Sunday, May 27, 2012

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

May 25-May 31, 1986

Hands Across America - this was a benefit event and publicity campaign staged on Sunday May 25th in which approximately 6.5 million people held hands in a human chain for fifteen minutes along a path across the continental United States. Many participants donated ten dollars to reserve their place in line; the proceeds were donated to local charities to fight hunger and homelessness and help those in poverty.

In order to allow the maximum number of people to participate, the path linked major cities and meandered back and forth within the cities. There were undoubtedly many breaks in the chain, but enough people participated to form an unbroken chain across the 48 contiguous states if the path had been a straight line.

Hands Across America raised $34 million, and shortly thereafter, triggered the release of $800 million in aid from the Federal government that had been approved by Congress, but had yet to be released by President Reagan.

The event was conceived and organized by Ken Kragen. Event implementation was through USA for Africa under the direction of Marty Rogol, the founding Executive Director. A theme song, titled "Hands Across America," was played simultaneously on hundreds of radio stations at 3:00 p.m. EST to add to the festive atmosphere of the event.

The actual song "Hands Across America" that was playing while everyone was holding hands was written by Marc Blatte and John Carney for Look and Company (the Spanish version was written by the composer Marcia Bell), a music production house in NYC. Look and Company were trend setters during the 1980s creating music for Chrysler's comeback with "Pride Is Back" and Goodyear's "Goodyear Take Me Home" among others. The lead vocalists were Joe Cerisano and Sandy Farina who at the time were the top session singers in America. All the demo work was done in New York City at the Power Station then the basic tracks and final vocal were recorded in Los Angeles. The backing band was Toto. The song peaked at #65 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1986.

Music Charts:

#1 Single--"Greatest Love of All" by Whitney Houston
#1 Album --"Whitney Houston" by Whitney Houston

Other Events:

1085 – Alfonso VI of Castile takes Toledo, Spain back from the Moors.
1865 – In Mobile, Alabama, 300 are killed when an ordnance depot explodes.
1895 – Playwright, poet, and novelist Oscar Wilde is convicted of "committing acts of gross indecency with other male persons" and sentenced to serve two years in prison.
1925Scopes Trial: John T. Scopes is indicted for teaching Charles Darwin's theory of evolution. 1935 – Jesse Owens of Ohio State University breaks three world records and ties a fourth at the Big Ten Conference Track and Field Championships in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
1953 – The first public television station in the United States officially begins broadcasting as KUHT from the campus of the University of Houston.
1961 – U.S. President John F. Kennedy announces before a special joint session of the Congress his goal to initiate a project to put a "man on the Moon" before the end of the decade.
1977 – Star Wars is released in theaters.
1979 – American Airlines Flight 191: In Chicago, a McDonnell Douglas DC-10 crashes during takeoff at O'Hare International Airport killing 271 on board and two people on the ground.
2000 – Israel withdraws its army from most of the Lebanese territory after 22 years.
2011 – Oprah Winfrey Show airs its last show, ending a 25-year run.

Tuff Enuff -- The Fabulous Thunderbirds

"Tuff Enuff" was written by the band's lead singer Kim Wilson and appeared on the album Tuff Enuff. It was produced by Dave Edmunds and released as a single and peaked at #10 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and #4 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks chart. It was ranked #96 on VH1's 100 Greatest One Hit Wonders of the 80s. As Wilson said, "Blues rock groups aren't supposed to have Top Ten hits." On the evening of February 16, 2000, The Fabulous Thunderbirds made history, becoming the first band ever to be broadcast on the Internet using high-definition cameras.

Sledgehammer -- Peter Gabriel

This was influenced by the '60s Soul music Gabriel listened to as a teenager, in particular Otis Redding, who Peter saw perform at the Ram Jam club in London in 1967. According to Gabriel, the is about sex. The innuendo was typical of the Blues music he drew from. Gabriel: "Sometimes sex can break through barriers when other forms of communication are not working too well." Gabriel used a horn section on this, which led to criticism that he was trying to copy the style of Phil Collins to gain commercial success. Collins was using horns and getting a lot of radio play with songs like "Easy Lover" and "Sussudio." Gabriel has said that this was never his intent and that he was more of an influence on Collins, his band mate with Genesis.

Mad About You -- Belinda Carlisle

This was the first solo hit for any of the Go-Go's, who broke up in 1985. Carlisle's former bandmates Charlotte Caffey and Jane Wiedlin contributed to the Belinda album. This catchy love song is about being crazy about your partner. The title had some traction as a hook: in 1992, a successful TV show called Mad About You began airing on NBC. The year that this song was released, Carlisle married Morgan Mason, who appears with Belinda in the video for "Mad About You". The guitar solo on the song was performed by Andy Taylor (of Duran Duran), who also appears in the video.

Danger Zone -- Kenny Loggins

Written by Giorgio Moroder and Tom Whitlock, this song was featured in the action scenes of the 1986 movie Top Gun, starring Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer. Moroder and Whitlock also wrote the #1 hit "Take My Breath Away" for the film (performed by Berlin). After the movie came out, the US Navy had a slew of applicants for it's flying program. A year later, they wrote "Meet Me Halfway," which Loggins recorded for the arm wrestling movie Over The Top. Loggins was a movie soundtrack mainstay in the '80s, and had a #1 hit with the theme songs to Caddyshack and Footloose. Asked in 2007 about performing these soundtrack songs in concerts, Loggins said of "Danger Zone," "It's a good rock 'n' roll song, but I don't think it holds up that well."

