Posts Tagged ‘Madonna’

A Baker’s Dozen from 1983

May 6, 2011

Originally posted September 5, 2007

This is a busy week around here. The Texas Gal took the week off from work, and we’re investing a lot of our time in sorting through stuff, trying to make room.

Our apartment is not small, by any means, but we are both collectors, and the space available to expand collections – books for both of us, records and CDs for me and fabric and yarn for her (gathered not for its own sake but for use in quilting and crocheting) – becomes more limited as time slithers on.

So we spent yesterday going through closets and identifying things that we could live without. This morning we took a carload of stuff to the local Goodwill store. And we have the garage to go through yet, a back wall of boxes in which resides more surplus. The hope is to winnow the boxes on the back wall enough so that boxes currently in the apartment – filled with things we wish to keep but do not at the moment need – can be shifted to the garage.

That will leave us more room in the apartment, until we fill the created space with books, music and textiles. Eventually, I fear, we will have to either rent a storage unit somewhere nearby or make a breakthrough in physics that will allow us to store things in a fourth dimension, one that allows easy access for retrieval.

Luckily for me, mp3s take up very little real space, leaving it possible for me to spend a morning rummaging through the sounds of 1983. That was the year I left Monticello and its weekly newspaper and went to graduate school at the University of Missouri’s School of Journalism.

It’s a very fine school (next year, it will celebrate one hundred years since its founding as the world’s first journalism school) and a challenging one. Drawing students to Columbia, Missouri, from all over the world for its graduate and undergraduate programs, it taught me at least as much out of the classrooms and labs as it did in them. During the eighteen months I spent in Columbia, I got to know students from all over the U.S. as well as from Germany, France, South Africa, the U.S.S.R. and China, to name just a few. After six years in a small Minnesota town – a good town, but a small town nevertheless – graduate school brought me into a much larger and more complex world.

I spent twenty hours a week working as a graduate assistant, helping edit the Columbia Missourian, a daily paper written by students at the journalism school and edited by faculty members. Classes were rigorous, but basically, beyond my work at the newspaper, graduate school boiled down to reading and writing, two of my core strengths. So I enjoyed it immensely, and I did well.

There was plenty of time for fun, too, of course: Intense discussions over beer and pizza at a place called Shakespeare’s. Beer and burgers and talk at the Old Heidelberg. Beer and talk and good music at the homes of any number of my fellow students, grad students and undergraduates alike. (The beer was generally dark and plentiful, though not particularly distinctive; I had not yet become too discerning or demanding about my brews.)

And being on a college campus put me in an environment where I once again heard a lot of newer music. I wasn’t as immersed in the music as I had been as an undergrad, I suppose. But I think I was more attuned to the tunes than I had been while working at the newspaper in Minnesota.

And then there was MTV. Late in 1983, I had cable television installed and I spent a fair amount of time with the television tuned to MTV, playing it in the background, kind of like radio with pictures. (This was back when MTV’s main purpose was to play music videos, an activity that has since become rare, if not nonexistent on the network.) So I heard a lot of new music that way, too.

As a result, I’m more familiar with the music from 1983 than I thought I would be when I began to assemble today’s random Baker’s Dozen:

“They Don’t Know” by Tracey Ullman, MCA single 52347

“Sweetheart Like You” by Bob Dylan from Infidels

“Romance” by Gordon Lightfoot from Salute

“Sharp Dressed Man” by ZZ Top, Warner Bros. single 9576

“Help!” by Isaac Scott from Big Time Blues Man

“Ta ‘Me Mo Shui” by Clannad from Magical Ring

“Who Knows Where The Time Goes” by Kate Wolf from Give Yourself To Love

“It’s Cold Outside Your Heart” by the Moody Blues from The Present

“Crawdad Hole” by Big Joe Turner & Roomful of Blues from Blues Train

“Total Eclipse of the Heart” by Bonnie Tyler, Columbia single 03906

“Sweet Dreams (Are Made Of This)” by the Eurythmics, RCA single 13533

“Breaking Us In Two” by Joe Jackson, A&M single 2510

“Holiday” by Madonna from Madonna

A few notes on some of the songs:

Tracey Ullman’s “They Don’t Know” is one of those tunes that brings MTV to mind. The song is a witty pastiche of the early 1960s girl group sound, and the video itself is witty, especially the final shot of Tracey riding off with the slumming Paul McCartney. I love the chimes, too, which I’ve always kind of heard as a salute to Phil Spector.

Isaac Scott, who died in 2001, was a legend in Seattle. His bluesy take on the Beatles’ “Help” is an eye-opener. If I’m not mistaken, I found this track at the blog Rato Records, where Rato on occasion posts collections of obscure covers of Beatles songs. Many of those covers are a little bit lame; some of them are superb. This one falls in the latter category.

Sometime in the late 1990s, I discovered – probably through Enya, who was a member before her solo career – Clannad. Sitting firmly in a niche between new age and traditional, Clannad offers a sometimes breathy but often gorgeous take on Celtic music. Magical Ring might be the group’s best album.

Give Yourself To Love is an album of live performances released in 1983, a few years before Kate Wolf died from cancer. Her take on Sandy Denny’s “Who Knows Where The Time Goes” is one of the better versions I’ve heard of that well-covered tune.

Big Joe Turner was one of the elemental forces in Kansas City R&B in the 1950s, and Blues Train, his 1983 album recorded with Roomful of Blues, sounds as if it came from KC sometime during those years. To repeat a Dave Marsh line, dated but never out of date.

Never having been a big Madonna fan, I’m unsure if this version of “Holiday,” which was on her self-titled debut album, is the same as the version that was released as the single. A six-minute dance single would not be unheard of, but I can’t find any information that tells me if the album track and the single were identical.

We’re Twenty-Six Days Into Summer

July 16, 2010

The summer’s been quiet so far. The Texas Gal has had a break from her studies for the last three weeks, so she’s been focused on those things she does not get to do while school is in session, quilting chief among them. And we’ve spent a few more evenings sitting out on the little concrete patio this year than we managed to do in the first portion of the season last year.

We’ve been more active in the garden this year, as it’s demanded more of our attention. That’s good. If the garden needs work, then the plants are growing. So far, we’ve pulled from the garden four zucchini, about two quarts of broccoli cuttings, maybe three quarts of wax beans, more butterhead lettuce than we could eat and enough peas for a side dish with dinner the other evening. All of those plants except the peas will continue to produce, and we are hopeful about the cucumbers, green beans, carrots and our second try at radishes. And when the tomatoes begin to ripen, we will have more of that red fruit than we will know what to do with.

Then there’s my own eccentric project: eggplant. Four of the plants seem to be thriving, and each of those has at least one of the purplish fruits that will sometime late this summer become participants in my attempts at ratatouille and mousakka. So things will get busier yet in the garden. Along the way, we’ll have to make certain our low fence is maintained, as we’ve both seen a small rabbit in the area; as cute as he is, he needs to learn that there truly is no such thing as a free lunch.

The summer will soon become busier for us beyond the garden fence as well. Our kitchen whiteboard lists several events – friends’ visits, a trip to the Twin Cities, a backyard barbecue – that will begin to fill the summer weekends remaining. And even though the Texas Gal’s coursework resumes Sunday evening, I think we’ll still find numerous evenings when we spend an hour or so on the patio, sipping a beverage and listening to the evening going on around us: the cars whirring by on Lincoln Avenue at the bottom of the driveway, the shouts of neighborhood kids at play, the chatter of a squirrel scolding us because we’re sitting near the flowerpot where he and his kind have lately begun to dig in the dirt, and sometimes, the sound of popular music carried on the wind from a not-too-distant radio.

Sitting quietly and listening to the evening is something my friends and I did at times during summers past, and if the music we heard on the air was different, the rest was pretty much the same on Kilian Boulevard as it is these days on Lincoln Avenue. And as today, July 16, is the twenty-sixth day of summer this year, I thought I’d dig into the charts and find a Six-Pack of records that were ranked at No. 26 on July 16 during some of the years this blog generally covers:

In 1960, the Skyliners’ “Pennies From Heaven” was at No. 26 on its way to No. 24. The song was the third and final Top 40 hit for the doo-wop quartet from Pittsburgh.

In 1965, the twenty-sixth spot on the chart on July 16 was occupied by the Dave Clark Five’s cover of a 1961 hit by Chris Kenner. Kenner’s version of “I Like It Like That” had reached No. 2; the cover by the Dave Clark Five peaked three weeks later at No. 7.

In the third week of July 1970, the No. 26 record was “Ohio” by Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. We’ll skip past that one, as we only share that record on May 4.

At this time in July 1975, the slightly scandalous – to some, anyway – “Love Won’t Let Me Wait” by Major Harris held down spot No. 26 with passionate coos and moans along with a slick R&B melody. The record, Harris’ only Top 40 hit, had peaked earlier, spending three weeks at No. 5 in late June and early July; the record also spent one week atop the R&B chart.

In mid-July of 1980, Mickey Gilley’s cover of Ben E. King’s classic, “Stand By Me,” was at No. 26. The record, from the soundtrack of the movie Urban Cowboy, would spend the first three weeks of August at No. 22 before falling back down the chart.

In 1985, the No. 26 record in mid-July was Madonna’s sixth Top 40 hit, “Angel,” which had peaked at No. 5 three weeks earlier.

And we’ll close this exercise with a look at 1990: The No. 26 record in mid-July that year was “Jerk Out” by the Time, which would spend the last week of August and the first week of September at No. 9. I couldn’t find a working video of the single edit, but here’s the track from the album Pandemonium.

And we’ll see you tomorrow with a Saturday Single.