Sunday, June 26, 2016

'80s Summer Songs: Cruel Summer

In past years, I used to post summer songs at around this time.  Its been some years since I've done that, but maybe its a good time to bring them back. So, here's a song that at least has Summer in the title . . . and it sure feels "Summery."  Bananarama's "Cruel Summer."   

'80s Summer music gets you into the spirit of the season, amidst the heat and sun . . . and hopefully some fun.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

For Father's Day: "The Living Years"

In honor of Father's Day, I dedicate "The Living Years" by Mike and the Mechanics. 

The lyrics are a poignant reminder to enjoy your parents, and all your family, while they are still with us in this life. Don't lose an opportunity to show them appreciation while they are still here. The song involves the relationship between a father and a son, but it applies to other family relationships too.

For Fathers Day. . . and for my own Dad, heres to you.

Every generation
Blames the one before
And all of their frustrations
Come beating on your door

I know that I'm a prisoner
To all my Father held so dear
I know that I'm a hostage
To all his hopes and fears
I just wish I could have told him in the living years

Crumpled bits of paper
Filled with imperfect thought
Stilted conversations
I'm afraid that's all we've got

You say you just don't see it
He says it's perfect sense
You just can't get agreement
In this present tense
We all talk a different language
Talking in defense

Say it loud, say it clear
You can listen as well as you hear
It's too late when we die
To admit we don't see eye to eye

So we open up a quarrel
Between the present and the past
We only sacrifice the future
It's the bitterness that lasts

So don't yield to the fortunes
You sometimes see as fate
It may have a new perspective
On a different date
And if you don't give up, and don't give in
You may just be O.K.

Say it loud, say it clear
You can listen as well as you hear
It's too late when we die
To admit we don't see eye to eye

I wasn't there that morning
When my Father passed away
I didn't get to tell him
All the things I had to say

I think I caught his spirit
Later that same year
I'm sure I heard his echo
In my baby's new born tears
I just wish I could have told him in the living years

Say it loud, say it clear
You can listen as well as you hear
It's too late when we die
To admit we don't see eye to eye

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

In Honor of the Victims and Their Families: We Belong

Here is a post originally posted in 2012, here reposted with some adaptations. I've been thinking of this song lately, especially in the wake of the tragedy in Orlando. I hereby dedicate this to the victims in Orlando, their families, and to all victims of violence everywhere.

How about this great 1984 song from Pat Benatar.

I remember listening to this song when I was a teen, and watching the video, and finding it so wonderfully hopeful.  As a high school student at the time, at at time in my life when I was going through many of the doubts and questions and concerns that adolescents often face, this song brought hope. Of course, the lyrics are those of a love song, but the message could just as easily be interpreted in a more general way: that we all are part of the same life and the same world, and we should all belong.  

We belong to the light
We belong to the thunder
We belong to the sound of the words
We've both fallen under

Whatever we deny or embrace
For worse or for better
We belong, we belong
We belong together

Saturday, June 11, 2016


OK, brace yourselves, were gonna venture into high campy '80s with this post.

Back in the '80s, before the Backstreet Boys, before One Direction, before the plethora of boy bands that hit the charts in the late '90s, and even before that late '80s phenomenon known as New Kids On The Block, there was . . .  Menudo.  Menudo was a Puerto Rican singing group put together in 1977 by their producer Edgardo Diaz, especially made to take Latin America by storm. The members were all teen boys and could only be under a certain age, with members being replaced once the age limit was reached. Success came quickly in the early 1980s, and the group's intense popularity spread accross Latin America, where their arrival often sparked a feverish reaction from the group's primarily teen female fans.  The phenomenon was such that it was compared to Beatlemania, and dubbed Menudomania, although it can be said that the latter group's mania had more to do with commercial success than with musical exceptionalism.  

Although Menudo's popularity sweeped accross Latin America, it took longer to penetrate the English speaking market, and its success there was more limited. One short lived example of the group's presence in the United States was Menudo On ABC, brief 4-minute segments which appeared on that network's 1983 Saturday morning TV schedule.  Above is one such segment, with the group visiting the historic section of San Juan, Puerto Rico.

