of fresh air in the world of music for me. 

Strangely enough, “So In Love” was one of the last songs written for CRUSH.  According to OMD’s website, Andy McCluskey said the song was about the painful end of a relationship. 

After years of success in the U.K. and parts of the globe, OMD was still trying to break out here in the U.S., and with Stephen Hague at the helm as producer, the album CRUSH (with “So In Love” as the lead single) was a bit more commercial-sounding than previous albums (though still brilliant), and it paid off.  CRUSH remains the band’s highest-charting album in America, and “So In Love” was their first Hot 100 hit, spending 2 weeks at No. 26 in November 1985.

Around the globe, “So In Love” stopped at No. 27 in the U.K., but reached the Top 20 in Germany, Holland, Ireland and the BILLBOARD Dance chart.

OMD is still going strong to this day (I don’t know if they’ve ever made an appearance in Portland, Maine before tomorrow night’s performance), and their last album, 2013’s ENGLISH ELECTRIC, was their highest-charting album in the U.K. since 1991’s SUGAR TAX.  I’m so looking forward to seeing Andy and Paul, and I can safely say, after all these years, I’m still “so in love” with OMD…


song of the day – “Need You Tonight” | INXS | 1987.

I was already a big fan of the Melbourne, Australia Rock band INXS long before their sixth studio album, KICK, was released in October 1987.  The album was only out a couple of weeks and change when I saw INXS perform at Colby College’s Wadsworth Gym (in Waterville, Maine) on November 7, 1987.  Leadoff single “Need You Tonight” hadn’t even reached the Top 40 of the BILLBOARD Hot 100 yet… but that would soon change after I saw this show; EVERYTHING for INXS would change forever after I saw them perform just this one time…

KICK full cover

The full gatefold cover for KICK…

Unlike concerts now, you could go to a college show like this, wait in line, and rush to the be in front of the stage, which is exactly what I had done.  I saw some folks I met a month before when The Hooters performed there.  On that early November night, were all in the front row waiting for a show to remember.

I’ve seen a great deal of performers in my time, and it was truly amazing to watch Michael Hutchence onstage that night.  The whole band was sensational, but Michael was so charismatic, so confident.  The Colby stop for INXS was among the last Stateside visits for INXS in 1987, and when they returned to the U.S. in late February 1988, “Need You Tonight” had already reached No. 1 on the BILLBOARD Hot 100, and the band performed three dates at Radio City Music Hall in NYC in mid-March with “Devil Inside” inside the Top 20.  By the time the KICK tour ended in November 1988, INXS had gone from playing colleges like Colby to sports arenas and then some.

Back to that Colby show, “Need You Tonight” and KICK weren’t quite hits just yet, but the momentum was there.  You could tell the band was going to explode into something huge, something they prolly hadn’t expected.  For years, apart from the Top 10 success they had with “What You Need” in 1986, INXS primarily played colleges and smaller venues.  Several of my friends have mentioned attending a concert INXS did in Portland, Maine (at the Exposition Building) with The Go-Go’s back in the early 80s.  Lucky bastards.

michael hutchence 1987

Michael Hutchence, 1987.

Between the growing popularity of INXS, the onstage charisma of Michael Hutchence, and the small venue at Colby College, a kick-ass front row view turned into chaos quick.  Everyone wanted to be near Michael and the band, and started migrating towards the front, even though there was no room to be had.  The concert had to be stopped, and one of the kind people I met at The Hooters show a month before had to be carried off the stage because she was getting crushed against the security barrier.  Michael Hutchence himself even told people to move back before anyone else gets hurt.  And, once I left the front row for a spot on the side bleachers (about halfway back in the gym), I started enjoying the show again.

