song of the day – “Love Shack” | THE B-52’s | 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!”

Casey Kasem used to also say, “As the numbers get smaller, the hits get bigger.”  And so does the number of songs that reached these “smaller” positions.  Between 1979 and 1989, more than 110 songs peaked at No. 3, and many artists stayed there more than once, including Bobby Brown, El DeBarge (solo and with DeBarge), Duran Duran, Genesis, The Jets, Billy Joel, Cyndi Lauper, Huey Lewis & The News, Richard Marx, Olivia Newton-John, The Pointer Sisters, The Police (Sting also had a No. 3 solo hit), Kenny Rogers, Barbra Streisand, Styx, Wham! and Donna Summer.  Chicago reached the No. 3 positions four times between 1979 and 1989.

hungry like the wolf

1988 was a popular year for No. 3 hits, when 17 songs reached that position, including songs by Taylor Dayne, Samantha Fox, Debbie Gibson, the “comeback” hit for Hall & Oates (“Everything Your Heart Desires”), Breathe, Anita Baker, Information Society, INXS, U2 and (real) one-hit wonder Patrick Swayze (from DIRTY DANCING). 

new sensation

No. 3 hits also included the first solo by David Lee Roth (his cover of The Beach Boys’ “California Girls”), as well as the first Van Halen hit without him, “Why Can’t This Be Love.”  There were also big No. 3 hits for Simple Minds, Belinda Carlisle, The Cars, Neneh Cherry, Charlie Daniels Band, Chris de Burgh, Earth, Wind & Fire, Corey Hart, Don Henley, Chaka Khan, Love & Rockets, Men At Work, Men Without Hats, Nu Shooz, Stevie Nicks with Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, The S.O.S. Band, The Stray Cats, Tears For Fears, Thompson Twins, Madonna and the last Top 40 hit for the late, great Marvin Gaye (“Sexual Healing”).

sexual healing

Love was a constant theme among the No. 3 hits, and was featured in the title of 15 songs, and implied in many others.  One of the 15 hits with the “Love” connection (sorry, couldn’t be helped) was one of two No. 3 hits in a row for The B-52’s – “Love Shack.”

One of the 80s’ biggest success stories – some would say one of the biggest comebacks – belonged to Athens, GA’s New Wave / Alt-Rock / Alt-Dance legends, The B-52’s.  By 1989, The B-52’s had already released four albums and two EPs, and had reached the BILLBOARD Hot 100 three times – “Rock Lobster” (No. 56, 1980), “Private Idaho” (No. 74, 1980) and “Legal Tender” (No. 81, 1983). 

rock lobster

The B-52’s started recorded their fourth album – BOUNCING OFF THE SATELLITES – in July 1985.  At that time, the band was comprised of vocalist Fred Schneider, vocalist and keyboardist Kate Pierson, vocalist and percussionist Cindy Wilson, lead guitarist Ricky Wilson (Cindy’s brother), and drummer / rhythm guitarist and keyboardist Keith Strickland.  This had been the lineup since the band’s formation in 1976.

b-52's with ricky

During the recording of BOUNCING OFF THE SATELLITES, it was discovered that Ricky Wilson was suffering from AIDS.  None of the rest of The B-52’s (except for Keith Strickland) had known about it.  In an interview, Kate Pierson had said that Ricky Wilson kept his illness a secret from the rest of the band because he “did not want anyone to worry about him or fuss about him.” 

On October 12, 1985, while still in the recording process of BOUNCING OFF THE SATELLITES, Ricky Wilson died of AIDS at the heartbreakingly young age of 32 years old.

Ricky Wilson, Guitarist for the B-52s

After Ricky’s death, drummer Keith Strickland learned how to play guitar in Ricky’s own style and switched from drummer to lead guitarist.  The band hired session musicians to help out as well, including the album’s producer, Tony Mansfield (who had also worked with Naked Eyes, Captain Sensible, a-ha and After The Fire).

bouncing

Devastated beyond belief at the loss of Ricky Wilson, The B-52’s released BOUNCING OFF THE SATELLITES on September 8, 1986, with no fanfare and no tour, though they did make a music video for my favorite song on the album, “Girl From Ipanema Goes To Greenland.”

girl from ipanema

Cindy Wilson went into a deep depression following her brother’s death, Keith Strickland spent some time at Woodstock, NY, while Fred Schneider and Kate Pierson remained in New York City.  They all felt at that moment The B-52’s couldn’t continue without Ricky Wilson.

But, in time, Keith Strickland began composing songs again, and after playing some of the new music he had worked on to the rest of the band, they agreed to try and start writing together again.  The result was COSMIC THING, the biggest album the band would ever have.

cosmic thing

COSMIC THING’s production was smartly split up between Don Was (of Was (Not Was) fame) and Nile Rodgers.  It worked and then some, and the album’s first single, “Channel Z,” was not well-received anywhere except College and Modern Rock radio, who embraced it right away.  “Channel Z” would spend three weeks at No. 1 on BILLBOARD’s Modern Rock chart in August 1989.

channel z

“Channel Z” was also the B-side of the album’s second single, “Love Shack,” which was released a week in advance of COSMIC THING in late June 1989.  It took a month and a half to reach BILLBOARD’s Hot 100 chart and become the band’s fourth single to reach the chart. 

“Love Shack” debuted on the Hot 100 in early September 1989 at No. 84.  Within three weeks, “Love Shack” had already surpassed the peak of every B-52’s single which had reached the chart.  By the end of September 1989, it was the first Top 40 hit the band had in its U.S. homeland.

love shack

In early November 1989, The B-52’s landed their first Top 10 hit, with “Love Shack.”  That was also the week I saw them perform for the first time, when they came to the University of Maine at Orono and almost literally brought the roof of the venue down with their show.  They were amazing.  I would see them again on the COSMIC THING tour in 1990 at The Ballpark in Old Orchard Beach, Maine.

“Love Shack” would go on to spend a couple of weeks at No. 3 in November 1989, and just before Xmas 1989, it was certified Gold.  Follow-up single “Roam” debuted on the last Hot 100 of 1989, when “Love Shack” was still in the Top 30.  And, in late January 1990, “Roam” debuted within the Top 40 the last week “Love Shack” spent in the Top 40.  (“Roam” would also reach No. 3 and was certified Gold as well.)

roam

A total of 27 weeks was spent on the Hot 100 for “Love Shack,” one week more than half a year.  It was that lengthy time on the chart which saw it finish on the year-end BILLBOARD charts two years in a row.  Pretty impressive.  It also reached (with “Channel Z”) No. 7 on BILLBOARD’s Dance chart, spent four weeks at No. 1 on BILLBOARD’s Modern Rock chart, and received two MTV Video Music Awards, for Best Group Video and Best Art Direction.

b's 1989NERDY FUN FACT: “Love Shack” was produced by Don Was, and the inspiration for the song was this cabin around Athens, GA, which had a tin roof, and where the band conceived their first hit, “Rock Lobster.”  Kate Pierson even lived in the cabin back in the 70s (it burned down in 2004).  Prolly the most famous line in the song, where Cindy Wilson exclaims, “Tin roof…rusted,” was actually an outtake that was added to the song later on.

Around the globe, lots of love was felt for “Love Shack,” and it spent eight weeks at No. 1 in Australia, four weeks at No. 1 in New Zealand, a week at No. 1 in Ireland, plus it reached No. 2 in the U.K., and the Top 20 in Belgium and the Netherlands.

In a 2002 interview with ROLLING STONE (which named “Love Shack” as the Best Single of 1989), Fred Schneider spoke of the album’s success: “We thought it would be good, but we didn’t know how good.  We don’t really set out saying, ‘Oh, this is going to be commercial,’ or ‘This is going to be this or that.’  We just wanted good songs, and we thought the songs were really good.  We were pretty shocked, because we didn’t expect it to go that big.  The success of it brings problems because it’s really hard to do tours.  I’m not one to want to go tour at all, but to do eighteen months is like torture.  You just get offers that are really good and you’re going to New Zealand and Australia and all over Europe, and it’s pretty exciting.  It all went way beyond what you’d think.”

flintstones

After COSMIC THING, The B-52’s continued to record and chart for a few more years, including a fun cover of the TV theme song, “(Meet) The Flintstones” (from the 1994 FLINTSTONES movie starring John Goodman).  It snuck onto the Top 40 for one week in early June 1994.

Apart from recording (as The BC-52’s) for Fred, Wilma, Barney and Betty (and a couple of popular compilations), the band took a lengthy hiatus, and in March 2008, released FUNPLEX, their first album in nearly 16 years.  It was worth the wait. 

funplex

In October 2011, they released a CD and a DVD of a live concert from earlier that year, WITH THE WILD CROWD! LIVE IN ATHENS, GA.  To borrow from a line out of FERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF, “It is so choice.  If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up.”  Seriously, it’s that good.  One of the best live performances I’ve ever seen on the small screen, from one of the bands with two of the best live performances I’ve seen in person.

with the wild crowd

Though the band hasn’t released a solo album since 2008’s FUNPLEX, The B-52’s continue to tour and perform 50-60 shows a year (minus Keith Strickland, who is still with the band, but who stopped performing live with them in 2012).  Sadly, I missed them this Summer, when they came to Hampton Beach, New Hampshire (where I saw Billy Idol in 2014), and when they performed with the Boston Pops.  That must have been incredible!  Prolly the only Pops show where you can’t control people from dancing on their seats, in the aisles and everywhere!

b's n pops

I gotta be honest, after years of playing it at wedding receptions, “Love Shack” is not my favorite B-52’s song.  But, if you were in a jam and tried to get people out onto the dance floor, that was THE go-to song, and people loved it, and loved dancing to it.  Though it’s not my favorite from the band, I do love the song to death, and I’m so glad it finally got The B-52’s the recognition they deserved after so many years of struggling despite putting out great music, and with the terrible loss they suffered when they lost Ricky Wilson. 

Both COSMIC THING and “Love Shack” are a testament to Ricky’s memory, and I’m so proud to call The B-52’s one of my all-time favorite bands, even if it took me awhile to get there.  They are a heluva lot of fun to listen to and dance to, play on the radio and see perform live, which I hope to do again sometime soon…

“Hop in my Chrysler, it’s as big as a whale and it’s about to set sail / I got me a car, like, it seats about 20 / So come on and bring your jukebox money…  The Love Shack is a little old place where we can get together / Love Shack, ba-by….”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9SOryJvTAGs

b's 1989 v2

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song of the day – “Ain’t Nobody” | RUFUS & CHAKA KHAN | 1983.

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, 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.  On June 30, 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’ve known one Rufus in my lifetime, and that was a sweet dog (a black Lab?) who was the face at one of my early hangouts when I first moved to Portland, Maine in 1994 – Java Joe’s.  Like myself, Java Joe’s has long been removed from Maine’s largest city, though I do love to visit the Forest City when I can.

When I was first introduced to Rufus & Chaka Khan, it wasn’t because of their first (and biggest) Top 40 hit, 1974’s “Tell Me Something Good” (written by Stevie Wonder), it was because of their last  Top 40 hit – “Ain’t Nobody.”

For the longest time – and this still makes me laugh – I always thought Rufus & Chaka Khan were a married couple.  I didn’t know until much later that Rufus was actually a Funk band out of Chicago, and Chaka Khan was their lead singer. 

The band had formed in 1968, but by 1978, tensions were pretty high between the members of Rufus and their lead singer, who was becoming increasingly popular.  In 1983, they released one final album together – a (mostly) live double-album (and ultimate documentary) called STOMPIN’ AT THE SAVOY. 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

There were four new studio tracks (led by Chaka Khan) included with the live set, and two of those were released as singles.  The first single released was “Ain’t Nobody.”  At the same time, a producer for a new film, BREAKIN’ (a film based around the popular breakdance craze), had heard the song and eventually put the song in the film and on the soundtrack.

breakin

Well, talk about going out on top.  After years of declining record sales and issues between the band and Chaka Khan, “Ain’t Nobody” turned out to be a great hit, and was released shortly after STOMPIN’ AT THE SAVOY hit the record stores (as they used to say back in the day). 

“Ain’t Nobody” debuted on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 on the first day of October 1983, way down at No. 91 (and there were three more debut songs under that!).  For the song’s first six chart weeks, this Funk gem steadily rose up the Hot 100, and in its seventh chart week, blasted onto the Top 40, moving from 43-29.  It was already Rufus & Chaka Khan’s highest-charting single since 1975’s Top 5 hit, “Sweet Thing.”

In a weird chart quirk, “Ain’t Nobody” stayed at No. 29 the following week, but starting moving back up the week after.  In December 1983, it spent three weeks at its peak position of No. 22 and departed the BILLBOARD Hot 100 in mid-February 1984 after 19 weeks.

ain't nobody

Over on BILLBOARD’s R&B chart, “Ain’t Nobody” became the band’s fifth and final No. 1 song, and though it only spent a week at No. 1 there, it was that chart’s sixth-biggest song of 1983.  On BILLBOARD’s Dance chart, it reached No. 6.

Around the globe, “Ain’t Nobody” was a somebody in the U.K., where it reached No. 8, and a No. 36 chart peak in the Netherlands.  A 1989 remix of “Ain’t Nobody” took the song to new heights around the globe, reaching No. 6 in the U.K., No. 8 in Ireland, No. 9 in Germany, and as part of the entire LIFE IS A DANCE: THE REMIX PROJECT album, it reached No. 1 on BILLBOARD’s Dance chart.

life is a dance

NERDY FUN FACT: David “Hawk” Wolinski, who wrote “Ain’t Nobody,” had threatened to give the song to Michael Jackson and Quincy Jones (who really wanted the song) if the band’s label, Warner Bros., didn’t release it as the first single. 

I’ll never understand why these recording acts always had to fight with the record labels for what they believed in!  I’d like to think this kind of shite still doesn’t happen, but at the very least, it’s a whole different ball game now, and more people than evah are releasing their own music, and on their own terms, which I think is fan-fucking-tastic!

After winning a Grammy Award for “Ain’t Nobody” in 1984, Chaka Khan and Rufus went their separate ways, but the legacy of “Ain’t Nobody” lives on 33 years later.  It’s been covered an incredible amount of times, including covers by the likes of George Michael (on his 1991 “Cover To Cover” tour), Amii Stewart, Klymaxx, LL Cool J (for the funny 1996 film, BEAVIS AND BUTT-HEAD DO AMERICA), Peabo Bryson, KT Tunstall and Mary J. Blige. 

ll cool j

In 2015, a German music producer and DJ by the name of Felix Jaehn released a cover, featuring young British vocalist by the name of Jasmine Thompson, and the song was called “Ain’t Nobody (Loves Me Better).”  And throughout the globe outside of North America, people did love it better than the original.  It reached No. 1 in at least eight countries, and the Top 10 in at least another 12. 

My favorite cover is actually part of a “pseudo mashup” by U.K. producer and remixer Richard X, with vocals by the English-Irish Pop group, Liberty X.  They used a sample of The Human League’s “Being Boiled” against a cover of “Ain’t Nobody,” and called it, appropriately enough, “Being Nobody.”  It was (and still is) brilliant, and was a Top 10 hit in the U.K. and Ireland in 2003.

being nobody

A couple of years before that, when my STUCK IN THE 80s radio show on WMPG-FM was just five years old, I did a countdown of the BEST 100 SONGS OF THE 80s, getting feedback from listeners, station volunteers and folks in the College Music industry (it was also my first year of 10 as WMPG Music Director).  “Ain’t Nobody” came in at No. 20 and that ranking surprised me the most out of any other on the list. 

Over time, I realized that ranking shouldn’t surprise me.  It’s an incredible song, and though it came at the end of a creative union between a well-respected Funk band and one of the best R&B and Dance singers ever, ain’t nobody gonna tell me that “Ain’t Nobody” doesn’t mean anything in the history of Funk and Dance and R&B and Pop.  Because it does.

“And now we’re flyin’ through the stars / I hope this night will last forever…”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M26WD4CidnM

rufus n chaka

(real) one-hit wonder of the week – “Do It Again (Medley With Billie Jean)” | CLUB HOUSE | 1983.

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.

On Sunday, 1.29.2017, my awesome and talented WMPG radio neighbor, DJ SHAXX, and I will be teaming up for a second installment in celebrating the 12-inch single, extended remixes and even mash-ups on a show that we are calling 12inchTHROWDOWN Redux!

12inch-throwdown-1-29-17

With outlets like You Tube, mash-ups are becoming more commonplace than ever before.  Mash-up covers are a bit more rare but they do exist.  It’s been done on the TV show GLEE many times (their Season 3 mash-up cover of Adele’s “Rumour Has It” and “Someone Like You” has sold almost 500,000 digital copies and charted on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 higher than Adele’s original version of “Rumour Has It”).

glee-rumour

For their 2011 album, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED, the kick-ass Experimental Music band out of Columbus, Ohio, The Evolution Control Committee, completely reworked Harold Faltermeyer’s “Axel F” by brilliantly constructing it solely using Herbie Hancock’s “Rockit,” and called the mash-up cover “Fockit. 

ecc-all-rights-reserved-20110131-105413

In 2003, British musician and producer Richard X teamed up with the English / Irish Pop band, Liberty X, on a genius cover of Rufus & Chaka Khan’s 1983 gem, “Ain’t Nobody,” backed with the instrumental music of Human League’s 1978 / 1982 Synthpop classic, “Being Boiled.”  The mash-up cover “Being Nobody” actually ended up “being” a Top 10 hit in both the U.K. and Ireland. 

being-nobody

Rewinding back to 1983, the year of Michael Jackson, mash-up covers were almost unheard of (not counting 1981’s “Medley” by Stars On 45 or 1982’s “Hooked On Classics” by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra).  But, the Italian Dance group Club House pulled it off, reworking the beat of Michael Jackson’s huge No. 1 hit, “Billie Jean” (from earlier that year), into the lyrics of Steely Dan’s Top 10 hit from 1972, “Do It Again.” 

club-house

The only picture I could find of Club House.

 

The imaginative “Do It Again (Medley With Billie Jean)” debuted on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 at No. 89 in late August 1983, while Michael Jackson himself was climbing up the chart with THRILLER’s fifth single, “Human Nature,” and moving down the Hot 100 with THRILLER’s fourth single, “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’.”

A few weeks later, “Do It Again / Billie Jean” spent a week at its peak position of No. 75, and was gone from the Hot 100 after just five weeks.  Though Club House would continue to release singles through 1997 (their 1990 hit, “Deep In My Heart,” spent a week at No. 1 on BILLBOARD’s Dance chart), the band would never grace the Hot 100 again.

“Do It Again / Billie Jean” was, however, a popular hit in Europe, reaching the Top 10 in Belgium, Holland and Ireland, and it peaked at a respectable No. 11 on the U.K. singles chart.  It was also a Top 40 hit in Poland and New Zealand.

slingshotSometime after Club House’s mash-up cover was released, the short-lived Detroit Dance band, Slingshot, took Club House’s medley (matching it beat-for-beat), and the exact same week in August 1983 in which Club House debuted on the Hot 100 with their “Do It Again (Medley With Billie Jean),” Slingshot reached No. 1 on BILLBOARD’s Dance chart with their version.  All these years later, I can’t tell the two versions apart. 

But, it was Club House’s version of “Do It Again (Medley With Billie Jean)” that was released first, and that’s the version which has stuck with me all these years, and it’s the version I plan on playing during the 12inchTHROWDOWN Redux.  Plus, it’s one of the (real) one-hit wonders of the 80s, so, consider that a bonus for this chart nerd…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHCpSXv71ho

do-it-again

song of the day – “While You See A Chance” | STEVE WINWOOD | 1980.

