I’ll choose the years at random and if anyone wishes for me to showcase any particular year, simply send me an email letting me know.
10 GREAT SONGS FROM ONE GREAT YEAR – 1981
Her Town Too – James Taylor & J. D. Souther
Two of my favorite vocalists came together to record a song about the pains of separation. Little did I know at the time how right they were.
Arc of a Diver – Steve Winwood
While You See a Chance was the big hit from this album, but this title track from Winwood’s comeback album is still the best song. Effortlessly, indeed.
Empty Cages – Dan Fogelberg
This video is actually from the concert I saw in 1982. Fogelberg’s The Innocent Age was to me the finest album I’d ever listened to. A rare blend of well-written music combined with a “cradle to grave” theme, written with tremendous passion and poetry. Empty Cages finds us near the end as winter sets in and loneliness beckons. Hauntingly beautiful and painfully tragic.
Nothing Ever Goes As Planned –
From the masterpiece Paradise Theater, this is a fun song that showcases Dennis DeYoung’s writing and bright wit.
In Your Letter – REO Speedwagon
It seemed REO Speedwagon had been around a long time before they hit it big in 1981, with the release of Hi Infidelity. In Your Letter fused the arena rock sound that REO became known for with a ‘50’s doo-wop feel. Maybe not the best song on the LP, but definitely the catchiest.
Time Out Of Mind – Steely Dan
Steely Dan was coming off their best selling album, Aja, as well as their best selling single, FM. However, while the follow up LP sold well, they could not recreate the originality of their past release. Time Out of Mind was the follow up single to Hey, Nineteen, and although I always liked this song, it did not measure up commercially.
Gemini Dream – The Moody Blues
The Moody Blues came back in a big way in 1981 with two major hits, The Voice and Gemini Dream. Changing their style from a poetic, mellow harmony-based band to a more electronic Jeff Lynne (ELO) style proved commercially successful for the band. But it seemed as if they sold their soul to the highest bidder.
Twilight/Yours Truly 2095 – Electric Light Orchestra
Jeff Lynne reshaped ELO from a strings-based, quasi-operatic band to an outside-the-disco-edge-band to a three-piece, techno-electronic rock band in three albums. Time turned out to be his most original and impressive body of work. Focusing on a futuristic theme, the songs wove together a warning for future generations about the power and corruption the future might hold.
Lunatic Fringe – Red Rider
While this song charted briefly upon release (especially on AOR stations), it wasn’t until the release of the movie “Vision Quest” that the song became popular on mainstream radio (1985). Nonetheless, it did receive significant airplay in the early days of MTV and is a great rock song.