song of the day – “Dancing In The Dark” | BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN | 1984.

casey-kasem-at40-abc-billboard-650

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, since the start of June, I have been highlighting songs that peaked in the Top 40 of the BILLBOARD Hot 100 (including five (real) one-hit wonders of the 80s), just like on AMERICAN TOP 40, the hits have gotten bigger with each post.  On June 1, 2017, I featured a song that peaked at No. 40.  With the next post, 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!”

If you listened to AMERICAN TOP 40 as faithfully as I did back in the 80s, before Nos. 2 and 1 were announced, he’d usually take a commercial break before announcing them, and would usually say, “The two biggies are coming right up!”  “The two biggies.”  Always cracked me up and still does.

But, when it came to AMERICAN TOP 40, “the two biggies” were, in fact, a big deal.  There a few positions on the chart that are the most frustrating, like Nos. 101, 41 and 11, but no other peak position on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 (or any singles chart, for that matter) was more frustrating to stop at than No. 2.

Foreigner endured the No. 2 position the longest in the 80s, spending 10 weeks in the runner-up spot in 1981 and 1982 with “Waiting For A Girl Like You,” a chart record Foreigner still shares to this day.  And I believe Madonna, who has six No. 2 songs to her credit (four of them in the 80s), still holds the chart record for most No. 2 singles in Hot 100 history.

waiting for a girl like you

All told, nearly 100 songs reached No. 2 between 1979 and 1989, including songs by three Beatles (Paul McCartney, John Lennon, and George Harrison, whose 1981 No. 2 hit, “All Those Years Ago,” was a tribute to John Lennon), two Jacksons (Michael and Janet), and a couple of (real) one-hit wonders, including the Cold War Classic by Nena, “99 Luftballons.”

99 luftballons

danger zoneSome of the biggest songs in history that maybe you thought were No. 1 hits in America were actually No. 2 hits, such as “Girls Just Want To Have Fun” by Cyndi Lauper, “Easy Lover” by Philip Bailey and Phil Collins, “We Got The Beat” by The Go-Go’s, “Electric Avenue” by Eddy Grant, “Danger Zone” by Kenny Loggins, “Hurts So Good” by John Mellencamp, “Start Me Up” by The Rolling Stones and “Purple Rain” by Prince And The Revolution.

Several artists peaked at No. 2 between 1979 and 1989 with two songs, including The Bangles, Culture Club (with their first two hits), Air Supply, Duran Duran, Glenn Frey, Kool & The Gang, John Mellencamp, Billy Ocean (including the guilty pleasure, “Loverboy,” which a DJ back in the day once referred to as “Heavy Metal Disco”; I would disagree), plus Robert Palmer, Pointer Sisters, Linda Ronstadt (in two big duets with James Ingram and Aaron Neville), Tina Turner and Jody Watley. 

loverboy

Michael Jackson gets an honorable mention, as he peaked at No. 2 with “The Girl Is Mine” with Paul McCartney, and he is featured in an uncredited role backing up Rockwell on “Somebody’s Watching Me.”  Likewise with Sheena Easton, who backed up Prince uncredited on “U Got The Look” and had her own No. 2 hit in 1989 with the sexy Dance hit, “The Lover In Me” (a long way from when she took that “Morning Train” to No. 1 in 1981; I’m sure Prince may have had something to do with it).

the lover in me

Speaking of Prince, he had three No. 2 hits between 1979 and 1989, or in this case, 1984 through 1987, with the aforementioned “Purple Rain” and “U Got The Look,” but also with “Raspberry Beret.”  He, too, gets an honorable mention, as he composed the No. 2 hit for The Bangles, “Manic Monday.”

lovesong

And a number longtime recording artists saw their biggest hits stop at No. 2, like The Cure (“Lovesong”), Journey (“Open Arms”), The Greg Kihn Band (“Jeopardy”), and Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing In The Dark.”

If there was any one huge artist in the 80s I wanted to see reach No. 1 on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 singles chart, it was Bruce Springsteen.  I was first introduced to Bruce’s music with 1980’s “Hungry Heart,” from his first No. 1 album, THE RIVER.  At the time, I had no idea he had already released four critically-acclaimed and successful albums.

hungry heart

After “Hungry Heart,” I was a Bruce fan for life – granted, not the superfan that Hope is, but I don’t think anyone loves Bruce’s work more than Hope, except maybe for Bruce’s wife, Patti Scialfa.

“Dancing In The Dark” was released in early May 1984, a month before the BORN IN THE U.S.A. album was released.  And, right out of the gate, it was a hit.  “Dancing In The Dark” blasted onto the BILLBOARD Hot 100 the last week of May 1984 all the way into the Top 40, at No. 36.  By the next week, it was already No. 18, with its eyes set on No. 1.

dancing in the dark

Bruce had hit No. 1 before – as a songwriter.  A song from his 1973 debut album, GREETINGS FROM ASBURY PARK, N.J. – “Blinded By The Light” – was recorded by the London Rock band, Manfred Mann’s Earth Band, in 1977, and spent a week at No. 1 on the Hot 100 in February 1977, exactly four years to the month when Bruce’s original was released as a single.

bruce blinded

“Dancing In The Dark” had a lot going for it – a popular video directed by Brian de Palma (SCARFACE, THE UNTOUCHABLES, CARRIE, DRESSED TO KILL and the first MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE film) with actress Courtney Cox (FAMILY TIES, FRIENDS) dancing with Bruce on the stage (the video would win the MTV Video Music Award for Best Stage Performance). 

courtney n bruce

It also had a 12” Dance remix courtesy of Arthur Baker (who’s remixed songs for Daryl Hall & John Oates, Afrika Bambaataa, Cyndi Lauper, Pet Shop Boys and New Order).  The “Blaster Mix” was miles away from anything on 1982’s NEBRASKA or 1980’s THE RIVER, but people loved it.  Not only did it reach No. 7 on BILLBOARD’s Dance chart, it was the biggest-selling 12” single for all of 1984.  Arthur Baker would also go on to remix the follow-up Bruce singles “Cover Me” and “Born In The U.S.A.” as well.

blaster mix

As much as “Dancing In The Dark” had going for it in its second week on the Hot 100, another single debuting on the same chart that early June was “When Doves Cry” by Prince, released in advance of the album and film, PURPLE RAIN.  “When Doves Cry” reached the Top 40 a week later, and just like “Dancing In The Dark,” made a big move into the Top 20 the following week.

By late June 1984, “Dancing In The Dark” had climbed to No. 4, while “When Doves Cry” was closing in at No. 8.  The following week, “When Doves Cry” had jumped to No. 3, and “Dancing In The Dark” was at No. 2, right behind Duran Duran’s “The Reflex.”

“When Doves Cry” proved to be too powerful for “Dancing In The Dark,” which stayed for four weeks in the runner-up position.  “When Doves Cry” was the biggest song of 1984 here in America.

when doves cry back

Though “Dancing In The Dark” didn’t reach No. 1, Bruce Springsteen still had a lot to be proud of.  The song gave Bruce his first Grammy Award, winning for Best Rock Vocal Performance.  In the 1984 ROLLING STONE readers poll, “Dancing In The Dark” was voted “Single Of The Year.”  It’s also listed as one of The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame’s 500 Songs That Shaped Rock And Roll.”  It sold a million copies in the U.S. alone, and the single’s B-side (one of the best ever), “Pink Cadillac,” was a Top 5 hit for Natalie Cole in 1988.

pink cadillac

Around the globe, “Dancing In The Dark” was an international smash (though in some countries it took awhile), reaching No. 1 in Belgium and the Netherlands, No. 2 in Ireland, New Zealand and Sweden, No. 4 in South Africa and the U.K., No. 7 in Canada and Norway, No. 11 in Finland and No. 12 in Italy.  In Australia, though it stopped at No. 5, it was the No. 1 song of the year, spending 40 weeks on the singles chart there.

“Dancing In The Dark” was just the first part of an amazing journey for Bruce Springsteen and the BORN IN THE U.S.A. album.  Seven out of the album’s 12 songs were released as singles, and all seven reached the Top 10 on the Hot 100 between 1984 and 1986, tying a record set in 1984 by Michael Jackson’s THRILLER album. 

born in the usa LP

BRUCE_SPRINGSTEEN_BORN+IN+THE+USA+-+LONG+BOX-219449b

The first compact disc manufactured in the U.S.A. was BORN IN THE U.S.A.

BORN IN THE U.S.A. was No. 1 on BILLBOARD’s album chart twice, in July / August 1984 and January / February 1985.  PURPLE RAIN may have been the album of the year here in the U.S. for 1984 (BORN IN THE U.S.A. was No. 28), but for 1985, BORN IN THE U.S.A. was the No. 1 album of the year in America (and even No. 16 for 1986).

NERDY FUN FACT: BORN IN THE U.S.A. was the first compact disc manufactured in the U.S. for commercial release.  I remember seeing it at a DeOrsey’s in Waterville, Maine, and think it sold for something like $25.00.  And the record album still sounds better.

NERDY FUN FACT 2: According to a 1984 ROLLING STONE interview, the “Dancing In The Dark” Blaster Mix by Arthur Baker happened because Bruce had heard the remix Arthur did for Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want To Have Fun,” and he thought it was incredible: “It sounded like fun, so I hooked up with Arthur.  He’s a character, a great guy.  He had another fellow with him, and they were really pretty wild.  They’d get on that mixing board and just crank them knobs, you know?  The meters were goin’ wild.”

cyndi girls

Bruce Springsteen is one of those rare artists who have been on the same record label from the start – Columbia.  Two other Columbia artists instantly come to mind – Barbra Streisand and Bob Dylan.  There won’t be anyone else like them.  Ever. 

bob n bruce

Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen (along with many other familiar faces) at the “We Are The World” recording session, 1985.

If you pull away the catchy dance beat, “Dancing In The Dark” is a personal song about the difficulty of writing a hit song and Bruce’s frustration of trying to write songs that will please everyone.  Though I’m thinking Bruce would have liked to have another of his more personal songs become his biggest hit, I would almost bet my record collection he’s alright with that hit being “Dancing In The Dark.”

e st band

Bruce Springsteen with The E Street Band, 1984.

“You can’t start a fire / You can’t start a fire without a spark / This gun’s for hire / Even if we’re just dancing in the dark…”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=129kuDCQtHs

bruce 84

song of the day #2 – “What I Am” | EDIE BRICKELL & NEW BOHEMIANS | 1989.

casey-kasem-at40-abc-billboard-650

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!”

Nearly 80 songs reached No. 7 on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 between 1979 and 1989, a list comprised of many (then) up-and-coming R&B / Hip Hop and Dance stars, like those awesome Beastie Boys (with “(You Gotta) Fight For Your Right (To Party!)”), plus Young MC bustin’ a move, Babyface, Bobby Brown, Dino and Karyn White.

fight for your right

No. 7 was a popular number for hits for The Cars, Michael Jackson and Juice Newton, who had two No. 7 hits each.  There were also No. 7 hits from Bruce Springsteen, and Rhode Island’s answer to Bruce Springsteen – John Cafferty & The Beaver Brown Band, plus you had Heart and Corey Hart (“Who Will You Run To” when you have on “Sunglasses At Night?”).  Heart’s Ann Wilson also reached No. 7 with “Almost Paradise,” the love theme from FOOTLOOSE, a duet with (real) one-hit wonder Mike Reno of Loverboy.

smooth criminal

The No. 1 artist of the 80s, with his last hit of the 80s, one of two solo songs that reached No. 7 for Michael Jackson.

In 1989, though they would be their last Top 10 American hits, there were a few 70s superstars who had big comeback hits that reached No. 7 – Bee Gees (“One”; their first Top 10 hit since 1979), Alice Cooper (“Poison”; his first Top 10 hit since 1977), and Donna Summer (“This Time I Know It’s For Real”; her first Top 10 hit since 1983).

donna summer

1989 was a huge year for No. 7 hits on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 – 14 of them reached the peak that year.  One of those songs was a song was by a singer, at the time, that I could not stand and a song, at the time, I could stand even less – “What I Am” by Edie Brickell & New Bohemians.

Ever have some songs that just eat away at you for whatever reason?  Sure you do.  A handful of songs from the 80s do that to me.  Maybe one day I’ll mention them.  When “What I Am” came out, there was just something about it that was so as repulsive to me.  I don’t know if it was the hippie-ish nature of Edie Brickell, her voice, or the guitar style that sounded like something Jerry Garcia of The Grateful Dead would do (I was also not a fan of The Dead in 1989).  Whatever it was that bugged the fuck out of me about that song, it’s long gone now.

The New Bohemians formed as a trio in Dallas, Texas in the early 80s.  The drummer for The New Bohemians, Brandon Aly, guitarist Kenny Withrow and percussionist John Bush had all attended the same magnet performing arts school as Dallas native Edie Brickell, though at the time, Edie was there for art, not music.

In 1985, Edie Brickell was asked to join the band onstage and sing with them, and she continued on from there.  After being a local favorite for years, playing in clubs and even backing Bo Diddley one time, the band’s big break came in August 1988, when they released their first album as Edie Brickell & New Bohemians, SHOOTING RUBBERBANDS AT THE STARS.

shooting rubberbands

Edie Brickell was just 22 years old at the time (I believe they were all young), and SHOOTING RUBBERBANDS was incredibly well-received for a debut album by a young band.  In a review on the AllMusic site by Kelly McCartney, Edie Brickell’s “simple observations offer deep contemplations for the willing disciples of her musical philosophies.  ‘What I Am’ is the perfect example: ‘I’m not aware of too many too many things / I know what I know, if you know what I mean…’  Zen and the art of songwriting.”

Well, the songwriting, the vocals, the Alt-Folk tunage – it all found a place in homes and radio stations and record stores across the country, and eventually SHOOTING RUBBERBANDS AT THE STARS sold than two million copies in the U.S. alone. 

The first single from SHOOTING RUBBERBANDS, “What I Am,” was released in November 1988, a few months after the release of the album.  By month’s end, it debuted on BILLBOARD’s Hot 100 chart at No. 96.  By mid-January 1989, “What I Am” had found its way to the Top 40 of the Hot 100, and for several weeks since debuting on the chart, had been in competition with Information Society’s “Walking Away,” which debuted a couple places below “What I Am” back in late November 1988. 

what i am

By mid-February 1989, “What I Am” surpassed “Walking Away” for the first time since they debuted, and in early March 1989, “What I Am” spent a week at its peak position of No. 7.  And, in good form (though unintentional, I’m sure), both “What I Am” and “Walking Away” walked away the Hot 100 in early April 1989.

walking away

Around the globe, “What I Am” was a No. 6 hit in Canada, and it reached No. 11 in New Zealand, No. 18 in Australia, No. 23 in Ireland and No. 31 in the United Kingdom.  It also reached No. 4 on BILLBOARD’s Modern Rock chart, and No. 9 on BILLBOARD’s Mainstream Rock chart.  

Edie & The New Bohemians charted on the Hot 100 just one more time, with “Circle,” the follow-up single to “What I Am,” which stopped at No. 48, and was a modest hit around the globe, reaching the Top 40 in Belgium and the Netherlands.

circle

paul n edie march 2016

Paul Simon and Edie Brickell, March 2016.

QUIRKY FUN FACT: On November 5, 1988, the same month “What I Am” was released, Edie and the band performed the song on SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE.  Well, Paul Simon was there by a cameraman, and in a January 2011 interview with the TODAY show, she said, “Even though I’d performed the song hundreds of times in clubs, [Paul] made me forget how the song went when I looked at him,” she said smiling. “We can show the kids the tape and say, ‘Look, that’s when we first laid eyes on each other’.”  Paul Simon and Edie Brickell were married in late May 1992, and they have three children – Adrian, Lulu and Gabriel.

After a six-year break in the 90s, Edie Brickell & New Bohemians have been together for the past 20 years, most-recently playing three sold out nights in April 2017 in the Dallas suburb where Edie was born, Oak Cliff. 

edie april 2017

Edie Brickell, Oak Cliff, Dallas, Texas, April 2017.

When she’s not working with New Bohemians (their last album was in 2006), she’s released several of her own albums, including her other band, The Gaddabouts, and has recorded two Bluegrass albums with the brilliant Steve Martin – 2013’s LOVE HAS COME FOR YOU and 2015’s SO FAMILIAR.  Both albums went to No. 1 on BILLBOARD’s Bluegrass Albums chart.  LOVE HAS COME FOR YOU was BILLBOARD’s No. 1 Bluegrass album for 2013, and No. 3 for 2014.  SO FAMILIAR was the No. 3 Bluegrass Album for BILLBOARD in 2016, six positions higher than the year-end chart for the year it was released.

so familiar

In the liner notes for SHOOTING RUBBERBANDS AT THE STARS, Edie Brickell wrote out some annotations about each song on the album, replete with illustrations. For “What I Am,” she wrote, “‘What I Am’ is a smart-alec’s way out of a deep discussion on the universe as it relates to the self.” 

Well, as for this self, I’m not trying to get out of a deep, universal discussion as to why “What I Am” and Edie & Co. didn’t do anything for me for all those years, though maybe it was more of “Who I Am” than “What I Am.”  And while I’m still not a big fan (although I LOVE their 1989 cover of Bob Dylan’s “A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall” from BORN ON THE FOURTH OF JULY), I’m glad the song eventually grew on me, and became part of what – and who – I like…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tDl3bdE3YQA

edie n co 1

song of the day – “The One I Love” | R.E.M. | 1987.

casey-kasem-at40-abc-billboard-650

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!”

Nearly 80 songs found a home at the No. 9 position of the BILLBOARD Hot 100 between 1979 and 1989, and many of them seemed to be split up into categories, like the (real) one-hit wonders – Gary Numan, Buckner & Garcia, Ollie & Jerry and Oran “Juice” Jones. 

pac-man fever

Then you had the first big Top 10 hits (or first big Top 10 solo hits) by established artists – “Let My Love Open The Door” by Pete Townshend, “Touch Of Grey” by The Grateful Dead, “Hit Me With Your Best Shot” by Pat Benatar, “Trouble” by Lindsey Buckingham, “Don’t Shed A Tear” by Paul Carrack, “Lovin’ Every Minute Of It” by Loverboy, “Rush Hour” by Jane Wiedlin of The Go-Go’s, “Be Near Me” by ABC and “Burning Down The House” by Talking Heads.

rush hour

A few second-chance singles reached No. 9 as well – In 1982, Steve Winwood’s original version of “Valerie” stalled at No. 70, while a remix on the CHRONICLE hits compilation in 1987 propelled the song to No. 9.  The Pointer Sisters’ No. 30 hit from 1982, “I’m So Excited,” re-entered the chart in 1984 with a new mix and a new chart peak.  Ben E. King’s iconic No. 4 hit from 1961,“Stand By Me,” re-entered the chart in 1986 thanks to the brilliant film of the same name, and charted in the Top 10 for the second time, 25 years apart.

stand by me

Plus, you also had No. 9 hits from well-known artists that have been mostly forgotten for whatever reason (though not by me), like “Walking Away” by Information Society, “Room To Move” by Animotion, “We’re Ready” by Boston, “Love Will Save The Day” by Whitney Houston, “Love Will Conquer All” by Lionel Richie, “I Know What I Like” by Huey Lewis & The News, “Love You Down” by Ready For The World and “Let’s Go!” by Wang Chung (who could forget that one?!).

let's go

And, there were the big Top 10 comeback hits (“The Doctor” by The Doobie Brothers, “Your Wildest Dreams” by The Moody Blues, “You Got It” by the late, great Roy Orbison), and folks who had more than one No. 9 hit – Sheena Easton, Dan Fogelberg, Barry Manilow, John Mellencamp and The Motels, all with two No. 9 hits, while both Bruce Springsteen and Journey had three each.

you got it

In the Summer of 1987, I was two years removed from high school and DJing wedding receptions, and spinning tunes and showing music videos to crowds of up to 600 teenagers and young adults at a chem-free night club in Waterville, Maine (called Studio 2).  That’s where I met Michael, one of my future best friends, who somehow conned me into giving him my 45 of “Burning Down The House” either the night I met him or the next time I saw him.  Clever bastard.

burning down the house

There’s not a whole lot of nightclubbing to be had by youngsters here in Central Maine, even less so now.  I met Michael on a Wednesday, when Studio 2 was trying out a mid-week night, trying to duplicate their popular Saturday night dance excursions for the area youth.

Though the Wednesday experiment didn’t work, I’m forever grateful to have met Michael that night.  He came down with a crowd from Pittsfield, about 20 miles north of Waterville, and they wanted to hear Alternative music.  Well, by the Summer of 1987, my knowledge of “Alternative music” consisted of select songs by Depeche Mode, The Cure, The Clash, Talking Heads and R.E.M., and maybe The Cult and a couple others, but that was about it. 

people are people

From that moment on, Michael and I became close friends (he was just out of high school), and he started his 30-year (so far) tutelage of music I never even knew about.  And some of those bands and singers (Robyn Hitchcock especially), Michael has influenced and inflicted more music on me than anyone, and while I still love most of the Top 40 music I grew up with, I am a HUGE fan of Alt-Dance and Alt-Rock today, mostly thanks to Michael.

robyn

Thank you, Michael, for introducing me to Robyn Hitchcock and his music all those years ago.  One of the best things anyone ever did for me…

R.E.M. was one of those bands that did have a Top 40 hit in 1987, and I had no idea prior to “The One I Love” and its parent album, DOCUMENT, that they had been together since 1980 and had already released four critically-acclaimed, full-length albums and an EP, but through Michael’s amazing music collection, I was introduced to all of it.  When I went back to college in 1990 (or College 2.0 if you prefer), Michael made me a mix tape (when there was still such a thing) of R.E.M. songs up through 1990.  I still have it!

Formed in Athens, GA in 1980, R.E.M. – consisting of singer Michael Stipe, guitarist Peter Buck, bassist and backing vocalist Mike Mills and drummer Bill Berry – were critical darlings in their first several years, and had some success on BILLBOARD’s album chart – their first four albums were certified Gold – but on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 singles chart, they couldn’t chart any higher than No. 78. 

But somehow, with DOCUMENT (their last album for I.R.S. Records), they broke out beyond the critical praise of music journalists and college programmers and landed into the realm of commercial radio, and garnered a shit-ton more fans, yours truly included. 

document

Part of the success of DOCUMENT is most likely attributed to Scott Litt, who worked with R.E.M. for the first time, and he produced the album.  He would also go on to produce their next five albums (the first five R.E.M. albums for Warner Bros.), and all five albums did incredibly well.

The album was universally hailed as a great achievement.  ROLLING STONE’s David Fricke called the album R.E.M.’s “finest album to date” and how DOCUMENT is “a vibrant summary of past tangents and current strengths, [it] is the sound of R.E.M. on the move, the roar of a band that prides itself on the measure of achievement and the element of surprise.  The end of rock & roll as R.E.M. knows it is a long way off.”

Pitchfork said of the album on DOCUMENT’s 25th Anniversary in 2012: “If 1985’s FABLES OF THE RECONSTRUCTION was R.E.M.’s most self-consciously Southern record to date and 1986’s LIFES RICH PAGEANT their most overtly political, DOCUMENT maintained both their regional self-definition as well as their indirect social engagement.”

the one i love v1

The first single from DOCUMENT, “The One I Love,” was released in August 1987, a month before the album.  The song was oft-mistaken for a love song (and maybe still is, I’m not sure).  It even might have been featured as one of Casey’s “Long Distance Dedications.”  But, the song is just the opposite.  Michael Stipe has said “The One I Love” is about “using people over and over.  It’s deceptive because it could be a love song until the line, ‘A simple prop to occupy my time’.”

Well, deceptive or not, something worked.  “The One I Love” debuted on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 in mid-September 1987 at No. 84.  The following week, it had already surpassed the three previous R.E.M. singles to reach the Hot 100.  A month after its debut, it shot into the Top 40.

Two weeks after its Top 40 debut, it won the Sales award for that week.  And in early December 1987, the first Top 40 hit for R.E.M. became their first Top 10 hit, as “The One I Love” spent a week at No. 9.  In an interview that appeared in ROLLING STONE a couple of days before, Michael Stipe half-jokingly spoke of the song’s oft-misinterpretation: “I’ve always left myself pretty open to interpretation.  It’s probably better that they just think it’s a love song at this point.”

the one i love v2

Another version of the cover art for “The One I Love.”

“The One I Love” stayed on the Hot 100 for 20 weeks, spending their last week on the chart in late January 1988, the same week follow-up single, “It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (And I Feel Fine)” made its debut.  Both songs helped propel the DOCUMENT album, and it was the band’s first album to be certified Platinum, and wouldn’t be their last.

Around the globe, “The One I Love” reached No. 5 in Ireland, No. 6 in New Zealand, No. 14 in Canada, No. 16 in the U.K., and No. 2 on BILLBOARD’s Mainstream Rock chart.  Once BILLBOARD got their Modern Rock chart going September 1988, R.E.M. was the first band to have two No. 1 songs on that chart – “Orange Crush” (eight weeks at No. 1) and “Stand” (two weeks).

After R.E.M. left I.R.S. for Warner Bros., the band’s success exploded from there.  They would go on to have two No. 1 albums – 1991’s OUT OF TIME and 1994’s MONSTER, two No. 2 albums – the brilliant AUTOMATIC FOR THE PEOPLE from 1992 and 1996’s NEW ADVENTURES IN HI-FI, a No. 3 album, 1998’s UP, eight more Top 40 hits (led by 1991’s “Losing My Religion”), and an incredible contract with Warner Bros. that gave them quite a ride for awhile.

R.E.M. broke up in 2011 after more than 30 years of putting out amazing music.  Though I sadly never got to see the band perform, in March 2007, I was 10 feet in front of Peter Buck at a show in Cambridge, MA at T.T. The Bear’s, when he was part of Robyn Hitchcock & The Venus 3 (I was also standing next to Amanda Palmer of The Dresden Dolls, though I think Michael – who was a huge fan of her and her band – had to point her out to me). 

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Robyn Hitchcock and Peter Buck, hamming it up at SXSW, March 2007.

Robyn & Peter & the rest of The Venus 3 played some Venus 3 originals, covers by The Beatles, Bob Dylan, Pink Floyd, and some of Robyn’s songs, both solo and with The Soft Boys.  It was an incredible show.  That’s attributed to Michael, for introducing me to Robyn Hitchcock from the start of our friendship.

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Mike Mills, Record Store Day 2014.

I also got to meet Mike Mills when he came for a signing at Record Store Day at the Bull Moose in Scarborough, Maine in 2014.  Bull Moose’s Chris Brown was the inspiration for Record Store Day (also founded in 2007), and I believe the inspiration for getting Mike Mills to come to the store that day.  In the brief moment I met him, Mike was very cool and really down to earth, and he was kind enough to sign a GREEN 25th Anniversary CD for a WMPG auction, and for me, he signed the 4-album set Mike was promoting, R.E.M.’s UNPLUGGED: THE COMPLETE 1991 AND 2001 SESSIONS.  So, I got to see half of R.E.M., in a sorta roundabout way.

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It’s funny, “The One I Love” is NOT the R.E.M. song I love the most.  I actually can’t choose a favorite.  But, if I could choose more than one, that distinction would go to “Laughing” (from 1983’s MURMUR), the 1981 Hib-Tone version of “Radio Free Europe,” “Cuyahoga” and “I Believe” (from my favorite 80s R.E.M. album, 1986’s LIFES RICH PAGEANT), “Can’t Get There From Here” (from 1985’s FABLES OF THE RECONSTRUCTION, and an old popular saying here in Maine), “Near Wild Heaven” and “Belong” (from 1991’s OUT OF TIME), “At My Most Beautiful” (from 1998’s UP), the original 1992 version and the 1999 orchestral version of “Man On The Moon,” and “Nightswimming” (from my favorite 90s R.E.M. album, 1992’s AUTOMATIC FOR THE PEOPLE). 

But, “The One I Love” will always be the R.E.M. song that I loved FIRST, and, with Michael’s help, made me love the band’s music forever…

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Me and Michael, 10.31.2015, right before the wedding of his daughter, Devon.  Can’t remember if he or one of his sisters was trying to make me laugh. ‘Twas a really great day of many in a wonderful friendship…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j7oQEPfe-O8

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xmas song of the day – “Talking Christmas Goodwill Blues” | JOHN WESLEY HARDING | 1989.

Happy Holidays!  Since it’s the first year of my blog, and since it’s the last year for my Annual Holiday Show on my little 20-year-old 80s radio program, STUCK IN THE 80s (on WMPG community radio in Portland, Maine), I wanted to present to you THE 31 DAYS OF 80s XMAS SONGS, or, 31 of my favorite 80s holiday musical treats.

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For Day 22 of THE 31 DAYS OF 80s XMAS SONGS, it’s a holiday gem from 1989 called “Talking Christmas Goodwill Blues,” an original Xmas song by Wesley Stace – a recording artist who picked up his stage name, John Wesley Harding, from the 1967 Bob Dylan album of the same name.

“Talking Christmas Goodwill Blues” is from John’s debut release on Sire / Reprise Records, GOD MADE ME DO IT – THE CHRISTMAS EP, a five-track EP which also features an interview with John (or, “A Cosy Promotional Chat,” as it’s referred to on the EP), the title song from his 1990 full-length Sire / Reprise debut, HERE COMES THE GROOM, and an amazing acoustic cover of Madonna’s “Like A Prayer.”

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The song starts about how the song came about: “Well, I flew to LA for the very first time / I met [President of Reprise Records] Howie Klein and [Sire Records co-founder] Seymour Stein / They said ‘Wes, we do this Christmas thing / And we get all the acts to sing’ / I said: ‘What do you want? / You want a cover of ‘Winter Wonderland’ or something?’ / They said ‘Do what you like’ / So this is called ‘Talking Christmas Goodwill Blues’…”

Something I’ve always loved about John Wesley Harding (who is now performing under his real name, Wesley Stace) is his smart, honest lyrics and his inability to bullshit.

“…spare a thought when you give the gifts / For the people doing Christmas shifts / Because Christmas is a time for giving / Like lifetime is a time for living…”

“Well they say that money’s taking over / And no one wants a cheap legover or  pullover / They say that when any bell rings / One of God’s children gets his wings [ping!] / Talking of wings, there’s a sign in LAX / That says ‘495 shopping days till the Christmas after this one!’ / Buy now, cry later…”

“John Wesley Harding’s the name and this is the groove / He was never known to make a foolish move / Watch out for the record when it hits the shelves / Happy Christmas / Enjoy your elves!”

I saw the CD version of the EP for the first time about 16 years ago, and just had to have it, and haven’t seen it anywhere since, so I suppose it’s a good thing I picked it up.  “Talking Christmas Goodwill Blues” is one of the reasons I’ve loved bringing my annual 80s Xmas shows to the Portland, Maine airwaves and beyond, mainly because I don’t immediately know of any other station that would play such a non-traditional holiday treasure, and I’m more than happy to oblige…

“That’s all folks!”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PrL1_gyG4MU

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song of the day – “Hallelujah” | LEONARD COHEN | 1984.

It was already a rough week and then some with the end result (at least the electoral college version anyway) of the 2016 United States presidential election (more on that in my next blog post), but in the 4:00 hour this morning, I woke up from a semi-decent night’s sleep to find out we lost another music giant this year – Leonard Cohen.

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I don’t believe this was from 1984, or even the 80s, but I love this shot…

Leonard Cohen died on Monday, November 7th, but the world didn’t find out about it until a message to fans was posted on Facebook on November 10th: “It is with profound sorrow we report that legendary poet, songwriter and artist, Leonard Cohen has passed away.  We have lost one of music’s most revered and prolific visionaries.”  His son, producer Adam Cohen, said his dad “passed away peacefully at his home in Los Angeles with the knowledge that he had completed what he felt was one of his greatest records [YOU WANT IT DARKER, just released on October 21st]. He was writing up until his last moments with his unique brand of humor.”

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Leonard Cohen’s last album, YOU WANT IT DARKER, just released in October 2016 (and one heluva great album cover).

Born in Westmount, Quebec in September 1934, Leonard Cohen had an interest in music and poetry at a young age, and in 1967, at the age of 33, he released his debut album on Columbia Records – SONGS OF LEONARD COHEN.  The opening song on that album, “Suzanne,” ended up being recorded by folks like Judy Collins, Nina Simone, Frida (of ABBA; on her 1971 debut album), and was sampled by R.E.M. on the song “Hope,” which appeared on their 1998 album, UP.

Between SONGS OF LEONARD COHEN and YOU WANT IT DARKER (which I can’t wait to hear), Leonard Cohen released 14 studio albums, eight live albums, and at least seven compilations.  He was among an elite group of artists – including Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen – who had their entire catalog of albums on one record label – Columbia Records.

Admittedly, I wasn’t the biggest Leonard Cohen fan, but I always had a lot of respect for him, especially his songwriting, and grew to love many of his songs over the years, including “So Long, Marianne” (from SONGS OF LEONARD COHEN), “Bird On The Wire” (from 1969’s SONGS FROM A ROOM), “Famous Blue Raincoat” (from 1971’s SONGS OF LOVE AND HATE), “Chelsea Hotel” (from 1974’s NEW SKIN FOR THE OLD CEREMONY), “First We Take Manhattan,” “Tower Of Song” and “I’m Your Man” (from 1988’s I’M YOUR MAN), “Democracy” and “The Future” (from 1992’s THE FUTURE), “The Letters” (from 2004’s DEAR HEATHER), plus 1988’s “Everybody Knows” (from I’M YOUR MAN) and 1984’s “If It Be Your Will” (from VARIOUS POSITIONS; both songs were prominently featured in the excellent 1990 Christian Slater film, PUMP UP THE VOLUME).

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Apart from being a big success in Scandinavia, Austria and the U.K., Leonard’s 1984 album, VARIOUS POSITIONS (his first album in five years), was not a popular album at the time, and had mixed reviews.  One of the nine songs on VARIOUS POSITIONS (and the first song on Side Two), was a song called “Hallelujah.”  It apparently took Leonard Cohen five years and 80 draft verses to write the song.

hallelujah-7%22Of the song, Leonard Cohen said, “Hallelujah is a Hebrew word which means ‘Glory to the Lord.’  The song explains that many kinds of Hallelujahs do exist.  I say, ‘All the perfect and broken Hallelujahs have an equal value.  It’s a desire to affirm my faith in life, not in some formal religious way but with enthusiasm, with emotion’.” 

“Hallelujah” went relatively unnoticed for several years until Welsh singer / songwriter John Cale (a founding member of The Velvet Underground) heard Leonard Cohen sing an updated version of the song live in New York.  John Cale enjoyed the song so much that he decided to record his own version.  That version appears on the wonderful 1991 tribute album, I’M YOUR FAN: THE SONGS OF LEONARD COHEN, which features 80s and early 90s Alt-Rock royalty like R.E.M., Echo & The Bunnymen’s Ian McCulloch, Pixies, That Petrol Emotion, James, The House Of Love, Lloyd Cole, and Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds. 

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John Cale’s 1991 reworked version features just vocals, piano and lyrics that Leonard Cohen had only performed live.  He asked Leonard Cohen to send him those lyrics, and Leonard did -15 pages’ worth!  According to a 2010 piece in THE DAILY TELEGRAPH, John Cale claimed he “went through and just picked out the cheeky verses.”  It is this version – used in the first SHREK film in 2001 – that has inspired most of the covers of “Hallelujah” that you know and love today, including one I’ll come onto in a moment.

Prolly the best Leonard Cohen tribute album I’ve ever heard, 1991’s I’M YOUR FAN was not purchased by many, but, according to a piece I saw online today, one person who purchased the album was a woman from Brooklyn, New York, and the person who used to house-sit for this woman was a singer named Jeff Buckley, the son of multi-genre singer / songwriter Tim Buckley, who died in 1975 at the age of 28.

He loved the version on I’M YOUR FAN, and reworking the song from John Cale’s own rework, Jeff Buckley performed “Hallelujah” in a bar in the East Village of NYC, where an executive from Columbia Records (Leonard’s Cohen’s longtime record label) was in the audience, heard the song, and signed Jeff Buckley right away.  Jeff’s studio version appeared on his 1994 album, GRACE.grace

GRACE would turn out to be Jeff Buckley’s only album.  In late May 1997, while in Memphis, Tennessee, Jeff Buckley went for a swim – fully clothed – in a channel of the Mississippi River and died of accidental drowning at the age of 30.  His version of “Hallelujah” took awhile to find an audience, but when it did, you couldn’t escape it.  It’s been widely used in television shows and films, and on April 20, 2013, just days after the Boston Marathon bombing, it was played at Fenway Park at the home opener for the Boston Red Sox, for a tribute honoring the victims of the bombing.  Jeff Buckley’s version has sold well over a million digital copies. jeff-buckley-hallelujah

On my little 20-year-old radio show, STUCK IN THE 80s (on WMPG community radio in Portland, Maine), in 2006, to mark the tenth anniversary of the show, I compiled a list of the 80 BEST 80s COVERS (1980-2005), and both the John Cale and Jeff Buckley versions were tied at No. 3 on the list.

A long way from Leonard Cohen’s dirge and gospel-influenced original version of  “Hallelujah,” the song has been covered over 300 times in 32 years, including covers by Rufus Wainwright, k.d. lang, Bob Dylan, Regina Spektor, Willie Nelson and Bono of U2.  In 2010, as part of the HOPE FOR HAITI NOW benefit album, Justin Timberlake, Matt Morris and Charlie Sexton took a version of “Hallelujah” to No. 12 on the BILLBOARD Hot 100, and most recently, the Texas A Cappella group Pentatonix took their version to No. 32.

Leonard Cohen has an incredible amount of accolades which spans decades, and was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2008 by Lou Reed, who said that Leonard Cohen was in the “highest and most influential echelon of songwriters.”  Of Leonard Cohen’s songs, Matt Johnson of The The said, “When I listen to his songs, it’s a simple, stripped-down naked soul.”  On Matt Johnson’s Twitter page for The The, he said, “I was lucky enough to have dinner with #LeonardCohen when I was a young songwriter of 22.  He gave some great advice. RIP x”

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A photo of Leonard Cohen via Matt Johnson’s tweet tribute on The The’s Twitter page…

Leonard’s also in the Rock And Roll Songwriters Hall Of Fame, the Canadian Music Hall Of Fame, the Canadian Songwriters Hall Of Fame, recipient of a 2010 Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, and in 2011, was named a Companion Of The Order Of Canada, which is Canada’s highest civilian honor.

Back in the early 80s, Leonard Cohen once said of himself, “I get tagged as an art-song intellectual, but I’ve always tried to have hits.”  Well, Leonard, within the next couple of weeks, you’re gonna get your wish.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see at least a half-dozen versions of “Hallelujah” flood the Top 50 of the BILLBOARD Hot 100 (including his original) and other singles charts around the globe.  Hallelujah indeed. 

R.I.P. Leonard, and many, many thanks…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ttEMYvpoR-k

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(real) one-hit wonder of the week – “Ship Of Fools (Save Me From Tomorrow)” | WORLD PARTY | 1987.

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.

Welsh musician / songwriter / producer Karl Wallinger always had an interest in music, listening to artists like The Beatles, Beach Boys, Bob Dylan and the L.A. Rock band Love (The Damned did a brilliant cover of Love’s “Alone Again Or” in 1987).

After a brief stint in the late 70s with a band called Pax (featuring two future members of The Alarm), Karl eventually became the musical director for (London’s) West End (theatre) production of THE ROCKY HORROR SHOW, then he was in a funk band called “The Out” (which I honestly can’t picture), and after (which I can totally see), a stint with The Waterboys starting in 1984.album-this-is-the-sea

Karl Wallinger stayed with The Waterboys for two albums, A PAGAN PLACE and THIS IS THE SEA, providing support on piano, organ, percussion and backing vocals.  THIS IS THE SEA was certified Silver in the United Kingdom, and generated what would become (in a 1991 reissue) their biggest U.K. hit, “The Whole Of The Moon,” which reached No. 3 on the U.K. Singles chart.

After THIS IS THE SEA, Karl left The Waterboys to form his own band, World Party, of which he is the sole member.  World Party’s debut album, PRIVATE REVOLUTION, featured several session musicians and an Irish newcomer, Sinéad O’Connor, who provided backing vocals on the album’s title track and one other song, “Hawaiian Island World.”  Another song from PRIVATE REVOLUTION, “World Party,” would make an appearance in a version by The Waterboys on their next album, the brilliant 1988 release, FISHERMAN’S BLUES.

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Also from PRIVATE REVOLUTION came a surprise hit called “Ship Of Fools (Save Me From Tomorrow).”  It was the album’s first single, which eventually found its way to American shores and made its debut on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 at No. 96 on Valentine’s Day 1987. 

The climb for “Ship Of Fools” on the Hot 100 was slow at first, but picked up, and in early April 1987, it debuted in the Top 40.  By the end of April, it spent a week at its peak position of No. 27, and would go on to spend 15 total weeks on the Hot 100. 

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Though Karl’s band namesake is still going strong today, this would be the only time World Party would grace the Hot 100.  “Ship Of Fools” would also find its way to No. 5 on BILLBOARD’s Mainstream Rock chart, No. 4 in Australia and No. 42 on the U.K. Singles chart.

After PRIVATE REVOLUTION, Karl and World Party continued to record, including 1990’s acclaimed GOODBYE JUMBO album (featuring “Put The Message In The Box” and “Way Down Now,” the latter of which spent five weeks at No. 1 on BILLBOARD’s Modern Rock chart in June / July 1990), 1993’s BANG!, 1997’s EGYPTOLOGY (which included the wonderful and award-winning “She’s The One,” featured in the 1997 film, THE MATCHMAKER, starring Janeane Garofalo and Denis Leary), and 2000’s DUMBING UP. 

You might also remember one of World Party’s songs, “When You Come Back To Me” (inspired by David Bowie’s 1975 hit, “Young Americans”), which was featured in the 1993 film, REALITY BITES (Karl scored the film as well). arkeology

Karl sadly suffered a brain aneurysm in February 2001 that left him unable to speak, but after five years of rehabilitation, he returned and played his first show in a decade at the South By Southwest festival in Austin, Texas.  He got his catalog back from EMI and re-released his albums.  In 2012, World Party released ARKEOLOGY, a massive five-CD, 70-song collection of new material, live songs and covers.  It was, like all of World Party’s other work, well-received.

Though World Party was never really an international success, it didn’t seem to bother Karl Wallinger.  After the aneurysm, he once described his “renewed talent” as “overcompensating, so it’s either the best I’ve ever played or I’ll completely balls it up.” 

I admit here that, in 1987, World Party and “Ship Of Fools” didn’t really do anything for me at the time.  But, since then, and to borrow from the song itself, I’m so very glad I finally set “sail to the place on the map, from which no one has ever returned…”      

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E_BoAXopS54

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song of the day – “Beat’s So Lonely” | CHARLIE SEXTON | 1986.

Today, Saturday, August 6, 2016, is the seventh anniversary of the passing the brilliant writer / producer / director / 80s film hero and a personal hero of mine, John Hughes.  John was in NYC when he died of a heart attack at the far too young age of 59.

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Over the past 20 years on my little 80s radio show, STUCK IN THE 80s (on WMPG community radio in Portland, Maine), there have been various tributes to John and the music from his films.  On the Sunday following his passing in 2009, I vowed to dedicate a show every August as a tribute to John.  On Sunday, August 7, 2016, it will be my eighth and last John Hughes tribute on STUCK IN THE 80s and WMPG.

One song that has made it on to nearly every tribute show I’ve done for John is a song that appeared in a brief but pivotal scene in 1987’s SOME KIND OF WONDERFUL (which John wrote and produced), and wasn’t on the soundtrack – “Beat’s So Lonely” by Charlie Sexton.

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In his early days, the San Antonio, Texas native was taught (along with his brother Will) how to play guitar by the “Godfather of Austin Blues,” W.C. Clark.  In 1982, not quite 14 years old, “Little Charlie” Sexton played a number of dates with the Joe Ely Band after that band’s guitarist broke some bones in his hand.

pictures for pleasureCharlie’s impressive guitar work was already legendary, especially for such a young man, and in 1985, then just 16 years old, he released his first album, PICTURES FOR PLEASURE.  On the album, Charlie Sexton merged Rock and Blues with New Wave, and instantly drew comparisons to David Bowie and Billy Idol (Keith Forsey, Billy’s longtime producer and collaborator – and the man who scored the John Hughes classic, THE BREAKFAST CLUB – produced PICTURES FOR PLEASURE).

The lone single from the album, “Beat’s So Lonely,” debuted on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 in mid-December 1985 and took its time climbing the chart, reaching the Top 40 two months later.  In early April 1986, (and a statistic only a singles chart nerd like myself can prolly appreciate), a then-17-year-old Charlie Sexton spent his third week at No. 17 (in its 17th chart week on the Hot 100) with “Beat’s So Lonely.”  And, after that, for 24 years, Charlie Sexton was a (real) one-hit wonder of the 80s.

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Then, in 2010, following the devastating Haiti earthquake, Charlie appeared on a cover version of Leonard Cohen’s eternal “Hallelujah” with Justin Timberlake and Matt Morris on the HOPE FOR HAITI NOW compilation, to benefit those affected by the earthquake. “Hallelujah” was one of 19 performances from the live telethon, which also included folks like Bruce Springsteen, Sting, Madonna, Bono, The Edge and Stevie Wonder.  That version of “Hallelujah” reached No. 13 on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 and was the most-downloaded song from the album.

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Charlie Sexton and David Bowie on stage together, 1987.

Charlie Sexton has released a total of four albums between 1985 and 2005, but he’s remained busy.  He performed in the brilliant 1991 Ridley Scott film, THELMA & LOUISE, and contributed to the soundtrack.  He was also a guitarist for Bob Dylan’s backing band from 1999 to 2002, and again from 2009 to 2012. 

To this day, Charlie continues to perform, supports other musicians such as Eric Clapton and Spoon, and has even done some more acting, appearing in the 2014 Richard Linklater film, BOYHOOD, nominated for six Academy Awards and picking up a win for Best Supporting Actress, Patricia Arquette.

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Charlie Sexton, in a scene from the 2014 film, BOYHOOD.

And on this day, yeah, the beat is lonelier without John Hughes around, but every time I play songs like Simple Minds’ “Don’t You (Forget About Me),” Oingo Boingo’s “Weird Science,” “Pretty In Pink” by The Psychedelic Furs, “Tenderness” by General Public, “If You Were Here” by Thompson Twins, OMD’s “If You Leave” or this gem by Charlie Sexton, I know the beat of John Hughes is still there, and as long as people keep playing the music from his films, and watching those amazing films, the beat will always be there, and maybe, not so lonely…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uCRtHVEroQ0

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