I was 13 going on 14 when I discovered this gorgeous, synth-driven gem, most likely on WIGY, out of Bath, Maine – the favorite station of my youth, and later, on AMERICAN TOP 40 with Casey Kasem.  I knew nothing of Steve Winwood, then 32 going on 33, but at the time, it didn’t matter.  In 1981, all that mattered when it came to knowing about Steve Winwood is that he put out a song that would be dear to my heart for all time.

Steve Winwood was born in Greater Birmingham, England, and was in the high-profile bands The Spencer Davis Group, Traffic, Blind Faith and Ginger Baker’s Air Force before he started his solo career in 1977.  His second solo effort, ARC OF A DIVER, which was a hit with fans on both sides of the Atlantic, achieving Silver sales status in the U.K., and was certified Platinum here in America, largely due to the success of “While You See A Chance.”

Though I had never heard of any of the bands Steve was in prior to “While You See A Chance,” it was the minute-long synthesizer introduction that initially caught my ear, which is kinda funny to think about now, after learning the introduction wasn’t intended on being part of the song at all.  The introduction was supposed to be a drum track, but it got deleted and Steve had to rework it.  And it’s the best thing that could have happened to the song, not to mention Steve’s solo career. 

while you see a chance

I was also pleased because, at a time I wasn’t buying full albums, Steve included the whole 5-minute-plus album version on the single (or at least the version I had).  Most singles then had edited versions of their album counterparts, and for this song, most radio stations (and AT40) used the shorter version that appears in the video.

“While You See A Chance” went on to spend 2 weeks at No. 7 on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 in April 1981 and more than 4 months on the chart.  It also reached No. 3 in Canada, No. 16 in Australia, the Top 30 in Holland and New Zealand, and a surprising peak of No. 45 in Steve’s U.K. homeland.

back in the high lifeMy love and appreciation for the music of Steve Winwood would only grow with time, including older gems like The Spencer Davis Group’s “Gimme Some Lovin’” (The Blues Brothers covered this in 1980; a favorite), Blind Faith’s “Can’t Find My Way Home,” Traffic’s “The Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys,” and with solo hits like “Higher Love” (with Chaka Khan), “Freedom Overspill,” “Back In The High Life Again” and “The Finer Things” (all from his biggest album, 1986’s BACK IN THE HIGH LIFE), “Roll With It” (especially the kick-ass 10-minute remix), “One And Only Man,” “Don’t You Know What The Night Can Do?” and both 1982 and 1987 versions of “Talking Back To The Night” and “Valerie.”roll with it 12%22

On a personal note, today I learned that my dream job I had applied for (for the third time) went to someone else (deserved), and without the courtesy of a interview (also deserved).  In 1986, five years after “While You See A Chance” and me fresh out of broadcasting school, I typed up my first radio résumé, all for the dream job in radio I wanted way back then but never got.  Though I still don’t have any formal experience with this particular position, it’s a job I could do in my sleep; I feel it with every fiber of my being.  And that was my last chance.

When Steve Winwood was struggling to find an audience with his solo career, he found a lyricist in Will Jennings, and they co-wrote “While You See A Chance.”  Will Jennings worked with Steve Winwood on several of his other hits, plus big hits for folks like Barry Manilow, Dionne Warwick, Whitney Houston, and the Academy Award-winning songs “Up Where We Belong” by Joe Cocker & Jennifer Warnes, and “My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion.

According to Will Jennings, the lyric “While you see a chance, take it / Find romance, fake it / because it’s all on you” is “about realizing that you are all alone in this life and you have to do with it what you can.”  And, he’s right.  Though I lost out on my dream job for the third and final time, at least I tried for it.  It was a chance I couldn’t NOT take. 

If there’s something out there you know is for you, don’t hesitate and take that chance.  Even if the answer is no, or it doesn’t work out the way you want, you have to at least try for it and take the chance, while you can still see it…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0j6g_uUhH2c

steve winwood

nothing compares 2 U.

niagara falls

Niagara Falls lit up in purple, in honor of Prince…

It’s been 5 hours and 6 whole days… since I heard the news that shocked and saddened the entire planet – Prince was gone.

I was at work in Central Maine on the afternoon of Thursday, April 21, 2016, and a couple of hours away from heading 2 the Portland, Maine area 2 see Colin Hay perform.  A co-worker walked over 2 my cubie and said, “Prince died.”  I said, “That’s not funny.”  He wasn’t kidding.  And, a minute later, I confirmed it on the Interweb.  I felt bad 4 not believing him, but then again, I’m still in a bit of denial about the whole thing, even though I know he’s really gone.

After the New Year, I had reset my 5th Generation iPod (the last one with the wheel), and since then, I had only put a handful of Prince songs back on there, and that’s all I had with me the day he died. 

colin hay 4.21.16

Colin Hay, live at the Westbrook (Maine) Performing Arts Center, 4.21.2016.

That afternoon, on my hour-plus drive 2 see Colin Hay at the Westbrook (Maine) Performing Arts Center just outside of Portland, I was going up and down the radio dial 2 see if any radio stations were playing Prince.  I heard “Raspberry Beret” twice, “When Doves Cry” a few times, and “Let’s Go Crazy” too.  The afternoon DJ at the “younger” station of the 2 Classic Rock stations in Portland talked about how the Portland NBC station had been there 2 talk about Prince, but did he play a Prince song after that?  No!  He went into a Boston song.  Really?  They try coming across as hip when they’re anything but…  Effing commercial radio.  As 4 the “older” of the 2 Classic Rock stations in Portland – I didn’t hear any Prince at all. 

eiffel tower

The Eiffel Tower in Paris, lit up for Prince, 4.21.2016.

I even scanned the AM band 4 a bit, and came across this AM talk station (not sure where it’s out of), but they were talking about Prince, and how he wasn’t Little Richard or this person or that person.  C’mon!  You can’t compare Prince 2 anybody, especially on the day he died.  Show some respect already!  Nothing compares 2 Prince.  Yet one more reason I don’t listen 2 talk radio.  Effing blowhards.  Did Prince have the most No. 1 songs or the most singles ever?  No.  What he did have was a sensational gift 4 music, and he shared that music, and is prolly the only one who could have gotten away with writing about love, sex and God – all in the same song.  And there were many of those songs…

Colin Hay put on another amazing show hour after learning Prince died, and even did a little bit of “Little Red Corvette” for Prince, and for those in attendance.  He said it was a “weird day,” and it was, and it still is, but seeing Colin perform that night helped get me through the day…

princePrince’s first album, FOR YOU, was released in April 1978, but I didn’t learn about Prince until the next year, the year I started getting into music – 1979 (my first blog post is about that very subject).  From his self-titled second album, “I Wanna Be Your Lover” debuted on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 the week of Thanksgiving 1979. 

