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

Sunday, May 8, 2016

For My Mother- "The Rose"

On this Mother's Day, I dedicate this beautiful song to my mother, who passed on back in 2003.

Bette Midler, in a duet with Wynona Judd, singing the wonderful song, "The Rose."

Friday, May 6, 2016

Til Tuesday "Voices Carry"

Here's a memorable new wave 80s classic with some rather unique lyrics.

Til Tuesday, "Voices Carry"

I'm in the dark, I'd like to read his mind
But I'm frightened of the things I might find
Oh, there must be something he's thinking of
To tear him away
When I tell him that I'm falling in love
Why does he say

Hush, hush, keep it down now, voices carry
Hush, hush, keep it down now, voices carry

I try so hard not to get upset
Because I know all the trouble I'll get
Oh, he tells me tears are something to hide
And something to fear
And I try so hard to keep it inside
So no one can hear

Hush, hush, keep it down now, voices carry
Hush, hush, keep it down now, voices carry
Hush, hush, keep it down now, voices carry

Oh, he wants me, but only part of the time
He wants me if he can keep me in line

Hush, hush, keep it down now, voices carry
Hush, hush, keep it down now, voices carry
Oh, hush, hush, shut up now, voices carry
Oh, hush, hush, keep it down now, voices carry
Oh, hush hush, darling, she might overhear
Oh no, voices carry

He said shut up
He said shut up
Oh God, can't you keep it down, voices carry

Oh, voices carry
I wish he would let me talk

Friday, April 29, 2016

Twisted Sister

Here's a blogcast from Slate magazine featuring an interview with Jay Jay French of '80s metal glam band Twisted Sister. Joining him is director Andrew Horn to talk about the new Twisted Sister documentary.  In the course of the interview we get to hear about this hard working band that took a long time to finally achieve stardom.  Twisted Sister started as an andogynous glam-rock band back in the early '70s, amidst the era of Alice Cooper, Kiss and the New York Dolls. They kept their dreams held with a tight grip as they saw themselves ignored by record companies. Then came the Glam Metal era of the '80s, and they acheived their final breakthrough.  Its actually an inspiring story.

Here's what we remember Twisted Sister for, the representation of metal rebellion for many teen males who just wanted to rock.  This is a classic video.

And here the rebellion moved to school. 

This song goes best with the interview. After listening to it, you become aware of what this song is about.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Other Musicians Sing Prince (RIP)

In continuing tribute to Prince, here are a few more Prince songs sung by other musicians. This is an example of his wide influence on music, especially in the '80s.

Chaka Kahn- "I Feel For You"

Sheila E.-  "The Glamorous Life"

The Bangles-"Manic Monday"

Morris Day and The Time-"Jungle Love"

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Prince (1958-2016)

Prince, one of the most creative performers of the 1980s, and true musical legend, has passed away.  His passing at 57 years was unexpected and emotional.  For so many of us who grew up during the 1980s, Prince was a very strong presence on the musical culture of that era. I remember as I made my way through my teen years as an bit of an oddball, I found great inspiration in this fellow noncomformist whose signature at that time was his use of the color purple in attire. 

As a teen, I waded through his very eclectic career during what is probably his most memorable era, the 1980s.   I remember the funk of 1999 (1982), the Hendrix-esque guitar and mystique of Purple Rain (1984), the Beatles/Sgt. Pepper-influenced psychedelia of Around the World In A Day (1985), the '60s popish Parade (1986), and the return to heavy funk of Sign O The Times (1987).   Above is an ABC News report about his passing.

Here's the trailer to the film Purple Rain (1984), which accompanied the album.

By the time the 1990s came along, he was a legend, having not only produced an enviable body of work (and continuing to do so until his passing) but also inspiring the work of so many others, including Sheila E., Appollonia, Morris Day and The Time, The Bangles, Sheena Easton and The Three O' Clock. 

Here's Prince's "Nothing Compares 2 You" by Sinead O' Conner.   I dedicate it here to the enigmatic performer who has gone on to "punch a higher floor" but will never be forgotten.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Re-Post: '80s Bowie

Here's the second part of my re-post of a two-part tribute to Bowie, reposted now in his honor. 

David Bowie burst forth in 1983 with a new, more mainstream image. Whereas a great deal of his '70s work conveyed an alienated and searching demeanor, his '80s material had a more positive, yet still individualistic and arty, vibe.

In 1983, Bowie rode the wave of New Wave/New Romantic mus
ic which then dominated MTV, and which served as one of the main contributors to the new media of music video. His music, as intelligent and quirky as ever, had a new energy. For example, here is his video for "China Girl" from his 1983 Let's Dance album.

Bowie joined the great Second British Invasion which was at that time crashing onto American airwaves. And his fellow British musicians of that period were often Bowies own admirers, who has grown up on, and were inspired by Bowie in his earlier '70s incarnations. Bowie was the topic of the cover story of the July 18, 1983 issue of Time  magazine ("David Bowie Rockets Onward."), which had the following observations:

"At 36,  the oldest fresh force in rock, this new Bowie seems to share few 
qualities with the old Ziggy, the polymorphous camp extravaganza, the most gilded
lily of rock's gaudiest age. What binds these identities together is a gift that is
cerebral and carnal, frequently danceable and always entertaining. His former
crony Lou Reed has sung about it. Deep down inside, Bowie has
a rock-'n'-roll heart. . .

. . . Musically however, Bowie always seems to know what time it is; no need
for verification. His new material is unabashedly commercial, melodically
aliterative and lyrically smart at the same time. Bowie made some
of the most adventurous rock of the past decade.  When it did not work,
it sounded trendy and tuned out. But when it did hit, which was most of the time, it
laid down rules and set new marks for others to follow. Bowie kept the cutting edge
keen. There are few punks or New Wavers or art rockers or New Dancers
dancing to New Music who do not owe him an abiding debt. Every one from
Gary Numan to Talking Heads and Culture Club ought to make a
deep bow in his direction.

Bowie, ever quirky and multifaceted, dabbled in various art forms... music, video, film, theatre. Early in the decade, he performed as the title character in a production of The Elephant Man.  And above, his 1984 hit song "Blue Jean," featured on his 1984 album  Tonight, also was featured in a short film called Jazzin For Blue Jean. The video for the song features a clip from the film.

In 1985 Bowie performed a duet with Mick Jagger, of the '60s sould classic "Dancing in the Streets."

And  in 1986, Bowie perfomed in the fantasy film Labyrinth, produced by Star Wars'  own George Lucas, and featuring creatures created by The Muppets' inventor Jim Henson.

At the conclusion of the decade, Bowie found himself at his most mainstream, a situation which would lead to the criticism by many that he was not as creative as he had been in the seminal years of the 1970s. Nevertheless, the flip side of that is that Bowie was probably never as influential or as respected as he was in the 1980s, as the wave of new musicians cited him as a major influence, and the increasingly theatrical and multi-media nature of '80s music followed in his footsteps.