song of the day – “Sleeping Angel” (from FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH) | STEVIE NICKS | 1982.

You ever think back and remember how you never thought about age when you were younger?  It’s true.  Maybe we didn’t need to.  My parents took us kids to the movies when we turned 13 and 16, which was fun, but I don’t think I really started thinking about age until I was 15, when I lost my grandmother Leona (my Mom’s mom) in 1982.  That was not so much fun.  She was just 55 and died of emphysema.  She never smoked a day in her life.

But, then, you turn 16, and then 18, and 20, 21 and 30, and so on, and along the way, you think about age, and getting older.  John Hughes tackled age, or rather, life in general, in 1986’s FERRIS BUELLER’s DAY OFF.  “Life moves pretty fast…” 

ferris

Remember that funny diatribe about aging by Billy Crystal in 1991’s CITY SLICKERS?  He was at his kid’s school for “career day,” and expanded on Ferris’ advice five years earlier: “Value this time in your life, kids.  This is the time in your life when you still have your choices.  It goes by so fast.”  There’s definite truth to that.

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Blondie’s Debbie Harry, turning 73 in July and looking fantastic!

I think back to some of my first TV, film and music crushes when I was 13, and some were as old as my Mom, if not older.  Debbie Harry turns 73 this Summer and is still rockin’ it.  But, at 13, you don’t think about age like that.  It catches up to you, though, and then age does become a part of your life. 

But, it’s also a frame of mind, too.  As I stated in my last blog post, I look and feel better at 51 than I did at 41 or 31.  I know it’s not like that for everyone, but I’m embracing age like never before.  But, John Hughes and his creation, Ferris Bueller, were right – “Live moves pretty fast.  If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”  I’m making sure I stop and look around these days.  With Maryhope, I am the happiest I have ever been in my life, and I don’t want to miss anything.

Maryhope inspires much in my life, and inspired this post.  She reminded me that today is Stevie Nicks’ 70th birthday, which, in itself is hard to believe.  Same age as my Mom, which is pretty cool.  Being stuck in the 80s all the time is fun, but you also lose track of time sometimes.  You think, Stevie can’t be 70!  “Stand Back” just came out!  Then you realize that was half her life ago, and more than half of yours. 

stand back

In a ROLLING STONE article from a year ago, of turning 70 this year, Stevie Nicks said, “I don’t like that number.  I see lots of people my age, and lots of people who are younger than me, and I think, ‘Wow, those people look really old.’  I think it’s because they didn’t try.”

fast times

For the massive double-album soundtrack to the 1982 classic film, FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH, many popular artists of the time were recruited, including Donna Summer, The Go-Go’s, Oingo Boingo, Jackson Browne, Quarterflash, Sammy Hagar, Jimmy Buffett and Billy Squier.  Several members of the then-disbanded Eagles were on there, including Don Henley, Joe Walsh, Don Felder and Timothy B. Schmit.  That wasn’t a coincidence.  One of the film’s producers, Irving Azoff, was also a personal manager of The Eagles and Stevie Nicks, who appears on the soundtrack with “Sleeping Angel.”

Stevie Nicks’ monster solo debut album, BELLA DONNA, had been released in 1981, almost a year to the day prior to FAST TIMES, and “Sleeping Angel” was actually meant to appear on the album, but ended up not being used for the record.

bella donna

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Paul Fishkin and Stevie Nicks, 1980.

In my research for this blog post, I found that “Sleeping Angel” was not written about Lindsey Buckingham (as many had thought), but was about a music executive by the name of Paul Fishkin, who she was with in 1980, and who would co-found (Atlantic Records imprint) Modern Records (1980) with Stevie and Danny Goldberg.

I also stumbled upon FleetwoodMac.net, where a bunch of people put the “Sleeping Angel” in perspective, or rather, an interpretation, and it makes sense.  Age comes up in their interpretation, and in the song:

“Well someday when we’re older / And my hair is silver gray / Unbraid with all the love that you have / Like a soft silver chain…” 

On FleetwoodMac.net, it’s interpreted that “age plays a big part in Stevie’s songs, that life keeps going and you can’t stop it; she knows she can’t stop it.  She is trying to embrace old age, embrace death.” 

Well, I’m not at a point where I want to embrace old age or death, but I embrace my 50s and love being healthy and happy and madly in love with Maryhope (who was an absolutely amazing super-sized Stevie Nicks for Halloween 2017), and when it’s my turn to be 70, maybe then I’ll be ready to embrace old age. 

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Maryhope is enchanting as Super-Sized Stevie!  I took this gorgeous photo at Kettle Cove, Cape Elizabeth, Maine, 10.29.2017.

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I took this absolutely stunning photo of Maryhope (also on 10.29.2017) at Portland, Maine’s famed Evergreen Cemetery.  One of my all-time favorite photos of Maryhope.

On that FleetwoodMac.net interpretation of “Sleeping Angel,” they write about that “soft silver chain” in the song, and how Stevie’s “that chain now: sturdy, letting her sleeping angel wake up.  Stevie is a woman of prophesy – fully aware of who she is and her capabilities…and I believe she doesn’t regret one thing that happened to her.  Now she can stand tall and as a survivor…her sleeping angel has awakened.” 

For a long time, I was pretty dead inside.  Well, maybe not dead, but not really alive, not living life the best I could, or should.  I truly know, especially in the last four years, that Maryhope was the inspiration for awakening my sleeping angel…and for reigniting my love for Stevie Nicks’ music.  Thank you, Maryhope!  I absolutely love you!  And Happy 70th Stevie! 

stevie-nicks-ftr

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Q7mtQKQPQE

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song of the day – “Dazzle” | SIOUXSIE AND THE BANSHEES | 1984.

I was quite late jumping on to the Siouxsie And The Banshees train.  I was a fan of Top 40 music for many years, before branching out in 1987 (thanks to my new friend, Michael) into more Alternative music (called Modern Rock back in the day). 

The memory in my ginormous melon is a bit fuzzy on this, but I honestly believe my first introduction to Siouxsie And The Banshees was with 1988’s “Peek-A-Boo.”  The band had been together for 12 years at that point, and had been releasing music for 10 years. peek a boo

While American college radio had been enjoying the London band’s first eight studio albums and one live album, commercial American radio was late in hopping aboard on the Siouxsie train as well.  By 1988, Siouxsie Sioux and Co. had racked up 14 Top 40 hits in their U.K. homeland, while “Peek-A-Boo” was their first American hit.

The following year, The Creatures (a side project away from The Banshees featuring Siouxsie Sioux and drummer Budgie) released their second album, BOOMERANG, and I fell in love with the remixes of the gorgeous, pulsating “Standing There,” and the fun, playful “Fury Eyes.”  I still have the CD single.

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The Creatures (Siouxsie and Budgie), 1989.

From there, my love for the music of Siouxsie And The Banshees only grew.  Unlike 1989’s brilliant BATMAN, which featured an incredible score by Danny Elfman and songs by Prince, 1992’s BATMAN RETURNS primarily featured Danny Elfman’s score throughout the film, but with a lone song featured in the movie – the stunning and haunting “Face To Face.”  That song was co-written by Siouxsie And The Banshees and Danny Elfman, who orchestrated the song, and which was produced by Portland, Maine native, Stephen Hague.

face to face

Later that year, their second singles compilation, TWICE UPON A TIME: THE SINGLES, was released, and I was able to catch up some with the band that had eluded me for so long.  And by the time my STUCK IN THE 80s program first aired in 1996, Siouxsie And The Banshees became a regular staple throughout the show’s nearly 21 years.

It’s funny how you can love a band for so long, but become enamored with certain tracks much later after you discover them.  That happened with me and 1984’s “Dazzle.”  From their sixth studio album, HYÆNA(their only album to feature The Cure’s Robert Smith, on guitars and keyboards), “Dazzle” was dazzling from the start.  The band recruited a 27-piece orchestra by the name of the “Chandos Players,” which played strings from a piece written by Siouxsie Sioux that originated on piano (which itself was originally called “Baby Piano”).

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From there, “Dazzle” thrusts itself into an incredible anthematic marriage of pounding drums and guitars and strings, complimented by Siouxsie Sioux’s stirring vocals, enhanced with the perfect amount of reverb.