I know I’ve said this before, but one of the things I loved most about listening 2 Casey Kasem and AMERICAN TOP 40 was the music trivia.  I’ve even incorporated it into my STUCK IN THE 80s radio shows on WMPG-FM and WMPG.org.  One of the first things I learned about “I Wanna Be Your Lover” is that Prince was just 21 when he released that song, and did everything on that song (and the PRINCE album too) – everything was written, arranged, composed, produced and performed by Prince.  I didn’t know of anyone else who did that.  And he was just 21 and recorded the album in 2 weeks!  Damn.

Well, it impressed me enough 2 buy the single (and later, the album too), and “I Wanna Be Your Lover” stopped at a respectable No. 11 for 2 weeks in January / February 1980 (and spent 2 weeks at No. 1 on BILLBOARD’s R&B chart).

cyndi when u were mine japanSince I was listening 2 (mostly) Top 40 radio in the early 80s, Prince’s next 2 albums, DIRTY MIND and CONTROVERSY, weren’t even on my radar until several years later.  In fact, it was Cyndi Lauper’s 1983 album, SHE’S SO UNUSUAL, that introduced me 2 Prince’s song, “When You Were Mine” (originally from his 1980 album, DIRTY MIND).  I would see Cyndi perform that song as part of the 30th Anniversary tour for SHE’S SO UNUSUAL back in October 2013.  It was a dream come true.  I am seeing Cyndi perform songs from her first Country album, DETOUR, in May 2016.  I am hoping she’ll play “When You Were Mine” in honor of Prince.

1999 albumPrince’s music returned 2 my life with the 1982 album, 1999.  The video 4 the first single, “Little Red Corvette,” was a groundbreaking video, as it was one of the first videos on MTV 2 feature an black recording artist (along with Michael Jackson).  I have 2 confess, when “Little Red Corvette” was climbing the charts (to a No. 6 peak on the Hot 100, his first Top 10 hit), I was not a big fan of the song.  It was okay, but I wasn’t digging it as much as I would later in life.  But I did buy the 2-album set (I think it was the first 2-album, non-hits collection set I ever knew about, and thought it was cool that someone was releasing a double album just 4 the sake of releasing a double album). 

chevy prince tribute

A very classy tribute from Chevrolet in honor of Prince, quoting a line from “Little Red Corvette…”

The single 4 the Cold War Classic “1999” might have been the reason I purchased  1999 the album.  Loved loved loved that song.  Took me years 2 learn what it was really about; not the kind of party song I took it for in my youth.  “1999” was actually the leadoff single 4 the album, but it stopped at No. 44 on the Hot 100 for a quick couple of weeks at the end of 1982.

1999 singleWith “Little Red Corvette” still in the Top 10 in early June 1983, “1999” re-entered the Hot 100 at No. 70, and 2 weeks later, quickly landed in the Top 40.  “1999” was on its way 2 the Top 10, when it got held up at No. 12 for 2 weeks in late July 1983.  But that’s not the end of the story for “1999.”

In late 1998, just before the year the song is named for, “1999” was re-issued a third time, and it even landed at No. 40 on the Hot 100 for one week.  I was in Washington, D.C. 4 New Year’s 1999, and it was amazing 2 hear that the song and the album, 1999, were all sold out everywhere. 

For New Year’s Eve, I was at a big venue 4 a big D.C. New Year’s party, and when they played “1999” as the song turned into the actual year, I admit I was caught up in it.  It’s funny, though, because “1999” the song is not about 1999 at all.  It’s about the Cold War (very much happening in 1982), and was about Prince expressing himself and his fears of of nuclear war.  So, “1999” the song was actually about 1999 turning into the year 2000, and 2 enjoy it, because by 2000, we most likely wouldn’t be around (“Party over, oops, out of time…”).

delirious1999’s third (proper) single was the short but fun “Delirious,” which spent a month at No. 8 in October / November 1983.  1999 was the album that made Prince a star.  But it was his next album that would turn him into a superstar…

1984’s PURPLE RAIN was a massive album, not just 4 that year, but 4 any year.  PURPLE RAIN gave Prince the biggest album of the year (No. 1 for 24 weeks; no other recording artist has matched that feat until Adele’s 21 album did this decade).  The album generated 5 Top 40 hits, including 4 Top 10 hits, and two of those were No. 1 songs, “Let’s Go Crazy” (2 weeks, September / October 1984) and the biggest single of the year (“When Doves Cry,” 5 weeks, July / August 1984). 

purple rain

PURPLE RAIN also garnered Prince 2 Grammy Awards and gave him the last-ever Academy Award handed out 4 Best Song Score.  PURPLE RAIN has gone on 2 become not only one of THE biggest soundtracks ever recorded, but one of THE biggest albums of all-time, selling over 13 million copies in the U.S. alone.  On a ROLLING STONE magazine list of the Top 25 Greatest Soundtracks of All Time, PURPLE RAIN was ranked at No. 2, behind The Beatles’ “Help.” 

purple rain poster

Upon hearing the news of Prince’s passing on Thursday, 4.21.2016, I don’t know why, but I had this sudden urge 2 hear “The Beautiful Ones,” the third of 9 songs on the album.  2 be honest, it was one of the songs I tended 2 skip over back in 1984, but today, I love it’s soulfulness, it’s beauty, and it’s love for, well, love.  I was good 2 play it on the show again 4 the first time since my 25th Anniversary Tribute show to PURPLE RAIN back in 2009.

There was no question in anyone’s mind that Prince loved making music.  Save for 1983 (unless U count the 2 albums for 1999) and 1993, Prince released an album every year between his 1978 debut through his last album 4 Warner Bros., CHAOS AND DISORDER, in 1996. 

around the world full LP cover

The full album cover for 1985’s AROUND THE WORLD IN A DAY.

I loved the hits from 1985’s AROUND THE WORLD IN A DAY (“Raspberry Beret,” No. 2; “Pop Life,” No. 7), and even once played the full 22-minute remix of “America” (which just missed the Top 40, No. 46) on an Independence Day show on STUCK IN THE 80s.prince parade

Like AROUND THE WORLD IN A DAY, I enjoyed his hits from PARADE (songs from UNDER THE CHERRY MOON), notably his No. 1 song, “Kiss” (2 weeks at No. 1, April 1986) and the underrated follow-up single, “Mountains” (No. 23), which many folks have forgotten about I’m sure, but not me.  It was nice 2 actually get a request 4 this on my first of 2 Prince tributes this past Sunday night (4.24.2016).

As much as I adore PURPLE RAIN, it was Prince’s 1987 album, SIGN “O” THE TIMES, though, that ended up being my favorite Prince album of all-time.  SIGN “O” THE TIMES was another double album, which I again thought was pretty cool, and it a lot more depth and encompassed many genres – like Funk, Soul, Pop, Rock – than any other album I had ever heard from him. 

sign o the times

The cover art for Prince’s SIGN “O” THE TIMES…

The title track from SIGN “O” THE TIMES was the album’s first single, and right away, Prince was in groundbreaking mode again.  Infused in this classy Funk Pop song were lyrics about serious life issues concerning gang violence, drug abuse, the Challenger disaster, nuclear war and as much as he could include in 5 minutes.sign o the times single

Prince was not a fan of President Ronald Reagan, and was mentioned in Prince’s Cold War Classic “Ronnie, Talk To Russia” (from CONTROVERSY), and though Reagan knew about AIDS as early as the first year of his Presidency (1981), he was reluctant 2 talk about it for years.  “Sign ‘O’ The Times” was one of the first songs ever 2 mention AIDS, I think, in part, because Reagan wouldn’t.  “Sign ‘O’ The Times” was the first of 3 Top 10 hits from the album 4 Prince, and reached No. 3 in April 1987. 

if i was your girlfriendThe second single released from SIGN “O” THE TIMES was an interesting but bold choice, “If I Was Your Girlfriend.”  The song is told in a male perspective 2 a woman, or, would his girlfriend open up 2 him more if he was a female friend rather than her boyfriend.  TROUSER PRESS magazine said the song was one of the highlights on SIGN “O” THE TIMES, stating that the song “redefines a relationship in a surprisingly mature way.”  Though the song was a Top 20 U.K. hit, it was a little too intimate 4 U.S. radio, and it stopped at No. 67 (Keep in mind this was the same year that some U.S. radio stations wouldn’t even air the word “Sex” in George Michael’s “I Want Your Sex,” if they even aired the song at all.).

u got the look“U Got The Look” was the album’s third single, and with the help of Sheena Easton, it became the biggest single from the album, reaching No. 2 in October 1987.  The fourth and final single released from SIGN “O” THE TIMES was “I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man,” which hit No. 10 in February 1988.  80s Alt-Rockers Flesh For Lulu and Sigue Sigue Sputnik have covered the song, as well as other bands like The Goo Goo Dolls and My Morning Jacket.  The song’s B-side, “Hot Thing,” wasn’t marketed as its own single, but got enough airplay 2 reach the Hot 100 on its own, peaking at No. 63.

I think all of SIGN “O” THE TIMES is brilliant, but some other songs from the album that stand out 4 me are the lovely “Starfish And Coffee,” the funky “Housequake” (“Shut up already! Damn.”), the epic 9-minute jam, “It’s Gonna Be A Beautiful Night,” and, the stirring, guitar-driven “The Cross,” which I think would have been an excellent choice 4 a single, but that’s me.lovesexy

Though I really didn’t get into Prince’s 1988 album, LOVESEXY, I did (and still do) enjoy “Alphabet St.” (No. 8) and “When 2 R In Love,” a ballad that was originally on 1987’s THE BLACK ALBUM, which was pulled so that the more radio-friendly LOVESEXY could be released instead (THE BLACK ALBUM remained a bootleg 4 many years, before finally getting a proper release in 1994; my favorite track on THE BLACK ALBUM, “Bob George,” prolly has more “motherfuckers” in it than the first DIE HARD movie).

batman

Fast forward to 1989.  BATMAN was the biggest film of the year.  In fact, at the time, its $251 million dollar gross 4 the movie starring Jack Nicholson as the Joker and Michael Keaton as the Caped Crusader (still my favorite Batman)  made it the fifth-biggest film of all-time, behind JAWS, RETURN OF THE JEDI, STAR WARS and E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL (nearly 30 years later, it’s ranked at No. 95 for all-time).  Prince had something 2 do with that success, as he was rightfully chosen 2 do the soundtrack. batdance

First single “Batdance” quickly became Prince’s fourth No. 1 song (August 1989), and the soundtrack spent 6 weeks at No. 1 on the BILLBOARD album chart.  Other Top 40 singles from the soundtrack included “Partyman” (No. 18) and another collaboration with Sheena Easton, the ballad “The Arms Of Orion” (No. 36).  Another single, “Scandalous!” was a Top 5 hit on the BILLBOARD R&B chart.  At a time where many cars came with cassette players in them, I played the hell out of the cassette version of this album.  One of my all-time favorite Prince albums, even if most people don’t even remember “Batdance.”

With the advent of the 1990s, I started 2 lose touch with Prince’s music, though it wasn’t all lost – I loved 2 songs from 1990’s PURPLE RAIN sequel, GRAFFITI BRIDGE: “Thieves In The Temple” (No. 6), and, a song he wrote, produced and sang backup vocals on for 13-year-old newcomer Tevin Campbell, “Round And Round” (No. 12). diamonds and pearls

I also loved the Top 40 singles from 1991’s DIAMONDS AND PEARLS album: “Gett Off” (No. 21), “Cream” (No. 1, 2 weeks, November 1991), the gorgeous “Diamonds And Pearls” (featuring Rosie Gaines; No. 3, February 1992), and the severely underrated “Money Don’t Matter 2 Night” (No. 23). 

1992’s LOVE SYMBOL ALBUM would be the last studio album 4 Prince released on Warner Bros. 2 go Platinum.  It gave us the gems “Sexy MF” (No. 66), “My Name Is Prince” (No. 36), “The Morning Papers” (No. 44), and, “7,” whose peak position gave chart nerds like me something 2 get extra nerdy about – it peaked at No. 7 in February 1993.love symbol album

After the LOVE SYMBOL ALBUM, much of my interest in the rest of Prince’s 90s work and beyond, much like that of the wonderful David Bowie, had waned.  I did, however, enjoy some of Prince’s later work, starting with “The Most Beautiful Girl In The World” (3 weeks at No. 3, April / May 1994; to date his last Top 10 U.S. hit). 

I also enjoyed his cover of The Stylistics’ No. 3 1972 hit, “Betcha By Golly Wow!” (from his first album after leaving Warner Bros., a 1996 3-CD set appropriately titled EMANCIPATION).  Apparently, Prince had always wanted 2 do a cover of this song, but Warner Bros. never allowed him 2 do it.  Once he was out of his Warner Bros. contract, it gave him the freedom 2 not just do that cover song on EMANCIPATION, but covers of Bonnie Raitt’s “I Can’t Make U Love Me,” “The Delfonics’ “La, La, La Means I Love You” and Joan Osborne’s 1995 hit, “One Of Us” (written by The Hooters’ Eric Bazilian). emancipation

In 1999, Warner Bros. released THE VAULT: OLD FRIENDS FOR SALE, an album submitted by Prince three years earlier, with songs recorded between 1985 and 1994.  It was the last album of his Warner Bros. contract, and it appears that they wanted 2 get a jump on Prince’s actual new album that year, RAVE UN2 THE JOY FANTASTIC, with a fantastic cover of Sheryl Crow’s “Every Day Is A Winding Road.”  The strategy of Warner Bros. did not work.  RAVE not only charted higher (No. 18 vs. No. 85 for VAULT), but it was certified Gold.

musicologyIn January 2001, I became the Music Director 4 WMPG, originally a volunteer position that turned into a University of Southern Maine job 3 1/2 years later.  It was the best job I ever had, something that was truly tailored 4 me.  In that time, at least 3 of his albums that decade were released to college radio – 2004’s MUSICOLOGY, his first double-platinum album since 1991’s DIAMONDS AND PEARLS.  A great deal of the success of this album came with Prince’s brilliant idea 2 include a copy of the album with tickets 2 his concerts, a feature that has become more commonplace today with many artists (my tickets 2 Duran Duran included copies of the new album). 

3121The 2006 album 3121 brought Prince back 2 the top of the BILLBOARD Album chart, and included the funky “Black Sweat” and beautiful “Te Amo Corazón,” a No. 7 hit in Italy.  His 2007 album, PLANET EARTH featured my favorite on the album, “Guitar,” which was a favorite in Japan as well, reaching the Top 10 there.  After PLANET EARTH, Prince left my music radar again until last year’s brilliant and poignant protest song “Baltimore.”

“Baltimore” was initially a digital-only single eventually released on Prince’s HITnRUN PHASE TWO album earlier this year, and was in response 2 the fatal police shooting of Freddie Gray in Baltimore in April 2015.  Six Baltimore police officers were charged in the death of Freddie Gray.  I think “Baltimore” is one of THE best songs Prince ever did.  He even did a Rally 4 Peace concert in Baltimore on Mother’s Day 2015.  I hope those who didn’t know the song “Baltimore” existed while Prince was still alive will discover it now.

baltimore

The poster 4 Prince’s Baltimore Concert / Rally, Mother’s Day, 2015.

One of the things I loved about Prince was that he fought hard 2 put out the music he wanted 2 put out, even if it always didn’t work out with his record label.  Prince was unwavered as he was at the top of the Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC)’s 1985 list of the “Filthy Fifteen,” a list of songs (mostly Pop and Metal songs) the group, co-founded by Tipper Gore, found “objectionable.” parental advisory

This is the group that gave us those “parental advisory” stickers on CDs and albums that everyone loves so much, and is pretty much irrelevant today.  I’m sure such a group couldn’t keep up with all the “filthy” lyrics in today’s music.  Prince’s “Darling Nikki” and “Sugar Walls,” the song he wrote 4 birthday girl Sheena Easton under pseudonym “Alexander Nevermind”) topped the list.  (4 some reason, Tipper Gore must have skipped over his song, “Erotic City.”  Or maybe, she really liked it and that’s why it wasn’t on the list.)  Madonna’s “Dress You Up” and Cyndi Lauper’s “She Bop” were on the list as well.

a love bizarrePrince was so incredibly talented, a truly gifted musician, singer, songwriter and actor who never forgot where he came from.  He was also very generous.  He contributed countless dollars 2 charities in the Minneapolis, MN area (where he lived his entire life), he gave parties at his Paisley Park estate (on the conditions of no smoking, no drinking and no swearing), and he wrote many songs that ended up being hits 4 other recording artists, like “Nothing Compares 2 U” by Sinéad O’Connor, “The Glamorous Life” and “A Love Bizarre” 4 Sheila E., “Jungle Love” by The Time, “I Feel For You” by Chaka Khan (originally from his self-titled second album), the aforementioned “Sugar Walls” by Sheena Easton, and “Manic Monday” by The Bangles (under the pseudonym “Christopher”), which was ranked at No. 2 behind his own “Kiss” at No. 1 in 1986. 

AON tom jones kissSpeaking of “Kiss,” two great cover versions of that song were released – in 1986 by U.K. Alt-Rock band Age Of Chance, and the only American Top 40 hit 4 The Art Of Noise out of London featuring the pride of Wales, Tom Jones.  It spent 2 weeks at No. 31 on the Hot 100 in January 1989, reached No. 1 in New Zealand and Spain, and the Top 10 in 8 countries, including the U.K.

It’s funny – I’d like 2 think I know a lot about 80s music, but it’s kinda cool 2 learn something new, even after more than 25 years since the end of the decade.  After Prince died, all of these stories surfaced throughout the Internet about him, including lists of the songs he wrote that were hits for other artists.  One of these songs was the Top 5 1983 Stevie Nicks hit, “Stand Back.”  Stevie Nicks wrote the song, but according a ROLLING STONE piece, she says the song “belongs to Prince.”

stand backIt was the day of her wedding, and on the way to her honeymoon, she heard “Little Red Corvette” for the first time.  Humming along 2 Prince’s song, Stevie Nicks wrote all of “Stand Back” that day.  The day she was 2 record “Stand Back,” Stevie Nicks called Prince 2 tell him the story of how the song came about.  Less than a half hour later, Prince showed up at her studio, and “walked over to the synthesizers that were set up, was absolutely brilliant for about 25 minutes and then left.  He spoiled me for every band I’ve ever had because nobody can exactly recreate – not even with two piano players – what Prince did all by his little self.”

One of the many things I admired about Prince is that he did extended remixes of his B-sides, like “Erotic City” (the B-side of “Let’s Go Crazy”) and “La, La, La, He, He, Hee” (the B-side of “Sign ‘O’ The Times”).  I can’t think of anyone else who did that!

erotic city

prince gold purple rain award4 a short time in late 2005 and early 2006, I owned a copy of an authentic Recording Association Industry Association of America (RIAA) Gold record 4 PURPLE RAIN.  I had just quit a longtime job in Portland, cashed out my 401K (which I don’t recommend) at the end of the year (which I especially don’t recommend), and it was an impulse purchase while i was inbetween jobs.  But, when I couldn’t find another job right away, I  needed the money, and basically got my money back.  I don’t even have a picture of it, though the small picture included here is what it would have looked like.  Now some people online are selling their gold records similar 2 this 4 thousands of dollars.  Greedy bastards.

4 U prince tributes 2016

I’m doing 2 tribute shows 2 Prince (called 4 U).  The first tribute show aired this past Sunday (4.24.2016) and it was weird, mainly in the sense that I was constantly getting choked up and jamming 2 the music at the same time.  Never had a feeling like that before, not even with David Bowie.  But, the show was well-received, a lot of people tuned in and contributed.  Some folks commented on how I played songs they hadn’t heard of before (prolly like “Baltimore” and “4 The Tears In Your Eyes,” a song that originally appeared on the WE ARE THE WORLD album in 1985).  There was even a Prince song I had forgotten about that was requested by a listener – “Good Love,” from the 1988 soundtrack 2 the Michael J. Fox film, BRIGHT LIGHTS, BIG CITY.

empire state

The Empire State Building lit up in Purple for Prince…

This week, the outpouring 4 Prince’s music has been phenomenal.  With just a half-day of tracking 4 the charts, Prince is now at No. 1 with the 2001 compilation, THE VERY BEST OF PRINCE, and No. 2 with PURPLE RAIN. 

And, six of his Top 40 gems are back on the Hot 100, led by “Purple Rain” at No. 17.  With just that half a day of tracking, I’m betting he’ll have an even bigger week next week.  I always thought that Prince’s signature song, “Purple Rain,” should have reigned at No. 1 in late 1984, but was denied the top spot by Wham!’s “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go.”  Wouldn’t it be something if “Purple Rain” could be his last No. 1 song?  At the very least, it was the No. 1-selling song of last week, which is pretty impressive 4 a 1984 song in a 21st-century digital world…

On the day Prince died, my dear and über-talented friend, Hope, put out a short but fitting post on her amazing blog, HEXBREAKER (hexbreaker9.wordpress.com), which included a cool quote from Eric Clapton I never knew existed until her post: When asked what it feels like to be the best guitarist alive, Eric Clapton said, “I don’t know. Ask Prince.”

purple rain single

A future No. 1 song in America, more than 30 years after its release?  Would be nice to have Prince’s signature song reach the top of the BILLBOARD Hot 100…

My goal was 2 have this blog post out over the past weekend.  When I started on Sunday, 4.24.2016, it had only been 0 hours and 3 days since Prince had passed away.  But, as it turned out, I had a lot 2 say; I couldn’t stop writing.  4 those folks who have been kind enough 2 read through 4,000+ words of my love 4 Prince, I thank U.  I’ll be back 2 regular posts soon, but I wanted 2 get this one 2 U first, and remember Prince in the best way I know how. 

We’ve lost a lot of heavy hitters in the music world this year.  I had just gotten my David Bowie tattoo 8 days before Prince’s passing.  While I won’t get be getting a tattoo of Prince, or a “Little Red Corvette” anytime soon (budget won’t allow it), I’m betting my next car’s color will be purple.  Perhaps I’ll name her Nikki too.  Maybe Prince would have like that. 

R.I.P. Prince and thank U, 4 your music, your generosity, your energy, and 4 standing up 4 what U believed in.  I believe at some point it’s going 2 finally hit me hard that U R gone, and when that happens, I’ll cry, I’ll say a couple prayers, and I’ll thank U again, 4 being a part of my life 4 all these years.  Peace and love 2 U, wherever you are. 

P.S: Chevy was right – “Baby that was much too fast…”

Prince UK 2011

song of the day – “I Feel For You” | CHAKA KHAN | 1984 / 1985.

It’s been nearly a day and a half since learning of the heart-breaking death of Prince (4.21.2016).  I am still numb.  It hits me with little jolts to the body, which would be in line with the electrifying nature of his work, but it hasn’t fully hit me yet, though I know it will.  A proper tribute will appear in my blog over the weekend, but for tonight, I wanted to share this Prince-composed masterpiece as my “song of the day.”

princePrince recorded “I Feel For You” on his self-titled second album, which featured his first Top 40 hit on the BILLBOARD Hot 100, the No. 11 hit, “I Wanna Be Your Lover” (also his first of 8 No. 1 songs on BILLBOARD’s R&B chart).

Hard to imagine now, but “I Feel For You” and “I Wanna Be Your Lover” were actually written as demos for R&B singer Patrice Rushen (you’ll remember her from her big Top 40 hit in 1982, “Forget Me Nots”). 

Though “I Feel For You” was never released as a Prince single, it did get covered a couple of times in the first half of the 80s – first, by The Pointer Sisters in 1982, on their album, SO EXCITED!, and by (real) 80s one-hit wonder Rebbie Jackson (of the semi-famous Jackson clan), on her 1984 album, CENTIPEDE (the title track reached No. 24 on the Hot 100).

“I Feel For You” entered the BILLBOARD Hot 100 in early September 1984, nearly a month before the I FEEL FOR YOU parent album was released.  It had all the makings of a hit single – rapping by Grandmaster Melle Mel (which actually originated in his 1984 song, “Step Off”), harmonica by Stevie Wonder (even sampling his first hit, 1963’s “Fingertips”), and Chicago native Chaka Khan belting out vocals of a song written by Prince. 

chaka khan i feel for you

After a couple of months on the chart, “I Feel For You” reached the Top 10, and peaked at No. 3 for 3 weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas 1984 and spent half a year on the Hot 100, extending its stay into early March 1985.  It was also a No. 1 hit on BILLBOARD’s R&B and Dance charts for 3 weeks each.

People really felt (or fell) for “I Feel For You” around the globe, as it was a Top 10 hit in Belgium, Canada, Germany and New Zealand; and, in the U.K. and Ireland, it went all the way to No. 1.

Despite its peak at No. 3 on the BILLBOARD Hot 100, its chart longevity made it easy for BILLBOARD magazine to rank “I Feel For You” at No. 5 for all of 1985, beating out at least 21 other American No. 1 songs that year, including hits by Madonna, Dire Straits, a-ha, Simple Minds and “We Are The World.”  It was Chaka Khan’s biggest solo hit (and perhaps biggest overall), selling over a million copies, and won Prince (as the songwriter) a deserved Grammy Award for Best R&B Song in 1985.

Like yours truly, this gem of a cover will be on the minds of many people this week and then some, along with the unbelievable bastion of work Prince did for himself and for countless other recording artists over a span of nearly 40 years.  I think I also chose this song today because, for those Prince fans kind enough to be reading these words, believe me, I do feel for you…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hX9E44mClKs

chaka khan