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

casey-kasem-at40-abc-billboard-650

On June 15, 2014, Casey Kasem, host of the longtime countdown program, AMERICAN TOP 40, passed away at the age of 82.  From my first blog post (and prolly some more inbetween then and now), I explained how, in 1979, I was a geeky, lanky and somewhat lost 12-year-old living in Central Maine, had a few friends and not a lot of interest in much of anything, but at some point early that year, I discovered AMERICAN TOP 40, and was glued to it every weekend.  Not only could I hear the 40 biggest songs in the country every week, but also Casey’s cool trivia and facts about the songs and the artists, a trait I treasure to this day.  For me, the show was No. 1 with a bullet.  And still is (thanks to the re-airing of broadcasts of AT40 on iHeart Radio).american-top-40-casey-kasem

In honor of my radio hero, Casey Kasem, since the start of June, I have been highlighting songs that peaked in the Top 40 of the BILLBOARD Hot 100 (including five (real) one-hit wonders of the 80s), just like on AMERICAN TOP 40, the hits have gotten bigger with each post.  On June 1, 2017, I featured a song that peaked at No. 40.  With the next post, I’ll feature a “song of the day” that went all the way to No. 1. 

As Casey used to say on AT40, “And on we go!”

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

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

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

waiting for a girl like you

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

99 luftballons

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

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

loverboy

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

the lover in me

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

lovesong

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

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

hungry heart

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

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

dancing in the dark

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

bruce blinded

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

courtney n bruce

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

blaster mix

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

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

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

when doves cry back

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

pink cadillac

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

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

born in the usa LP

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

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

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

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

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

cyndi girls

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

bob n bruce

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

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

e st band

Bruce Springsteen with The E Street Band, 1984.

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

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

bruce 84

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

casey-kasem-at40-abc-billboard-650

On June 15, 2014, Casey Kasem, host of the longtime countdown program, AMERICAN TOP 40, passed away at the age of 82.  From my first blog post (and prolly some more inbetween then and now), I explained how, in 1979, I was a geeky, lanky and somewhat lost 12-year-old living in Central Maine, had a few friends and not a lot of interest in much of anything, but at some point early that year, I discovered AMERICAN TOP 40, and was glued to it every weekend.  Not only could I hear the 40 biggest songs in the country every week, but also Casey’s cool trivia and facts about the songs and the artists, a trait I treasure to this day.  For me, the show was No. 1 with a bullet.  And still is (thanks to the re-airing of broadcasts of AT40 on iHeart Radio).american-top-40-casey-kasem

In honor of my radio hero, Casey Kasem, for the entire month of June (and now through July), I will be highlighting a song each day (some days will have two songs!) that peaked in the Top 40 of the BILLBOARD Hot 100 (including five (real) one-hit wonders of the 80s), and with every blog post, just like on AMERICAN TOP 40, the hits will get bigger with each post.  On June 1, 2017, I featured a song that peaked at No. 40.  Sometime here in July, I’ll feature a “song of the day” that went all the way to No. 1. 

As Casey used to say on AT40, “And on we go!”

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

pac-man fever

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

rush hour

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

stand by me

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

let's go

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

you got it

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

burning down the house

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

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

people are people

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

robyn

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

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

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

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

document

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

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

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

the one i love v1

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

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

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

the one i love v2

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

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

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

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

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

robyn + peter SWSW 07

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

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

mike-mills

Mike Mills, Record Store Day 2014.

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

R.E.M.-Record-Store-Day

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

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

me + michael 10.31.15

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

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

r.e.m.

song of the day – “You Are The Girl” | THE CARS | 1987.

casey-kasem-at40-abc-billboard-650

On June 15, 2014, Casey Kasem, host of the longtime countdown program, AMERICAN TOP 40, passed away at the age of 82.  From my first blog post (and prolly some more inbetween then and now), I explained how, in 1979, I was a geeky, lanky and somewhat lost 12-year-old living in Central Maine, had a few friends and not a lot of interest in much of anything, but at some point early that year, I discovered AMERICAN TOP 40, and was glued to it every weekend.  Not only could I hear the 40 biggest songs in the country every week, but also Casey’s cool trivia and facts about the songs and the artists, a trait I treasure to this day.  For me, the show was No. 1 with a bullet.  And still is (thanks to the re-airing of broadcasts of AT40 on iHeart Radio).american-top-40-casey-kasem

In honor of my radio hero, Casey Kasem, for the entire month of June (and now through July), I will be highlighting a song each day (some days will have two songs!) that peaked in the Top 40 of the BILLBOARD Hot 100 (including five (real) one-hit wonders of the 80s), and with every blog post, just like on AMERICAN TOP 40, the hits will get bigger with each post.  On June 1, 2017, I featured a song that peaked at No. 40.  Sometime here in July, I’ll feature a “song of the day” that went all the way to No. 1. 

