Sunday, January 15, 2012

Ten Great Songs From One Great Year


A new decade to replace the old. The end of the 70s had become filled with overindulgence, drugs and bad music. It felt as if, overnight, the world woke up to a new "Morning in a America." Of course, the biggest change was due to the election on Ronald Reagan, in November. In truth, 1980 was just as bad as the year before. The hostages were still in Iran, Jimmy Carter was failing and filled with malaise and the world was becoming a much more dangerous place.

Politically, the year started with the ABSCAM scandal, which targeted numerous politicians in a bribery sting. Only one, Senator John Murtha (D-PA) was able to overcome the scandal and continue a lifetime political career. March was the month when President Carter announced the American boycott of the Summer Olympics (The USSR boycotted the 1984 games in retaliation). Rosie Ruiz won the Boston Marathon, only to be discovered later exposed as a fraud and stripped of her award. In music, the Mi Amigo, the boat that housed pirate radio Radio Caroline, sank in March. It was the ship that influenced the movie "Pirate Radio."

On the same day in May, Mt. St. Helens, in Washington, erupts, killing 57 and causing $3 billion in damage and race riots break out after a Tampa, Florida court acquits 4 white police officers of killing Arthur McDuffie, a black insurance executive. Miami was also the scene of the Marial boatlift, when over 125,000 made their way from Cuba, trying to escape Castro's regime.

December was particularly tragic. American missionary Jean Donovan and three Roman Catholic nuns are murdered by a military death squad in El Salvador while volunteering to do charity work during the country's civil war. Four people were murdered at Bob's Big Boy on La Cienga Blvd. in Los Angeles and four others were injured by two armed robbers, in what was one of the city's brutalest crimes ever. And of course, the assassination of John Lennon, by Mark David Chapman.

Brass In Pocket (I'm Special) -- The Pretenders 

The song's title came about after The Pretenders first ever UK gig, when they were in the communal dressing room with The Strangeways, who they were supporting. Chrissie Hynde wanted to know whose trousers were sprawled over the back of a chair. One of The Strangeways, Ada Wilson, said: "I'll have them if there's any brass in the pockets." When Chrissie inquired what he meant by brass, it was explained to her that brass is a northern slang term for money. Chrissie fell in love with the expression and was inspired to write the song. (Songfacts)

All Out Of Love -- Air Supply 

Air Supply formed in 1975 when Graham Russell and Russell Hitchcock met as cast members on the stage musical Jesus Christ Superstar. In 1978 they toured their home country of Australia with Rod Stewart. They were then invited to tour North America with Stewart, enabling them to break into the American market. The following year, Clive Davis signed them to Arista Records and released "Lost in Love" internationally. "All Out Of Love" was their next single on Arista. (Songfacts)

Drivin' My Life Away -- Eddie Rabbitt 

With the exception of "I Love A Rainy Night," This was Eddie Rabbit's most successful song, reaching #1 on the Country charts and selling over a million copies. The song was inspired by the hectic lives of his roadies, whose constant traveling made them virtual strangers to their wives, families, and friends. This was featured in the motion picture Roadie, which starred Art Carney and Meat Loaf. (Songfacts)

Ride Like the Wind -- Christopher Cross 

This song the story of a condemned man on the run to Mexico. The story line is one not often heard on Adult Contemporary radio, but the precise instrumentation and soaring background vocals, which were provided by Michael McDonald, helped make the song a hit. The eponymous album spurned 3 top #20 hits, including the #1 hit "Sailing." Cross scored 5 Grammy awards in 1981 for the LP.

Take Your Time (Do It Right) -- The S.O.S. Band 

This was the only top 40 hit for this Atlanta, Georgia based band. Originally called "Santa Monica', they changed their name to the SOS band because "the letters stand for "sounds of success." They recorded 8 albums over the next decade, with their last being, One of Many Nights.

Misunderstanding -- Genesis 

This was one of the first songs written by Phil Collins. The lyrics deal with the problems Collins was having with his marriage. After taking over as the group's lead singer, he spent less and less time with his wife. They eventually divorced. While "Follow You, Follow Me" was their first single, "Misunderstanding" was a bigger hit and made a much bigger impact on American radio.

We Live For Love -- Pat Benatar 

This was Pat Benatar's 3rd straight top 30 song from her debut album In the Heat of the Night. But it was something of a departure from her typical sound. She sang in a high key, and some radio listeners mistook her for Deborah Harry from Blondie. Benatar and Harry both appeared in the 1980 movie Union City, although neither sang a note.

Jojo -- Boz Scaggs 

Between 1976-1980, Scaggs had a number of top 40 hits, including the #3 hit "Lowdown." But his biggest success was in 1980, when he hit the Top 17 four times, with "Breakdown Dead Ahead" and "Jojo", from his Middle Man LP, "Look What You've Done to Me" from the Urban Cowboy Soundtrack and "Miss Sun" from his Greatest Hits album. He took an 8 year hiatus and returned to the charts in 1988, with "Heart of Mine" which only peaked at #35.
In the summer of 2010, Scaggs began a tour with Donald Fagen and Michael McDonald. They are performing together as one band billed as The Dukes of September Rhythm Revue. The show includes classic rock, soul/R&B songs by various artists and personal repertoire songs from all three headliners.

Seven Bridges Road -- The Eagles 

The "Seven Bridges Road" is Woodley Road in Montgomery, Alabama. This song describes the emotions the singers feel as they travel the road, which does have 7 bridges and moss covered trees. This was written and originally recorded by the Country singer Steve Young in 1969 on his debut album Rock Salt & Nails. It is Young's most famous song. This song was the only "new" song on the Eagles Live album, which turned out to be their final album until 1994's Hell Freezes Over.

Hurts So Bad -- Linda Ronstadt

Throughout her career, Linda Ronstadt wore many different hats. Her start was in country and western and moved into soft rock. In 1980, she took a different path and released a harder edged record which featured two top 10 hits, "How Do I Make you" and this track - newer, harder version of the old Little Anthony and the Imperials ballad. Her new style did not last long, as she was soon moving on to old standards and Disney-style pop tunes.

Bonus Track  

In America -- Charlie Daniels Band 

The events that became known as The Iranian Hostage Crisis caused Charlie Daniels' patriot spirit to come alive in a big way, along with those of many other US citizens. This song is his tribute to that spirit. Daniels says, "It was a reawakening of patriotism. That was something that our enemies did that they had no idea what they were doing, because it galvanized America. The line, "Just go and lay your hand on a Pittsburgh Steelers fan" stems from Daniels' feeling that the people in Pittsburgh are "The salt of the earth, the finest, just the greatest people. The strength of America." He says, "I've gone to ball games at different places, but I've always felt the Pittsburgh Steelers fans, especially in the old stadium - I mean, they're steel workers and they're good old guys with blisters, or calluses on their hands. The strength of America is not in Washington D.C., It's in our people, it's on the farms, in the factories. It's the people out here that make this country work. The truck drivers, the farmers. And these people, that's what they were, and I just felt like if you want to go to war, let me take some of these guys with me. Go lay your hand on a Pittsburgh Steelers fan, and you're gonna find out what American anger is, because it's the kind of people they are."

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