song of the day – “Girls Just Want To Have Fun” | CYNDI LAUPER | 1983 / 1984.

IWD19It’s March 8, 2019, and International Women’s Day today!  Today, and all through the month of March (and, really, every day), is a celebration of women that began when the Socialist Party of America organized a Women’s Day on February 28, 1909.  The following year, it was suggested that it be held annually.  It became a national holiday in Soviet Russia on March 8, 1917, and in 1975, the United Nations officially chimed in.  In 2019, it’s embraced in many places and ignored in others.  I say let’s go to embrace International Women’s Day!

Over the course of writing this blog, my love of radio has been mentioned a lot.  And why not — it’s a huge part of who I am today.  I also may have mentioned my love / hate relationship with radio.  I have loved radio for 40 years, but apart from my wonderful time at college stations like WUMF and WHSN, and community stations like WMPG, radio has not loved me…yet.  And, the radio I listened to at age 12 vs. the radio I listen to at 52 is far from the same.

WMPG 45

A potential bumper sticker for WMPG’s 45th birthday, designed by my friend and former radio neighbor, the incredibly-talented DJ Shaxx.

One thing I’ve noticed as of late on commercial radio, namely Classic Rock or Oldies stations (OMG 80s is Oldies now!  Holy cats!), and the question I ask more than any other — where are the women at?!  Yesterday (March 7, 2019), I researched a few radio stations around Portland, Maine, Boston and New York just to compare how many women are represented in playlists today.  And, apart from Top 40, which has always had a large representation of women played on their stations, even dating back to when I listened to Top 40, the playlists at the Classic Rock and Oldies stations I researched were sadly dominated by men.

radio tuning

Apparently (and unfortunately), the whole “recently played” feature has yet to catch on in the three major Portland, Maine radio stations I researched.  C’mon Portland, you’re the 96th radio market in America!  Act like it dammit!

So, when I struck out in Portland, Maine, I went down to the No. 1 radio market in the country — New York — to find a Classic Rock station.  And success!  Well, depending on how you look at it. 

In the three-hour period I first researched of this iHeart radio station that brands itself as “New York’s Classic Rock,” Pat Benatar was played once, and Fleetwood Mac was played twice.  I go back another three hours, and Fleetwood Mac is there again!  I get it!  RUMOURS is one of the biggest albums of all time, an rightfully so; it’s an incredible album.

rumours

But, in the six hours I researched, so many great male artists were played more than once, and yet no Joan Jett, no Heart, no Janis Joplin, no Go-Go’s.  Hey, Men At Work is in there, and I love Men At Work!  So, why not The Go-Go’s?  In six hours, three songs by Fleetwood Mac (two featuring Stevie Nicks on vocals) and one Pat Benatar song.  Three songs featuring women on vocals in six fucking hours.  Where are the women at?!  And no proper 80s radio station in New York?  What the what?!  I’ll have to get right on that.

I then went up to Boston to the station formerly known as “Boston’s Greatest Hits.”  This was promising.  Then the station recently rebranded itself as “80s & More.”  I was intrigued.  Apparently, “80s & More” for this station means they play 70s and 90s with an emphasis on 80s.  Still intrigued. 

In the same six-hour research time period, Stevie Nicks and Don Henley’s “Leather And Lace” kicked things off.  Then it took almost 90 minutes for Pat Benatar’s “We Belong” to be played.  That was followed later by Scandal, Eurythmics, The Go-Go’s (!), Fleetwood Mac, Pat Benatar again (three hours after “We Belong”), Nena, and Cyndi Lauper’s gorgeous “Time After Time.”

time after time

So, compared to the other station, seven female artists (or female-led acts) were played on eight songs in the same six-hour timeframe vs. three female artists.  That’s better, but still not great.  After the 90-minute wait between Stevie Nicks and Pat Benatar, it was a 45-minute wait between Pat and Scandal, another 45 minutes between Scandal and Eurythmics, 40 minutes between Eurythmics and The Go-Go’s, and so on.  An average of six to eight songs by men vs. one song by a woman in the average span of 45-60 minutes.  It’s better than the New York station, but it’s not enough.  You play Michael Jackson, why not Madonna?  And where’s Aretha?  The Motels?  Janet Jackson?  Tina Turner?!  I shouldn’t have to get angry about this shit.