In a 1984 MELODY MAKER review of HYÆNA by critic Steve Sutherland, “Dazzle” was referred to as “naively daring.  Siouxsie’s voice, framed alone against the firmament of strings.  It could be [Andrew] Lloyd Webber’s CATS or something by Vaughn Williams.  You can get impressed, wrapped up and lost in this.” 

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The U.K. 12″ of “Dazzle,” featuring the beautiful 7-minute Glamour Mix.

From a review of the 25th anniversary reissue of the album, “[HYÆNA] was [Siouxsie And The Banshees’] most experimental work, [Robert] Smith’s presence is keenly felt on the disciplined execution of the grandiose ‘Dazzle’” (which Robert Smith co-wrote with the band).  “Dazzle” became the band’s 11th Top 40 U.K. hit (out of 18 total, between 1978 and 1994).

Eve since I’ve known the dazzling Maryhope, “Dazzle” has always been a huge part of playlists for any of her incredible radio shows on WMPG, and was on her playlist for the first time she filled in for me on STUCK IN THE 80s in late July 2006, not long after I had met her. 

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The July 30, 2006 playlist from the first time Maryhope filled on STUCK IN THE 80s. As you can see, it kicked much ass.

And because of Maryhope, I latched onto a song I had known for years but didn’t latch on to initially for whatever reason.  “Dazzle” may not be as well known as “Cities In Dust” or “Peek-A-Boo” or “Kiss Them For Me,” but it’s one of my favorite Siouxsie And The Banshees songs, and will dazzle for years to come.  You should revisit it if you haven’t heard it in awhile.  You’ll be dazzled too… 

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The dazzling Maryhope, Kettle Cove, Cape Elizabeth, ME, 10.09.17.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=94wZxJBbv3g

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Siouxsie And The Banshees with The Cure’s Robert Smith, 1984.

song of the day – “Let My Love Open The Door” (E. Cola Mix) | PETE TOWNSHEND | 1996.

In the history of music, some of the best love songs ever recorded don’t even have “love” in the title.  Some great examples include Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes,” Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time,” The Beatles’ “Something,” and prolly the best example of this, “Ring Of Fire” by Johnny Cash. 

ring of fire

In 1980, The Who’s Pete Townshend wrote a song that did include the word love in the title, but was never meant as a love song.  That came later.

Inbetween 1978’s WHO ARE YOU and 1981’s FACE DANCES albums, Pete Townshend put together his third studio effort away from his band, his first album comprised of all original songs.  The album was called EMPTY GLASS, and featured future Big Country members Mark Brzezicki and Tony Butler.   

empty glass

One of the songs on the album was “Let My Love Open The Door,” a song Pete Townshend once referred to as a song about “the power of God’s love,” and later wrote off as “Just a ditty.”  But, it paid off, becoming a Top 10 hit in the U.S. and Canada, his biggest solo hit away from The Who.

let my love open the door.jpg

Fast forward to April 1996, and THE BEST OF PETE TOWNSHEND compilation album was released.  A new remix of “Let My Love Open The Door” appeared on the compilation (along with the 1980 original), that Pete called The E. Cola Mix.  He remixed this slower, ballad version of the love song along with Chris Thomas (who co-produced EMPTY GLASS and many INXS albums), producer Tim Oliver, and Jack Hues of Wang Chung. 

best of

A year after the compilation’s release, GROSSE POINTE BLANK, the brilliant 1997 John Cusack film set around an 80s high school reunion, was released, and it was the first film or TV show (of many) to feature the beautiful E. Cola Mix of “Let My Love Open The Door.”  I couldn’t find any info to confirm, but I’ve always wondered if the E. Cola Mix was commissioned for GROSSE POINTE BLANK.  Regardless, its use in the film just felt right and it was a nice moment in the movie.  Now I want to watch it again. 

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A scene from the high school reunion in 1997’s brilliant GROSSE POINTE BLANK, with John Cusack and Minnie Driver, and the E. Cola Mix of “Let My Love Open The Door” playing in the background…

forever young blog logoFor those keeping track, this is my first blog post in about nine months.  All apologies for the extended and unintended hiatus from the bloggy thing here.  A couple things happened while I was away from writing FOREVER YOUNG.  

