Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Ten Great Songs From One Great Week
The songs the radio played this week in history

May 18-May 24, 1980

Mount St. Helens Eruption (May 18th) - The eruption of Mount St. Helens, a stratovolcano located in Washington state, was the only significant one to occur in the contiguous 48 US states since the 1915 eruption of Lassen Peak in California. The eruption was preceded by a two-month series of earthquakes and steam-venting episodes, caused by an injection of magma at shallow depth below the volcano that created a huge bulge and a fracture system on Mount St. Helens' north slope.

Mount. St. Helens remained dormant from its last period of activity in the 1840s and 1850s until March 1980. Several small earthquakes beginning as early as March 15, 1980, indicated that magma may have been moving below the volcano. Then on March 18 at 3:45 p.m. PST, a shallow Richter magnitude 4.2 earthquake, centered below the volcano's north flank, signaled the volcano's violent return from 123 years of hibernation. A gradually building earthquake swarm saturated area seismographs and started to climax at about noon on March 25, reaching peak levels in the next two days, including an earthquake registering 5.1 on the Richter scale. A total of 174 shocks of magnitude 2.6 or greater were recorded during those two days.

At 7 a.m. on May 18, USGS volcanologist David A. Johnston, who had Saturday night duty at an observation post about 6 miles north of the volcano, radioed in the results of some laser-beam measurements he had made moments earlier. Mount St. Helens' activity that day did not show any change from the pattern of the preceding month. The rate of bulge movement, sulfur dioxide emission, and ground temperature readings did not reveal any unusual changes that might have indicated a catastrophic eruption.

Suddenly, at 8:32 a.m., a magnitude 5.1 earthquake centred directly below the north slope triggered that part of the volcano to slide, approximately 7–20 seconds (about 10 seconds seems most reasonable) after the shock. The landslide, one of the largest in recorded history, travelled at 110 to 155 miles per hour and moved across Spirit Lake's west arm. Part of it hit a 1,150-foot high ridge about 6 miles  north. Some of the slide spilled over the ridge, but most of it moved 13 miles down the North Fork Toutle River, filling its valley up to 600 feet deep with avalanche debris. An area of about 24 square miles was covered, and the total volume of the deposit was about 0.7 cubic miles.

Scientists were able to reconstruct the landslide due to a series of rapid photographs by Gary Rosenquist, who was camping 11 miles away from the blast. Rosenquist, his party, and his photographs survived because the blast was deflected by local topography 1 mile short of his location.

Most of St. Helens' former north side became a rubble deposit 17 miles long, averaging 150 ft thick; the slide was thickest at one mile below Spirit Lake and thinnest at its western margin. Thousands of trees were torn from the surrounding hillside after the lake was sloshed 800 ft up the hillside. All the water in Spirit Lake was temporarily displaced by the landslide, sending 600-foot high waves crashing into a ridge north of the lake, adding 295 feet of new avalanche debris above the old lakebed, and raising its surface level by about 200 feet. As the water moved back into its basin, it pulled with it thousands of trees felled by a super-heated wall of volcanic gas and searing ash and rock that overtook the landslide seconds before.

In all, Mount St. Helens released 24 megatons of thermal energy, 7 of which was a direct result of the blast. This is equivalent to 1,600 times the size of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

Music Charts:

#1 Single -- "Call Me" by Blondie
#1 Album -- "Against The World" by Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band

Other Events:

1652 – Rhode Island passes the first law in English-speaking North America making slavery illegal.
1860 – Abraham Lincoln wins the Republican Party presidential nomination over William H. Seward, who later becomes the United States Secretary of State.
1896Khodynka Tragedy: A mass panic on Khodynka Field in Moscow during the festivities of the coronation of Russian Tsar Nicholas II results in the deaths of 1,389 people.
1910 – The Earth passes through the tail of Halley's Comet.
1933New Deal: President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs an act creating the Tennessee Valley Authority.
1965 – Israeli spy Eli Cohen was hanged in Damascus, Syria.
1995 – Shawn Nelson, 35, goes on a tank rampage in San Diego.
2005 – A second photo from the Hubble Space Telescope confirms that Pluto has two additional moons: Nix and Hydra.

And The Beat Goes On -- The Whispers

In this song, the singer retains a positive outlook as he gets over a broken relationship, reminding himself that there are many more out there. It's quite a contrast to Soul songs like "Since I Lost My Baby" and "The Tracks Of My Tears", where the narrator faces intense pain over the loss of his loved one. Formed in 1964, The Whispers had to wait until 1980 before this became their first Top 20 hit. This remained their biggest hit in the UK but in America, 1987's "Rock Steady" had a better chart placing peaking at #7. Assigned to work with the veteran vocal group, songwriter/producer Leon F. Sylvers III chose for The Whispers a song he had co-written with Stephen Shockley and William Shelby called "And the Beat Goes On." When he played the group the song they recognized it straight away as a hit, but Sylvers had little belief that it would be their chart breakthrough.

Magic -- Olivia Newton-John

Written by Olivia Newton-John's longtime producer John Farrar, this song appeared on the soundtrack to the movie Xanadu, which she starred in along with Gene Kelly. The song deals with destiny and faith, and it's easy-going melody and clear vocals proved much more accessible than the movie: while the film floundered, this song was a huge hit, staying at #1 on the Hot 100 for 4 weeks and on the Adult Contemporary charts for 5 during the summer of 1980. Newton-John had become popular in the mid '70s and over the next few years, her music matured along with her. Of course, that culminated the next year, when she had an even bigger hit with "Physical."

Two Places At The Same Time -- Ray Parker Jr. and Raydio

The group scored their first big hit in 1978 with "Jack and Jill", which was taken from their self-titled debut album. The song peaked at #8 on the Hot 100 chart, earning a gold record in the process. Their next successful follow-up hit, "You Can't Change That" was released in 1979, and lifted from their Rock On album. The single made it up to #9 on the Billboard chart that year. In September 1979 they participated in an anti-nuclear concert at Madison Square Garden and their performance of "You Can't Change That" at this show appears on the No Nukes album. By 1980, the group had become known as Ray Parker Jr. and Raydio, and they released two more albums: Two Places at the Same Time (1980), and A Woman Needs Love (1981). These spawned another two Top 40 single hits ("Two Places at the Same Time" - #40 in 1980; and "That Old Song" - #21 in 1981). Their last, and biggest hit, "A Woman Needs Love," was also released in 1981, and went to #4 on the Billboard Hot 100. Raydio finally broke up in 1981 and Parker started his solo career, scoring six Top 40 hits, including the hit singles "The Other Woman" (Pop #4), and "Ghostbusters", which was the title track of the box office hit movie Ghostbusters, starring Bill Murray, Harold Ramis and Dan Aykroyd. The single went to #1 for three weeks in 1984.

She's Out Of My Life -- Michael Jackson

"She's Out of My Life" is a song written by musical artist Tom Bahler, who was Karen Carpenter's boyfriend. The song has been recorded by a variety of artists, including: Patti LaBelle, Ginuwine, 98°, Jon Lee, Barbara Mandrell, Nina, Willie Nelson, Josh Groban, and this version by Michael Jackson. The song became famous as the fourth single to be released by Jackson from his hugely successful Off the Wall album. It was the first time a solo artist had achieved four top ten hits from one album. Unlike the album's previous singles (which were all dance-oriented funk/disco songs), "She's Out of My Life" was an emotional ballad. Jackson's vocals on the record were considered by critics to be some of his best.

Against The Wind -- Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band

Bob Seger said of this song: "My old friend Glenn Frey of the Eagles had an idea that our guitarist Drew Abbott should play along with the piano solo. He and I then went out and did the background vocals together. The line 'Wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then' bothered me for the longest time, but everyone I knew loved it so I left it in. It has since appeared in several hits by other artists, so I guess it's OK." Seger later clarified: "The only thing that bothered me about that phrase was the grammar. It sounded grammatically funny to me. I kept asking myself, 'Is that correct grammar?' I liked the line, and everybody I played it for – like Glenn and Don (Henley) – were saying, 'That's the best line in the song,' but I couldn't shake the feeling that it wasn't right. But I slowly came around. You have to understand that songwriters can't punctuate anything they write. I work in such a narrow medium that I tend to second-guess things like that. As a matter of fact, I've seen that line in a few other songs since I came up with it, so I guess it was okay after all." Seger won the 1980 Best Rock Performance by a Duo or Group With Vocal Grammy award for this song.

