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).
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!”
About 70 songs peaked at No. 6 between 1979 and 1989, and out of these songs I found many favorites, like “Lay Your Hands On Me” by Thompson Twins, “The Logical Song” by Supertramp, “Don’t Let It End” by Styx (a great song you almost never hear anymore), “Breakout” by Swing Out Sister, “Late In The Evening” by Paul Simon, the gorgeous “Piano In The Dark” by Brenda Russell featuring Joe Esposito, “Your Love” by The Outfield, “Neutron Dance” by The Pointer Sisters (from BEVERLY HILLS COP), “Come Dancing” by The Kinks, “Him” by Rupert Holmes (love those story songs), “Steppin’ Out” by Joe Jackson, “Family Man” by Daryl Hall & John Oates, “Fast Car” by Tracy Chapman, “Funkytown” by Pseudo Echo, “Word Up” by Cameo, “Obsession” by Animotion, “Boogie Wonderland” by Earth, Wind & Fire with The Emotions (from CADDYSHACK), “Some Like It Hot” and “Election Day” by Duran Duran spinoffs The Power Station and Arcadia, respectively, and “I Drove All Night” by the incomparable Cyndi Lauper. I’ll come back to Cyndi in a moment.
The No. 6 position was also a favorite for Huey Lewis & The News, who placed four songs at No. 6, and three of those were consecutive No. 6 hits from their monster 1983 album, SPORTS – “I Want A New Drug,” “The Heart Of Rock & Roll” and “If This Is It.”
Bryan Adams, Dr. Hook, Little River Band and John Mellencamp each had two No. 6 hits, plus there were two fantastic ballads by Bruce Springsteen from BORN IN THE U.S.A. (“I’m On Fire” and “My Hometown”), and two songs by Rod Stewart – “Love Touch” and one of my all-time favorite songs by the London native, “Infatuation.”
On Friday, July 14, 2017, my oldest friend, Peter, and I had the absolute privilege of seeing Cyndi Lauper and Rod Stewart perform in Bangor, Maine. Cyndi opened up for him, and was, of course, phenomenal, as I knew she would be. If my math is correct, it was her first time performing in Maine since her 1986-1987 TRUE COLORS tour, and was definitely long overdue and yet so worth the wait.
I was more than pleased to see the Maine crowd welcome back Cyndi, and the crowd went nuts when Maine Senator Susan Collins came out to the stage. In 2015, Senator Collins – a longtime Maine Republican Senator – chaired a bipartisan committee to look into the serious issue of homeless youth. Cyndi testified before Senator Collins and the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations subcommittee, to seek legislative funding programs for homeless teens. (For years, Cyndi’s wonderful True Colors Fund, has existed to help combat homeless LGBT youth, “creating a world in which all young people can be their true selves.” Please go to TrueColorsFund.org for more info and find out how you can help.)
Cyndi was about to go into another song when one of her crew members came out and whispered that Senator Collins was backstage. I think I heard Cyndi say, “Bring her out!” And once the Senator came out to greet Cyndi, Cyndi told the audience, “This woman is a hero. And she’s my hero. And she’s a Republican. She’s helped us so much with the LGBT homeless youth and all the homeless kids.” And then Senator Collins got the hug I wanted, dammit! It’s all good. I may not agree with all of the political views of Senator Collins, but it was a really nice moment. After the show, Cyndi even tweeted a selfie of Senator Collins, Rod Stewart and herself.
Speaking of Sir Rod Stewart, holy cats! I don’t know why exactly I had never seen Rod perform live before, but I’m so glad I got to see him this time. The guy is 72, and still had the moves, the looks, an incredible band, lovely ladies who could sing, dance and play instruments, and he sure knew how to work the crowd. And he could kick the shit out of a soccer ball (er, football for everyone outside of the U.S.) (he gave away signed soccer balls by kicking them out to the crowd; one went over Pete and I, and about five people scrambled to get it, though they forgot a barrier was there. Oopsie!).
The first song he sang surprised me, but it was so great to hear – “Infatuation.” Between 1979 and 1989, Rod Stewart reached the Top 10 seven times, including his No. 1 hit, “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?”, which incidentally was the first 45 I ever bought with my own money back in 1979, and the last song he played in Bangor.
The upbeat Rock / Dance hit featuring the incredible Jeff Beck on guitar (he also appears in the music video), “Infatuation” was released in advance of Rod Stewart’s 13th studio album, CAMOUFLAGE. It debuted on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 in late May 1984 way up at No. 47, and would have been the highest-debuting song of the week, but Bruce Springsteen’s “Dancing In The Dark” had other plans, and debuted within the Top 40.
The following week, “Infatuation” jumped into the Top 40, and from there made a slow but steady climb up the chart, reaching the Top 10 in late July 1984, and spent the next two weeks at its peak position of No. 6. “Infatuation” departed from the Hot 100 by late September 1984 and finished the year at No. 58.
There was even a bit of infatuation for “Infatuation” across the globe, and it was a Top 20 hit in Canada, Ireland, Sweden and Switzerland, and a Top 30 hit in the U.K. and Germany. It also reached No. 5 on BILLBOARD’s Mainstream Rock chart and No. 19 on BILLBOARD’s Dance chart, his last of five songs to date to reach that chart.
Rod continued to chart well on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 into the the first half of the 1990s, and his last Top 10 hit was also his last No. 1 single to date – “All For Love” (from the 1993 film, THE THREE MUSKETEERS), with Sting and Bryan Adams. It was No. 1 for three weeks in early 1994.
Over on the album charts since then, especially with his GREAT AMERICAN SONGBOOK series since Y2K, Rod Stewart has seen a ton of success all over the world. In Bangor, he also played a lovely track from his most-recent album, 2015’s ANOTHER COUNTRY, called “Love Is.” The album went Platinum in his U.K. homeland and reached No. 2 there.
Though I don’t know why it took me decades to finally see Rod Stewart perform, I’m so glad I did. I was honestly there to see Cyndi perform, but I had always a fan of Rod’s music, so I thought it’d be great to see him too. Little did I know just how impressed I would be with his performance and then some.
Rod and Cyndi also did a wonderful duet together – “This Old Heart Of Mine,” a 1966 song originally by The Isley Brothers that he covered in 1975, and which reached No. 83 on the BILLBOARD Hot 100. In 1989, he covered the song again with Ronald Isley, and it became a Top 10 hit, surpassing the original. Rod’s duet with Cyndi was one – of many – highlights of the night.
“Infatuation” isn’t regarded as one of those Rod Stewart songs most folks immediately associate with him, but I sure do, and I’m so glad he dug it out for what turned out to be an incredibly memorable show…