They subsequently released an English language album, appeared on shows like Silver Spoons, did commercial appearances and even had a song featured on the soundtrack of the movie "Cannonball Run 2."  However, 1983-1984 appeared to be the peak of the moment in fame in the U.S.. They never scored a hit on American radio,  and soon faded from view as their novelty wore off. 

Here's one last clip, if you can stand it . . . their performances are, admittedly, a unique taste.  This one is full frontal Menudo here, in all their campy glory. Its from the 1984 MDA telethon, with Tony Orlando introducing the group, and a brief glimpse of Menudomania American style.  You've been warned, click if you feel up to it. 

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Holiday Road

I've been putting up a new page (formerly an old post) about my memories of traveling with my family during the Summer, and this brought to mind this song.  Its Lindsey Buckingham's song "Holiday Road," which perhaps is most memorable as the song from National Lampoon's Vacation.   Very '80s song, and very suitable now that the Summer is here.  Interesting video: if I had a work environment like that, I too would like to take a holiday!

Here's another one from Lindsey Buckingham:  1984's "Go Insane."

Sunday, May 29, 2016

For Memorial Day


Here's my unusual offering for Memorial Day. Back in 1991, a group of musicians, actors and celebrities got together on a record and video to boost the morale of troops then involved in Operation Desert Storm, as well as raise money for the American Red Cross.  The group and the song were both known as "Voices That Care."

Musicians contributing included Peter Cetera, Randy Travis, Little Richard, the Pointer Sisters, Luther Vandross, Garth Brooks and Michael Bolton. Mark Knopfler contributed a guitar solo, and Kenny G added a sax solo.  A lot of other musicians and artists were in the chorus, including Sheena Easton, Will Smith, Kevin Costner, Rick Deez, Whoopi Goldberg, Mariel Hemmingway, Michael Jordan, Brooke Sheilds, Stephen Stills, and many others.

The final product is a little schmaltzy, very much a 1991 item, but its heart is in the right place. As the words convey, one does not have to agree with all the military decisions that are made by those in power to appreciate those who have served our country, especially in the most difficult circumstances.  Deep respect in particular to those who have given the ultimate sacrifice.   

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Hands Accross America (May 25, 1986)

On May 25, 1986, a truly unique event occurred which I think has some lessons for us today.  In an effort to draw attention to the plight of the homeless, over 6 million people joined hands in a chain that crossed the United States from coast to coast.  The effort was called Hands Across America.

The event drew support from across the political spectrum, and included participation from many political, artistic and religious figures.  These included Yoko Ono, Oprah Winfrey, Robin Williams, Michael J. Fox, Michael Jackson, Dionne Warwick, Liza Minelli, Kenny Rogers, John Cardinal O'Connor, and the Reverend Robert Schuller, all of whom joined the human chain at some point along its lengthy route.

In Washington, D.C., the event included President Ronald Reagan at the White House, and House Speaker Tip O'Neill at the U.S. Capitol.

I think this wonderful event, which went on to raise $34 million for homeless charities, is an example for today.  Now that there is such division and mistrust in the U.S., we need a reminder that it doesn't always have to be like this.   As we approach the aniversary of Hands Across America, we could do well to look back and see that we came come together with hopefullness and idealism to do good, and to see the best in one another.

hands across america
hands across the land i love
united we fall
united we stand
hands across america
mother and father
daughter and son
learn to live as one
i can not stop thinking again and again
how the heart of a stranger
beats the same as a friend
learn to love each other
see these people over there?
they are my brother and sister
when they laugh i laugh
when they cry i cry
when they need i’ll be there by their side
we are the river of hope
that runs through the valley of fear
and there is a lady whose smile shines upon us
saying all is welcome here.
learn to love each other
see the man over there?
he’s my brother
when he laughs i laugh
when he cries i cry
when he needs me
i’ll be right there, right by his side
the kiss never felt so sincere
full of countless dreams
this earth, it never smelt so sweet
cradles a song in it’s great heartbeat
learn to love each other
see the man over there?
he’s my brother
when he laughs i laugh
when he cries i cry
when he needs me