Rain On The Scarecrow -- John Mellencamp

This is about financial difficulties farmers in the Midwest US face; difficulties that can go as far as having their farms repossessed by banks. Mellencamp wrote the song with George Green, who he also collaborated with on "Hurts So Good." Mellencamp has taken an active role in helping American farmers. Along with Neil Young and Willie Nelson, he regularly plays at the Farm-Aid concerts to help raise money.

Holding Back The Years -- Simply Red

Simply Red is singer Mick Hucknall ("Red" was his nickname because of his red hair) who wrote the song when he was seventeen, while living at his father's house. The chorus did not come to him until many years later. His mother left the family when he was three and the upheaval caused by this event inspired him to write the song. The song was co-written by Neil Moss, who - along with Hucknall - was a member of the Frantic Elevators. He recorded a version of the song with that first band in 1982. But the real success came when the Simply Red version was released in 1986. In 2005, a brand-new stripped down acoustic version of the song was released on the album Simplified, and this version received heavy airplay on smooth jazz radio stations. Simply Red went on to record 10 UK Top 10 hits, including "Fairground" a 1995 #1. In the US, their cover of Harold Melvyn's "If You Don't Know Me by Now" became their second American chart topper and the best selling British single in the US in 1989.

I Can’t Wait -- Nu Shooz

Nu Shooz is an American Freestyle-R/B-Dance group fronted by husband and wife team of John Smith and Valerie Day, based in Portland, Oregon. They released four albums in the U.S. during the 1980s, and it was their third album, Poolside, that brought the group's sound to a wider audience. The band formed in 1979 in a lineup that originally featured 12 members. This incarnation of the group released their debut album, Can't Turn It Off in 1982. Although the album saw limited success, the group continued on, paring its lineup down to seven members over the next several years. In 1987, Nu Shooz was nominated for a Grammy Award in the Best New Artist category, based on its breakthrough success the previous year, but lost to Bruce Hornsby and the Range. This year, the band will release their 6th the studio album Kung Pao Kitchen.

If You Leave -- OMD

This was featured in the final scene of the John Hughes-directed movie Pretty in Pink, and OMD wrote it specifically for the film. In an interview with Andy McCluskey of OMD, he explained: "We were delighted to be asked by John, and went to the set where Molly and John Cryer were shooting. Unfortunately, the original song that we wrote didn't fit after they changed the whole ending (the original ending had Molly Ringwald's character choosing Duckie, who was played by Cryer, instead of Andrew McCarthy's Blane). We had 2 days to write a new track at Larabee Studios in L.A. We worked until 4 a.m. writing a rough version and sent a motorbike to Paramount. John heard it, liked it, and our manager phoned us at 8 a.m. and told us to go back in and mix it. That's how 'If You Leave' Happened! The song had to be 120 BPM cos that's the tempo of 'Don't You (Forget About Me),' which is the track they actually shot the prom scene to. Unfortunately, the editor obviously had no sense of rhythm because they are all dancing out of time in the final film. It was cool to be in the film for so long and fantastic to go on the red carpet at the Chinese theater at the premier."

On My Own -- Patti LaBelle with Michael McDonald

This was written by Carole Bayer Sager and Burt Bacharach, who were married at the time. They promised the song to Patti LaBelle, but LaBelle's producer Richard Perry was less than impressed, and agreed to let Sager and Bacharach produce it instead. They cut their own backing track, which LaBelle recorded on her own (pun unintended), but it wasn't until Michael McDonald was persuaded to contribute that the song came together. The duo recorded their parts separately, with LaBelle filming the video in New York and recorded her part in Philadelphia, and McDonald doing both in LA. Patti LaBelle was formerly in the R/B vocal group Labelle who scored an American #1 in 1975 with "Lady Marmalade." McDonald was part of The Doobie Brothers, whose biggest hit was the #1 smash "What A Fool Believes."

Live To Tell -- Madonna

This was written for the movie At Close Range, staring Sean Penn, who Madonna was married to at the time. Madonna wrote this song with Patrick Leonard, who worked on many of her albums. Leonard also produced and played keyboards on albums by Rod Stewart and Elton John. In a 2009 interview with Rolling Stone, Madonna said, "Sometimes when I'm writing songs, I'm just channeling. I could say that 'Live To Tell' was about my childhood, my relationship with my parents, my father and my stepmother. But maybe not. It could be about something in an F. Scott Fitzgerald novel or a story that I heard once. It's true, but it's not necessarily autobiographical."


I Wanna Be A Cowboy -- Boys Don't Cry

Boys Don't Cry were discovered by Paul Oakenfold, who was a talent scout for Profile Records in London in the mid-80s. Best known for being Run DMC's record label at the time, Profile signed the band for the U.S. market and Legacy retained the rights to the band's UK releases. This single is novelty song with deadpan humour and kitschy references and has been described as the perfect musical realization of a spaghetti western movie. It hit #12 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #13 on the Hot Dance Music/Maxi-Singles Sales chart in 1986-1987, and was R/B #8. "I Wanna Be a Cowboy" was also a top 10 hit in Australia and South Africa. They would go on to release two full-length albums: a self-titled debut in 1986, which included "I Wanna Be a Cowboy", and a follow-up the following year titled Who the Am Dam do You Think We Am. The second album was simply released in America as Boys Don't Cry, creating some confusion there, since the band now had two consecutive self-titled albums released within a year of each other. In 1997, co-writers Nick Richards and Brian Chatton sued Paula Cole, Warner Brothers Records, and Imago Records, along with remix producers DJ EFX, Big Ed, and the E-Team, for $7 million in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, claiming that Cole's remix of "Where Have All the Cowboys Gone?" used the phrase "I wanna be a cowboy" 24 times in the same style and syntax as their song and constituted copyright infringement.

No comments: