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.
This week on the blog, I’ll highlight some of the songs Michelle and I will be featuring on THE HEAVY 80s.
For a long time, I thought that “Seconds,” the B-side to The Human League’s No. 1 hit, “Don’t You Want Me” (from their 1981 album, DARE) was just a kick-ass Synthpop gem that should have been a single in its own right. But there was more to it than that. A lot more.
“Seconds” is about the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in 1963, calling out Lee Harvey Oswald matter-of-factly (“it took seconds of your time to take his life”) without even saying his name. For whatever reason, it took way more than seconds of my time to figure out what this song was about, and when I finally did (during one of my radio shows, no less), it was in November on or near the anniversary of JFK’s assassination. Kinda freaky, actually, but I’m betting it was nothing like witnessing it in Dallas or on live TV on November 22, 1963.
Over the years, there have been a number of songs recorded and released about the Kennedy Assassination, including The Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy For The Devil,” Lou Reed’s “The Day John Kennedy Died,” Tori Amos’ “Jackie’s Strength,” Pearl Jam’s “Brain Of J,” “The Warmth Of The Sun” by The Beach Boys, and “The Sounds Of Silence” by Simon & Garfunkel.
I’ve loved “Seconds” for a long time, and like the artists above, I applaud The Human League for taking on such a heavy subject such as the Kennedy Assassination and turning it into a somber yet brilliant Synthpop masterpiece.