The INXS show was on a Saturday night, and at the time, I was the new DJ at a local chem-free nightclub called Studio 2.  The club was open for chem-free dancing (mainly high school kids) from 8:00pm until midnight every Saturday (and some Wednesdays during the Summer).  I had been DJing there for prolly 5 months.  If I recall, it was my first night off (so I could see the concert).  After the INXS show, I went back to check on things at Studio 2 and to say HI to a girl I was interested in (it wasn’t reciprocated in the end).  I drove back to Colby to see if I could still meet the band, but I was too late.  So, I missed my one chance to meet Michael Hutchence and INXS that night…over a girl.  

I’ll never forget that INXS show, and how the band catapulted from colleges to stadiums within a year, and how I was so glad to be a witness to the early part of that.  Honestly, as much as I love KICK, it’s not my favorite album by INXS – that distinction goes to 1982’s SHABOOH SHOOBAH, the album that introduced the band to the U.S. (including yours truly), and other parts of the globe outside of Australia and New Zealand.

INXS Need You Tonight

“Need You Tonight” spent a week at No. 1 on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 in late January 1988, a fitting start to a huge year for INXS.  “Need You Tonight” spent nearly half a year on the Hot 100, and was ranked at No. 2 for all of 1988 here in America, ranked just behind George Michael’s “Faith.”  It also charted on several of BILLBOARD’s other charts, reaching No. 7 on the Dance chart, No. 12 on the Rock chart and even No. 73 on the R&B chart.  Pretty impressive.

Around the globe, “Need You Tonight” was a massive hit and was apparently needed almost everywhere, reaching the Top 10 in the U.K., Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Ireland, Italy, New Zealand and South Africa.  The video for “Need You Tonight” / “Mediate” also picked up five (of nine) MTV Video Music Awards in 1988, for Best Group Video, Breakthrough Video, Best Editing In A Video, Viewer’s Choice and Video Of The Year.

need you tonight video

Clips from the “Need You Tonight” video.

KICK went on to sell more than six million copies in the U.S. alone, and remains the band’s biggest album overall worldwide.  The other three singles released from KICK here in America all reached the Top 10 of the Hot 100: “Devil Inside” (No. 2, April 1988), “New Sensation” (No. 3, July 1988) and the gorgeous “Never Tear Us Apart” (No. 7, November 1988).

Ten years and 15 days after the memorable performance by INXS at Colby College, Michael Hutchence sadly took his own life at the far-too-young age of 37.  This year, we’ve lost some music heroes and heavy-hitters, including David Bowie, Prince, Glenn Frey of The Eagles, Maurice White of Earth, Wind & Fire, Country legend Merle Haggard, and Lemmy Kilmister of Motörhead at the end of 2015. 

The death of Michael Hutchence was the first music death that really hit me hard, especially since I thought ELEGANTLY WASTED (released in April 1997) was the band’s best album since KICK.  It would have been cool to see the direction they were going.  But, it was not to be. 

rockstar inxs

From ROCK STAR: INXS, 2005 (from left, guitarist Tim Farriss, drummer Jon Farriss, lead singer and ROCK STAR: INXS winner J.D. Fortune, keyboardist (and then some) and chief songwriter Andrew Farriss, rhythm guitarist and saxophonist Kirk Pengilly, and bassist Garry Gary Beers).

I applauded the band for wanting to move forward, even without their brother Michael.  They did a worldwide reality TV show (ROCK STAR: INXS) to find a new lead singer (Canadian J.D. Fortune got the call), released an album because of it (2005’s SWITCH), and picked up their biggest hit since 1992 (“Pretty Vegas,” No. 37 Hot 100, No. 1 Canada).  INXS released a remix album in late 2010 before calling it quits in November 2012 after 35 years.

“Need You Tonight” has been oft-mentioned as being the “sexiest song of the 80s.”  It’s a fair statement.  I don’t, however, believe that was my reasoning for choosing the song as my debut attempt at karaoke with my dear friend Michelle in Portland a week ago, but I’m glad I chose it.  I was even nerding out and wearing my INXS “Need You Tonight” 12” single T-shirt while singing the song.  It’s what I do.  And, I didn’t think my performance was all that bad.  I got some applause, my friend (and karaoke-er extraordinaire) Michelle enjoyed it, and I’ll prolly do karaoke again because of the experience. 

