song of the day – “Think” | ARETHA FRANKLIN | 1968 / 1980.

It’s March 25, 2019, and today I’m remembering the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin, who would have been 77 years old today.

aretha 60s

Regardless of what kind of music you listen to, it’s hard to imagine a time when Aretha and her music wasn’t a part of your life.  When I really started getting into music back in 1979, my knowledge of Aretha, as well as interest in her music, was embarrassingly limited.  It took me about six years to climb on board the Aretha train, but after I did, there was no turning back.


After Aretha passed away on August 16, 2018, BILLBOARD published a list of Aretha’s 20 biggest Hot 100 hits.  Overall, she made 73 appearances on the Hot 100 between 1961 and 1998, the most Hot 100 hits for women and a record she held onto until 2017.  Out of her Top 20, nine of those hits, not surprisingly, were from the 60s, including her first No. 1, “Respect,” at No. 2 on the list, “Chain Of Fools” at No. 5, “Think” at No. 12, “A Natural Woman (You Make Me Feel Like)” at No. 14, and “I Say A Little Prayer” at No. 16.

i knew you were waiting

Out of her Top 20 hits, four of them were from the 80s, including her biggest hit ever, 1987’s No. 1 duet with George Michael, “I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me),” “Freeway Of Love” at No. 4, “Who’s Zoomin’ Who” at No. 10, and her collaboration with Eurythmics, “Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves,” at No. 20.

eurythmics aretha

Aretha Franklin and Eurythmics’ David Stewart and Annie Lennox, hamming it up during 1985’s “Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves.”

One thing I noticed about Aretha’s singles chart history is that she went 12 years without a Top 10 hit here in America.  1985’s “Freeway Of Love” returned her to the Top 10 (and Top 5) in high fashion.  Her 1985 WHO’S ZOOMIN’ WHO album was her biggest-selling album ever.  But, as awesome as “Freeway Of Love” is, it’s not what really started her comeback.  That happened years before.


When film director John Landis was putting together a movie version of the SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE skit for The Blues Brothers, Dan Aykroyd, who co-wrote the film with John Landis, lobbied, and in fact insisted, that Aretha and other R&B superstars James Brown, Cab Calloway, Ray Charles would appear in the film, replete with speaking parts that worked around the songs each of them performed in the film.  Other Blues legends like John Lee Hooker and Pinetop Perkins appear in the movie too.  The casting for this film, which also includes the wonderful talents of Carrie Fisher and John Candy, was absolutely brilliant.

BB poster

The casting of Aretha was absolutely brilliant as well.  She had gone through a rough time in the second half of the 70s, and several of her albums on Atlantic Records did not do well.  In 1979, after 12 years, she left the label for which she had much of her greatest success.

matt n aretha

Matt “Guitar” Murphy and Aretha Franklin in THE BLUES BROTHERS.

In THE BLUES BROTHERS, Aretha plays the owner of a soul food restaurant, and the wife of Matt “Guitar” Murphy, who works in the restaurant as a cook.  After John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd’s attempt (as Jake and Elwood Blues) to get Matt  (lead guitarist) and “Blue Lou” Marini (saxophonist; who also works at the restaurant) back into The Blues Brothers Band, Aretha memorably bursts into song and dance to try and get Matt to stay.  That song is her 1968 Top 10 hit, “Think.”  When Aretha (as Mrs. Murphy) is unsuccessful at her attempt to keep Matt (and subsequently, “Blue Lou”) from leaving with Jake and Elwood, she ends her scene with one very convincing and hilarious word: “Shit.”  Fucking brilliant.

aretha shit

Aretha Franklin at the end of her hilarious and memorable scene in THE BLUES BROTHERS. “Shit.”

And, I contend it was Aretha’s performance in THE BLUES BROTHERS that reignited her success in the 1980s, five years before “Freeway Of Love.”  (NERDY SIDE NOTE: Even though Aretha had left Atlantic in 1979, “Think” was featured on THE BLUES BROTHERS soundtrack, which was on the label of The Blues Brothers — Atlantic Records.)


Also in 1980, the founder and president of Arista Records, Clive Davis, signed Aretha to Arista, a label she would remain with until 2007.  Her first two albums with Arista saw her biggest album success since 1974, but it was 1982’s JUMP TO IT album that brought Aretha her first gold album in 10 years, and her first Top 40 hit on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 in six years — the album’s title cut.

jump to it

The song “Jump To It” (co-written by then-up-and-coming R&B recording artist Luther Vandross) reached No. 24 on the Hot 100, No. 4 on BILLBOARD’s Dance chart, and spent four weeks at No. 1 on BILLBOARD’s R&B chart. 

I didn’t get to pay tribute to Aretha last year, but on her birthday, I didn’t want to miss the opportunity (same goes for Matt “Guitar” Murphy, who sadly passed away a couple of months before Aretha).

aretha by andy

The poster for Aretha’s self-titled 1986 album, with album cover art designed by Andy Warhol.

You are definitely missed, and though it took awhile for me to jump on the Aretha train, I’m so glad I did.  I’ve always had a special amount of R-E-S-P-E-C-T for you, and your scene-stealing performance in THE BLUES BROTHERS will always make me laugh and make me THINK! about your incredible contribution to music in the 80s and for all time…

aretha n BB

A great shot of John Belushi, Aretha Franklin and Dan Aykroyd, 1980.


song of the day – “Girls Just Want To Have Fun” | CYNDI LAUPER | 1983 / 1984.

IWD19It’s March 8, 2019, and International Women’s Day today!  Today, and all through the month of March (and, really, every day), is a celebration of women that began when the Socialist Party of America organized a Women’s Day on February 28, 1909.  The following year, it was suggested that it be held annually.  It became a national holiday in Soviet Russia on March 8, 1917, and in 1975, the United Nations officially chimed in.  In 2019, it’s embraced in many places and ignored in others.  I say let’s go to embrace International Women’s Day!

Over the course of writing this blog, my love of radio has been mentioned a lot.  And why not — it’s a huge part of who I am today.  I also may have mentioned my love / hate relationship with radio.  I have loved radio for 40 years, but apart from my wonderful time at college stations like WUMF and WHSN, and community stations like WMPG, radio has not loved me…yet.  And, the radio I listened to at age 12 vs. the radio I listen to at 52 is far from the same.


A potential bumper sticker for WMPG’s 45th birthday, designed by my friend and former radio neighbor, the incredibly-talented DJ Shaxx.

One thing I’ve noticed as of late on commercial radio, namely Classic Rock or Oldies stations (OMG 80s is Oldies now!  Holy cats!), and the question I ask more than any other — where are the women at?!  Yesterday (March 7, 2019), I researched a few radio stations around Portland, Maine, Boston and New York just to compare how many women are represented in playlists today.  And, apart from Top 40, which has always had a large representation of women played on their stations, even dating back to when I listened to Top 40, the playlists at the Classic Rock and Oldies stations I researched were sadly dominated by men.

radio tuning

Apparently (and unfortunately), the whole “recently played” feature has yet to catch on in the three major Portland, Maine radio stations I researched.  C’mon Portland, you’re the 96th radio market in America!  Act like it dammit!

So, when I struck out in Portland, Maine, I went down to the No. 1 radio market in the country — New York — to find a Classic Rock station.  And success!  Well, depending on how you look at it. 

In the three-hour period I first researched of this iHeart radio station that brands itself as “New York’s Classic Rock,” Pat Benatar was played once, and Fleetwood Mac was played twice.  I go back another three hours, and Fleetwood Mac is there again!  I get it!  RUMOURS is one of the biggest albums of all time, an rightfully so; it’s an incredible album.


But, in the six hours I researched, so many great male artists were played more than once, and yet no Joan Jett, no Heart, no Janis Joplin, no Go-Go’s.  Hey, Men At Work is in there, and I love Men At Work!  So, why not The Go-Go’s?  In six hours, three songs by Fleetwood Mac (two featuring Stevie Nicks on vocals) and one Pat Benatar song.  Three songs featuring women on vocals in six fucking hours.  Where are the women at?!  And no proper 80s radio station in New York?  What the what?!  I’ll have to get right on that.

I then went up to Boston to the station formerly known as “Boston’s Greatest Hits.”  This was promising.  Then the station recently rebranded itself as “80s & More.”  I was intrigued.  Apparently, “80s & More” for this station means they play 70s and 90s with an emphasis on 80s.  Still intrigued. 

In the same six-hour research time period, Stevie Nicks and Don Henley’s “Leather And Lace” kicked things off.  Then it took almost 90 minutes for Pat Benatar’s “We Belong” to be played.  That was followed later by Scandal, Eurythmics, The Go-Go’s (!), Fleetwood Mac, Pat Benatar again (three hours after “We Belong”), Nena, and Cyndi Lauper’s gorgeous “Time After Time.”

time after time

So, compared to the other station, seven female artists (or female-led acts) were played on eight songs in the same six-hour timeframe vs. three female artists.  That’s better, but still not great.  After the 90-minute wait between Stevie Nicks and Pat Benatar, it was a 45-minute wait between Pat and Scandal, another 45 minutes between Scandal and Eurythmics, 40 minutes between Eurythmics and The Go-Go’s, and so on.  An average of six to eight songs by men vs. one song by a woman in the average span of 45-60 minutes.  It’s better than the New York station, but it’s not enough.  You play Michael Jackson, why not Madonna?  And where’s Aretha?  The Motels?  Janet Jackson?  Tina Turner?!  I shouldn’t have to get angry about this shit.

Back in mid-December 1983, more than three months after its release, a new single by a relatively unknown 30-year-old woman by the name of Cyndi Lauper made an unassuming debut on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 at No. 80 with “Girls Just Want To Have Fun” (which features Rob Hyman and Eric Bazilian of The Hooters, Jules Shear, and David Letterman’s house drummer, Anton Fig).


Three months later, in March 1984, the native New Yorker reached No. 2 on the Hot 100 and had a huge hit with “Girls Just Want To Have Fun,” but was denied the No. 1 spot by the four-man Pasadena, California Hard Rock band, Van Halen, and their hit, “Jump.”

she's so unusual

“Girls Just Want To Have Fun” was written and recorded in 1979 by Robert Hazard (whose “Escalator Of Life” was a moderate hit in the Spring of 1983), but when Cyndi recorded her version for her brilliant album, SHE’S SO UNUSUAL, it took on a whole new meaning and a whole new life. a memoir

As Cyndi mentioned about “Girls” in her 2012 autobiography, CYNDI LAUPER: A MEMOIR, “I said to myself, ‘Hell yeah, I’ll make [it] an anthem!  Maybe it’ll be something that will bring us all together and wake us up.’  It would be a movement right under all the oppressors’ noses, and no one would know about it until there was nothing they could do to stop it.

