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

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 – “Edge Of Seventeen (Just Like The White Winged Dove)” | STEVIE NICKS | 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

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!”

No. 11 is a chart position that, while certainly respectable, carries an amount of frustration I’m sure for recording artists who peak there.  Nearly 50 songs stopped just short of the Top 10 on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 between 1979 and 1989, including such Top 10-worthy hits as “You Spin Me Round” by Dead Or Alive, “Doctor! Doctor!” by Thompson Twins, “Head Over Heels” by The Go-Go’s, “Good Girls Don’t” by The Knack, Prince’s first Top 40 hit, “I Wanna Be Your Lover,” “Keep On Movin’” by Soul II Soul, the lovely “Romeo’s Tune” by Steve Forbert, “Spirits In The Material World” by The Police, Kiss and their brief flirtation with Disco, “I Was Made For Lovin’ You,” “Don’t Look Back” by Fine Young Cannibals, “The Promise” by When In Rome, Stevie Wonder’s country-flavored “I Ain’t Gonna Stand For It” and Michael Jackson’s “Another Part Of Me,” which prevented Michael from having two back-to-back albums with seven Top 10 hits.

another part

But, in the scheme of music history, to some No. 11 is just a number.  Case in point: one of the songs that reached No. 11 in the 80s is prolly the most-played solo hit by Stevie Nicks today – “Edge Of Seventeen (Just Like The White Winged Dove).”  Whenever I hear a Stevie Nicks solo tune on the radio, usually this is the one I hear more than any other.

“Edge Of Seventeen” was the third consecutive solo hit for Stevie Nicks, and the third hit released from her 1981 monster debut album, the No. 1 album, BELLA DONNA. 

belladonna

Stevie wrote the song as an expression of grief over the the murder of John Lennon, and then the passing of her uncle Jonathan, both within the same week in December 1980.  The producer of BELLA DONNA, Jimmy Iovine, was a close friend of John Lennon’s.  The line in the song that says, “Words from a poet and the voice of a choir” refers to John Lennon.

lennon 1980

John Lennon, 1980.

One-Train-Later1The famous guitar riff that opens the song (and is continued throughout) is what is called a “16th note” guitar riff, which progresses through the C, D and E-minor chords (yes, I had to look it up).  Guitarist and popular session musician Waddy Wachtel played the riff on the song, and has said that “Bring On The Night” by The Police was the inspiration for the guitar riff, which is very interesting, considering I have been a fan of both songs for decades and never made that connection!  Apparently, according to Andy Summers’ autobiography, ONE TRAIN LATER, he confirms this and mentions how Stevie Nicks had asked to meet with him after a 1981 show in Los Angeles about the song. 

As for the song’s subtitle, in a video commentary for the song, Stevie spoke about the “white winged dove” and what it meant to her: “It became a song about violent death, which was very scary to me because at that point no one in my family had died.  To me, the white-winged dove was for John Lennon the dove of peace, and for my uncle it was the white-winged dove who lives in the saguaro cactus – that’s how I found out about the white-winged dove, and it does make a sound like whooo, whooo, whooo.  I read that somewhere in Phoenix and thought I would use that in this song.  The dove became exciting and sad and tragic and incredibly dramatic.  Every time I sing this song I have that ability to go back to that two-month period where it all came down.  I’ve never changed it, and I can’t imagine ending my show with any other song.  It’s such a strong, private moment that I share in this song.”

“Edge Of Seventeen” debuted on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 in late February 1982, and reached the Top 40 in just three weeks.  It made a steady climb up the chart but stalled quickly at No. 11 for two weeks in mid-April 1982.  It was gone from the Hot 100 after just 14 weeks.  It also reached No. 11 in Canada, and No. 4 on BILLBOARD’s Mainstream Rock chart.

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QUIRKY FUN FACT: The title of “Edge Of Seventeen,” according to Stevie, came about from a conversation she had with Jane, the first wife of Tom Petty.  Jane had told her she and Tom had met “at the age of seventeen,” but with Jane’s strong Southern accent, Stevie mistook it as “edge of seventeen.”

The guitar riff on “Edge Of Seventeen” was sampled on “Bootylicious,” a Destiny’s Child song that reached No. 1, and in the video, Stevie Nicks makes a cameo appearance, playing the guitar.

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Stevie Nicks, from the Destiny’s Child video for “Bootylicious.”

There’s even been a couple of different and critically-acclaimed coming-of-age comedy-drama films named EDGE OF SEVENTEEN: a 1998 LGBT film set in 1984, and a 2016 film with Hallee Steinfeld, Woody Harrelson and Kyra Sedgwick.

EDGE

Some have called “Edge Of Seventeen” enduring and iconic, and they’re right.  “Edge Of Seventeen” is a song that a written out of grief, but for 35 years has also served as a song about strength, endurance, and love…with a kick-ass guitar riff.  And, it proves you don’t have to be a Top 10 hit to be enduring, iconic or loved.