First, a truly amazing thing happened to me last Summer – I fell in love with Maryhope, my superfriend, my sassy radio co-host for so many years, my yoga coach, my running partner, my writing hero, the reason this blog exists, and my best friend.   

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The beautiful Maryhope, Old Orchard Beach, Maine, 8.6.2017.

That first weekend in August 2017, we stayed in Old Orchard Beach, Maine at the height of the summer, and a busy weekend at the Summer vacation destination that included a Salvation Army band by the pier playing Journey, three women dressed as leprechauns (really? in August?!?!), a swim in the cold Atlantic that changed my life forever, and the moment where I proclaimed my love for Maryhope, which was long overdue. 

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That’s my pre-running tubby self, blowing a kiss to the gorgeous Maryhope, OOB 8.6.2017.

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My baby brother Mark, Thanksgiving 2013.

That weekend, Maryhope got to meet my baby brother, Mark, and I’m forever grateful for that, because four and a half months later, just before Xmas, Mark passed away unexpectedly at the age of 47.  Mark was responsible for us staying in OOB that weekend, was very instrumental to that entire weekend, and he was so happy for us, and I was so happy to see him, in his element, in his town.  I miss him terribly, and I’ll miss him forever, and I promise to dedicate a blog post to him soon.  I love you, Mark.

David Bowie once said, “The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.”  It took me a long time to figure that out.  Almost too long.  Maryhope figured it out right away, and was in love with me long before I figured it out.  In July 2017, after an incredible weekend together, she texted me a line from my favorite David Bowie song, “Absolute Beginners”: “I absolutely love you.”  And, for reasons that still boggle my mind, my not-so-great reply (I think) was, “Oh yeah, I love you too!”  What she realized (and I yet hadn’t) is that WE were the “Absolute Beginners” David Bowie was singing about.  I didn’t hear from her for two days and I thought I had lost her forever.  And I couldn’t get “Absolute Beginners” out of my head.  And, between “Absolute Beginners” and my embarrassing admission of jealousy towards a friend of hers, I finally figured it out.  And a week later, I told Maryhope I was in love with her!  

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The amazing Maryhope and a very happy yours truly, Kettle Cove, Cape Elizabeth, Maine, 9.2.2017.

In the 12 years I’ve known Maryhope, and especially these last four years, I can say absolutely and unequivocally, Maryhope has always challenged me and pushed me to become the person I am today, the person I was all along and didn’t see it.  But she knew.  She knows me better than I know myself.  We have consistently said we had a hand in saving each other’s lives, and we certainly did.  When all this started, I just hadn’t realized how much my life was truly in need of saving.  I’ve gone from being the guy who crashed on MaryHope’s couch all those years ago to now, a man who has discovered and embraced the joys of running, growing out my natural hair (without the not-so “subtle highlights”), pot, vegetarian cooking, tea, yoga, meditation, reading Rumi, listening to the brilliance that is Bruce Springsteen, T. Rex and Janis Joplin, letting out my inner hippie, looking and feeling better at 51 than I did at 41 or 31, and all the while being madly in love with the most gorgeous and beautiful and funniest and brilliant and sexiest and truly amazing woman in the universe!  I am the happiest and luckiest man in the history of men.  

Maryhope, I absolutely love you!  It’s absolutely true! 

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Me and the enchanting Maryhope, Kettle Cove, 12.17.2017.

 

To those folks reading these words, and who are on the verge of love, and someone says to you, “I absolutely love you,” DO NOT hesitate to respond back with those same four beautiful words.   

Apart from a truly beautiful thing happening in my life, and a truly heartbreaking loss in my life, I think that’s one of the reasons why I couldn’t write anything for awhile – I couldn’t find the right words.  Don’t wait too long to say the right things.  I waited a long time, and often stumbled over saying the wrong things.  I still do.  But, as Maryhope has reminded me often, sometimes saying something, anything – even if it might not be the right thing – is often better than not saying anything at all.  

Life’s too short.  If someone says to you, “Let my love open the door,” you walk – or run, without hesitation – right through that open door and quickly close the door behind you.  Don’t look back; look forward.  What’s waiting for you there I can’t tell you, but if it’s anything like what I’m experiencing right now with Maryhope, there will be joy and tears of joy, laughter, dancing, extraordinary adventures, a bond like no other, and a strong, precious, beautiful love that will keep those love songs flowing for all time… 

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Two stunning hippies enjoying a sensational Spring day at Boston Common, 4.28.2018.

