Sunday, June 30, 2013

An '80s Song With A Story

Howard Jones' "No One Is To Blame" (1985)

This song has a story. When I was in high school, I was a nonconformist and a bit of a loner. I had my friends, all fellow nonconformists, and we sometimes went out together and did our own individualistic thing. But I tended to avoid school dances and events. I just didn't fit in so well, and I felt better being away from there, and either by myself doing my own thing, or being with my oddball friends enjoying ourselves in our own oddball way.

On one rare occasion, I went to this high school dance just for the heck of it, just to see if I could actually get some enjoyment out of it. I spent my brief time there wandering around, not fitting in. I remember I met a friend I knew, a semi-outsider himself, and we chatted briefly. After wandering around a little more, I just decided to leave. I got in my car, and turned on the radio, and as I was pulling out of the school parking lot, this song came on. It just melded perfectly with the way I felt, and I remember it comforted me just to have this song that someone wrote that so perfectly expressed my mood. Music can be comforting like that, especially during your teen years.

But there's also the positive side. "Things Can Only Get Better," (1985) also by Howard Jones. I remember this song as well, and its sentiments are just as central to my teen years as the one above.

A thousand skeptic hands wont keep us from the things we planned

This was a common feeling I had growing up in the '80s: that the future could be bright, and that my response to adversity was to keep looking forward.

Howard Jones, a songwriter for all seasons.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Bill Cosby: America's '80s Dad

For Father's Day, how about a visit with the person who served, within television at least, as America's Dad back during the '80s, Bill Cobsy. The Cosby Show topped the ratings with Cosby playing the head of the Huxtable household. The character of Cliff Huxtable was that of a successful, affluent doctor living with his large family in a nicely furnished home. 

Cosby's amiable and fatherly personality could be seen in another of his very frequent appearances during the '80s, as pitchman for Jello Pudding. 

Cosby's appealing personality could not save the 1985 introduction of a new coke formula, dubbed "New Coke," and almost universally rejected as not "the real thing." But Cosby gives it the old college try here, and you can see his persuasive skills in full force through his facial expressions and charisma. 

Best wishes to all fathers on Father's Day!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Repost: Kink's "Come Dancing"

Here's a re-post of a previous post, which is also sort-of a follow up to my last post on the great musical year of 1983. One of the biggest happenings of 1983 was the "Second British Invasion" of bands, which I have written about frequently on this blog.  This was the era of Culture Club, Duran Duran, Eurythmics, and so many others. One of the more interesting occurrences of the Second British Invasion was the re-emergence of the great '60s band, The Kinks, on American airwaves with their wonderful song "Come Dancing." This post was originally presented on November 9, 2011.


The Kinks first became well known during the first British Invasion of music groups during the 1964-1965 era, with hits such as "You Really Got Me," and "All Day and All of the Night," and "Tired of Waiting for You."  In 1970, they again hit on both sides of the Atlantic, with "Lola."  Although the Kinks continued to make music, and continued their popularity in the U.K., they largely disappeared from the U.S. charts during the '70s.

Then in 1983, after an absence of many years, the Kinks joined in the Second British Invasion of the U.S. music charts, and had a big hit with a wonderful song called "Come Dancing." "Come Dancing" was a sentimental gem of a song which tenderly recalled times past. According to Wikipedia:
 The song is a nostalgic look back at childhood memories of its writer: the Kinks' frontman Ray Davies, remembering his older sister going on dates to the local Palais dance hall where big bands would play. The lyrics tell how the Palais has been demolished and his sister now has her own daughters who are going on dates.
"Come Dancing" is a tribute to Davies' sister Rene who bought him his first guitar, with the song's lyrics affording Davies' sister a happy life denied her in reality. Living in Canada with her (reportedly abusive) husband, the 31-year-old Rene was visiting her parental home in Fortis Green at the time of Ray Davies' thirteenth birthday — 21 June 1957 — on which she surprised him with a gift of the Spanish guitar he'd tried to persuade his parents to buy him. On the evening of the same day, Rene — who had a weak heart as a result of a childhood bout of rheumatic fever — suffered a fatal heart attack while dancing at the Lyceum ballroom.
Its a sweet song, and a great song for a comeback by the Kinks onto the American airwaves.