Back in mid-December 1983, more than three months after its release, a new single by a relatively unknown 30-year-old woman by the name of Cyndi Lauper made an unassuming debut on the BILLBOARD Hot 100 at No. 80 with “Girls Just Want To Have Fun” (which features Rob Hyman and Eric Bazilian of The Hooters, Jules Shear, and David Letterman’s house drummer, Anton Fig).

CYNDI_LAUPER_GIRLS+JUST+WANT+TO+HAVE+FUN-55188

Three months later, in March 1984, the native New Yorker reached No. 2 on the Hot 100 and had a huge hit with “Girls Just Want To Have Fun,” but was denied the No. 1 spot by the four-man Pasadena, California Hard Rock band, Van Halen, and their hit, “Jump.”

she's so unusual

“Girls Just Want To Have Fun” was written and recorded in 1979 by Robert Hazard (whose “Escalator Of Life” was a moderate hit in the Spring of 1983), but when Cyndi recorded her version for her brilliant album, SHE’S SO UNUSUAL, it took on a whole new meaning and a whole new life. a memoir

As Cyndi mentioned about “Girls” in her 2012 autobiography, CYNDI LAUPER: A MEMOIR, “I said to myself, ‘Hell yeah, I’ll make [it] an anthem!  Maybe it’ll be something that will bring us all together and wake us up.’  It would be a movement right under all the oppressors’ noses, and no one would know about it until there was nothing they could do to stop it.

“It was very blatantly feminist [and] it doesn’t mean that girls just want to fuck.  It just means that girls want to have the same damn experience that any man could have.”  And absolutely should have. 

“Girls Just Want To Have Fun” may have stopped at No. 2 here in America, but globally, it was the fourth-biggest single of 1984, reaching No. 1 or the Top 10 in at least fourteen countries around the globe.  And, its staying power and strong message has lasted through generations and I know it will continue to be an inspiration for women (and girls) for generations to come. 

Every time I’ve seen Cyndi perform “Girls Just Want To Have Fun” in concert, I often find myself looking at the crowd, and I see so many girls dancing to this song with their friends or sisters or mothers or aunts or grandmothers, and it’s beautiful.  The last time I saw Cyndi was in Bangor, Maine on a July 2017 double bill with Rod Stewart (and her first time performing in Maine since the TRUE COLORS tour!).  I was near the front, and reveled in the excitement over Cyndi performing this amazing anthem for those in attendance.  I look forward to the next time I can experience that again.

cyndi bangor 071417

Cyndi Lauper, amazing and on the big screen, live in Bangor, Maine, 7.14.2017.

For 35 years, Cyndi Lauper has been a beacon of hope and love and peace and music and togetherness for everyone, especially for those who don’t get the respect and love and peace they deserve and then some.  TRUE COLORS UNITED (formerly the TRUE COLORS FUND; truecolorsunited.org) exists to combat homeless youth, especially LBGT youth, who, as of 2016, made up 40% of the homeless youth population in the United States.

true colors united

And for 35 years, Cyndi’s “Girls Just Want To Have Fun” has conveyed that all women truly want to have the same experiences that men have.  And I know that could be conveyed to radio, too. 

So, if there are any actual program directors left out there who might be reading this (and not some stupid computer-generated program which predicts what people want to hear, as opposed to listening to what people really want to listen to), Cyndi’s right. 

For those stations out there (in any genre) already playing women in heavy rotation, I applaud you.  I love you, radio, I always have.  And I have always believed in you.  But, you can do better… 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PIb6AZdTr-A

CyndiLauper

Cyndi Lauper, 1983.

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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

song of the day – “As The End Draws Near” | MANUFACTURE feat. SARAH McLACHLAN | 1987.

solaceI first learned about Sarah McLachlan around 1991 or 1992, and I’m betting it was during my time at the University of Maine at Farmington, DJing at the mighty WUMF (replete with 13 watts of alternative power).  Sarah had released what turned out to be her second album, SOLACE, featuring such great songs like “Into The Fire,” “Drawn To The Rhythm” and “The Path Of Thorns (Terms).”

Fast forward 2 years later, and my first year in Portland, Maine.  It was 1994, when rents were more than reasonable, I was meeting new friends – lifelong friends – and Portland wasn’t anywhere close to imploding, which is what is going to happen if they keep pretending they are a bigger city than they really are and if they keep building apartments and condos upon apartments and condos, where apartments and condos shouldn’t be.  But that’s another argument for another time.

fumbling towards ecstasy1994 was the year I fell in love with Sarah McLachlan and her music.  FUMBLING TOWARDS ECSTASY had been released in late 1993, and much like myself, it was a late bloomer.  By the time Sarah made it to Portland’s recently reopened State Theater (I had somehow managed to score a couple of great seats near the stage; a time when most ticket prices were also more than reasonable), FUMBLING was finding its feet, and that show is still one of THE best concerts I’ve ever seen.

Between that concert in 1994 and when I started STUCK IN THE 80s on WMPG-FM and WMPG.org in 1996, I managed to learn that Sarah actually released her first album, TOUCH, in late 1988.  The Nova Scotia native was 20 years old.  Prior to the album’s release, a relatively new Canadian record label, Nettwerk, approached Sarah about a record contract.  She was only 17. 

In between Nettwerk’s interest in Sarah McLachlan and the release of TOUCH, I also learned the (then) 19-year-old appeared on an album by a Nettwerk band, Manufacture (out of Boston).  Their 1987 debut album was TERRORVISION, and the song was “As The End Draws Near,” co-written by Sarah McLachlan.

as the end draws near

An extended remix of “As The End Draws Near” appeared on Sarah’s 1996 compilation, RARITIES, B-SIDES AND OTHER STUFF.  It was this cool, New Wave-ish dance song that may have been a precursor to other songs she collaborated on, like Delirium’s “Silence,” which Sarah also co-wrote and which was originally released in 1997, but got so much airplay over a long period of time, it stuck around for 3 years and became a global hit.  A 2005 remix actually hit No. 1 on BILLBOARD’s Dance chart.

“As The End Draws Near” didn’t really make any chart waves anywhere, but with Sarah’s popularity in the 90s, especially in her Canadian homeland, it helped RARITIES reach No. 10 on the Canadian album chart and it went triple-platinum there.

In 2014, Sarah released her eighth studio album, SHINE ON, and even came back to Maine for the first time in awhile, though I wasn’t able to go.  I’ve loved Sarah and her music for a long time.  She’s an incredibly gifted musician, singer and songwriter, and as much as I’d love to see her do an all-piano album and tour, I think it’s cool when she branches out and contributes on songs a bit outside of the “pop music” realm, like “Silence” and “As The End Draws Near.”  Maybe a future album, in honor of her 30 years in music, might be fumbling towards piano and dance – together.  I’d like that…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t-P5Q65rCUc

sarah mclachlan

album of the week – FLOATING INTO THE NIGHT | JULEE CRUISE | 1989.

One of my many peculiarities (yes, it’s true) is that I can tell you what my favorite movie is (2004’s ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND, with Jim Carrey);what my favorite TV show is (CHEERS); my favorite band (INXS); my favorite singer (the incomparable Cyndi Lauper); and, my favorite song (Simple Minds’ 1985 gem, “Don’t You (Forget About Me),” from THE BREAKFAST CLUB; but, for whatever reason, I can’t tell you what my favorite album is. 