As Casey used to say on AT40, “And on we go!”

More than 40 songs climbed as high as No. 17 on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 between 1979 and 1989, again male-heavy selections, including two hits from Billy Joel, and two hits from Journey (plus, an additional No. 17 solo hit by Steve Perry, with Kenny Loggins – “Don’t Fight It”). 

I must really like songs that reached No. 17, because I’ve already written blog posts about six of them – “Ain’t Even Done With The Night” by John Mellencamp, “Beat’s So Lonely” by Charlie Sexton, “Days Gone Down” by Gerry Rafferty, “In A Big Country” by Big Country, “Living In A Box” by Living In A Box, and the wonderful Howard Jones with “You Know I Love You…Don’t You?”

hojo

The No. 17 rank is also one of just two from positions 40 through No. 1 that do NOT claim any of the more than 100 (real) one-hit wonders of the 80s that reached the Top 40 (the other is No. 6).

One of the later No. 17 hits from the 80s was the last Top 40 hit for The Cars – “You Are The Girl,” the first single from their sixth studio album, 1987’s DOOR TO DOOR.

door to door

Between the huge success of 1984’s HEARTBEAT CITY album and the release of DOOR TO DOOR, lead guitarist Elliot Easton and bassist and vocalist Benjamin Orr both released debut solo albums, and Ric Ocasek released his second solo album.  Plus, THE CARS’ GREATEST HITS was released, generating the Top 10 hit, “Tonight She Comes.”

Released in late August 1987, DOOR TO DOOR was intended to get the Boston band back into their original Rock roots (think back to their incredible 1978 self-titled debut album), free of drum machines and sampling that helped make the HEARTBEAT CITY album such a huge success. 

But, despite tension mounting within the (then) 11-year-old band, they pressed on and released DOOR TO DOOR.  The first single from the album, “You Are The Girl,” was written by both Ric Ocasek and Benjamin Orr, who share vocals on the song.  They hadn’t shared vocals on a Cars single since their second album, 1979’s CANDY-O, and the song “Since I Held You.”

candy-o

Can’t help it – any excuse to post this album cover works for me.  It – and she – are gorgeous!

NERDY FUN FACT: Acclaimed cult film writer / director and actor, John Waters (PINK FLAMINGOS, HAIRSPRAY, CRY-BABY) directed the video for “You Are The Girl.”

video

From the John Waters-directed video for “You Are The Girl.”

“You Are The Girl” was the “Hot Shot Debut” on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 for the last week of August 1987, coming in at No. 65.  It reached the Top 40 just two weeks later, and looked like it was headed for Top 10 territory.  But, despite appearing on the 1987 MTV Video Music Awards, where this song was played, “You Are The Girl” spent a quick week at No. 17 in late October 1987, and was out of the Top 40 and headed down the Hot 100 in November 1987, which is around the time I saw The Cars perform in Portland, Maine, at the former Cumberland County Civic Center.

you are the girl

Icehouse, who opened for The Cars, put on a solid show, and I became a big fan.  The Cars put on an amazing show, but there was no interaction between the band members, and Ric Ocasek threw out the occasional, half-hearted “thank you” to those of us in attendance. 

It was weird to see a band kick ass on stage and yet see them so distant from each other.  Broke my heart.  The band hadn’t broken up at that point (I think they wanted to finish the tour first), but they might have well as been broken up.  And they did, a few months later, around my 21st birthday in February 1988.

just what i needed

Sure, there was talk of a Cars reunion in the 90s, and even Rhino Records helped out with their awesome 2-CD compilation, JUST WHAT I NEEDED: THE CARS ANTHOLOGY, plus other Rhino releases and reissues.  But, a proper reunion was not to be.  Benjamin Orr died of pancreatic cancer in 2000.

While Ric Ocasek continued with his solo career post-Y2K, in 2005, Cars stalwarts Elliot Easton and keyboardist Greg Hawkes teamed up with Rock legend Todd Rundgren and a couple other folks to form The New Cars, releasing a live album, IT’S ALIVE, containing a mix of Cars hits and Todd Rundgren hits, along with a new song, “Not Tonight,” which really did sound like it could have come from the late 70s or early 80s.  I actually had tickets to The New Cars when they came to Portland, Maine, but for whatever reason, I missed it.  Kinda wish I had been there though…

it's alive

Hard to say, but maybe it was this successful spin-off of The Cars that inspired Ric Ocasek to reunite with the other surviving members of the band for a new album and tour in 2011: MOVE LIKE THIS.  With a long distance dedication in the liner notes to Benjamin Orr (“Ben, your spirit was with us on this one”), the band sounded as great as they had 24 years before, and as if they had been together the whole time.

move like this

Ben Orr and Ric Ocasek usually split up the vocals on albums, but with Ben gone, for MOVE LIKE THIS, Ric sang on all of the songs.  In an interview with ROLLING STONE about the reunion and the album, “I was aware that on half of the new songs, Ben would have done better than I did.  But we never wanted anybody from the outside.”

One cool thing they did for the album was not hire a bassist to replace Ben Orr.  Instead, any bass parts needed for the album were constructed and programmed by Greg Hawkes and MOVE LIKE THIS co-producer, Jacknife Lee, with Greg Hawkes playing a bass that had once belonged to Benjamin Orr.

sad song

A single from MOVE LIKE THIS, “Sad Song,” was well-received, sounded like The Cars of old, and reached No. 33 on BILLBOARD’s Rock Songs chart and No. 2 on BILLBOARD’s Triple A chart (it was heavily serviced to college and community radio stations).

The Cars finished up an 11-city mini-tour for MOVE LIKE THIS (appropriately enough) in Boston near the end of May 2011.  The band was nominated for induction into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 2015, and I hope they will get in one year.  So deserved. 

And though the band is technically still together, they haven’t recorded anything new or toured since MOVE LIKE THIS in 2011, though Ric Ocasek has overseen the remastering of The Cars’ discography on CD and vinyl.

The Cars have long been and remain as one of my all-time favorite bands, and their last Top 40 hit to date is definitely a keeper, even if the song was actually about an ex…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KGf-sszK-qw

the cars 1987

song of the day – “Our Lips Are Sealed” | THE GO-GO’s | 1981 / 1982.

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

You know, time is a funny thing, not just for hit singles, but for life too.  For the month of June 2017, in honor of my radio hero, Casey Kasem, I’ve been highlighting songs that peaked in the Top 40 of the BILLBOARD Hot 100 (including some (real) one-hit wonders of the 80s), and with every blog post, just like on AMERICAN TOP 40, the hits have been getting bigger with each post.  On June 1, 2017, I featured a song that peaked at No. 40. 

My goal was to feature a “song of the day” on June 30 (today) that went all the way to No. 1.  Well, life happens.  I wanted to do 40 posts in 30 days, but during the last half of the month, it got crazy busy for yours truly, visiting with dear friends I hadn’t seen in awhile, including a kick-ass concert in Boston with Tears For Fears and Daryl Hall & John Oates, guesting on a couple of radio shows, plus work stuff, family stuff, home stuff, and more of each…

Anyhoo, long story longer, I promised a countdown and a proper tribute to Casey Kasem on the bloggy thing here, and I humbly apologize for the delay, but I’m going to proudly honor my tribute to Casey, and keep going through July until we count down all the way to No. 1! 

So, as Casey used to say on AT40, “And on we go!”

In Los Angeles in 1978, four young female Punk Rock upstarts from the area – including vocalist Belinda Carlisle and guitarist and vocalist Jane Wiedlin – got together and formed a band called The Go-Go’s. 

The Go-Go’s played on the same bills as bands like revered L.A. Punk bands Fear and X and others.  Later in 1978, vocalist and lead guitarist Charlotte Caffey joined the band, and in the Summer of 1979, Gina Schock signed on as the drummer. 

By the time they recorded a five-song demo in late 1979, The Go-Go’s went from a Punk Rock sound to a more Power Pop sound.  In 1980, they got a huge break by touring with Madness in Los Angeles and in England, spending half the year on tour over in England.  A demo version of “We Got The Beat” (released on Stiff Records) ended up being a minor hit in the U.K., and gave The Go-Go’s their first bout with fame.

we got the beat original

In December 1980, guitarist Kathy Valentine came aboard as the band’s bassist, and thus became the final member of the quintet, or rather, the future history-making lineup of The Go-Go’s. 

Four months later, in April 1981, the band signed on with I.R.S. Records.  Within three months, they recorded and released their debut album, BEAUTY AND THE BEAT.  It was not an instant smash here in America.  In England and Europe, however, the New Wave / Power Pop appeal of BEAUTY AND THE BEAT was definitely a hit.

beauty v2

The first single from BEAUTY AND THE BEAT (and the album’s opening track), “Our Lips Are Sealed” (co-written by Jane Wiedlin and Terry Hall, singer for The Specials and Fun Boy Three), was released in mid-June 1981, a few weeks in advance of the album.

“Our Lips Are Sealed” took a couple of months to reach on the BILLBOARD Hot 100, debuting in late August 1981, and coming in as the lowest-debuting song on the Hot 100 that week (No. 90).  About two months into its chart run, “Our Lips Are Sealed” squeaked onto the Top 40 (at No. 40), having lost its “chart bullet” (representing strength in airplay and sales) for two consecutive weeks.

our lips are sealed

It inched up “bullet-less” to No. 39 the following week, and regained its bullet in week No. 11 on the Hot 100.  A couple of weeks before Xmas 1981, lips and ears and wallets of fans were no longer sealed, as both the single “Our Lips Are Sealed” and parent album, BEAUTY AND THE BEAT, picked up momentum.  “Our Lips Are Sealed” spent a couple of weeks at No. 20 in December 1981, and was still in the Top 40 by mid-January 1982.

In late January 1982, “We Got The Beat,” the second single from BEAUTY AND THE BEAT, was the highest-debuting song of the week, coming in at No. 79.  Within three short weeks, “We Got The Beat” was already at No. 31 on the Hot 100, on its way to a No. 2 peak for three weeks in April 1982.  That also helped bring the BEAUTY AND THE BEAT album to No. 1 on BILLBOARD’s album chart for six weeks in March and April 1982.

we got the beat

As for the debut single, “Our Lips Are Sealed,” it left the BILLBOARD Hot 100 in late March 1982 and spent a more-than-impressive 30 weeks on the chart.  Wanna be even more impressed?  “Our Lips Are Sealed” spent four more weeks on the chart than the biggest song of the 80s, Olivia Newton-John’s “Physical” (which was the No. 1 song at the time “Our Lips Are Sealed” peaked on the Hot 100).

1982 was certainly the year for The Go-Go’s, who placed three singles among the Top 100 songs in the U.S. that year.  “We Got The Beat” ranked at No. 25 for 1982, and “Vacation,” the title song from their second album, a No. 8 hit, and the first-ever cassette single (then a novelty item), was ranked at No. 87 for the year. 

vacation cassingle

The unusually long chart run for “Our Lips Are Sealed” (even though it stopped at No. 20) placed it at No. 63 for the year, higher than many songs that were Top 10 hits, including “Don’t Stop Believin’” by Journey, “I Ran (So Far Away)” by A Flock Of Seagulls, and even the gorgeous No. 3 hit by The Police, “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic.”

“Our Lips Are Sealed” wasn’t just a big hit on the BILLBOARD Hot 100.  It also reached No. 10 on BILLBOARD’s Dance chart and No. 15 on BILLBOARD’s Rock chart.  Around the globe, “Our Lips Are Sealed” enjoyed success in Australia (No. 2), Canada (No. 4), Sweden (No. 14) and New Zealand (No. 23).  Oddly enough, in the U.K., where the band had its first success, it stopped at No. 47, though it would reappear a couple of years later.

waiting

In 1983, Fun Boy Three released their own version (as it was co-written by FB3 singer Terry Hall), from the album, WAITING, which was produced by Talking Heads’ David Byrne.  This version ended up being a big hit in both the U.K. and Ireland, reaching Nos. 7 and 13, respectively.

our lips FB3

The Go-Go’s broke up in 1985, and Belinda Carlisle and Jane Wiedlin went on to successful solo careers in the second half of the 80s and early 90s.  The band got back together a couple of times in the 90s, and 2001, Belinda, Jane, Charlotte, Gina and Kathy reunited and released GOD BLESS THE GO-GO’S, their first studio album together since 1984’s TALK SHOW.

Though the band has already had their “farewell” tour, the legacy of The Go-Go’s lives on.  BEAUTY AND THE BEAT was once described as one of “the cornerstone albums of American New Wave” and 35 years later remains as the first and THE ONLY all-female band to reach No. 1 on BILLBOARD’s album chart.

beauty n the beat

I love “We Got The Beat,” and I am so glad it brought deserved huge success to The Go-Go’s, but I’ve always found myself more partial to “Our Lips Are Sealed,” which is two minutes and 44 seconds of simple and pure New Wave / Pop perfection.

“It doesn’t matter what they say / In the jealous games people play / Our lips are sealed / Pay no mind to what they say / It doesn’t matter anyway / Our lips are sealed…”

go-go's 82

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r3kQlzOi27M

go-go's 81 (for CREEM)

song of the day – “Clones (We’re All)” | ALICE COOPER | 1980.

forever young blog logoFor whatever reason(s), I’ve been unintentionally lax in my FOREVER YOUNG: MY LIFE STUCK IN THE 80s blog post output so far this year.  Last year, between January 11, 2016 (my first-ever blog post), until June 1, 2016, I had written 111 blog posts.  Not bad for a first-timer.  From January 4, 2017 through today, June 1, 2017, I’ve posted less than half of that 2016 amount.  Well, that changes right now.

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).

casey-kasem-at40-abc-billboard-650

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, and with every blog post, just like on AMERICAN TOP 40, the hits will get bigger with each post.  Today’s “song of the day” (June 1, 2017) will feature 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!”

In the 1970s, Alice Cooper was famous for his “snake-eyes” makeup and his being “The Godfather Of Shock Rock,” from Rockin’ songs like “School’s Out,” his first hit, “I’m Eighteen” and “No More Mr. Nice Guy,” and awesome ballads like “Only Women Bleed,” “I Never Cry” and “You And Me.” 

welcome to my nightmare, 1975

Alice Cooper on the WELCOME TO MY NIGHTMARE tour, 1975.

It was his ballads, actually, that gave Alice Cooper his biggest hits in the 70s, which isn’t really that strange, because if you think about it, just about all of the big Rock bands of the 70s, 80s and even 90s had their biggest success with a ballad (pardon me, that should prolly read “power ballad”) – a list that includes but is not limited to Styx, Journey, Cheap Trick, Foreigner, Scorpions, Night Ranger, The Cars, Boston, REO Speedwagon, Heart, Kiss, Def Leppard, Mötley Crüe, Ozzy Osbourne, Poison, Queensrÿche, Warrant, Winger, Europe, Cinderella, Skid Row, Bad English (featuring John Waite) and Aerosmith, whose big song from the biggest film of 1998, ARMAGEDDON – “I Don’t Want To Miss A Thing” – gave the Boston band not only their first (and sole) No. 1 song, but their biggest hit in the 25 years they had been together at that point.

Well, by 1980, Alice Cooper wanted to try something new.  He ditched the makeup  and recorded the 28-minute album, FLUSH THE FASHION, with popular producer, Roy Thomas Baker, who, in the two years previous to FLUSH THE FASHION, had worked with bands like The Cars, Foreigner, Journey and Queen.

flush the fashion

FLUSH THE FASHION had a sort of New Wave influence, and since its release, it has been hailed as a “hidden gem” in the 26 studio albums Alice has released since 1969 (his 27th, PARANORMAL, is scheduled to be released in late July 2017).  At the time of the release of FLUSH THE FASHION, though, many longtime fans were bewildered at the change in Alice’s sound.

Still, FLUSH THE FASHION became Alice Cooper’s biggest album in three years, and returned him to the Top 40 of the BILLBOARD Hot 100 for the first time in two years. alice clones

“Clones (We’re All)” was the first single released from the album, making its debut on the Hot 100 in mid-May 1980 at No. 77, just a few weeks after the release of FLUSH THE FASHION.  “Clones” had risen to No. 51 by early June, and reached No. 40 on July 5, 1980, but, sadly like Blondie’s brilliant “Atomic” (No. 39 that week), both songs lost steam and plummeted down more than half the chart the following week after just nine weeks on the Hot 100.

NERDY AT40 FACT: To my knowledge, “Clones (We’re All)” was actually never mentioned by Casey Kasem, because on that chart dated July 5, 1980, AMERICAN TOP 40 aired a special broadcast of the “AMERICAN TOP 40 Book Of Records” that week, so “Clones” was never even played on AT40 because it was gone from the Top 40 that following week.

“Clones” did have some chart success elsewhere, reaching No. 15 in Canada, No. 36 in Australia, No. 58 in Germany, and somehow all 2 minutes and 51 seconds of “Clones” was serviced to Dance clubs, and it actually reached No. 69 on BILLBOARD’s Dance chart.

alice 1980 v2

Alice Cooper, 1980.

I’m not sure exactly how “Clones,” a song about forced conformity (“I’m all alone, so are we all / We’re all clones / All are one and one are are all…”), came onto my music radar, I just really liked it.  Strangely enough, today was the first time I ever saw the music video for “Clones,” and if videos were as popular then as they would be a year or so later, and if the 13-year-old version of myself had seen Alice’s frail-looking and somewhat menacing appearance, I am not sure if I would have changed my mind about the song.  But, honestly, whatever attracted me to this odd and yet topically-interesting song still attracts me to it 37 years later.

After “Clones” and FLUSH THE FASHION, his next few albums fizzled and most of the 80s were not good to Alice Cooper.  But, by 1989, he was on a new record label and returned with a vengeance with the album TRASH, his first Platinum album since 1975, which featured the biggest hit of his career – no, not a power ballad this time – the Hard Rockin’ “Poison.”  That song was certified as a Gold single and reached No. 7 on the Hot 100, plus it reached the Top 10 in (at least) the U.K., Australia, Austria, Canada, Holland, Ireland, Norway and Sweden.  Alice Cooper was back. 

Alice_Cooper_–_Poison

From the “Poison” music video…

In 1992, Alice appeared as himself in the highly successful and fun film adaptation of the SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE skit, WAYNE’S WORLD, where he performed at a concert and got his intellectual on about Milwaukee, Wisconsin backstage with Wayne (Mike Meyers) and Garth (Dana Carvey).  In my humble opinion, they’re all worthy.

wayne's world

On top of a new album release this summer (an album which features contributions from Larry Mullen of U2 and Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top, among others), Alice will be co-headlining a tour in August with Deep Purple and Edgar Winter.