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

stevie

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 – “Telephone Operator” | PETE SHELLEY | 1982.

Today, English singer / songwriter / guitarist Pete Shelley turns 61 – Happy Birthday!  Pete is prolly best known for his five-year stint with the Greater Manchester, England Punk Rock band, Buzzcocks, which he co-formed with Howard Devoto in 1976 (Howard would leave the band a year later).  Buzzcocks released three studio albums in 1978 and 1979, and the SINGLES GOING STEADY compilation album (released in 1979 on I.R.S. Records) was the first album by the band released in North America. 

singles going steady

From the amazing SINGLES GOING STEADY collection and their second studio album, LOVE BITES, was THE song Pete and Buzzzcocks will be forever known for – “Ever Fallen In Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t’ve).”   The 1978 gem was a No. 12 hit on the U.K. singles chart and a No. 14 hit in Ireland, and has been immortalized for nearly 40 years on college and community radio, through numerous appearances in films and in TV shows like SCRUBS, and because of an even bigger 1986 / 1987 cover version by Fine Young Cannibals.

ever fallen in love

Pete Shelley is also prolly best-known for his first solo hit, 1981’s controversial “Homosapien,” a No. 4 hit in Australia and a No. 14 hit on BILLBOARD’s Dance chart.  The BBC banned the song for its “explicit reference to gay sex” from the lyrics “homo superior / in my interior.”  Regardless of being banned by the BBC, “Homosapien” still found its way to dance clubs around the globe.

homosapien

I’m sure at some point, I’ll highlight both of those memorable gems on the blog, but the song by the birthday boy on my mind today was “Telephone Operator” (from his 1983 solo studio album, XL1), co-produced by Pete Shelley and the late Martin Rushent, who also produced albums for Buzzcocks, Human League, Altered Images, The Go-Go’s, The Stranglers among many others.

XL1

Pete Shelley met Howard Devoto in 1975 at the then-Bolton Institute of Technology (now the University of Bolton), and, in a groundbreaking and unusual move prolly not unrelated to his time spent at BIT, the original release of Pete’s XL1 album included a computer program for the ZX Spectrum computer, and featured graphics and lyrics that displayed in time with the music, which is commonplace with media players today, but in 1982 was pretty rare.

ZX Spectrum computer

“Telephone Operator” was the first of two singles released from XL1, and it ended up being Pete’s biggest U.K. hit, reaching a should’ve-been-higher No. 66 peak.  It fared better on BILLBOARD’s Dance chart, where it reached No. 22.

telephone operator

After releasing his last studio album, HEAVEN AND THE SEA, in 1986, Pete Shelley re-formed Buzzcocks, and since 1989, the band has released six studio albums (including 2014’s THE WAY), four live albums, and 10 compilations (including my favorite, the brilliant 25-track 1991 comp, OPERATORS MANUAL: BUZZCOCKS BEST).

operators manual

In 2016, Pete and Buzzcocks celebrated their 40 years together with a tour called Buzzcocks 40.  On May 29, 2017, they will play at the 18th Annual Punk Rock and Bowling Music Festival in Las Vegas, and headline a show in Denver on June 2nd.  Wish I could be there.

punk rock fest

I think another reason I wanted to share the awesome “Telephone Operator” today is because it tends to get overshadowed by the also awesome “Homosapien” and “Ever Fallen In Love.”  For me, though, “Telephone Operator” is three minutes and 15 seconds of pure, edgy New Wave / Dance perfection.  Go ahead, put the phone down and prove me wrong.  I double dog dare ya.

“Telephone Operator / You’re my aural stimulator…”

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

pete shelley 83

song of the day – “The One Thing” | INXS | 1982.

The charismatic singer and frontman for my favorite band, INXS, Michael Hutchence, would have been 57 today.  INXS, formed in Sydney, Australia in 1977, had already released two albums (1980’s INXS and 1981’s UNDERNEATH THE COLOURS) before they appeared on my radar (and most folks from North America and other parts of the globe) in early 1983, with “The One Thing,” the first single from their third album, the brilliant SHABOOH SHOOBAH.

“The One Thing” was first released in July 1982, a few months before the release of SHABOOH SHOOBAH, and reached No. 14 in their Australian homeland.  The album and single were released here in the U.S. in February 1983, and I instantly fell in love with the song (and later the album).  “The One Thing” is three-and-a-half minutes of pure New Wave / Rock perfection.

SHABOOH SHOOBAH prolly wouldn’t have happened if INXS hadn’t fronted the money to record “The One Thing” with producer Mark Opitz, who had worked with fellow Australian Rock bands AC/DC, The Angels, and Cold Chisel (who INXS toured with in 1982).  Mark Opitz was initially hired to produce “The One Thing,” which led to producing a few more songs, and later, what would become SHABOOH SHOOBAH.

shabooh-shoobah

The success of SHABOOH SHOOBAH in Australia (where it reached No. 5 on the album chart, and spent 94 weeks on that chart), led to success here in America and beyond.  The album reached No. 46 on the BILLBOARD album chart and was certified Gold. 