Steal Away -- Robbie Dupree

The song was released by Dupree in 1980, quickly advanced to the top 20 and became the driving force on his debut album. The lyrics suggest a romantic meeting between two lovers. Dupree skillfully asks that they "steal away...into the night" knowing that it is wrong yet irresistible. In March and April 2009, VH1 ran its countdown for the 100 Greatest One-Hit Wonders of the 80s and listed "Steal Away" at #64. However, Dupree actually had a second hit with "Hot Rod Hearts", which peaked at #15 a couple of months later. After one more song charted in the Hot 100 early the next year ("Brooklyn Girls"), Dupree seemingly fell off the earth. But he continued recording and releasing albums (just not very popular ones). In 2010, he signed with Spectra Records and released the album Time and Tide featuring former E Street Band keyboards player David Sancious. On May 21st of that year, Dupree performed on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon as part of Jimmy's ongoing tribute to Yacht Rock: the smooth West Coast sound of the late 1970s and early 1980s.

The Rose -- Bette Midler

This was written by Los Angeles singer/songwriter Amanda McBroom. Midler recorded it for the 1980 movie of the same name, which she starred in. Said McBroom, "A year or so (after she wrote the song), a professional songwriter friend of mine said, 'Listen, there is this movie coming out called The Rose, based on the life of Janis Joplin. They are looking for a title tune. Do you want me to submit this to them? I said, 'Sure.' The producers hated it. They thought it was dull and not Rock And Roll and totally wrong. They put it in the reject box. But Paul Rothchild, who had been Janis Joplin's producer, and now the music supervisor on the film, hauled it out and asked them to reconsider. They again said no. So he mailed it to Bette Midler, the star of the movie. She liked it, lobbied in favor of it; and that's how it got into the film and changed my life forever."

Biggest Part Of Me -- Ambrosia

This soft rock hit is about a guy whose woman is the center of his life. The founding members of Ambrosia were reared in Southern California in the area known as The South Bay, later adopting San Pedro as their hometown. Their initial musical influences, like many of their generation, came from The Beach Boys and The Beatles. Ambrosia fused symphonic art rock with a slick produced pop sound. Early on, the band were infatuated with CSNY and began to experiment with vocal harmonies. After the group attended a show at the Whisky a Go-Go in December 1969, to see an unknown but highly recommended new band called King Crimson, their perception of music was changed. Lead singer David Pack released two 2005 solo projects: Unborn, a compilation of older unreleased material, and the more up-to-date The Secret of Movin' On featuring collaborations with Timothy B. Schmit of The Eagles, former Journey vocalist Steve Perry, Heart legend Ann Wilson and America co-founder Dewey Bunnell amongst others. Nowadays, Pack and the rest of the band tour the oldies circuit with other soft rock icons of the era, like America, The Beach Boys and REO Speedwagon, to name a few.

Lost In Love -- Air Supply

The legendary record man Clive Davis is famous for developing the careers of Whitney Houston, Aerosmith and Alicia Keys, but Air Supply was one of his greatest success stories. "Lost In Love" was a hit in the group's native Australia in 1979, but Davis released it in America and unleashed these Soft-Rock Superstars on an international audience. Graham Russell, who is Air Supply's guitarist and songwriter, he wrote this song in just 15 minutes. Russell explained, "my songs are very simple. I mean, I'm not into jazz, and I'm not into fusion or anything like that. My songs are really straight ahead, real simple chords, the simpler the better. So a song like 'Lost In Love' with four chords, there's only two parts to it. There's really no chorus. There's just a verse and a bridge. So something like that shouldn't take longer than 15 minutes to write, you know."

Call Me -- Blondie

This song is about a prostitute and was featured in the film American Gigolo in a scene where the lead character is "working." European disco producer Giorgio Moroder wrote this with Blondie lead singer Debbie Harry, who thus became the first woman in British chart history to write three #1 hits. However she hadn't been Moroder's first choice. The Italian disco king had originally wanted Stevie Nicks to provide vocals on the track but the Fleetwood Mac vocalist declined the offer. This was the most successful of all Blondie singles in their native America and it was the best-selling single of 1980.


Theme From New York, New York -- Frank Sinatra

Although many people associate this song with Frank Sinatra, it was Liza Minnelli who sang it in the 1977 film of the same name, which was directed by Martin Scorsese and starred Minnelli and Robert De Niro as musicians and lovers. Frank Sinatra began performing this in 1978 at concerts in New York's Radio City Music Hall. His version was released on his triple album Trilogy: Past, Present and Future, which was highly acclaimed and brought the singer back in the public eye. "New York, New York" quickly became one of Sinatra's signature songs. The song is written from the perspective of an entertainer who leaves a small town and tries to make it in the city. Instead of obsessing over the difficulties he will face, he embraces the challenges in anticipation of a new life in a vibrant city.

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