“Let my love open the door / Let my love open the door / Let my love open the door / To your heart…”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9f4Jtm4hTAU 

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Evolution of a couple friends / DJs / best friends / two sexxy people in love: WMPG-FM, Portland, Maine, April 2013 (left) and New Year’s Eve 2017-2018.

 

 

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

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

In honor of my radio hero, Casey Kasem, 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

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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 – “One Way Or Another” | BLONDIE | 1979.

casey-kasem-at40-abc-billboard-650

On June 15, 2014 (three years ago today), 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, 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.  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!”

I remember hearing about Casey’s death during a trial run at a commercial radio station out of my hometown, Bar Harbor, Maine.  I was pre-recording some voice tracks to be played on the air that Sunday afternoon, and saw it pop up on the news feed on a computer in the station’s main on-air studio.  My heart sank.  I knew Casey hadn’t been well, but I had hoped he’d live much longer than he did, though 82 was a long life, and what a life it was.

Due to a communication snafu, it never worked out with that radio station, but at the very least, I got to at pay tribute to him on the air at that station, if only for a moment.  It’s the least I could do for a man who did so much for me – through music – all those years ago.  Like John Hughes, Casey Kasem is one of the most-influential people for me with music that I DIDN’T meet.

A couple of Sundays later, I did get to pay tribute to Casey with the first of three annual 2-hour radio shows in his memory on STUCK IN THE 80s, and that featured nothing but music from 1979 through 1989 and reached the American Top 40.  My theme song for each annual show was M’s No. 1 hit from 1979, “Pop Muzik,” which, to this day, I maintain is a song that epitomized the music of a decade – NOT the decade it came from, but the next one.  And, I couldn’t think of a better name for these tribute shows than LONG DISTANCE DEDICATION.

long distance dedication 6.29.14

One of the artists played on that show (and many other shows over the course of STUCK IN THE 80s’ 20+ years) was Blondie, who just released their eleventh studio album, the excellent and Rockin’ POLLINATOR.

pollinator

By early 1979, Blondie had released three albums, with the latest one, PARALLEL LINES (which was released in September 1978), slowly climbing the BILLBOARD album chart.  Blondie’s self-titled 1976 debut album didn’t even reach the album chart here in the U.S., and their second album, PLASTIC LETTERS (released in February 1978), reached No. 72. 

The first U.S. single released from PARALLEL LINES – “I’m Gonna Love You Too” – ran parallel to the album’s September 1978 release, but the only places it became a hit was in Belgium and in The Netherlands.  Second single “Hanging On The Telephone” is a revered Punk / New Wave classic, but again, it failed to make a dent here in America, though it was a Top 5 U.K. hit.

Though it may sound like a cliché sometimes, like the saying goes, “third time’s a charm,” and in the case of singles released from PARALLEL LINES, the ol’ saying proved to be right for Blondie to finally break through in their homeland of the U.S. of A.

parallel lines

“Heart Of Glass” was released in January 1979, and by mid-February, it debuted on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 way down at No. 84.  10 weeks later, it spent a lone week at No. 1, helped PARALLEL LINES climb to No. 6 on the BILLBOARD album chart (becoming their first Platinum album), and reached No. 1 in at least seven other countries – and in the process, united both Punk and Disco fans alike – no easy trick.  I can’t think of any other song that truly did that.

heart of glass

After the worldwide success of “Heart Of Glass,” Blondie’s record label, Chrysalis, released “Sunday Girl” in May 1979…but not here in the U.S., despite the fact “Sunday Girl” spent three weeks at No. 1 in the U.K. and four weeks at No. 1 in Ireland.  (Thanks Chrysalis, you crusty jugglers!  Just because the first two singles didn’t work out here didn’t mean “Sunday Girl” wouldn’t have charted!)

sunday girl

For the fourth single released here in the U.S. and in Canada, Chrysalis released “One Way Or Another,” a song inspired by one of Debbie Harry’s ex-boyfriends who had stalked her after they broke up.  (Boy, you don’t wanna mess with Debbie, man!  I believe it when she says she’ll “get’cha, get’cha, get’cha, get’cha!”)

“One Way Or Another” (which, oddly enough, was NOT released as a single outside of the U.S. or Canada) was more Punk and Rock-friendly than Disco friendly, although I don’t know anyone in the ‘Verse who wouldn’t want to dance to this gem.  It’s infectious and instantly invites you to move.

blondie-1

Debuting on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 in early June 1979 (with “Heart Of Glass” still in the Top 15), “One Way Or Another” found its way onto the Top 40 four weeks after its debut, entering the Top 40 at the end of June at No. 35.  It inched up another notch the following week, and then for some weird reason, fell out of the Top 40 down to No. 41. 

In an even weirder chart move (and one I’m sure Casey Kasem loved to talk about), the following week, “One Way Or Another” roared back into the Top 40 from No. 41 to No. 29, a feat more commonplace in the Digital Age of the Hot 100 today, but back in 1979, to make such a dramatic turnaround on the chart was quite rare.

And that would be the last of the rare, big moves for “One Way Or Another,” as two weeks later, in early August 1979, it would spend the first of two weeks at No. 24.  Two weeks after departing the Top 40, it was gone from the Hot 100 completely.  In Canada, “One Way Or Another” fared better, reaching No. 14.

Deborah Harry by Chris Stein, 1979

The 1979 poster of Debbie Harry (photo taken by Chris Stein) that has eluded me for almost 40 years now…

The legacy of “One Way Or Another” didn’t stop there, though.  It’s been covered since by the likes of The Black Eyed Peas, Alvin And The Chipmunks, the cast of GLEE, and in 2013, the popular British boy band, One Direction, who did a mashup of “One Way Or Another” with “Teenage Kicks” by The Undertones – and titled “One Way Or Another (Teenage Kicks)” – and released a single in support of Comic Relief.  It was, like One Direction and Blondie before them, a global sensation, and reached No. 1 in at least five countries.  In the process, the original “One Way Or Another” squeaked onto the U.K. singles chart (through digital sales) at No. 98, its first appearance on that chart, and not bad for a 34-year-old song.

“One Way Or Another” has recently been in a number of commercials as of late (I think I heard it in two different commercials back-to-back, in fact), and in ROLLING STONE’s 2006 list of The 500 Greatest Songs Of All Time, “One Way Or Another” was ranked at No. 298.

chris debbie clem 2013

Chris Stein, Debbie Harry, Clem Burke, 2013.

Though I didn’t initially warm up to “One Way Or Another” as I did with “Heart Of Glass” or “Dreaming,” which would chart a couple of months after “One Way Or Another,” the song grew on me (how could it not?), and I really loved seeing Debbie and Blondie belt this out when my dear friend Shawn (formerly of Maine and NYC) and I saw them in New York back in October 2013.

blondie wkrp 1

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention part of the reason PARALLEL LINES did as well as it did.  The album was released the same month as my second all-time favorite TV show, WKRP IN CINCINATTI.  The show was instrumental in not only the success of the album, but its use of “Heart Of Glass” really helped it to become the big hit it was, and the band’s record label, Chrysalis, presented the producers of WKRP with an authentic Gold RIAA record award for PARALLEL LINES, and it hung on the wall of the station’s “bullpen” for the remainder of the series.  (While I don’t entirely forgive Chrysalis for not releasing “Sunday Girl” here, I thought it was a rare and wonderful and unusual gesture presenting a fictional radio station with a real Gold record.)

blondie wkrp 2

You know, some fans of Casey Kasem and AT40 might disagree, but in listening to some of Casey’s older 1970s AMERICAN TOP 40 countdowns on iHeart Radio (he started AT40, appropriately enough, on July 4, 1970, at the age of 38), I think Casey really started hitting his stride with AT40 in 1979 (though I may be biased, considering that’s the year I really started getting into music).  Maybe that’s what compelled me to keep tuning in week after week, year after year, and as often as I can, three years after his death, on the Interweb.

at80s2I’ve been involved with mostly community and college radio for the better part of 30 years, and in my short-lived time on a commercial station here in Central Maine back in 2008, one of my all-time proudest moments in radio is going on at 10:00 on Saturday mornings, following my radio hero, Casey Kasem, and rebroadcasts of AMERICAN TOP 40.