Over on the BILLBOARD Hot 100, “The One Thing” became the band’s first American hit, debuting at No. 90 in late March 1983.  Their first U.S. performance that month, in San Diego, California (on a tour in support of Adam And The Ants) was before a crowd of 24 people.  Can you imagine?  Damn.  That prolly never happened again.  INXS would later tour with Daryl Hall & John Oates, The Stray Cats, The Kinks, and The Go-Go’s (Portland, Maine was a stop on that tour – wish I could have been there!).

With a steady climb up the Hot 100, “The One Thing” became the band’s first U.S. Top 40 hit as well, reaching No. 40 in mid-May 1983, and spending two weeks at its peak position of No. 30 in late May / early June 1983, and a total of 14 weeks on the chart.  Over on BILLBOARD’s Mainstream Rock chart, it fared much better, reaching No. 2.  “The One Thing” was also a Top 20 hit in Canada.

the-one-thing

With the positive reaction to both SHABOOH SHOOBAH and “The One Thing,” INXS would go on to have much success for many years to come.  The one and only time I would see INXS – on an early date in the Fall of 1987 for their monster KICK tour and album, at Colby College in Waterville, Maine, Michael Hutchence was so fun to watch on stage.  The band, of course, was phenomenal, but Michael had the moves and charisma as I had never seen in a singer / frontman before or since (save for maybe David Byrne).  It was a performance I will never forget, and one of the last performances at a small venue INXS would play on that tour, or again.

michael-hutchence

2017 will mark the 20th anniversary of Michael’s passing, and I think of him often, sometimes wondering what he’d be doing with INXS for their 40th anniversary this year.  But, at the very least, I have amazing songs like “The One Thing” – which is just one of many things – to remember him by…

Miss you Michael, wherever you are…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XJyKTNdPL5s

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song of the day – “Vacation” | THE GO-GO’s | 1982.

For most of this week (starting today, April 10, 2016), I am on vacation for a few days with my dear friend, former Mainer, and fellow former WUMFer, Shawn, heading to New York City, where Shawn has resided for many years.  My last trip to NYC was in early October 2013, and Shawn took me to see the moving 9/11 Memorial, on a cool boat ride (in 85-degree weather) of New York Harbor (where I saw Lady Liberty), the amazing Strand bookstore, and one of the last concerts at New York’s famed Roseland Ballroom, to see X and headliner Blondie, where Debbie Harry rocked that stage, and our crushes for Debbie came roaring back.

This time out, Shawn and I are seeing Duran Duran perform, with Chic opening, which should be pretty damn cool, considering, after all of these years, I’ve never seen either perform.  Nile Rodgers has long been associated with Duran Duran, and helped them out on their latest album, PAPER GODS.  The following night, I am getting my first tattoo, of David Bowie.  Never ever had the urge to get a tattoo until he passed away a few months ago.  Should be a great time, albeit brief.

So, with this being my first vacation since starting the blog, I thought this Go-Go’s gem from 1982 was appropriate. 

vacation lp“Vacation” is the title track to the Los Angeles band’s second album.  The Go-Go’s were still on a high from the huge success of their debut album, BEAUTY AND THE BEAT.  The single for “Vacation” debuted on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 on Independence Day weekend 1982, a month after “We Got The Beat” spent its last week on the chart.

Reaching the Top 40 in just 3 weeks, “Vacation” was riding the summer wave on the Hot 100, making it to the Top 10 in 7 weeks – the same amount of time it took “We Got The Beat” to reach the upper part of the Hot 100.  “Vacation” spent 3 weeks at No. 8 in August / September 1982 and took a vacation from the Hot 100 after 14 weeks on the chart.  It would be the last time the quintet would reach the Top 10, though 1984’s “Head Over Heels” came close (No. 11).  It also reached the Top 20 on both of BILLBOARD’s Rock and Dance charts.

Around the globe, “Vacation” hit No. 10 in Canada,  No. 18 in Sweden and No. 43 in Australia.  NERDY TRIVIA NOTE: “Vacation” has the distinction here in the U.S. of being the first cassette single ever released.  At the time, cassette singles (or “cassingles”) were a novelty item, but by the late 80s, cassette singles were outselling 45s and for a few years, became the standard way to release a single.  I still have a couple of handfuls of them myself, though I don’t have this one…yet.

vacation cassette single

Since I’ll be on vacation and “have to get away,” I don’t believe I’ll be able to get to FOREVER YOUNG (although I hope I can), but rest assured, the blog and I will be back in no time.  Hey, I get to merge two of my favorite things – 80s and writing; who wouldn’t want to come back to that?

So, until next time, take care, be good, and I’ll catch you on the flip side…

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

go-go's