song of the day – “One Of The Living” | TINA TURNER | 1985.

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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!”

One of the best comeback stories (if not THE BEST) is the comeback Tina Turner had in 1984 with her big No. 1 hit, “What’s Love Got To Do With It.”  Before that, Tina’s sweet 1984 cover of Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together” became her first Top 40 hit in more than 10 years, since 1973’s “Nutbush City Limits” (with her ex-husband, Ike Turner) reached No. 22.  Released a couple of months in advance of the excellent PRIVATE DANCER album, “Let’s Stay Together” was Tina’s first solo Top 40 hit, after having released four solo albums since 1974. 

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Tina reaching No. 1 with “What’s Love Got To Do With It” for three weeks in September 1984 was the conduit she needed to jumpstart an already 10-year solo career.  She followed “Love” with three more Top 40 hits from PRIVATE DANCER, and a string of nine more Top 40 hits between 1985 and 1993.

Betweeen 1979 and 1989, there were nearly 60 songs that reached No. 15 on the BILLBOARD Hot 100, and Tina Turner has three of them – “The Best” (from November 1989), “It’s Only Love” (with Bryan Adams, from his monster album, RECKLESS), which was climbing the chart when her other No. 15 hit was peaking, and that hit is “One Of The Living.” 

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It was the second single released the motion picture, MAD MAX BEYOND THUNDERDOME, which she starred opposite Mel Gibson and served as a worthy foe for Mel’s title character.  Tina received the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Actress for her role in MAD MAX BEYOND THUNDERDOME. 

The follow-up single to “We Don’t Need Another Hero,” which spent a week at No. 2 in September 1985, “One Of The Living” was hot on the heels of “Hero,” rocketing onto the BILLBOARD Hot 100 in early October at No. 52.  The following week, it switched places with its chart predecessor and reached the Top 40 in its second chart week.

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“One Of The Living” made a steady climb up the Hot 100, stopping at No. 15 in November 1985 the same week “It’s Only Love” blasted in as the “Hot Shot Debut” that week.  “One Of The Living” spent two weeks at No. 15, and was still on the Hot 100 when the Rockin’ “It’s Only Love” spent a week at No. 15 in mid-January 1986. 

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Around the globe, “One Of The Living” was a Top 40 hit in several countries, reaching No. 5 in Canada, No. 6 in Germany, No. 7 in Belgium, No. 9 in Finland and Switzerland, No. 10 in the Netherlands, No. 12 in Austria, No. 15 in Ireland, No. 24 in New Zealand, No. 34 in Australia and No. 6 on BILLBOARD’s Dance chart.

Singer / songwriter Holly Knight (of the band Device, and who had written and/or  co-written several hits for Pat Benatar, Bonnie Tyler, Divinyls, Animotion, Heart and Scandal featuring Patty Smyth) wrote “One Of The Living,” and had also written “Better Be Good To Me” (from PRIVATE DANCER).  “One Of The Living” would go on to win a Grammy award for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance.

MAD MAX BEYOND THUNDERDOME, from left: Mel Gibson, Tina Turner, 1985, ©Warner Bros./courtesy Everett

A 1985 publicity shot with Mel Gibson and Tina Turner. Sorry, Mel, but my $ is on Tina.

I know a lot of folks have forgotten about this gem, and to this day, that puzzles me.  It’s a kick-ass song and a Top 20 hit which showcases her strong vocals and confident attitude to match, not to mention a sweet sax solo.  In fact, it’s one of my all-time favorite Tina songs, and I just wanted to share it with folks who had either forgotten or didn’t know it existed.

Tina turned 46 when “One Of The Living” spent its two weeks at No. 15, and is now 77, and though she hasn’t released a studio album in nearly 20 years, she was (as of December 2016) working on TINA, a new musical based on her life.  It’s scheduled to begin in London’s West End sometime in 2018.

Back in the 80s (and since), Tina Turner has been triumphed for her comeback and strength, after the abuse she suffered for many years by her late husband Ike, and that strength and courage not only resonated through her many hits in the 80s and early 90s, but she’s been an inspiration and a hero(ine) to women all over the world.  From stories and articles I’ve read, Tina is quite happy and enjoying life in Switzerland (where she as been a citizen – and married (!) – since 2013), and why not?  She’s certainly earned it and then some.

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Tina Turner and her husband, Erwin Bach.

“So now you’re gonna shoot bullets of fire / Don’t want to fight but sometimes you’ve got to / You’re some soul survivor / There’s just one thing you’ve got to know / You’ve got ten more thousand miles to go / Because you’re one of the living / And if we can’t stick together / One of the living / Who’s gonna make it tonight…”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dc3IEdllaxc

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song of the day – “Love Is A Battlefield” | PAT BENATAR | 1983 / 1984.

I have been a fan of Pat Benatar since the first time I heard “Heartbreaker” in late 1979.  I own several of her albums, and yes, 12” singles too (hey – almost everybody did remixes back in the 80s!).  But, oddly enough, as much as I have loved Pat Benatar and her music for almost 40 years, I have never seen her perform live.  I am hoping to rectify that this Summer.

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This week, I found out that Pat and her long-time husband and guitarist, Neil Giraldo, will be performing at Portland’s Maine State Pier for the second time in three years.  In 2015, I believe they had the distinction of being the first performers at the Maine State Pier, performing in early May 2015.  I wasn’t at that show, but from what I heard, it was incredibly cold (we were barely out of our longer-than-usual Winter that year) and I feared Pat wouldn’t be back to Maine again.

The Winter of 2014-2015 was what I classified as “The Winter That Would Never End,” in that it snowed on November 1, 2014, and snowed in six consecutive months, through April 2015.  Even for Maine, that’s pretty unusual.  I love Maine but not its Winters, and always hope they won’t last more than their calendared three months.  (This year, Mom Nature is playing her own April Fool’s Joke on us, with several inches of snow predicted the first day of April.)  I’m so glad Pat and Neil have picked to return to Portland’s Maine State Pier in late July, when – theoretically – it’ll be an awesome Summer (like 2016!).

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Neil and Pat, having fun on the road and hopefully in my view this Summer…

By late 1983, the then-30-year-old from Brooklyn, NYC already had released four hugely successful albums, including a No. 1 album – 1981’s PRECIOUS TIME – and a No. 2 album – her biggest album to date, 1980’s CRIMES OF PASSION, which has been certified (at least) 4x Multi-Platinum.  She had also nine out of 10 singles reach the Top 40 of the BILLBOARD Hot 100, including one Top 10 hit, “Hit Me With Your Best Shot,” which reached No. 9 in late December 1980.

Pat’s fifth release, a mostly-live album called LIVE FROM EARTH, was released in mid-October 1983, and contained two new studio tracks, “Lipstick Lies” and “Love Is A Battlefield,” the latter of which was written by popular songwriters Mike Chapman and Holly Knight, who have written a combined amount of huge songs that would require their own entire blog post, which I may write one day.  I can say that Holly Knight (a member of the short-lived Dance / Rock band, Device) also wrote and/or co-wrote three other Pat Benatar songs, including 1985’s “Invincible (The Theme From THE LEGEND OF BILLIE JEAN).”

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From the back of the LIVE FROM EARTH album.

“Love Is A Battlefield” was released a month in advance of LIVE FROM EARTH, and only took 12 days to reach the BILLBOARD Hot 100, debuting at No. 78.  In just four weeks, “Love Is A Battlefield” debuted in the Top 40, giving Pat her tenth Top 40 American hit.  In a chart coincidence that only a singles chart nerd like myself could love, “Love Is A Battlefield” also debuted in the Top 40 the same week as Eurythmics debuted with “Love Is A Stranger.”

Like most Pat Benatar singles, “Love Is A Battlefield” made a steady climb up the chart and spent a week at No. 5 in early December 1983.  It stayed on the Hot 100 until the second half of February 1984 and one of BILLBOARD’s biggest Hot 100 hits of 1984.  With 1985’s “We Belong,” it remains her highest-charting American hit so far, and gave Pat her fourth consecutive Grammy Award for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance.

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Around the globe, there was a lot of love for “Love Is A Battlefield.”  It spent five weeks at No. 1 in Australia, four weeks at No. 1 in Holland and BILLBOARD’s Mainstream Rock chart, two weeks at No. 1 in Belgium, plus Top 10 rankings in Canada, Germany, Ireland and New Zealand, and the Top 20 in the U.K. and Switzerland.

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From the back of the bus in the “Love Is The Battlefield” video.

A special remix was used for the popular music video, which features Pat as a teenager running away from her family, Pat exploring the fast life in the big city, becoming a dancer, her father eventually showing regret for things he said that drove her away, and through all of this, she ends up discovering strength and independence, and the incredible undeniability of girl power.  Pat also showed off some pretty cool dance moves in this partially-choreographed video, which was nominated for an MTV Video Music Award for Best Female Video.

I know the dancing and using a drum machine was out of Pat Benatar’s normal Rock ’n’ Roll element, and that remixes prolly weren’t her thing (although she’d end up releasing a few more; I know, because I own them), but in the end, “Love Is A Battlefield” is a song that worked, even when songwriter Mike Chapman didn’t think it would work, and even when Pat’s record company didn’t think it would work.  But all’s fair in love and war and pop hits, right?  What most folks involved with the record thought wouldn’t work is one of THE songs Pat Benatar is remembered most for to this day, and is a song I hope to hear her sing in Portland, Maine in late July.

Writing about “Love Is A Battlefield” here made me think of a time back in the mid-00s, when I was still living in Portland and had a Saturday night retro DJ gig at one of the clubs intown, where, in the small, already crowded Alt-Rock / Dance and New Wave “rec room” full of the music of New Order, Blondie, Duran Duran, Smiths, Siouxsie & The Banshees, Nine Inch Nails and the oft-requested Elvis Costello, there wasn’t much room for Pat’s Benatar’s straight up, kick-ass Rock ’n’ Roll, but I remember a couple of times I got a request for something by Pat.  And I was pleasantly surprised both times. 

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The first time Pat Benatar was requested, for a second, I thought, “what could I possibly play for this amazing crowd of people that would blend in?”  The only song that came to mind – and what proved to be THE best choice – was the 12” dance remix of “Love Is A Battlefield.”  When Pat was requested another time, the choice that time was a no-brainer, because, not only did “Love Is A Battlefield” get a sweet reception the first time, when it comes to dance music from the 80s, whether it’s Pop, Rock, Punk, Funk, Dance, Rap, New Wave, New Romantics – to me, there IS no battlefield. 

“We are strong / No one can tell us we’re wrong / Searching our hearts for so long / Both of us knowing / Love is a battlefield…”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IGVZOLV9SPo

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