“It was very blatantly feminist [and] it doesn’t mean that girls just want to fuck.  It just means that girls want to have the same damn experience that any man could have.”  And absolutely should have. 

“Girls Just Want To Have Fun” may have stopped at No. 2 here in America, but globally, it was the fourth-biggest single of 1984, reaching No. 1 or the Top 10 in at least fourteen countries around the globe.  And, its staying power and strong message has lasted through generations and I know it will continue to be an inspiration for women (and girls) for generations to come. 

Every time I’ve seen Cyndi perform “Girls Just Want To Have Fun” in concert, I often find myself looking at the crowd, and I see so many girls dancing to this song with their friends or sisters or mothers or aunts or grandmothers, and it’s beautiful.  The last time I saw Cyndi was in Bangor, Maine on a July 2017 double bill with Rod Stewart (and her first time performing in Maine since the TRUE COLORS tour!).  I was near the front, and reveled in the excitement over Cyndi performing this amazing anthem for those in attendance.  I look forward to the next time I can experience that again.

cyndi bangor 071417

Cyndi Lauper, amazing and on the big screen, live in Bangor, Maine, 7.14.2017.

For 35 years, Cyndi Lauper has been a beacon of hope and love and peace and music and togetherness for everyone, especially for those who don’t get the respect and love and peace they deserve and then some.  TRUE COLORS UNITED (formerly the TRUE COLORS FUND; exists to combat homeless youth, especially LBGT youth, who, as of 2016, made up 40% of the homeless youth population in the United States.

true colors united

And for 35 years, Cyndi’s “Girls Just Want To Have Fun” has conveyed that all women truly want to have the same experiences that men have.  And I know that could be conveyed to radio, too. 

So, if there are any actual program directors left out there who might be reading this (and not some stupid computer-generated program which predicts what people want to hear, as opposed to listening to what people really want to listen to), Cyndi’s right. 

For those stations out there (in any genre) already playing women in heavy rotation, I applaud you.  I love you, radio, I always have.  And I have always believed in you.  But, you can do better…


Cyndi Lauper, 1983.

(real) one-hit wonder of the week – “Heart And Soul” | T’PAU | 1987.


On June 15, 2014, Casey Kasem, host of the longtime countdown program, AMERICAN TOP 40, passed away at the age of 82.  From my first blog post (and prolly some more inbetween then and now), I explained how, in 1979, I was a geeky, lanky and somewhat lost 12-year-old living in Central Maine, had a few friends and not a lot of interest in much of anything, but at some point early that year, I discovered AMERICAN TOP 40, and was glued to it every weekend.  Not only could I hear the 40 biggest songs in the country every week, but also Casey’s cool trivia and facts about the songs and the artists, a trait I treasure to this day.  For me, the show was No. 1 with a bullet.  And still is (thanks to the re-airing of broadcasts of AT40 on iHeart Radio).american-top-40-casey-kasem

In honor of my radio hero, Casey Kasem, for the entire month of June (and now through July), I will be highlighting a song each day (some days will have two songs!) that peaked in the Top 40 of the BILLBOARD Hot 100 (including five (real) one-hit wonders of the 80s), and with every blog post, just like on AMERICAN TOP 40, the hits will get bigger with each post.  On June 1, 2017, I featured a song that peaked at No. 40.  Sometime here in July, I’ll feature a “song of the day” that went all the way to No. 1. 

As Casey used to say on AT40, “And on we go!”

Between late 1979 and the end of 1989, there were nearly 500 (real) one-hit wonders of the 80s that reached the BILLBOARD Hot 100 just one time, a list that includes Soft Cell, Gary Numan, Timbuk 3, The Church, Bronski Beat, Nik Kershaw, The Buggles, The Waitresses, Ultravox and two different bands named The Silencers.  Once a week, I’ll highlight a (real) one-hit wonder for you.

The nearly 80 songs that reached the No. 4 position on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 between 1979 and 1989 had a bit of everything – Top 40 newbies which included Irene Cara (“Fame”), Asia (“Heat Of The Moment”), Samantha Fox (“Touch Me (I Want Your Body)”), the first two hits by Debbie Gibson (“Only In My Dreams,” “Shake Your Love”), Rickie Lee Jones (“Chuck E.’s In Love”), Suzi Quatro & Chris Norman (“Stumblin’ In”), Run-D.M.C. (“Walk This Way”), and Spandau Ballet (“True”).

walk this way

Songs that reached No. 4 also included the biggest U.S. chart hits for Howard Jones (“No One Is To Blame”), Electric Light Orchestra (“Don’t Bring Me Down”), Eddie Money (“Take Me Home Tonight”), OMD (“If You Leave”), Soul II Soul (“Back To Life”), Teena Marie (“Lovergirl”), The Fixx (“One Thing Leads To Another”) and Tommy Tutone (“867-5309/Jenny”).

don't bring me down

Some of my all-time favorite songs reached No. 4 as well, like “Urgent” by Foreigner, “Eyes Without A Face” by Billy Idol, “Mandolin Rain” by Bruce Hornsby & The Range, “Give Me The Night” by George Benson, Terence Trent D’Arby’s “Sign Your Name,” “Sultans Of Swing” by Dire Straits, “Freeze-Frame” by The J. Geils Band and “Cruisin’” by Smokey Robinson.


Multiple artists hit No. 4 more than once, including Lionel Richie (one solo and two with the Commodores), Duran Duran, Fleetwood Mac (who spent an agonizing then-record seven weeks at No. 4 with 1982’s “Hold Me”), the aforementioned Debbie Gibson, Madonna, Phil Collins (one solo and two with Genesis), Ray Parker, Jr. (one solo and one with Raydio), and Stevie Wonder.

Two memorable Elvis covers also reached No. 4 – “Don’t Be Cruel” by Cheap Trick and “Always On My Mind” by Pet Shop Boys (the highest-charting version of that song here in America).

always on my mind

Two (real) one-hit wonders of the 80s reached No. 4 on the Hot 100 between 1979 and 1989.  The first one was Taco, the German musician whose spirited version of Irving Berlin’s “Puttin’ On The Ritz” reached No. 4 in September 1983, and was a huge international hit. 



The original T’Pau (from STAR TREK).

The second (real) one-hit wonder of the 80s to reach No. 4 was a British Pop / Rock band whose lead singer, Carol Decker, hailed from Liverpool, and the band’s name came from a character in the original STAR TREK from the 60s – T’Pau, the name of a Vulcan elder.  Before deciding on a name for the band, their working name was Talking America.

T’Pau formed in 1986 as a six-member band and released their debut single, “Heart And Soul,” in late April 1987, a month in advance of their debut album, BRIDGE OF SPIES.  One of the memorable things about “Heart And Soul” is that Carol Decker is in a duet with herself, courtesy of overlapping vocals.

bridge of spies

A couple of weeks after its release, “Heart And Soul” debuted on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 in early May 1987 at No. 91.  It landed in the Top 40 six weeks into its chart run, steadily climbing on the chart until peaking at No. 4 for a week in early August 1987, the month it was released in in their U.K. homeland.  During this time, it was also featured in a Pepe Jeans ad, though I can’t really say I even remember Pepe Jeans.  But, it seemed to help the song’s chart success.

Despite that chart success here in America, “Heart And Soul” did not fare well in the U.K. upon its release, but eventually the U.K. warmed up to the song, and it, too, reached No. 4.  Outside of the U.S. and the U.K., “Heart And Soul” reached No. 4 in Ireland, No. 5 in Canada, No. 9 in New Zealand and Switzerland, No. 10 in France and Germany, and the Top 20 in Australia, Belgium, South Africa, Sweden and the BILLBOARD Dance chart. 

heart and soul

Thanks to its 27 weeks on the Hot 100, “Heart And Soul” finished 1987 here in the U.S. at No. 33 for the year, above No. 1 hits by Kim Wilde, George Michael and Aretha Franklin, Huey Lewis & The News, Madonna and two No. 1 songs by Michael Jackson.

Though T’Pau never charted on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 again, their biggest international success came with another single from BRIDGE OF SPIES – “China In Your Hand,” which was a massive No. 1 hit in several countries, including the U.K. and Switzerland (5 weeks at No. 1), Belgium, Ireland and the Netherlands (2 weeks), plus a No. 1 rank in Norway, and Top 10 rankings in (at least) Austria, Germany, New Zealand, Poland and Sweden.

china in your hand

T’Pau is still together today, though from the original six-member band, the only members left are “Heart And Soul” co-writers Carol Decker and rhythm guitarist / songwriter Ronnie Rogers.  In early 2015, they released their fifth studio album, PLEASURE & PAIN, which became their first-charting U.K. album in nearly 25 years.

pleasure and pain

For this album, Carol Decker expressed her frustration through an interview about her new music not being played vs. the radio stations being only interested in playing their 80s classics:  “It’s a little harder to get on the radio because all the ‘80s stations play the ‘80s stuff and they won’t play your new stuff.  They actually say they can’t, and then the younger stations play the younger artists, the hip stations.  That’s the downside, and I miss hearing radio plays for the new stuff… it is a little frustrating that I can’t get it out to the wider audience anymore.” 

This is just one of many reasons why I need to (soon) start the next incarnation of my radio show, STUCK IN THE 80s, so I can highlight the new music, like I did on my longtime show with WMPG. 

Though I honestly never kept up with T’Pau (partially because of the one hit here), I always loved “Heart And Soul,” and continue to introduce it to folks when I can (I recently guest-hosted a show on WMPG with my former radio neighbor, DJ Shaxx, and he fell in love with it when we played it on the air).

tpauThank you, Carol and Ronnie, for putting some needed “Heart And Soul” into my music for 1987.  30 years later, it’s not forgotten…

“Give a little bit of heart and soul / Give a little bit of love to grow / Give a little bit of heart and soul / And don’t you make me beg for more / Give a sign, I need to know / A little bit of heart and soul…”

song of the day #2 – “Holiday” | MADONNA | 1984.


On June 15, 2014, Casey Kasem, host of the longtime countdown program, AMERICAN TOP 40, passed away at the age of 82.  From my first blog post (and prolly some more inbetween then and now), I explained how, in 1979, I was a geeky, lanky and somewhat lost 12-year-old living in Central Maine, had a few friends and not a lot of interest in much of anything, but at some point early that year, I discovered AMERICAN TOP 40, and was glued to it every weekend.  Not only could I hear the 40 biggest songs in the country every week, but also Casey’s cool trivia and facts about the songs and the artists, a trait I treasure to this day.  For me, the show was No. 1 with a bullet.  And still is (thanks to the re-airing of broadcasts of AT40 on iHeart Radio).american-top-40-casey-kasem

In honor of my radio hero, Casey Kasem, for the entire month of June (and now through July), I will be highlighting a song each day (some days will have two songs!) that peaked in the Top 40 of the BILLBOARD Hot 100 (including five (real) one-hit wonders of the 80s), and with every blog post, just like on AMERICAN TOP 40, the hits will get bigger with each post.  On June 1, 2017, I featured a song that peaked at No. 40.  Sometime here in July, I’ll feature a “song of the day” that went all the way to No. 1. 

