Take a trip with me, will you? Where shall we go, you ask? Well, why not Northern Ireland circa: 1983 to enjoy the rhythmic chimings of Mr. Van, the Man Morrison? You don’t have to be to work tomorrow, right?
Chaka Khan feels for us, guys. This is, obviously, very exciting news! By the looks of things, she’s been feeling for us since 1984, or so Warner Bros. Records would like us to believe. I for one am both not surprised and pleasantly pleased about this new found observation, and with the holiday coming up, we could all use a little more feelings from Chaka Khan, am I right?
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately about which record, song, or band related article of clothing could be worthy of the 1000th post milestone. I’d thought about an elaborate photo shoot involving mannequins, mood lighting, and every colored vinyl record I own, but quickly abandoned that scheme due to time and budget. So instead, I’m reaching back… WAY back to my elementary school years to one my most prized possessions, 1984’s The Music Book.
My grade school had a music house, an old, free-standing building acquired by the administration which was converted into a large singing and instrument-practicing box. From kindergarten through 6th grade, I’d shuffle across the street with my coworkers (classmates) and we’d put on our color-coded name tags and learn about the wondrous world of music. In the early years, before poorly attempting my hand (and lungs) at the alto sax, we’d sing various songs from the purple bible known as The Music Book. Rife with colorful illustrations and catchy, young crowd-pleasing songs, The Music Book sat in a long row on the North wall of the music house, and each grubby little troublemaker would grab one before taking his or her assigned seats. Our teacher, the lovely and talented Mrs. Fenske, would take roll call, then requests for which song the class wanted to sing first. At the Court of King Carraticus, It’s All Right to Cry, and The Lollipop Tree were all crowd favorites, and often sung every day.
Now, I’m not sure if it was youthful innocence, the comic-like illustrations, or the music itself, but for a bunch of us, The Music Book meant so much more than just another text book. It represented a blameless and simple era of our lives inspired by the art of noise, and served as an open door to a lifelong appreciation for the medium. Because I’m a sentimental sap, I hold this book very dear to my heart. It is a symbol of purity, of animated gaiety, and I look back at that time with fervent admiration. For my love of music, I have Mrs. Fenske and The Music Book to thank.
Novelties and Rick Dees tended to go together back in the collar-popping 80s like disco and ducks. While the majority of radio-listening ‘Merica knows ol’ Dees for The Weekly Top 40, those select, demented few among us know him for Disco Duck, and those lonely, pathetic among us know him for his early 80s comedy albums. Released in 1984, this (anything but) Orwellian approach to subjects like glue sniffing, shorts-eating, and candid phone conversations (with mainstays of the day, Julio Iglesias and Michael Jackson) make Put it Where the Moon Don’t Shine something of a, let’s say “interesting” listen. Clearly capitalizing on his radio popularity, this album was actually not, I repeat, NOT a one-off, as it was the follow-up to his 1983 debut, Hurt Me Baby Make Me Write Bad Checks! I don’t have that one, but the cover alone makes me consider hunting it down. Disco Duck on the other hand…
I never knew Ike, but as an adolescent fan of 80s pop radio (Madison, Wisconsin’s Z-104), I knew Tina Turner. I knew her for asking the simple, yet tough questions in life, like, what’s love got to do with it, and what’s love but second hand emotion? I still haven’t 100% figured that out, but I’m forced to humbly accept that fact.
Released in the Orwellian year of our lord, 1984, Private Dancer was hugely successful for this pop dragon, and proved to be one of Tina’s best selling albums (selling over 5 million copies). Four Grammy wins for Private Dancer, and this majestic beast would be forever cemented into the sponge-like minds of rural Wisconsin’s youth.
It’s difficult to comprehend that Ride the Lighting was released in 1984, or at least it’s a bit of a challenge for me to wrap my head around since I was only five at the time. When you consider the big, radio-friendly tracks de jour were Karma Chameleon, Girls Just Want to Have Fun, Footloose, What’s Love Got to Do with It, and When Doves Cry, tracks like Trapped Under Ice, Creeping Death, and Fight Fire with Fire seem to resemble a refreshing iceberg floating amongst a sea of raging-radio hell. I didn’t go to the local shop expecting to Ride the Lighting, but for a cool $12, this guy here has his ticket in hand.