Sure, I have many albums I consider favorites, and many of those are 80s albums I’m certain I’ll feature here at some point in the blog as “album of the week,” such as Duran Duran’s RIO, Cyndi’s SHE’S SO UNUSUAL, INXS’ SHABOOH SHOOBAH, The Hooters’ NERVOUS NIGHT and Prince’s SIGN “O” THE TIMES.  But, I never got around to calling any album my favorite.  It’s weird, I know, but that’s me.  At the very least, I can share some of those favorites with you here.  My goal is to highlight an album a week, so let’s begin.

twin peaksI’ve always admired the work of Academy Award-nominated filmmaker David Lynch, although I wouldn’t call myself a huge fan.  When TWIN PEAKS debuted in April 1990, some of my friends immediately fell in love with it, couldn’t stop raving about it.  At the time, I couldn’t get into it.  I’d love to revisit the series again before the next incarnation comes out in 2017.  Maybe the second time around will do it for me.  The one connection I still have to TWIN PEAKS, and have had before the show ever started, was its theme song, “Falling.” 

“Falling” was co-written by David Lynch and composer Angelo Badalamenti (Lynch’s go-to film composer).  The vocal version of “Falling” was by a Dream Pop singer by the name of Julee Cruise, someone I had never heard of.  I’m not entirely sure of how the music of Julee Cruise entered my life – perhaps it was a cassette owned by my French roommate during the first semester I started my second bout with college in January 1990, or maybe it was the 13 watts of alternative power of the mighty WUMF, the college radio station at the University of Maine at Farmington, whose memorable slogan was, “Because it always gets worse from here…”  I am sure of this, though – the music of Julee Cruise will never leave my life, her debut album in particular.

david lynch angelo badalamenti

Friends and frequent collaborators – Composer Angelo Badalamenti and filmmaker David Lynch.

FLOATING INTO THE NIGHT is among the first CDs I ever purchased (as some people did in the late 80s and early 90s), and it’s still with me today.  I revisit it often.  David Lynch composed all of the lyrics to the 10 songs that appear on the album, and Angelo Badalamenti composed the music.  And Julee Cruise provided her dreamy vocals against the lush, celestial musical backdrop.  It is an infectious album, still, more than a quarter century later.

floating into the nightI can’t tell you how many times I fell asleep to this beautiful album, and I mean that in the highest regard.  From the first notes of the album’s opener, “Floating,” I was hooked.  Then there was “Falling,” the gorgeous alt-pop gem that actually reached No. 1 in Australia more than a year after its original release on FLOATING INTO THE NIGHT, no doubt due to its popularity as the vocal version of the TWINS PEAKS theme.  It also reached the Top 10 in the U.K., Ireland, Norway and Sweden.

Every song on the album is incredible, but the ones that stand out for me include the playful single “Rockin’ Back Inside My Heart”; “Mysteries Of Love,” which was featured in Lynch’s 1986 film, BLUE VELVET; the quiet and amazingly haunting “Into The Night” (replete with a kick-ass unexpected surprise three-quarters of the way through); and, the album’s simple and lovely closer, “The World Spins,” whose lyrics plead, “Love, don’t go away / Come back this way / Come back and stay / Forever and ever.  Please stay…”  And I did stay; I did stay madly in love with this album.

Julee Cruise would work with David Lynch and Angelo Badalamenti again on an Elvis Presley cover of “Summer Kisses, Winter Tears” for the soundtrack to the 1991 Wim Wenders film, UNTIL THE END OF THE WORLD.  After that, she did some acting, collaborated with artists such as Bobby McFerrin, Delirium and Moby, and released 3 more albums between 1993 and 2011. 

It was her vocal presence on FLOATING INTO THE NIGHT, though, that keeps Julee Cruise close to my music heart (with many thanks to the lush collaboration with David Lynch and Angelo Badalamenti).  If you don’t already own this magical album, you should pick up a physical or digital copy, and try falling asleep to it.  I guaRONtee you’ll be floating into the night…

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cixs8LCHwX4

julee cruise

The wonderful Julee Cruise…