As Casey used to say on AT40, “And on we go!”

Well, it’s Independence Day here in the U.S. of A. (Happy 241st Birthday America!), and it’s pretty quiet here today in the Central Maine town of Winslow (where I write this).  For the first time in 26 years, there’s no Independence Day parade here (my folks’ house is on the parade route), and no fireworks either (my folks’ house is across the street from where they’d normally be set off, in nearby Fort Halifax Park).  The damn town didn’t even put up the flags on the telephone poles.  I know they have their reasons for not doing the events this year, but I think they could have at least put the flags on the poles for a few weeks leading up to today. 

O well.  My sister and her family are here from Pennsylvania, and there’s still lots of family in the area, so we all got together for lunch earlier, and my brother was headed to the store to buy fireworks.  We’ll see how that goes.  Here’s of the favorite pics I took at 2016’s fireworks display (keep in mind I ordinarily don’t take normal fireworks photos; I tend to go for the alt-shots).  I called this shot “80s album cover fireworks.”

IMG_8034 80s album cover fireworks

It’s also 47 years to the day when the inaugural AMERICAN TOP 40 broadcast was aired.  Happy Anniversary AT40!  That original broadcast (using the BILLBOARD Hot 100 chart dated July 4, 1970) included hits from artists who would continue to have hits in the 80s, like Stevie Wonder, Joe Cocker, Aretha Franklin, The Moody Blues and Chicago, had Rock And Roll royalty on the chart, like Three Dog Night, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Simon & Garfunkel, Sly & The Family Stone, and it had “The Long And Winding Road” by The Beatles.  The No. 1 song that week? “The Love You Save” by The Jackson 5.


Between 1979 and 1989, more than 40 songs reached No. 16 on BILLBOARD’s Hot 100 chart (the chart AT40 used in from 1970 through 1988, when Casey left AT40), and featured several songs by women (I told you’d they’d be back!), including songs by Quarterflash, Pointer Sisters, Sade, Katrina & The Waves (yes, they actually did had more than one hit!), Roberta Flack, and two from both Aretha Franklin and Stevie Nicks.

Songs that reached No. 16 also included four awesome (real) one-hit wonders Bob & Doug McKenzie (“Take Off”), Godley & Creme (“Cry”), Double (“The Captain Of Her Heart”) and French singer Patrick Hernandez (“Born To Be Alive,” which spent 15 weeks at No. 1 in his homeland of France).

born to be alive

Other notable No. 16 hits are Wang Chung’s “Dance Hall Days,” “Dreaming” by Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark, Electric Light Orchestra’s “I’m Alive” (from XANADU), “Renegade” by Styx, “Rock Of Ages” by Def Leppard, “Synchronicity II” by The Police, “Russians” by Sting, “Super Freak” by Rick James, Duran Duran’s “Save A Prayer” (a song released a few years too late to be a bigger hit here in America), and Madonna’s first single to reach both the Hot 100 and the Top 40, “Holiday.”

Hard to believe, but in the beginning, Madonna signed on for only two 12” singles with Sire Records.  I think she was just playing it smart.  Her first single, “Everybody,” was released in early October 1982, when she was 24 years old.  Though it was a No. 3 hit on BILLBOARD’s Dance chart (a double-A-sided 12” single with “Burning Up”), “Everybody” just missed the BILLBOARD Hot 100, stopping at No. 107.


Though “Everybody” failed to reach the Hot 100, both Sire co-founder Seymour Stein and Madonna were convinced something big was going to happen; maybe not right away, but soon.  They were right.

madonna n seymour

A happy day (“holiday?”) for Madonna and Sire Records co-founder, Seymour Stein…

Sire released Madonna’s self-titled debut album in late July 1983, and the first single from the album, “Holiday,” was released in early September 1983.  It was produced by her then-boyfriend and future longtime collaborator and remixer, John “Jellybean” Benitez, which would prove to be an incredibly brilliant move.

“Holiday” debuted on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 a couple of days before Halloween 1983 at No. 88.  Songs by Alabama, Linda Ronstadt and The Stray Cats all debuted higher that week, but “Holiday” would outlast them all.


By early December 1983, Madonna’s first Hot 100 hit became her first Top 40 hit, making a steady climb up the chart until stopping at No. 16 for two weeks in January / February 1984. 

Around the globe, “Holiday” enjoyed a nice chart run, and reached the Top 10 in the U.K., Australia, Belgium, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and even reached No. 25 on BILLBOARD’s R&B chart.

“Holiday” was still on the chart in March 1984 when her follow-up single, “Borderline,” debuted on the Hot 100.  That would go on to become her first Top 10 hit, reaching No. 10 and spending 30 weeks on the chart.  Then, “Lucky Star” would go on to reach No. 4 in late October 1984, and the rest, as they say, is history. 


Dick Clark interviewing Madonna on AMERICAN BANDSTAND, 1.14.1984.

patrick n madonna

Patrick Hernandez and Madonna on the beach in France…

Madonna famously performed “Holiday” on AMERICAN BANDSTAND in mid-January 1984 (video link below; for now anyway), a couple of weeks before “Holiday” peaked at No. 16.  In the post-song interview, she told Dick Clark how she went to Paris because of “Born To Be Alive” by Patrick Hernandez (another aforementioned member of the No. 16 chart club), and Patrick offered Madonna the opportunity to be a backup singer and dancer on his tour.

In that same January 14, 1984 interview, Dick Clark asked, “We are a couple of weeks into the New Year.  What do you hope will happen, not only in 1984 but the rest of your professional life?  What are your dreams?”  Madonna did not hesitate when she replied, “To rule the world.”  And, by the end of 1984, she did just that.  “Like A Virgin” ruled the Hot 100 and BILLBOARD’s Dance chart, and would rule the Pop charts in Australia, Canada and Japan, and would reach the Top 10 in at least 12 other countries. 

QUIRKY CHART FACT: In regards to Madonna’s comment about ruling the world, in the Spring of 1985, Tears For Fears nearly ruled Madonna’s chart world with their huge hit, “Everybody Wants To Rule The World,” which was No. 1 three songs after her No. 1 hit, “Crazy For You.”  (And, when the year-end chart for 1985 was tabulated, “Crazy For You” was ranked No. 9, and “Everybody Wants To Rule The World” was ranked No. 8.  But, admittedly, 1985 belonged to Madonna on the Pop charts and then some all over the world.)

TFF everybody

There have been a number of covers of “Holiday” over the years, including one by Sheffield, England Synthpoppers Heaven 17, who covered it in 1999.  A couple of years after the Madonna original, a Dutch Rap duo called MC Miker G & DJ Sven took the backing music of “Holiday” and created a rap over it, calling it (appropriately enough) “Holiday Rap” (which also borrows from Cliff Richard’s 1963 U.K. hit, “Summer Holiday”).

holiday rap

“Holiday Rap” was a huge hit in Europe, topping the charts in the Netherlands, France, Germany and Switzerland, and reaching the Top 10 in the U.K., Australia, Norway and Sweden.

Everyone who knows me knows that Cyndi Lauper is my all-time favorite recording artist, and has been for a long time.  Back in the 80s, though, Madonna did rule my Pop music world.  I have pretty much every 80s 12” single, every album, and even a VHS of “The Virgin Tour.”

cyndi n madonna

I don’t know when it was, but there was a time back in the 90s (maybe upon my move to Portland, Maine in 1994) when Cyndi became my favorite female recording artist over Madonna.  I still loved Madonna’s work, but Cyndi impressed me, even more so in the past 15 years (and not just because Cyndi was kind enough to be my first big interview on my STUCK IN THE 80s radio show). 

Since 2002, Cyndi Lauper has released an album of Standards, an Acoustic album, a Dance record, BILLBOARD’s No. 1 Blues album of 2010 (and near-Grammy Winner for Best Traditional Blues album; MEMPHIS BLUES), plus she’s had a reality TV show with her husband and young son, written an autobiography, wrote the score to the musical, KINKY BOOTS (for which she won a Tony Award), and last year, released an album of old Country standards.  Her version of Patsy Cline’s “I Fall To Pieces” still gives me goosebumps, it’s so damn good.  Most importantly, in 2008, Cyndi co-founded the True Colors Fund, a non-profit charity meant to educate folks about LGBT issues and to end LGBT youth homelessness.  How is it Cyndi’s not in the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame yet?!

cyndi n tony

Cyndi Lauper celebrating the meeting of her friend, Tony…

In comparison, the last Madonna album I truly loved is now 12 years old (the amazing CONFESSIONS ON A DANCE FLOOR from 2005, which stayed in my car for an entire year).  But, irregardless, Madonna (who turns 59 in August 2017) continues to do things on her terms, which has been a covenant of sorts for her since her music career began 35 years ago, and you’ve got to respect that.  I certainly do, even if I’m not so much digging the music as of late. 


I know “Holiday” isn’t about Independence Day, or any particular holiday, but today, it felt right to share, and yes, I am taking some time to celebrate.  You should too.  May the 4th (of July) be with you…


“If we took a holiday yeah / Took some time to celebrate / Just one day out of life / It would be so nice…”



song of the day – “Let Me Tickle Your Fancy” | JERMAINE JACKSON featuring DEVO | 1982.


On June 15, 2014, Casey Kasem, host of the longtime countdown program, AMERICAN TOP 40, passed away at the age of 82.  From my first blog post (and prolly some more inbetween then and now), I explained how, in 1979, I was a geeky, lanky and somewhat lost 12-year-old living in Central Maine, had a few friends and not a lot of interest in much of anything, but at some point early that year, I discovered AMERICAN TOP 40, and was glued to it every weekend.  Not only could I hear the 40 biggest songs in the country every week, but also Casey’s cool trivia and facts about the songs and the artists, a trait I treasure to this day.  For me, the show was No. 1 with a bullet.  And still is (thanks to the re-airing of broadcasts of AT40 on iHeart Radio).american-top-40-casey-kasem

In honor of my radio hero, Casey Kasem, for the entire month of June (and now through July), I will be highlighting a song each day (some days will have two songs!) that peaked in the Top 40 of the BILLBOARD Hot 100 (including five (real) one-hit wonders of the 80s), and with every blog post, just like on AMERICAN TOP 40, the hits will get bigger with each post.  On June 1, 2017, I featured a song that peaked at No. 40.  Sometime here in July, I’ll feature a “song of the day” that went all the way to No. 1. 

As Casey used to say on AT40, “And on we go!”