INXS need you tonight x2 2.28.16

That’s me nerding out in the WMPG studio under the bright lights, 2.28.2016, with my matching import “Need You Tonight” single and T-shirt.

Though Michael’s been gone 19 years this year, and it’s been six years since they parted ways, INXS has long been my favorite band.  And, even though I got to see them just the one time, it was a part of music history – and my music history – that I’ll never forget.  For Michael Hutchence, Andrew Farriss, Jon Farriss, Tim Farriss, Kirk Pengilly, Garry Gary Beers (and J.D. Fortune too), I thank you, and I will need you and your music to stay with me forever, but for now, I’ll take tonight…

INXS 1987

long distance dedication.

Today (6.15.2016) marks the second anniversary of the passing of my radio hero, the legendary Casey Kasem.  In my first blog post, pop muzik (, I mentioned how important 1979 was to me; still is.  1979 was the year I discovered music (or, maybe, music found ME), and a huge part of that was Casey Kasem and his weekly countdown program, AMERICAN TOP 40. Casey Kasem AT40 Ad

Casey Kasem wasn’t just an outlet for me and my new-found love for music from 8:00am to 12:00 noon every Saturday and/or Sunday.  Casey Kasem was the main reason I pursued a career in radio.  In early September 1985, six+ years after listening to Casey Kasem and AT40 every weekend, I started my first semester of two at the (then) New England School of Broadcasting in Bangor (now a 4-year degree program at the juggernaut New England School of Communications; part of Husson University), including my first experience as a radio DJ on the mighty WHSN.

I may have shared this before, but I think one of the reasons radio intrigued me was because I was shy and had a hard time expressing myself in person.  With radio, I didn’t have that problem.  It was the perfect avenue for me to express myself and share my love of music with people.  Apart from writing, I think I’m at my most comfortable on the air. 

Radio (mostly college and community radio) has been a part of my life for the better part of 31 years.  For about half the year in 2008, when I moved from Portland back to Central Maine to help out my folks, I got my first and only job with a commercial radio station.  It was part-time, it was locally run (a family owned it), an Adult Top 40 format, mostly live, and it was housed in the old WTOS building in Skowhegan, Maine (a commercial station in the 80s like no other in the area, which introduced me to some cool Alternative music, aired Dr. Demento, and was even granted a funeral when the format changed to Hard Rock).

While still serving as Music Director at WMPG community radio in Portland (a position I held for more than 10 years), I also worked part-time at the commercial radio station.  I was part of what they then-called the “Way Back Weekend,” primarily highlighting music from the 70s, 80s and 90s.  I was kind of in my element, and my air name there was “Retro Ron Raymond.”  You could find me on the air from 6:00 to 10:00pm on Friday nights, and for five hours on Saturday, from 10:00am to 3:00pm, following my radio hero, Casey Kasem, and the 80s re-broadcasts of AMERICAN TOP 40.  It was a big moment for me.

at40 80s

But, it was not to last.  2008 was the year the economy went into the shitter, gas was $4.00 a gallon (which sucked commuting 300 miles to Portland and back every week), and just days before Xmas, I was let go.  The diminutive general manager (who also was one of the morning hosts) cited the economy, which at the time, was a legitimate reason to reason to let me go (even though it was just nine hours a week at a low wage).  I was disappointed, but I understood.  My six-month experience in commercial radio (to date) was over.