Though I’ve preferred Alternative, New Wave and Alt-Dance to Top 40 for a long time now, I don’t think I would have ever have had the appreciation for music I do today if it hadn’t been for Casey Kasem.

I miss you, Casey, wherever you are, and I promise to keep reaching for those stars…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m74w9x07DhU

one way or another

  

(real) one-hit wonder of the week – “Sausalito Summernight” | DIESEL | 1981.

Between late 1979 and the end of 1989, there were nearly 500 (real) one-hit wonders of the 80s that reached the BILLBOARD Hot 100 just one time, a list that includes Soft Cell, Gary Numan, Timbuk 3, The Church, Bronski Beat, Nik Kershaw, The Buggles, The Waitresses, Ultravox and two different bands named The Silencers.  Once a week, I’ll highlight a (real) one-hit wonder for you.

It’s April 30, 2017, and for the first time in awhile, I’ve been under the weather all weekend.  Maybe (or, rather, hopefully), it’s one of those 48-hour bugs.  So, I wanted to find a (real) one-hit wonder of the 80s that makes me feel better just by listening to it, both then and now.  One song immediately came to mind – “Sausalito Summernight” by the Dutch Pop / Rock band, Diesel.

diesel logo

Not many music acts hailing from The Netherlands have reached the shores of the U.S. Pop chart, or in this case, the BILLBOARD Hot 100, but there have been some.  In the 80s alone, that list included Golden Earring and Stars On 45.  Even Van Halen namesake and brothers Eddie Van Halen and Alex Van Halen are from Holland.

Diesel (not to be confused with the Massachusetts-born, Australian-raised musician) formed in late 1978 as a hobby, but within a year, the then-four-man band released a couple of singles, one of which, called “Goin’ Back To China,” nearly reached the BILLBOARD Hot 100 in 1982, stopping at No. 105. 

“Goin’ Back To China” reached No. 34 in the band’s Dutch homeland, while their next single, “Down In The Silvermine,” was the band’s biggest hit in Holland, reaching No. 16.  Diesel’s first four singles appeared on their 1980 debut album, WATTS IN A TANK. 

watts-in-a-tank

Diesel’s fourth single from WATTS IN A TANK, “Sausalito Summernight,” was released as the band’s first single here in America.  And it was an instant favorite with yours truly. 

“Sausalito Summernight” debuted on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 in mid-September 1981, receiving decent airplay on both Rock and Top 40 stations.  It debuted in the Top 40 five weeks after its Hot 100 arrival, spent a week at its No. 25 peak in late November 1981, and finished its 18-week chart run in early January 1982.  Diesel wouldn’t reach the Hot 100 again.  In Holland, “Sausalito Summernight” stopped at No. 33, while in Canada, it fared well, No. 10.

sausalito 7 HOL

The cover art for the Dutch 7″ single version of “Sausalito Summernight.”

In 1982, Diesel released their second album, UNLEADED, but it was not well-received.  The band would continue to release singles through 1985, broke up and reformed in 1988 for one year, having minor success in Holland with a single called “Samantha.” 

The band’s original four members reunited in 2004 for a charity event, and there were plans to reform the group in the years that followed, but in mid-November 2009, bassist Frank Papendrecht died of a heart attack.  Strangely enough, less than a week later, drummer and keyboardist (and producer of WATTS IN A TANK and “Sausalito Summernight”) Pim Koopman also died of a heart attack.

diesel nov 2016

Diesel, from November 4, 2016.

diesel6Today, founding members Rob Vunderink and Mark Boon (both on lead vocals and guitars) carry on as Diesel as a five-man band, performing at festivals, and working on a new album.  In March 2017, they released a fun single called, “Like Hell I Will!”

Though “Sausalito Summernight” (a song about the beleaguered last miles of a road trip in the San Francisco area) could be (and was) mistaken as a song by Steve Miller, it was one of those songs from my early days of getting to know music that was always fun to listen to, replete with a kick-ass guitar solo. 

More than 35 years later, I still love hearing this song, and any time of the year (doesn’t have to be Summer), I will always gladly hop aboard that five-minute road trip known as “Sausalito Summernight.”

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

diesel