I may have mentioned this before in this series, but I have to say it’s been totally fun revisiting songs that peaked at each position of the Top 40 of the BILLBOARD Hot 100 from 1979 through 1989, and interesting how, as the chart peaks get higher (or the numbers get lower, take your pick), the number of songs that peaked at each position gets higher as well (or interesting to me, anyway).

More than 50 songs peaked at No. 18 between 1979 and 1989, and strangely, only 1/5 of those were by women (a ratio that will increase I’m sure as I continue the series), included three (real) one-hit wonders of the 80s, and two songs from Daryl Hall & John Oates (although, I think maybe Hall & Oates peaked at every position in the Top 40; prolly not, but sure seems like it!).

human touch

Boy, did I really want my hair to look like that in 1983!  I couldn’t pull it off, but that didn’t stop me from bringing in my copy of LIVING IN OZ to the hair stylist and saying, “Can you make my hair look like this?”  In my youth…

Out of the 50+ choices for this blog post, it was a close contest between “Walking On A Thin Line,” the fifth and final single from the monster album, SPORTS, by Huey Lewis & The News (a song about the post-war stress for vets coming home from the Vietnam War), “Sidewalk Talk” by Jellybean (written by Madonna, who sings backing vocals) and Rick Springfield’s “Human Touch” (THE most-requested Rick Springfield song on my former radio show, STUCK IN THE 80s, even more-requested than “Jessie’s Girl”)…

…but when I saw Jermaine Jackson’s “Let Me Tickle Your Fancy” on the list, the contest was over.

When you think of Jermaine Jackson 80s solo hits, what songs come to mind first?  “Let’s Get Serious” (written by Stevie Wonder)?  “Dynamite?”  “Tell Me I’m Not Dreaming” (with his brother, Michael Jackson)?  I’m betting all of the above.  I’m also betting “Let Me Tickle Your Fancy” was not on most people’s radar, then or now. 

tickle LP

“Let Me Tickle Your Fantasy” was the title track of Jermaine Jackson’s 1982 album, his final album for Motown Records.  Jermaine had stayed on with Motown after his other brothers left the label in the 70s, moved over to Epic and renamed themselves The Jacksons (Jermaine would rejoin them on The Jacksons’ 1984 album and tour, VICTORY).

The most unusual and fun fact about the song “Let Me Tickle Your Fancy” is that Devo sings backing vocals on it.  It’s one of the coolest one-time collaborations out there.  Devo had come off of their big 1980 hit, “Whip It,” released NEW TRADITIONALISTS in 1981 and were about to release OH NO! IT’S DEVO in November 1982. 

oh no it's devo

Believe it or not, Jermaine Jackson actually sought Devo out for this collaboration.  In a 1984 interview, Jermaine mentioned how he was getting into what he called “Modern Music” (i.e. New Wave), and loved the creativity Devo had in their videos.  When Jermaine called them up to see if they’d sing on “Let Me Tickle Your Fancy,” they didn’t think he was serious.  But that’s what Jermaine wanted: “When it’s just off the wall like that, if it’s great, it’s gonna make it the biggest thing ever.”

They both came from Midwestern cities (Jermaine from Gary, Indiana, Devo from Akron, Ohio), and the collaboration – though not the biggest thing ever, paid off, and more curiously, they actually sounded great and natural together.

tickle 12

The LET ME TICKLE YOUR FANCY album was released in early July 1982, and it did not take long for the “Let Me Tickle Your Fancy” single to reach the BILLBOARD Hot 100, debuting at No. 75 only a couple weeks later.  “Let Me Tickle Your Fancy” landed in the Top 40 about a month later, on its way to a No. 18 peak for two weeks in September / October 1982.  It also reached No. 5 on BILLBOARD’s R&B chart.

I’m unsure as to why, but an entire year after “Let Me Tickle Your Fancy” left the Hot 100, Jermaine (joined by “Spud and Pud Devo” – Mark Mothersbaugh and Gerald Casale) appeared on a Dick Clark-produced Halloween special called A MAGICAL, MUSICAL HALLOWEEN.  Other musical guests included Billy Joel, Toni Basil, Eddie Money and William Shatner.  Still, the performance is interesting to watch (the sound isn’t great and it’s kinda dark, but the video link is at the end of the post).

magical halloween

I love it when recording artists unite for just one song, whether it turns out to be a killer hit or just a fun thing to do.  The KLF and Tammy Wynette teamed up back in 1991 for “Justified & Ancient” (a song whose origins date back to 1987).  Madonna and Prince teamed up for “Love Song” (on her 1989 LIKE A PRAYER album), and of course there’s the brilliant “Under Pressure” by Queen and David Bowie, to name a few. 

under pressure

Two other No. 18 hits in the 80s had great one-time collaborations as well – “Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves” by Eurythmics & Aretha Franklin, and (real) one-hit wonder Clarence Clemons, who got some help from Jackson Browne on “You’re A Friend Of Mine.”

For most who remember the song, the quirky pairing of Jermaine Jackson and Devo is what folks remember the most about “Let Me Tickle Your Fancy.”  And while it prolly didn’t get any woman to tickle Jermaine’s fancy, I will forever remember it for being a really fun, albeit mostly-forgotten song…

jermaine full

song of the day – “Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves” | EURYTHMICS AND ARETHA FRANKLIN | 1985.


Happy International Women’s Day!  So many great anthems for women released in the 80s to choose from, but I went with a kick-ass 1985 gem that called to me today and which united – for one time – a woman from Aberdeen, Scotland (Annie Lennox), a man from Sunderland, England (David A. Stewart) and another woman from Memphis, Tennessee by way of Detroit, Michigan (Aretha Franklin) – “Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves.”

be yourself tonight

When Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart were putting together their fifth studio album as Eurythmics, BE YOURSELF TONIGHT, they wrote what turned out to be an 80s (and beyond) feminist anthem called “Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves,” and had intended on doing a duet with Tina Turner, who in 1984 had the biggest comeback of the year, perhaps of the entire decade.


However, Tina Turner was not available to record the duet, so Annie and Dave asked Aretha if she’d sing it, and luckily for us, she agreed.  “Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves” was the third single released from BE YOURSELF TONIGHT, the biggest-selling album to date for Eurythmics.  It was also included on Aretha’s 1985 album, WHO’S ZOOMIN’ WHO?, which oddly enough was Aretha’s first Platinum-selling album here in America.

“Sisters Are Doin’ It For Themselves,” which additionally features three members of Tom Petty’s Heartbreakers (including Mike Campbell on guitar), debuted on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 in the latter half of October 1985, and spent a quick week at their peak position of No. 18 in early December 1985, a week after Aretha Franklin peaked at No. 7 with the title song from her own album, WHO’S ZOOMIN’ WHO?

The feminist anthem was also well-received around the globe, reaching No. 5 in Ireland, No. 6 in New Zealand, No. 9 in the U.K., No. 10 on BILLBOARD’s Dance chart, and the Top 20 in Australia, Belgium, Holland and Switzerland.

arm wrestle

I think Dave Stewart is gonna lose this one…

A number of cover versions of “Sisters” have been released over the years, including one from Lisa Simpson (voiced by Yeardley Smith), Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart and Lisa’s aunts, Patty and Selma Bouvier on The Simpsons’ 1998 album, THE YELLOW ALBUM, a play on The Beatles’ WHITE ALBUM from 1968, with its cover as a parody of 1967’s SGT. PEPPER’S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND.  It’s also been covered by The Pointer Sisters, The Spice Girls and even Lucy Lawless covered it on her popular TV show, XENA: WARRIOR PRINCESS.

Earlier on this special day, I saw an amazing and beautiful Facebook post from one of my best friends, Shawn in NYC, a post in which he’s kind enough to allow me to share here, and a sentiment I wish to echo:

“Happy Women’s Day to all of you strong, intelligent, and beautiful women.  I have nothing but love, respect, and appreciation for who you are, what you do, and all you have to put up with.” 

That’s damn right.  Thank you Shawn.  And thank you, girls, ladies, women.  With women equalling about half of the population of the world, it still bugs me that folks continue to call the human race “mankind.”  Hell, “mankind” wouldn’t exist without women.  Just sayin’ it like it is…


“Now there was a time when they used to say / That behind every great man there had to be a great woman / But in these times of change you know it’s no longer true / So we’re comin’ out of the kitchen / ‘Cause there’s something we forgot to say to you / We say: Sisters are doin’ it for themselves…”

eurythmics aretha 1

song of the day – “Peter Gunn” | THE ART OF NOISE featuring DUANE EDDY | 1986.

One of my favorite bands, The Art Of Noise (out of London), had been around for a few years before they landed on my music radar in 1986 with their magnificent cover of Henry Mancini’s “Peter Gunn,” the theme from the 1958 TV show of the same name. 

peter gunn

The first version of “Peter Gunn” (released as a single) was by trumpeter Ray Anthony and reached No. 8 on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 in 1959.  Many folks have covered “Peter Gunn” over the years, including versions by The Kingsmen in 1965, Emerson, Lake & Palmer in 1979, Aretha Franklin in 1980, and a kick-ass vocal version by Atlanta’s The Jody Grind on their 1990 debut album, ONE MAN’S TRASH IS ANOTHER MAN’S TREASURE.duane eddy peter gunn 

Prolly the best-known version of “Peter Gunn” was recorded by Corning, New York Rockabilly guitar legend Duane Eddy in 1959, which was a U.K. Top 10 hit that would find its way to a No. 27 peak on the Hot 100 in 1960. 

For their 1986 cover of “Peter Gunn” (found on their second album, IN VISIBLE SILENCE), The Art Of Noise decided to recruit Duane Eddy for their version.  It proved to be a smart move.  The Rockabilly guitar stylings of Duane Eddy against the Alt-Dance work of The Art Of Noise meshed well together and created one of the band’s biggest hits, and gave The Art Of Noise their first Hot 100 hit, and gave Duane Eddy his first Hot 100 hit in 23 years. in visible silence

“Peter Gunn” peaked at No. 50 on the Hot 100 in early July 1986 and fared even better on BILLBOARD’s Dance chart, reaching No. 2.  Around the globe, “Peter Gunn” hit No. 3 in New Zealand, No. 6 in Ireland, No. 8 in the U.K., No. 10 in Austria, No. 14 in Canada and No. 17 in both Germany and Switzerland.  The video featured the late, great actor Rik Mayall (you prolly know him best from THE YOUNG ONES and DROP DEAD FRED), and the song even won a Grammy Award for Best Rock Instrumental Performance.

Duane Eddy, who just turned 78 in April, last recorded a studio album in 2011 (ROAD TRIP), and The Art Of Noise were last together in 2000, but it was this amazing collaboration and cover version of “Peter Gunn” that I will love forever, especially since it’s the song that introduced me to The Art Of Noise.  It’s one of the finest pieces of music I’ve ever heard, courtesy of a man with a twangy guitar and a band that did their own thing and did it well…