As it turned out, I was not let go because of the economy.  I don’t know if the little bastard was intimidated with my knowledge of music (I was only trying to help), or if he just didn’t like my work, but the next year, they were doing just fine.  O well.  Live and learn I guess.  I can at least say I did it.

original STUCK logo

the original STUCK logo…

I started STUCK IN THE 80s on WMPG in the Spring of 1996 at the age of 29, and I’m planning to end the show on my birthday in February 2017 when I turn 50.  It just seems right; cathartic.  It might sound silly to some, but I want to spread the 80s music word beyond the reach and small confines of WMPG.  Maybe it’ll be a podcast, maybe I’ll try STUCK IN THE 80s in syndication, or who knows?  Maybe I’ll land on satellite radio.  I’m still working on that part.  But, I think this blog could very well be the start of my next chapter in radio, whatever that may be. 

stuck in the 80s 20 yellow

the current STUCK logo…

For now, though, I’ve got 35 more radio shows to go, I’m going to give my ever-growing legion of STUCK fans the best shows I can bring to them, and they’re gonna kick ass.  In fact, the first of those 35 shows will be my third annual tribute to Casey Kasem.  A long distance dedication of sorts.  For one week a year, playing only songs that reached the Top 40 of the BILLBOARD Hot 100 is the very least I can do for the man that indirectly inspired me to be there in the first place.  I miss you, Casey, wherever you are.  And, don’t worry, I’ll keep reaching for those stars… 

Casey Kasem AT40 1983

Casey Kasem, 1983.

song of the day – “Dance Hall Days” | WANG CHUNG | 1984.

After a series of songs that have concentrated on THE HEAVY 80s (or songs from the 80s that addressed heavy subjects), I thought I would switch gears and write a post about one of my all-time favorite songs (and hopefully one of yours), “Dance Hall Days” by London-based New Wavers Wang Chung.

Wang Chung (which means “yellow bell” in Chinese) went through a couple of bands and several band members before Huang Chung in 1980 – singer / guitarist Jack Hues (real name Jeremy Ryder), bassist Nick Feldman and drummer Darren Costin – became Wang Chung in 1983.

NERDY FUN FACT: Though the main reason the band changed their name from Huang Chung to Wang Chung was to make the pronunciation of their name easier for English-speaking folks, another big reason they changed their band name was because people kept calling them “Hung Chung.”points on the curve

Wang Chung became just the second U.K. band to be signed by the (then) three-year-old Geffen Records (Rock supergroup Asia was the first).  The signing on Geffen proved to be a huge deal for the band, as their POINTS ON THE CURVE album (released in the U.K. in July 1983 and here in the U.S. in January 1984) was well-received on both sides of the Atlantic.

From POINTS ON THE CURVE, the album’s first single, “Don’t Let Go,” squeaked onto the Top 40 of the BILLBOARD Hot 100, spending a couple of weeks at No. 38 in March 1984.  The second single from the album released here in the U.S., “Dance Hall Days,” fared much better, dancing its way to No. 16 in early July 1984.  It spent 22 weeks on the Hot 100 and ranked at No. 74 for all of hall days

In the early days of commercially-available 12” singles (around 1983 / 1984), some labels (especially those on Warner labels like Sire and Geffen), featured double-sided 12” singles.  Wang Chung had a couple of these from POINTS ON THE CURVE, including extended dance mixes of “Don’t Let Go” and “Dance Hall Days” on the same 12” single.  That single spent a week at No. 1 on BILLBOARD’s Dance chart in June 1984.

dance hall days 12%22Around the globe, “Dance Hall Days” danced into the hearts (and dance clubs) of many countries, reaching the Top 10 in Australia, Belgium, Canada, Germany, Holland, Italy, New Zealand, Sweden and Switzerland.

I’ve loved this song (and have loved dancing to this song) for many years, and the 12” remix is on a list I compiled years ago of 12” singles I couldn’t live without.  The next time you make it to your favorite retro dance hall, request this song, take your baby by the hand and make it a “dance hall day.”

wang chung

song of the day – “People Have The Power” | PATTI SMITH | 1988.

Last night (6.12.2016), my little 20-year-old radio show on WMPG community radio in Portland, Maine – STUCK IN THE 80s – brought to the airwaves THE HEAVY 80s (it wasn’t all bubblegum, you know…), highlighting some of the 80s songs that addressed serious issues in their songs.  I was joined by my dear friend Michelle Fire Eater (one of my oldest, closest and coolest friends, and one of the first people I met when I moved to Portland in 1994).  I think I’ll have to do a Part 2 later this Summer, because there so many amazing songs with so many stories and messages in them, we couldn’t possibly get to them all in a couple of hours. 

the HEAVY 80s 6.12.16

THE HEAVY 80s was a show initially thought of by Michelle a couple of years ago (I really love the tagline), and it was amazing to have her on the show, and share her thoughts on these songs that have meant a lot to both of us, respectively, for many years.  In an odd way, it seemed a bit fitting we were co-hosting a show about songs with heavy subject matter, one night after the devastating terror attack on a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, where 49 people out at the club, having a great time and just being themselves on a Saturday night, were killed, and more than 50 others wounded. 

Over the years, through events like Columbine and 9.11.01 and the terror attacks last year in Paris, STUCK IN THE 80s paid tribute to those affected with music that had nothing to do with these events, but songs that were played to comfort, played for support, and played to simply keep the music playing. 

When I saw Duran Duran in NYC a couple of months ago, lead singer Simon Le Bon said of “Save A Prayer”: “[the song should] stand as a beacon to show that music is a way of bringing people together, that people are good and that we will not live in fear.”  And, he’s right.  I’m not going to to live in fear.  And, I’m going to express myself the best way I know how – playing music on STUCK IN THE 80s, and writing this blog.  And I’m not going to let some fucking murderous cowards instill any fear in me because of how I want to express myself.  For now, though, I grieve.

Michelle Fire Eater and I were grieving for the folks in Orlando during last night’s show, and we dedicated a couple of songs to everyone affected – Bob Marley’s “Three Little Birds” and, to close out the show, David Bowie’s LIVE AID version of “Heroes.”

Last week on the blog, in advance of THE HEAVY 80s, I posted Prince’s “Sign ‘O’ The Times” as a “song of the day.”  In the blog post, I mentioned how Prince was not a fan of President Ronald Reagan, and though Reagan knew about AIDS as early as the first year of his Presidency (1981), he was reluctant to talk about it for years.  I mentioned how “Sign ‘O’ The Times” was one of the first songs ever to mention AIDS, I think, in part, because Reagan wouldn’t.

silence equals death

out & outragedI also included the above photo of some protesters holding up signs with Reagan’s face and the words “silence = death.”  Not long after my post, my dear and über-talented friend, Hope, shared this amazing story about her experience with the ACT UP (the AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power) and SILENCE = DEATH protest in Washington, D.C., October, 1987.

One of the highlights of the show last night was reading Hope’s recollection of the action in D.C., and I’m grateful to her to allow me to share that recollection again in this forum:

“In 1987 [my excellent friend and former partner] Sarah & I (and 500,000 of our closest friends) converged on DC for three days of action, including a group “wedding” (not legal), a huge & beautiful march (speakers included Cesar Chavez & Jesse Jackson) and an action at the US Supreme Court.  The action was to protest a Supreme Court ruling that gay people do not have a constitutional right to privacy.

“It was a bloodbath.  Sarah & I were set to go under the barricades in the second wave, but there was no second wave.  We couldn’t go because there were too many people lying on the ground, beaten and some barely conscious.

“A terminally ill man in a wheelchair got help to get under the barricade.  Two DC riot cops pulled him out of his wheelchair, dropped him on the ground, and clubbed him.  He survived.  It was literally his dying wish to attend the action, and he died a couple weeks later.

“That’s what ACT UP and SILENCE = DEATH were about. No one would listen, so we got their attention.”

queer + present danger

Thank you, Hope.  I highly encourage you check out Hope’s incredible WordPress blog, HEXBREAKER at  She’ll also be sharing her thoughts on Orlando and the 1987 action in D.C. and then some…  Be sure to keep an eye out for it.

The one song – the only song – I thought of to play following my reading of this recollection by Hope was the brilliant “People Have The Power” by the legendary “punk poet laureate,” Patti Smith.

people have the power

“People Have The Power” is a protest song from her fifth studio album, DREAM OF LIFE, released in June 1988.  It was was co-written by Patti with her then-husband and former MC5 guitarist, the late, great Fred “Sonic” Smith (who passed away in 1994 at age 45 from heart failure), and a song which has been covered by the likes of Bruce Springsteen (her writing partner on 1978’s “Because The Night”) and more recently, U2.

Of this song, Patti Smith once said, “We had both protested the Vietnam War when we were young.  We had been part of the ’60s, where our cultural voice was really strong, and we were trying to write a song that would reintroduce that kind of energy.  It’s sad for me but quite beautiful.  It was really Fred’s song – even though I wrote the words, he wrote the music; the concept was his, and he wanted it to be a song that people sang all over the world to inspire them for different causes.  And he didn’t live to see that happen, but I have.  I’ve seen people.  I’ve walked in marches all over the world where people spontaneously started singing it, you know, whether it’s been in Paris or with the Palestinians or, you know, in Spain or New York City, Washington D.C. – and it’s so moving for me to see his dream realized.

“We wanted to remind the listener of their individual power but also of the collective power of the people, how we can do anything.  That’s why at the end it goes, ‘I believe everything we dream can come to pass, through our union we can turn the world around, we can turn the earth’s revolution.’ We wrote it consciously together to inspire people, to inspire people to come together.”

people have the power languages

Regarding what happened two nights ago in Orlando, it’s alright to be sad.  Be sad for the victims, their families, what the LGBTQ community is going through, what everyone is going through.  Be angry.  Be angry about the peace and innocence lost through these attacks, and the fucking cowards disrupting the world with their endless supply of hate.  But don’t let the anger you feel over events like Orlando turn into hate (though easier said than done).  Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “Hate begets hate; violence begets violence; toughness begets a greater toughness.  We must meet the forces of hate with the power of love.”

What organizations like ISIS and other dark forces around the globe haven’t thought of is that they are not the only ones who have power.  I’m not saying we should go to war over this.  I hope we don’t.  But, we won’t stand for it either.  Patti and Fred sure got it right in 1988, and their 5-minute message is still here in each and every one of us today.  Just let it out.

Don’t let these cowards bully you into fear.  Keep going to nightclubs, keep going to movie theaters, keep traveling, keep listening to community radio, keep breathing, and keep breathing some more.

We’re in this together, LGBTQ and allies alike.  People have the power.  We all do.





patti 2

song of the day – “Dirty Laundry” | DON HENLEY | 1983.

On Sunday, June 12, 2016, my dear friend and former Portlander Michelle Fire Eater will make her first appearance on my little radio show, STUCK IN THE 80s (on WMPG Community Radio), in 9 years, and with a kick-ass theme show she thought of a couple of years ago – THE HEAVY 80s – it wasn’t all bubblegum, you know…

THE HEAVY 80s will feature songs that actually had substance to it, and covered a vast number of subjects including drug abuse, rejection, racism, homophobia, bullying, teenage depression and suicide, alcoholism, feminism, child abuse, homelessness, poverty, difficulties for farmers in the Midwest, media sensationalism, Apartheid, The Cold War, The Vietnam War, AIDS, the Kennedy Assassination, and protests against war, dictators and more.

the HEAVY 80s 6.12.16

This week on the blog, I’ll highlight some of the songs Michelle and I will be featuring on THE HEAVY 80s. 

After legendary Los Angeles rockers The Eagles broke up in 1980, Texas-born Don Henley started his long and successful solo career a year later, duetting with Fleetwood Mac’s Stevie Nicks on “Leather And Lace” (from her hugely popular solo debut album, BELLA DONNA).  It reached No. 6 on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 in early 1982. 

i can't stand stillIn August of that year, Don released his first solo album (of five to date), I CAN’T STAND STILL.  The first single, the catchy “Johnny Can’t Read,” just missed the Top 40 on the Hot 100, stopping at No. 42.  But, it was his second single from the album, however, that really made an impact on his solo career…and cast an unpleasant light in the world of journalism.

“Dirty Laundry” was released in mid-October 1982, and within three weeks of being on the Hot 100, it had already surpassed the peak of “Johnny Can’t Read.”  The song is about media sensationalism, yellow journalism and tabloidization of the news, or airing one’s “dirty laundry” about someone through newspapers and television.  It’s news reporting at its worst, if it’s really news at all; no regard for the sanctity of good, quality journalism. 

This song is 34 years old and the subject is still sadly relevant today.  I don’t know why, but TMZ, Rush Limbaugh and The Enquirer come to mind right away.  Even the TODAY show, a news program I have watched faithfully for decades, has been letting me down as of late:  “Hey, let’s get a high-profile guest on the show, do a badgering interview with them, be sure to say ‘real quickly now’ at least twice during the interview, and rush them off for another guest we can badger the fuck out of.”  This doesn’t even begin to examine what Matt Lauer did to Ann Curry (one of the classiest, most professional broadcasters I’ve ever seen) on live television (June 2012), when she was given the boot from TODAY, only to be replaced by Savannah Guthrie, the Queen Badger herself.

Why is “Dirty Laundry” still relevant today?  Because, like in the song, news outlets still focus too much on negative news.  Sure, NBC Nightly News does leave you with one positive story at the end of the newscast, but for the most part, the news you see or read still tends to lean on the negative.  I guess there’s more ratings or money in it. 

dirty laundry

The inspiration for “Dirty Laundry” came from the negative and sensationalistic news coverage of the deaths of actors John Belushi and Natalie Wood, and even Don Henley’s own arrest in 1980 (he was charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor and possession of marijuana, cocaine, and Quaaludes after paramedics treated a 16-year-old girl suffering from drug intoxication at his home in L.A.).

Guesting on “Dirty Laundry” is two of Don’s bandmates from The Eagles – Joe Walsh and Timothy B. Schmidt, as well as Steve Lukather of Toto, and the late Jeff Porcaro (also of Toto), who played drums. 

“Dirty Laundry” spent three weeks at No. 3 on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 in January 1983, and finishing in the Top 50 for all of 1983.  Don Henley’s song of media sensationalism set to smart lyrics and a kick-ass beat resonated around the globe as well, spending a week at No. 1 in Canada, and reaching the Top 10 in Austria, New Zealand and South Africa.  It also spent a week at No. 1 on BILLBOARD’s Mainstream Rock chart and even reached No. 47 on BILLBOARD’s Dance chart.sometimes love just ain't enough

Don Henley’s highest-charting solo success would come in the form of another duet, this time with Scandal’s Patty Smyth, and the song “Sometimes Love Just Ain’t Enough,” which spent six weeks at No. 2 in 1992.  In 2015, Don released his fifth album (and his first in 15 years), CASS COUNTY, a Country / Rock album that reached No. 1 on BILLBOARD’s Country Albums chart and No. 3 on the BILLBOARD 200 album chart, his highest-charting album on that chart so far.

Truthfully, I was digging “Dirty Laundry” well before I even knew what it was actually about.  Though I was never admittedly a huge Eagles fan, I do like a lot of their music, but, I LOVE LOVE LOVE “Dirty Laundry.”  This song could be a hit today, and people would get behind it, mainly because it’s a great song, and sadly, because there’s still a lot of “dirty laundry” still waving through the winds of broadcasting and journalism today…

don henley