As I feel the need to say each time, I am so pleased that interviews continue to be a legitimate part of this little blog of mine! When the opportunity presents itself to ask a few questions to someone who contributed to the awesomeness of the 80s, I will continue to share those answers with you right here. Again, lucky for me (and hopefully you), I do get to share a little more awesomeness with you.
This time that awesomeness is Chris Butler. You might not recognize his name, but you should recognize some of his music as the songwriter and guitarist for The Waitresses. He formed the band and wrote the songs including their most recognized hits, "I Know What Boys Like" and "Christmas Wrapping". The band eventually went their separate ways in 1984, but Butler has continued to write and play music. Find out more about The Waitresses, those hit songs that he wrote and what he has been doing since then as we get on to some selections from my interview with Chris Butler...
Q: When did you know you wanted to be a professional musician?
Chris: NEVER wanted to be a professional musician! I wanted to be in a great band, wanted to be an artist, wanted to be a writer. I know and have great respect for many professional musicians. But a pro plays whatever gig comes up (weddings/club dates/pit orchestra work/etc.). And they are masters of their instruments... none of which I wanted to do, or am.
Q: When and how did you get your own start in the music industry?
Chris: High school playing drums in a greaser hot rod band. Also hung out at WHK in Cleveland and got interested in radio.
Q: Please tell us a little about what you did prior to The Waitresses.
Chris: In College [Kent State, Ohio], I was in a blues band. Lots of learning and listening. No place for my drums, so picked up bass, then guitar. Best band in Kent was (and still is) 15-60-75 (a/k/a The Numbers Band). My real break came when I played bass with them from approximately 1975-78. Best band ever... except Tin Huey, which I joined in late 1978 which was the most creative band ever! We did one record for Warner Bros. which did not do well. I fell in love with New York City and moved there. Played with a bunch of experimental ad hoc groups, then formed The Waitresses in late 1980.
Q: Please discuss any of your personal musical influences and who molded and inspired the artist you were back in the 80s and have since become.
Chris: I was born in 1949, so I grew up with rock and roll. My parents were into big bands and Broadway shows. I learned folk guitar, then lost it when I saw The Who on Shindig. In college, I was heavily into jazz and blues (I was one of those effete snobs)... but always, it was The Who. Oh... and Beefheart, Albert Ayler... anything outside. I'm a big funk guy, too (played in pick up funk bands in the 70s). Love greasy soul music like Stax/Volt. Little Feat rule. Then along came the CBGB's bands who blew Little Feat off my turntable. Then the Tin Huey guys turned me on to the English art bands (anything remotely associated with Robert Wyatt, Eno and Fripp), all those krautrock groups... and then along came XTC! Saw Madness at Hurrah in NYC and they lead me to ska. In general, I love experimental outside improvised stuff, afro-pop, electronica, early rap, and all my friends' records!
Q: Please tell us a little about how and why The Waitresses came to be. How did you find your female lead vocalist Patty Donahue?
Chris: Patty was the girlfriend of Dave Robinson, the drummer from The Numbers Band. I had written "I Know What Boys Like", went to Walter's Bar [in Kent] one lunch time, stood on a chair and asked if anyone was interested in a making a recording. Patty piped up with a slightly slurred "sure!".
Q: Did you really receive your record deal for The Waitresses before you even had a band?
Chris: Yes. Island's baby label, Antilles, wanted "I Know What Boys Like". They needed a B-side, so I fibbed and grabbed some of the Contortions, Dan Klayman from Akron, Ralph Carney from Tin Huey to record "No Guilt" as the flip.
Q: I read that you wired Patty Donahue your last $50 so she could get to New York to join you. Can you confirm that and tell us about how the rest of the band came together?
Chris: True. For the others, I asked around for who was the coolest band in New York City and some pals said the Contortions. I met Pat Place who was working at the Bleecker Street Cinema and she introduced me to the members. All Midwesterners like me, which I preferred because we work hard out there and they could play. We did some shows, then Don Christianson wanted to start the Raybeats. Enter Billy Ficca. Then Ralph [Carney] got busy. Enter Mars Williams. Then David Hofstra wanted to focus more on jazz bass. Enter Tracy Wormworth. It's very hard to form and keep a band together in New York City. The jazz mentality rules meaning that musicians often play in multiple bands/free-floating personnel compared to a fixed band which is a marketing entity.
Q: Your song "I Know What Boys Like" was originally released in 1980, but would not hit the charts until 1982. What caused it to get noticed in 1982 and not sooner?
Chris: The song just kept hanging around. Didn't break, but didn't die either. So the live band was formed to try to chase the song and see where it might lead us.
Q: Please take us back to when "I Know What Boys Like" was written and recorded. What is the back story about how that particular song was conceived and written? What inspired it? How long did it take to write?
Chris: I was in Tin Huey and was trying to write as much stuff as I could. I was a baby songwriter, so whatever popped out I was grateful for. I had borrowed a pal's 4-track TEAC, and "I Know What Boys Like" came fairly quickly. I was irked that the girls in the local watering hole were going home with the lawyers who had cocaine. I was strictly a beer budget guy. So the song has a cranky edge. Patty was a good sport, and agreed to give singing on my recording a try. It was recorded on an 8-track at Rick Dailey's house because he had good microphones - a guy I was turned onto by Liam Sternberg [a songwriter/producer also from Akron best known for writing the Bangles hit "Walk Like an Egyptian"].
Q: Did you have any feeling that the single was going to be something special or get the attention it eventually did?
Chris: I was kind of ashamed of it! The arty Tin Huey guys were not impressed, as you might imagine. But other folks thought it was a hit, though I had to wait until Tin Huey had run its course and I had moved to New York for it to work its goofy magic.
As mentioned, "I Know What Boys Like" was originally released in 1980, but received more attention in 1982 when it was re-released as the first single from the band's debut album Wasn't Tomorrow Wonderful. It only peaked at #62 on the Billboard Hot 100, but did receive regular radio airplay and has since become common to find on 80s compilations, 80s flashback radio shows and probably even a few strip clubs. Here is the video for "I Know What Boys Like" by The Waitresses...
Q: What do you remember about filming the music video for "I Know What Boys Like"?
Chris: The video was quick and dirty since it was a new medium, we were not actors and the budget was minuscule. Best thing was being able to use our filmmaker pals' color Xerox effect for the solo section.
Q: Who says "1-2-3-4" at the beginning of the video?
Chris: In order to cue the band and to sync the playback with the footage, sound guys have to make a tape with an added countoff and a pilot tone which (at the time) the Nagra tape machines used in film and video production... so it's actually the sound guy's voice. It was supposed to be edited out, but for some reason the count stayed in. I dunno why.
Q: Videos became so important to a song's success right around that same time. What are your thoughts on the impact that MTV had on music in the 80s, especially in America?
Chris: MTV was cool for about five seconds. Then it became a lobby for a lifestyle which had some of the worst aspects of the music biz. Glitz-glam-drugs. All crap.
Q: What changed for you personally and for the band after this single's success?
Chris: I really just wanted to be a songwriter, not a bandleader. I did not feel either competent enough as a player, or aggressive/ savvy enough to navigate the music biz. But "I Know What Boys Like" kinda begat a buzz and this is a blessing, so off we went. You have no idea how hard the work is trying to break a band. And when a little success comes, more stress and more work comes because now you gotta try to keep your job. Rough-ass business, boy.
Q: When you have a hit song like that, do you (or did you) ever get sick of playing it? What are your feelings regarding "I Know What Boys Like" today over 30 years later?
Chris: Never got sick of playing it. It's actually a fairly complex little tune musically, as well as being sorta silly. Mixed feelings then, mixed feelings now. I know I wrote much better songs, but that's the one that connected with folks... so I am equal parts grateful and miffed!
Many of The Waitresses' songs are like short stories just being sung which is, according to Butler, "why they're so goddam wordy!" Another example of this is their surprise holiday hit, "Christmas Wrapping". The song was originally released in 1981 and has gone on to become a perennial holiday favorite. Here, Butler takes us through how this song came to be:
It was August of 1981... high summer and a zillion degrees... and we are recording a Christmas song. There is so much wrong with this picture I'm not sure where to begin complaining. We were toast from too many months on the road, trying to turn "I Know What Boys Like" into some kind of career with legs. I had no time to write material for a second album, let alone steal a few precious moments to cobble together something about a holiday that I absolutely loathed. I am Super Scrooge - when everyone is getting all misty watching It's A Wonderful Life, I'm the guy screaming, "Jump, George Bailey, jump!" at the TV screen.
It was all Michael Zilkha's idea. We were signed to his Ze Records, and he had come up with the concept of everyone on his roster contributing an original song for a Christmas record. Only Ze was not the home of artists capable of warm, fuzzy holiday sentiments. We had hoped that Michael would forget about the whole thing, but he stayed smitten with this idea, and the next thing I knew he had booked us into the Electric Lady Studios and I had three days to come up with something. Stress. Pressure. Panic.
I thought, "Make-it-a-story-about-a- working-girl-too-tired-to -celebrate-the-holiday-to o-tired-to-get-in the spirit-but-the-spirit-hap pens-anyway-because-that' s-the-magic-of-Christmas- blah-blah-blah-make-it-no n-religious-think-Dickens -add-a-love-theme-gotta-h ave-a-love-theme-this-is- pop-music-after-all-steal -some-music-from-another- half-finished-tune-it-wil l-have-to-do-think-Presto n-Sturges-think-O.Henry's "Gift Of The Magi"-gotta-have-a-title- Kurtis-Blow-had-a-song-"C hristmas-Rapping"-mine-ha s-a-wrap-around-plot-that 's-tied-up-neat-as-a-ribb on-around-a-Christmas-gif t-call-it- Christmas-Wrapping-a-pun! -puns-are-good-f##k-just- get-it-done-just-get-it-D ONE!"
We had two days to record and mix it. I finished the lyrics on the cab ride over to the studio. I played the band my crappy home demo. Had an idea for a brass part so I called Dave Buck and prayed that he's free to add a trumpet. Patty did a nice job, only two takes and she nailed the vocal. It was actually working out okay. Relief. Yaaaay us. We pulled it off. And when it was done, it was promptly forgotten, because we immediately left for another three months on the road.
And then it's a day in November, we are in Rochester, NY, and I called home and my wife says "you are all over the radio!" and I say "great!" thinking "I Know What Boys Like" is finally getting some real play. And she says "no... it's that Christmas song."
The song which started out as just a side note became an unexpected hit. It has become a perennial holiday favorite and has been covered several times most notably by the Spice Girls and on the show Glee. There is no official music video for the song (that I am aware of), but you can at least listen to "Christmas Wrapping" by The Waitresses...
Q: What are your feelings regarding "Christmas Wrapping" today 30 years later?
Chris: It cheers me up, and has been a gift... one that a "Scrooge" such as I probably did not deserve.
Q: It has to be pretty cool hearing your song still being played each year come December.
Chris: My friend, it is very cool, and utterly amazing to me.
Q: Did you ever consider singing lead yourself or did you always want a female lead?
Chris: I love to sing and have an okay if unremarkable voice. But "I Know What Boys Like" had a female lead, so I had to follow that formula.
Q: Many of your songs are written from a female perspective. How did that work for you and what allowed you to write songs from that angle?
Chris: Loved doing it. How many men get to really try to figure women out? To ask deep questions? Try to get the psychology? It would be presumptuous for me to think that I have ANY special knowledge, but for a minute there, I did do my best to "get it right".
Q: Were they still personal to you at all?
Chris: Absolutely! Some things are universal or at least gender neutral. And many a man has written female characters in plays, etc. Never really knew what all the fuss was about regarding that.
Do you remember the TV series Square Pegs which starred a young Sarah Jessica Parker? It only lasted one season in 1982-83. Do you remember the theme song to the series? It was performed by The Waitresses who also even appeared in an episode themselves. Here are the opening credits to the show where you can hear the instrumental "Square Pegs" by The Waitresses...
Q: The Waitresses were labeled as a "new wave" band. What are your feelings towards that generic label of "new wave" in general and having it attached to your work?
Chris: Well, to me New Wavers were fey British English majors with Morrissey haircuts and gurgling synths (which I like, btw... don't get me wrong!). I was grateful that the music business cracked open for second and let all kinds of new stuff come on the scene. There were alternative clubs, radio stations, publications... a parallel universe to the main stream music biz. Funny - it was bigger than a minor musical-historical blip, but smaller in that the open door did not stay open for long.
Q: You worked with producer Hugh Padgham on your 1983 album Bruiseology. What can you tell us about Padgham and your experience working with him?
Chris: Brilliant engineer, a gentleman... despite our confirming why he is often quoted as saying he's reluctant to work with American bands. We were not ready for him, frankly. If we could've put off recording for another 3-6 months or so, I think we would have been better prepared.
The Waitresses released their second album, Bruiseology, in 1983 to little fanfare despite being produced by Padgham. It barely cracked the album charts (peaking at #155) and did not include a hit single. Lead singer Patty Donahue left the band in the summer of 1984, was briefly replaced but then later returned, though the whole band would dissolve later that same year. Sadly, Donahue has since passed away (in 1996 at the age of 40 due to lung cancer), but her voice lives on with The Waitresses' music.
Q: Why do you feel the band wasn't able to recapture the magic of your first two hits? Why did The Waitresses split up in 1984? Did you ever regret that or was it just time to move on?
Chris: I don't know. We broke up because the second album pressure was too much, at least for Patty. Big regrets - unfinished business. I always envisioned the band as a three-album project, a triptych if you will. I even wrote a third album thinking that if we ever kissed and made up, we would need material. I've actually been mining that song pile for years now.
Q: What do you remember best about the decade of 80s music? What lasting impact do you feel music from the 80s has made?
It was absolutely the acme of analog recording meaning just gorgeous sounding records. God bless Rupert Neve, Baron Studer, SSL, Ampex 456 & 499, +12 recording!
It was one of those rare occurrences where something comes up from the street that pushes its way into the mainstream. Read Love Goes To Buildings On Fire [book by author Will Hermes which references the Talking Heads' song and discusses the five years of 1973-78 in New York City that changed music] because the same thing was happening in the 80s with Latin music and with the birth of hip-hop. It was a very experimental time.
There was lots of music biz dough sloshing around, which supported some risk-taking, or at least made alternative musics and an alternative infrastructure viable for a minute.
The 80s had a nice mix of music made by machine and made by humans. The balance is lost now, but it was cool to have synths and sequencers AND saxes and Stratocasters!
Q: Please tell us a little about where your music career has taken you since the 80s. What is Future Fossil Records?
Chris: I continue to write and play. I have been playing drums in a surf band of Ohio ex-pats called purple k'niF (a Cleveland in-joke). I've release four full-length albums (or five if you count one that was a radio-only promo). I've played in lots of pick-up groups around the NYC area from Dennis (Smithereens) Diken's "Bell Sound" group to a Spinal Tap tribute. Done some radio stories for NPR, enjoyed a revival of the Tin Huey group in the early 2000's... lots of stuff. Future Fossil Records is a private label that I run for my own and Tin Huey's stuff.
Q: How have your priorities or goals changed over the years?
Chris: I am an old fart now, but I still like to write and play. I have a son and he's a great kid. I have all the tools I need to putter around with, and a modest income from royalties... enough anyway to do projects like "The Devil Glitch" (Guinness Book's World's Longest Recorded Pop Song at 69 minutes - www.majorglitch.net/) and some radio stories.
Q: What are some of your proudest professional accomplishments?
Chris: I've never been sued and have never sued anybody. I was honest in my business dealings and managed to be extruded from the musical sausage machine relatively intact and unscathed.
Q: What else is Chris Butler up to nowadays? Musically and otherwise?
Chris: Oh...Mr. Busy as usual. I am writing and recording a memoir based on songs that mean a lot to me. I have more tunes written that need to be recorded and am reforming The Cranks, a band I had in the early 2000s. I am a better writer and player now, and get to play with some really great musicians just for fun. I've managed to have some personal contact with most of my heroes: members of XTC, R. Stevie Moore, Pete Townshend, etc. "I Know What Boys Like" keeps getting sampled (thank you, Jay-Z), and "Christmas Wrapping" seems to becoming a semi-standard. Not bad...not bad at all.
Agreed. I am so pleased that Chris took some time to answer my questions so I could share them with you here. Be sure to keep up with him at his website, www.futurefossilmusic.com/. I want to take this opportunity to again thank Chris Butler for his contributions to 80s pop culture especially through The Waitresses and, even more, for going back to the 80s with us here for a little while as well.
That'll do it for another special issue of Kickin' it Old School. Thanks as always for reading and hope you are enjoying the interviews as much as I am. If you want a summary of all of my Back to the 80s Interviews posted thus far, please click on that link. Be sure you haven't missed any of them. If you are interested in reading any of my other 80s related issues, please click there for a summary of those. You can also always click on the Archives in the upper left hand column or use the Google Search Box at the top of the right hand column to find any other issues you may have missed. If you are a fan of Kickin' it, PLEASE CLICK ON THE FACEBOOK LOGO in the upper right hand column. This will take you to the Fan Page where I ask you to then click on the "Like" button. Even if you are not a Facebook member yet, please consider joining and registering as a fan at that page. You can also follow @OldSchool80s on Twitter by clicking on the FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER LOGO also in the upper right hand column. This will take you the page and you can just click on the box that says "Follow". I am sending daily 80s tweets, so sign up to get those. Let other 80s fans know about it as well! Peace and much love.
Check this out: The Simpsons recently celebrated its 500th episode. Quite an impressive accomplishment! The show began as shorts broadcast as part of The Tracey Ullman Show as early as April of 1987. It was developed into its own show and debuted with a Christmas episode on December 17, 1989. It has since gone on to become the longest-running American primetime, scripted television series. In the opening of each show, Bart is seen writing a sentence over and over on Mrs. Krabappel's chalkboard as punishment for some naughty deed. Pay attention to this because this sentence does change from time to time, but not always. For your reading enjoyment, here are the 288 different sentences that Bart has written over the course of the series thus far...
Quote of the day: "After one has discovered what he is called for, he should set out to do it with all of the power he has in his system." - Martin Luther King, Jr.
Top 10 lists used to be a regular feature here on Kickin' it Old School. Interviews have sort of dominated my content lately and hopefully you have been enjoying those as much as I have. I still have many Top 10 lists just waiting to be published and here is one that I thought was timely evoked by Valentine's Day.
If there is one theme that seems to inspire more music than any other, it has to be "love". