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 – “The Way It Is” | BRUCE HORNSBY AND THE RANGE | 1986.

There are some songs out there that can’t be grouped in with ballads or Dance or straight up Rock ’n’ Roll songs because they don’t fit in any of those categories.  But, you know, just because you can’t shake your booty to them or you prolly can’t slow dance to them at a wedding reception doesn’t mean they aren’t good; it just means they don’t really fit into any particular category you’re used to.  Case in point, at least for me, is today’s “song of the day” – “The Way It Is” by Bruce Hornsby And The Range. 

Bruce Hornsby, a native of Williamsburg, Virginia, first got his music “start” in 1974 in a band put together by his older brother, Bobby (then a student at the University of Virginia), called Bobby Hi-Test And The Octane Kids, playing covers of songs by The Band, Grateful Dead and Allman Brothers at frat parties. 

That gig didn’t last long, but Bruce’s association with music continued.  He studied music at the University of Richmond, Boston’s Berklee School Of Music, and the University of Miami, where he graduated from in 1977.  After college, he went back to Williamsburg for a short time and played piano in clubs and bars before meeting up with his younger brother, John, in Los Angeles in 1980. 

QUIRKY FUN FACT(S): You can find Bruce Hornsby at the ol’ 88’s and hamming it up for the camera in Sheena Easton’s late 1984 hit, “Strut,” a song that was co-written by Charlie Dore, one of the (real) one-hit wonders of the 80s with her own 1980 hit, “Pilot Of The Airwaves.”  Bruce Hornsby was a member of Sheena’s touring band, and he also appeared in the video for Sheena’s Prince-penned and PMRC target practice favorite, “Sugar Walls.”

Bruce Hornsby STRUT

Yes, that’s really Bruce Hornsby in the 1984 video for Sheena Easton’s “Strut.”

In between his time in L.A. and touring with Sheena Easton, he formed a five-man Rock band called Bruce Hornsby And The Range, and they were signed to RCA Records in 1985.  Their debut album, THE WAY IT IS, was released on April 1, 1986, and seven of the nine songs on the album were written by Bruce Hornsby and his younger brother, John.  Bruce wrote the songs “Every Little Kiss” and the album’s title track.

The first incarnation of the album, was, oddly enough, targeted to New Age listeners (which I’m still trying to figure out).  The album even had a different cover that prolly most people who are familiar with the album haven’t seen, with an impressionistic shot of Bruce Hornsby playing the accordion.

the way it is ORIGINAL LP

The original cover art for THE WAY IT IS album.

every little kiss

A couple of months following the release of THE WAY IT IS, the first single released from the album was “Every Little Kiss,” which took two months to debut on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 and stopped at No. 72 in August 1986, but which still managed to stay on the chart for a couple months.

Well, once “Every Little Kiss” started getting airplay, THE WAY IT IS album got remixed, and a new cover was commissioned, this time with a darker, sepia-toned color, with a simple shot of the band in the foreground, and a shot of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge in the background.  The change must have worked.

the way it is LP

The last week “Every Little Kiss” was on the Hot 100, the album’s title track debuted at No. 86.  By the following week, it had already surpassed the peak of “Every Little Kiss.”  “The Way It Is” reached the Top 40 in mid-October and the Top 10 a month later. 

I think what latched me onto “The Way It Is” at first was the impressive way Bruce Hornsby knew his way around a piano.  You don’t normally hear piano solos in Pop songs, let alone two of them in the same song.  Still impresses me to this day.  It didn’t sound like anything else, and it certainly didn’t sound like a Pop song, popular at the same time as songs by Bon Jovi, The Bangles, Peter Cetera and Amy Grant, Huey Lewis And The News, Duran Duran and Wang Chung. 

the way it is 7

This is a song which brings up homelessness, the welfare divide of the rich and the poor, the Civil Rights movement and racism: “Well they passed a law in ’64 / To give those who ain’t got a little more / But it only goes so far / ‘Cause the law don’t change another’s mind / When all it sees at the hiring time / Is the line on the color bar, no…”

Well, it may not have fit in at wedding receptions or night clubs, but “The Way It Is” was a big hit with record buyers and radio listeners, and it spent a week at No. 1 on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 in mid-December 1986, and finished at No. 8 for all of 1987.

Around the globe, “The Way It Is” reached No. 1 in Holland, No. 3 in Belgium, No. 4 in Canada, No. 8 in Ireland, and the Top 20 in the U.K., Germany, South Africa and Switzerland.

After the success of “The Way It Is,” Bruce and his band picked up the Best New Artist Grammy Award and would release two more studio albums together, going on to have hits with “Mandolin Rain” (No. 4, 1987), a re-issue of “Every Little Kiss” (No. 14, 1987),  “The Valley Road” (No. 5, 1988), “Look Out Any Window” (No. 35, 1988) and “Across The River” (No. 18, 1990). 

Jacob's_Ladder_Single

Bruce Hornsby would also have a songwriting credit (with his brother, John) on a No. 1 song by Huey Lewis And The News – “Jacob’s Ladder,” which spent a week at No. 1 on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 in mid-March 1987, and which Bruce and The Range would record for their second album, 1988’s SCENES FROM THE SOUTHSIDE.  Incidentally, Huey Lewis co-produced THE WAY IT IS album, and played harmonica and provided backing vocals on the album track, “Down The Road Tonight.”

In a 2015 interview with Kate Mossman of the NEW STATESMAN, a political and cultural U.K. magazine, Bruce Hornsby was asked why “The Way It Is” was so successful, which he couldn’t do.  But, he did say, “I see it as a novelty record.  There are things that set it apart.  I feel the same way about ‘Sultans of Swing’ by Dire Straits.  It goes down easy and isn’t that what a lot of pop is about?  But at the same time, it’s a completely different sound than you’d heard.  Even the big piano guys like Elton and Billy Joel, they didn’t really solo like that.  A pleasing sound with solos.  Like Mark Knopfler on ‘Sultans of Swing.’  That’s how I explain it.  But that’s complete crap, too, probably.”

That same year, Elton John had said when Bruce Hornsby played piano on Bonnie Raitt’s 1991 beautiful heartbreaking gem, “I Can’t Make You Love Me,” it made him “seek perfection.  It is sublime.  He is one of the best pianists – if not THE best – out there.”

bonnie n bruce

Bruce has long since left Pop music and has gone his own way, playing music from a plethora of genres, like Jazz, Blues, Bluegrass, Jam Band, Gospel and most recently, performing with his Rock / Folk touring band, The Noisemakers.  Interestingly enough, on their fourth studio album, REHAB REUNION (released in June 2016), Bruce Hornsby does NOT play the instrument for which is world-renowned, but instead plays the dulcimer, an instrument that the incomparable Cyndi Lauper has embraced on her albums and tours for many years.  There’s even a sweet, almost unrecognizable seven-minute folk version of his 1988 hit, “The Valley Road,” on the album.  It’s actually quite lovely.

rehabreunion

Bruce Hornsby sure has come a long way from appearing in Sheena Easton videos and picking up a No. 1 hit of his own.  And, for more than 30 years, he had some success, and has performed with some of his music heroes, like Sting, Elton John, Eric Clapton, Grateful Dead, Don Henley, Ricky Scaggs and Bonnie Raitt, to name a few.  Now, Bruce is 62, married with twin adult sons, plays basketball when he’s not playing music (he’s 6’ 4”), and plays music for the absolute love of it.  You gotta respect that.  I know I do.

“That’s just the way it is / Some things will never change…”  Or, in the case of Bruce Hornsby, maybe they do…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cOeKidp-iWo

bruce + the range 2

song of the day – “Elvis Is Everywhere” | MOJO NIXON & SKID ROPER | 1987.

August 16th, for me at least, makes me think of three people: the new Queen of the Teens, my niece, Jennifer, who turned 13 today (8.16.2016);  the Queen of Pop, Madonna, who turns 58 today; and, the King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley, who passed away 39 years ago today at the young age of 42.

As much as I love Madonna and her work (apart from the last couple of releases, anyway), there’s one song that’s preventing me from posting a Madonna “song of the day” today – “Elvis Is Everywhere” by Mojo Nixon & Skid Roper. 

elvis is everywhere AUS

The Australian single cover for “Elvis Is Everywhere.”

North Carolina-born Mojo Nixon (real name Neill Kirby McMillan, Jr.) got his start in the first half of the 80s collaborating with his future music partner-in-crime, Skid Roper (real name Richard Banke).  They specialized in Psychobilly music, which is a marriage-of-sorts of Punk, Rock, Rockabilly and R&B.  Their 1985 debut album, MOJO NIXON AND SKID ROPER, featured the original version of the Alt-Rock gem, “Jesus At McDonald’s.”bo-day-shus!!!

A couple years later, in 1987, on their fourth album together, they released BO-DAY-SHUS!!!, which featured what has prolly become their best-known song, “Elvis Is Everywhere” (their own personal tribute to The King).

When Mojo and Skid weren’t singing about their hero, they were releasing songs about other musicians and other folks in the music field that you prolly wouldn’t consider tributes: his 1995 album, WHEREABOUTS UNKNOWN, features a cover of The Smiths’ 1987 song, “Girlfriend In A Coma,” where Mojo actually makes fun of Morrissey in the song; 1989’s “Debbie Gibson Is Pregnant With My Two-Headed Love Child” (featuring Winona Ryder in the video); “Stuffin’ Martha’s Muffin” (about MTV’s Martha Quinn); and, “Don Henley Must Die” from Mojo’s solo 1990 album, OTIS.  Of the song, Don Henley said, “Personally, I think the boy just needs a good laxative.”  Several years later, Don Henley joined Mojo Nixon at a show in Austin, Texas, and a very surprised Mojo said, “Is Debbie Gibson here too?”  Mojo and Don performed an alternate tongue-in-cheek version of the song, called, “Rick Astley Must Die.”  Of that moment, Mojo Nixon said of Don Henley, “He has balls the size of church bells!”

mojo about don henley

Mojo Nixon officially retired from the music business in 2004, though occasionally coming out for a show, and hosting a radio program on Sirius Satellite Radio.  The retirement lasted five years, and in 2009, he released the album, WHISKEY REBELLION (his last album to date).  If I had ever gotten an interview with Mojo at some point, I would have loved to ask him one question in particular (and a question he prolly got all the time) about “Elvis Is Everywhere”: does he really still think Michael J. Fox has no Elvis in him?  (Through some interweb research, at last check, Mojo definitely still thinks Michael is the Anti-Elvis…)

Speaking of today’s wonderful “song of the day,” sure, in the song, Mojo mispronounces Bermuda, confuses Mr. Spock of STAR TREK with pediatrician and author Dr. Benjamin Spock, and yeah, maybe 29 years later, “Elvis is in Joan Rivers” and “Elvis is in your mom” sounds dirty and inappropriate, but honestly, when it comes to paying tribute to Elvis Presley, there’s no other song for me than this high-spirited and really fun classic that really comes close… 

Thank you, Elvis.  Thank you Mojo and Skid.  And thank you, ma’am…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=knc9LKjukSQ

nixonroper-splsh

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

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

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

the HEAVY 80s 6.12.16

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

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

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

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

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

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

dirty laundry

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

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

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

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

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

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

don henley