It’s Friday, and that means it’s time for another CHART ATTACK! We’ve got some great songs from the week ending October 16, 1982!
10. I Ran (So Far Away) – A Flock Of Seagulls Amazon iTunes
9. Heart Attack – Olivia Newton-John Amazon iTunes
8. You Can Do Magic – America Amazon iTunes
7. Somebody’s Baby – Jackson Browne Amazon iTunes
6. I Keep Forgettin’ (Every Time You’re Near) – Michael McDonald Amazon iTunes
5. Abracadabra – The Steve Miller Band Amazon iTunes
4. Hard To Say I’m Sorry – Chicago Amazon iTunes
3. Eye In The Sky – The Alan Parsons Project Amazon iTunes
2. Who Can It Be Now? – Men At Work Amazon iTunes (Colin Hay)
1. Jack & Diane – John Cougar Amazon iTunes
10. I Ran (So Far Away) – A Flock Of Seagulls I pride myself on being able to hear most ’80s songs and know instantly the year they were hits. I think it has to do with the fact that I listened to the radio constantly throughout my childhood, and am able to remember where I was or the grade I was in when I first became familiar with the song. However, if you had asked me when "I Ran" became a hit, I would have bet money on 1984. I’m not sure I can explain why; it just has a 1984-sound to me. Plus, if you look at the rest of the songs on the Top 10 above, it really doesn’t fit in, does it? The artists listed are mostly rock artists. "I Ran" has a new-wave sound that didn’t seem to fit in, at least not to me, at the time it was a hit. Does this make A Flock Of Seagulls…pioneers?
9. Heart Attack – Olivia Newton-John I can’t think of anything particularly special to say about "Heart Attack" other than it just represents yet another hit for Olivia Netwon-John during her 10 years on the US charts (1974-1984). "Heart Attack" was her 14th and penultimate appearance on the top 10 ("Twist of Fate" hit #5 in 1984). Yes, eventually it all fell apart, as our good friend Jefito mentioned a few weeks ago, but damn, was Olivia hot in the early ’80s. Fun Fact: in 1975, she won "Female Vocalist of the Year" by the Country Music Association, which angered so many CMA members that they left the organization and formed the Association of Country Entertainers.
8. You Can Do Magic – America (download) I know, I know: I’m treading very close to Mellow Gold territory. If that’s the case, then go ahead, enjoy an additional song for your wussy arsenal.
Despite some truly lame lyrics (nobody should ever use the phrase "you know darn well" in a song) and more than a passing resemblance to a few of their other songs (and I’m not just talking about the wimpy vocal), there are some fantastic backing vocals on "You Can Do Magic." I don’t have anything else to say about this song, except I love it and I guarantee Mike and I will be playing it at an upcoming gig.
7. Somebody’s Baby – Jackson Browne I was trying to think of an appropriate word to describe Jackson Browne based on his hits. "Wussy" doesn’t quite fit. "Harmless" fit until I remembered he allegedly beat up Daryl Hannah. Any suggestions? In any event, "Somebody’s Baby" was Browne’s biggest (and only second) top 10 hit. Suitably catchy with a pretty vocal, it sounded instantly to me like a "movie soundtrack song," and this was before I figured out it was on the soundtrack for Fast Times at Ridgemont High.
6. I Keep Forgettin’ (Every Time You’re Near) – Michael McDonald Michael McDonald is the king. What more needs to be said. Did I tell you that I bought a Michael McDonald baseball cap at his concert this summer? It’s awesome. Where was I? Oh yeah, back to the song: it’s fantastic. I do have two minor issues with it, though: first of all, Maureen McDonald, the female vocalist (and Michael’s sister) who sings the chorus halfway through the song (while McD’s totally riffin’ with "babyyyy" and "yeah yeahhhh" and other great ad-libs) never gets any credit. Second, why the parentheses? We’ll discuss this in further Chart Attack! postings, but I just don’t understand the need for the parenthetical titles of songs most of the time. Why in this case? Was it to separate this tune from a similarly titled song by Leiber and Stoller? Does it help us understand it’s a love song? Does Michael McDonald just like a good set of parentheses every once in a while? The world may never know. Or care.
If you only know this song because of Warren G and Nate Dogg’s "Regulate," then I’m very, very old.
5. Abracadabra – The Steve Miller Band Despite Steve Miller’s penchant for writing the most inane, idiotic lyrics known to man, the dude knows how to craft a hook. This was Miller’s last real dent on the singles chart, not that it must have bothered him any; between the sale of his greatest hits album and nostalgia tours, the man is…shall we say…."comfortable." Example: I saw The Steve Miller Band in 1995 when they were touring with The Doobie Brothers (with McD, I might add). About three or four songs, he finally spoke to the audience. "We’re nearing the end of this tour," he exclaimed, "and we can’t wait to go home!" That’s all he said. Thanks, dick. Nice to see you too.
By the way, "Abracdabra" is two minutes longer than it needs to be. I’ve decided.
4. Hard To Say I’m Sorry – Chicago For better or worse, I grew up on this incarnation of Chicago. Y’know, the David Foster, sappy ballad stuff. And I don’t think I’m the only one who grew up in this era of Chicago, either. In fact, I think Ben Gibbard was secretly a fan of Chicago 16. Am I the only one who hears the verse similarity between "Hard To Say I’m Sorry" and "Such Great Heights" by The Postal Service? Take a listen. To help, I’ve lowered the pitch on "Such Great Heights" to match the same key as the Chicago tune.
If it’s just me, let me know.
Here’s the big tragedy of "Hard To Say I’m Sorry:" when the single is played on your Lite-FM station, it always fades out while a piano part is still playing something that certainly doesn’t sound like the final portion of a song. In fact, if you listen closely (or your station is really lazy), you’ll even hear a drum fill. What you’re missing is the second part of the song, which I think is the best part, entitled "Get Away:"
Not bad, right? And, according to our walking music encyclopedia Jefito, legend has it that it was a fragment that keyboardist Robert Lamm had lying around. Why they decided to add it to the end of this song, I’ll never know, but it resulted in Lamm getting his only writing credit on Chicago 16.
So don’t go blaming Chicago for becoming complete pussies. They were trying. Radio just wouldn’t allow it.
3. Eye In The Sky – The Alan Parsons Project (download) Here’s a case where I love the song itself, but dislike the performance. In fairness, I only had a passing acquaintance with the original version: I knew the chorus, but not much else. Recently, I’ve heard two versions of this song – one by Jonatha Brooke, one by Achinoam Nini (through Coverville #225) – and I’ve decided that I much prefer a female singing, even if it’s at the expense of the harmonies. The melody against those beautiful chords in the chorus is haunting when sung by the right voice. So here’s a bonus download for this week. You be the judge.
Jonatha Brooke – Eye In The Sky (download)
From Back In The Circus
2. Who Can It Be Now? – Men At Work One hell of a debut single, huh? Being the snarky bastard that I am, I keep trying to think of some kind of criticism towards "Who Can It Be Now?" – but I can’t. It’s a finely crafted song written by a gentleman with an amazing voice. I suppose we should all give Zach Braff a big hug for giving Colin Hay some well-deserved publicity and a resurgence of sorts via his TV show, "Scrubs." I always smile when I hear his acoustic versions on television. Do yourself a favor and check out one of his solo albums – either Going Somewhere or Man @ Work – and you’ll realize what an underrated songwriter and performer he is.
1. Jack & Diane – John Cougar Call him whatever you like (actually, only call him John Mellencamp or he’ll probably try to choke you with his bare hands), the man has more hits than you can shake a stick at – and yet, "Jack & Diane" remains his only #1. I’d argue that Jack & Diane are one of the best-known couples in rock. I’m trying to think of other couples now: Brenda & Eddie – also high schoolers who peaked too early; Tommy & Gina, high schoolers who went nowhere; and the two idiots from Steve Miller’s absolutely moronic song "Take The Money & Run." (Steve Miller pissed off the wrong blogger this week.) I’m sure you can think of others; feel free to post in the comments.
And this brings another edition of CHART ATTACK! to a close. I’m thinkin’ we’ll hit 1988 next week – but who knows for sure? Only way to find out is to come back next Friday!