Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Ten Great Summer Songs From One Great Decade
Summer songs of the 80's

As summer 2013 approaches, I decided to take a break from listing the top songs from this week in rock history. Instead, we'll look back to the 80s and the summer songs that meant the warm air was approaching and the cool ocean breezes were so welcoming. Of course, there are far more than ten songs that hearken us back to those hot summer nights of the 80's. What I've done is pick one song from each summer during that decade.

I hope you like it.

All Night Long -- Joe Walsh (1980)

"All Night Long" was released as a single, in addition to being included in the legendary soundtrack to Urban Cowboy. It became one of Joe Walsh's four Top-40 charting songs in his solo career. The song also found its way onto a few sundry Eagles albums. Independent of the single's chart record, the soundtrack album made #1 on the Country Albums Chart, #3 on the Billboard 200, #2 on the Canadian RPM Country Albums Chart, and #21 on Canadian RPM Top Albums. Quite a bit of success for songs from a movie that cast John Travolta as a cowboy (inverting the concept of a "spaghetti western"), which makes about as much sense as casting John Wayne as Genghis Khan, and yet here we are still talking about it.

Urgent -- Foreigner (1981)

The group wanted a "Junior Walker-style" sax solo for this record. When they took a break from recording, one of the members read in New York newspaper The Village Voice that Walker was performing that night mere blocks from the recording studio. Walker accepted their offer to play, and the recording of the sax solo was swift and without a hitch. Before recording this album, two members of the group left, trimming the band from six members to 4. This, along with the fact that it was their fourth album, explains the title, 4.

Eye In The Sky -- Alan Parsons Project (1982)

The rumor has it that this song gets its theme from George Orwell's 1984, which revolves around a dystopian future where citizens are constantly monitored by a totalitarian world government. However, even the official page of the Alan Parsons project which talks about this song doesn't mention any connection. There is also nothing in the lyrics to connect it with this novel - those of us who have actually read the book know that there are no specific references to "eyes in the sky" i.e. satellites and such, but just cameras and telescreens everywhere. Meanwhile, the lyrics make no reference to Big Brother, Ingsoc, Newspeak, proles, ministries, Room 101, and so on, which is common jargon in the book. So, let's just say this is unconfirmed, and caution people about making snap judgments regarding a novel which has become such a potent counter-culture icon in exactly the same way that Guy Fawkes became counter-culture fashion.

Come Dancing -- The Kinks (1983)

Ray Davies wrote this nostalgic song about his older sister Gwen. It describes how guys would take her out dancing, only to be frustrated at the end of the night when all they would get for their efforts (and money) was a kiss on the cheek. Clive Davis, the president of Arista Records, disagreed with Davies' choice of this as the album's single. However, he allowed to be released even though he thought it "a ditty" and too slight to be the smash hit it became. The song was the group's biggest American hit since "Tired of Waiting for You" also reached #6 in 1965.

Missing You -- John Waite (1984)

Waite wrote this song about an ex-girlfriend in order to help him get over the hurt he was feeling about their break up. While he sings, "I ain't missing you at all," we know that he really is. In 1979, Waite was lead singer of a group called The Babys, and had a hit with "Every Time I Think Of You."

The Search Is Over -- Survivor (1985)

This was written by Jim Peterik and Frankie Sullivan, who were Survivor's primary songwriters. Peterik told us: "The Search Is Over started as a title in my notebook. A lot of times, I'll write down a phrase that just sounds like something. I may have gotten it from the news - the search is over for the missing whatever. A lot of times, you don't know what the title means until you live it or someone you know lives it. It wasn't about my life as much as a friend of mine who had a girlfriend - really a play pal throughout their growing up years - and never thought it could be anything more than that. It was looking him straight in the face that this was the girl of his destiny, and he looked everywhere to find that dream girl only to come back to the sandbox. This couple is still married and going strong. It became kind of an allegory to looking for what is obvious; having it in your hand and you being too close to even realize it."

Mad About You -- Belinda Carlisle (1986)

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.

Alone -- Heart (1987)

This was written by Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly. They are a very successful songwriting team who have written several other #1 hits, including "So Emotional," "Like A Virgin" and "Eternal Flame." Most of their songs start with a lyric Steinberg comes up with. Kelly writes most of the music and sings on the demos. Steinberg and Kelly met the Wilson sisters for the first time when they were invited to the studio where this was being recorded. Kelly, who was an experienced session singer, ended up singing high harmony parts on the record.

Sign Your Name -- Terence Trent D'Arby (1988)

Next to "Wishing Well," this was the biggest hit for Terence Trent d'Arby, who changed his name to Sananda Maitreya in 2001. Says Maitreya: "It came from a dream where Sade asked me to write a song for her. It was inspired by a dream and seeing Sade perform at Live Aid in the mid-'80s."

The End Of The Innocence -- Don Henley (1989)

The line about "Beating ploughshares into swords" is a distortion of Isaiah 2:4 in which Isaiah describes the end times: "And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more." The "Tired old man that we elected king" is a reference to US president Ronald Reagan. There are a lot of political overtones in the song, as Henley strongly opposed Reagan's agenda.

1 comment:

Sherry Crocker said...

What happened to 67, 88 & 89?

your list seems kind of mellow for a summer list. I think mine would have been considerably more upbeat... bananarama, every little thing she does etc...