DeepPurple_AliceCooper_Instagram_1080x1080_Static

You know, regardless of chart positions, I’ve always found it interesting how there’s no rhyme or reason to which songs we choose to like and keep liking and loving over the years, but when when do like and love them, those songs really matter, and will forever. 

On the opposite end of the spectrum, or the radio dial if you prefer, as much as I love radio, and loved being involved in it for the better part of 32 years (so far), you’ve gotta wonder how a commercial and/or conglomerate station determines what songs are deemed “worthy” of being played forever and what songs are left behind.  I suppose that’s been the case all along (I mean, how else can you explain two great songs dropping 53 places out of the Top 40 from one week to the next?). 

stuck-in-the-80s-20-yearsI know for me, for many great shows on community stations like WMPG, and for shows like Barry Scott’s “The Lost 45s” and the (unrelated) STUCK IN THE 80s podcast based in Florida, I could never forget the amazing songs I loved from my youth and discovered into adulthood and beyond.  And I was proud to share them for nearly 21 years on my weekly STUCK IN THE 80s radio show on WMPG in Portland, Maine, and will again, because I’m sure I’m not the only one out there that feels this way. 

I love Billy Joel, but every time I hear his overrated “Big Shot,” I can’t help but cringe (The guy’s got a gajillion songs!  Play another one!).  The song jumped from No. 51 to No. 23 on the Hot 100 and stopped at No. 14 three weeks later, and yet it’s been deemed “worthy” for radio eternity by the powers that be.  Play something different, dammit!  Give me 1980’s “Sometimes A Fantasy” every day of the week and twice on Sunday (and look for it in an upcoming blog post, dammit!). 

I don’t know, after listening to commercial stations for nearly 40 years, from the big conglomerate ones to the locally-owned ones with diminutive, covfefe head GMs who think 80s Hard Rock songs should be played back-to-back with the likes of Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift, maybe it’s those programmers and radio heads who are the ones that are clones. 

As I am, unlike these sad folks, not a drone or a clone, I think the best response I can give to that is this simple but appropriate quote from Alice’s mostly-forgotten kick-ass gem from 1980:

“I just want wanna be myself / I just wanna be myself / I just wanna be myself / Be myself / Be myself…”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-q3ly1d-WGw

alice cooper 1980

song of the day – “Stand Back” | STEVIE NICKS | 1983.

69 years ago today, on May 26, 1948, Stephanie Lynn Nicks was born in Phoenix, Arizona, USA.  While in high school, Stevie met her future music (and romantic) partner, Lindsey Buckingham, and in mid-1967, she took over as the lead singer for Lindsey’s Psychedelic band, Fritz, a band that would open for huge acts like Jimi Hendrix and Janis Joplin from 1968 through 1971. 

Speaking of 1967, Stevie Nicks was exactly 19 years old when The Beatles released (in the U.K.) the brilliant SGT. PEPPER’S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND, what many folks still consider as the greatest album of all time.  Happy 50th SGT. PEPPER!

sgt pepper

Stevie Nicks and Lindsey Buckingham both attended the San Jose State University in Northern California, and Stevie dropped out just a semester before graduating.  She had wanted to become an English teacher, which is indeed a noble profession (my oldest niece, Elizabeth, currently on a two-year journey working with the Peace Corps in Tanzania, will most likely be an English teacher somewhere here in the U.S. when she returns.  You can check out Elizabeth’s amazing blog here: https://elizabethlivinglifetanzania.wordpress.com.)

Elizabeth, Day 2, Tanzania 7.15.16

I love this picture.  That’s my oldest niece, Elizabeth, taken on her Day 2 in Tanzania (in Africa), 7.15.2016.

buckingham nicksWhile I’m sure Stevie Nicks would have made an excellent English teacher, the profession she ended ended up excelling at – being a Rock star – worked out pretty well, but not at first.  For a couple of years, from 1972 through 1974, she and Lindsey Buckingham worked together as Buckingham Nicks, and released an unsuccessful self-titled album in 1973, and whose cover prolly got more press than the album itself. 

In 1975, when Lindsey Buckingham met up with Mick Fleetwood, the namesake of the Rock band, Fleetwood Mac, he said that he and Stevie were “a package deal,” if he was to join the band (following the departure of Mac guitarist Bob Welch).  Well, even if it ended up not working out romantically for Stevie and Lindsey, their contributions to Fleetwood Mac changed the band forever. 

After the huge success of the albums FLEETWOOD MAC and RUMOURS, the latter of which still holds the record for the longest run at No. 1 on the BILLBOARD Album chart (31 weeks) by a band, and still remains as one of the Top 10-selling albums of all-time here in America.

rumours

Following RUMOURS, Stevie started contributing to the songs of other recording artists.  In 1978, she sang backup on the Top 10 hits “Magnet And Steel” by her friend, Walter Egan (a song she inspired), and on “Whenever I Call You Friend,” the first big solo hit for Kenny Loggins.  In 1979, both Stevie and Lindsey teamed up with the late, great John Stewart and contributed their talents on three Top 40 singles for The Kingston Trio alum, including the big Top 5 hit, “Gold.” 

kenny_stevie

Kenny Loggins and Stevie Nicks, singing about calling each other a friend, 1978.

On July 27, 1981, Stevie released (on the Atlantic Records imprint, Modern Records, a label she co-founded) her debut album as a solo artist – BELLA DONNA.  The album was a huge success, reaching No. 1 on the BILLBOARD Album chart (selling over four million copies in the U.S. alone), plus, it charted four Top 40 singles (including her biggest solo hit – with Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, “Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around”), and she was instantly hailed by ROLLING STONE as “the Reigning Queen of Rock and Roll.”

rs351

In between BELLA DONNA and her second solo album in 1983, THE WILD HEART, Fleetwood Mac released their No. 1 album, Mirage, which generated the big singles, “Hold Me” and “Gypsy,” which I just heard on the radio this past week, and hear often.

the wild heart

THE WILD HEART was released on June 10, 1983, and while it was not as popular as BELLA DONNA, the album still reached No. 5 on the BILLBOARD Album chart, was certified Double-Platinum, and gave Stevie another three Top 40 solo hits, including one of her all-time biggest hits, “Stand Back.”

Released exactly a week before her 35th birthday in May 1983, “Stand Back” has a cool and interesting story behind it, one I didn’t realize until after Prince’s death in April 2016:

On January 29, 1983, Stevie Nicks had just gotten married, and was on her honeymoon, driving North to Santa Barbara, California, when she heard Prince’s “Little Red Corvette” for the first time.  Inspired, she wrote “Stand Back” that day, while humming along to “Little Red Corvette.” 

little red corvette

When Stevie went to record “Stand Back,” she called Prince and told him the story of how the song came about.  20 minutes later, Prince showed up at her studio.  She once told ROLLING STONE that Prince “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.”

Prince’s work on “Stand Back” remains uncredited, but Stevie has always maintained that even though she wrote the song, she says it belongs to Prince (they did end up splitting the publishing royalties 50-50).  She added, “he got up and left as if the whole thing happened in a dream.”

Well, what a dream, and what a story, and what a song.  “Stand Back” remains as one of my all-time favorite songs by Stevie Nicks.  It debuted on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 in early June 1983 at No. 60, while Prince’s “Little Red Corvette” was still driving itself within the highway of the Top 10. 

stand back US

“Stand Back” took just a couple of weeks to reach the Top 40, giving Stevie her fifth consecutive Top 40 hit on the Hot 100.  In mid-August 1983, “Stand Back” spent a week at No. 5 and stayed on the chart for 19 weeks, finishing its chart run at No. 100 in early October 1983.  According to BILLBOARD, it finished the year at No. 44.

Over on BILLBOARD’s Mainstream Rock chart, it’s no surprise that “Stand Back” was a big hit, reaching No. 2.  Prolly more surprising was that it also reached No. 12 on BILLBOARD’s Dance chart.  (It’s not surprising to me, though, as it features a killer funky guitar riff in the middle of the song that sounds like it could have easily been provided by Nile Rodgers, or for a Michal Jackson song). 

Around the globe, “Stand Back” reached the Top 20 in Canada and Australia, and the Top 40 in Germany and Holland.  A reissue of “Stand Back” in 2007 sent it to No. 2 on BILLBOARD’s Dance chart, thanks to several updated remixes.

stand back 2007

“Stand Back” was so popular in fact, that, on Fleetwood Mac tours since 1987, it has been a staple at their shows, including the band’s 2013 world tour.

24 karat gold tour

Stevie was in Boston in November 2016 for her 24 Karat Gold Tour, which included The Pretenders, and yes, “Stand Back” was thankfully on the playlist.  Would have loved to have seen that show.  In July, she’ll be performing two dates at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles with Fleetwood Mac as part of The Classic West, a two-day concert featuring six classic acts, including The Eagles, Steely Dan, The Doobie Brothers, Journey and Earth, Wind & Fire.  All of these bands return a couple weeks later at New York’s Citi Field for The Classic East.  That’d be fun.

stevie_nicks1

For 69 years, time and space have been two incredible factors in the life and continued success of Stevie Nicks.  She even titled her first hits compilation, in 1991, TIMESPACE: THE BEST OF STEVIE NICKS.  I don’t think that was an accident.  And, I think if you do stand back and look at the career of birthday girl Stevie Nicks, I’d bet my record collection that you’d agree and say she’s definitely still Rock royalty, and always will be… 

Happy Birthday, Stevie!

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

stevie 1983 v1

Blue Monday.

For years, during and away from STUCK IN THE 80s, I’ve been raving about and enjoying the music from Manchester and Greater Manchester, England, including but not limited to New Order, Joy Division, The Smiths, The Stone Roses, The Buzzcocks, Happy Mondays, James, The Chameleons, The Fall, When In Rome, as well as Lisa Stansfield, Swing Out Sister, The Bee Gees, The Hollies and Simply Red.  Even this past weekend, Hope and I were taking about New Order’s incredible 1983 hit, “Blue Monday,” and how amazing it must have been to have heard this in the club at the time of its release! 

blue monday

The cool floppy disk-like cover art for New Order’s “Blue Monday.”

Well, this past Monday, May 22, 2017, was indeed a Blue Monday, but not the cool, danceable New Order-kind of Monday.  By now, I’m sure everyone has heard about the tragic bombing in Manchester immediately following a concert by American Pop star, Ariana Grande.  The bombing happened at Manchester’s largest venue, the Manchester Arena (which has a capacity of 21,000 people). 

dark empire state

The Empire State Building in NYC, paying tribute to the victims of the Manchester attack by going dark.

As people were filing out of the venue, many of whom were stopping at the merch table on their way out, a 22-year-old man and British citizen (and of Libyan descent) took his own life and the lives of 22 others by detonating a bomb inside the venue.  At least 120 others were injured from the blast (with nearly half of those folks having to be hospitalized).

France Britain Concert Blast

The Eiffel Tower in Paris also went dark, paying tribute to the victims of the Manchester attack.

Among those 22 people who died that night were Georgiana Callander, an 18-year-old superfan of Ariana Grande; Kelly Brewster, a 32-year-old fan who covered her niece from the explosion; Alison Howe and Lisa Lees, two friends (and moms) who weren’t even at the concert and were just waiting for their daughters to come out after the show; and Saffie Rose Roussos, an eight-year-old girl who was prolly attending her first concert ever and had her whole life ahead of her and then some.  Students and teachers at the school she attended (about 40 miles north of Manchester), held a moment of silence for Saffie, and then sang Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin’” (the popular GLEE version) in her honor.

saffie rose

Eight-year-old Saffie Rose Roussos, the youngest victim of the Manchester attack.

burj khalifa manchester

The Burj Khalifa in Dubai, the tallest structure in the world, showing their support for the U.K. and the victims of the Manchester attack.

Many nations around the globe expressed their sorrow regarding the Manchester attack, and their solidarity and their prayers.  Donald Trump called ISIS (who made an unconfirmed claim of responsibility for the attack) “evil losers.”

While my response might have been a bit more eloquent than Mr. Trump, I will agree that ISIS is evil, and yes, they are losers.  All over the globe, ISIS (the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) has caused much havoc and taken far too many lives under a mask of religious violence, but when it’s all said and done, they really just don’t give a shit about anything except maybe their beloved Prophet Muhammad.  As a lifelong Catholic (practicing, non-practicing and recovering), I can’t imagine the Apostle of God would be down with all this.  Just sayin’.

Please know what you just read was not said to demean Muslims or Muhammad; my beef is with ISIS.

Here’s another reason why the collective of ISIS are a bunch of losers, or in my book, rank somewhere next to ticks and cockroaches as having no meaning or need for existence on this Earth: ISIS thinks that, with every venue they blow up, it’s going to stop people from returning to see concerts.  They are so fucking mistaken.  I’m in mourning for the loss of people I didn’t even know from this Manchester attack, and the one in Paris in late 2015.  Many folks around the globe are in mourning too.  But, you can’t let ISIS win. 

It’s alright to fear.  It’s alright to be scared.  I’m scared more often than I’d like to admit for whatever reason, but for the sake of it being alright to be scared, I’m admitting it here.  Of course, I’d never want something to happen to anyone I love (family, friends, radio listeners, kind blog readers) because of ISIS.  Moreover, though, I’d never want anyone I love to give up something they love or love doing because these misguided, coward ISIS motherfuckers have their own agenda and don’t want you to do anything you love.  It’s alright to be scared.  It’s alright to fear.  But, just because they don’t give a shit about their own lives or the lives of others in this world, you can’t let it stop you from doing something you love, with someone you love.  So, don’t let it…

Sending many thoughts and prayers, and peace and love, to everyone in Manchester, England, and beyond, after a very Blue Monday…

#ManchesterUnited #ManchesterAttack #WeStandWithManchester

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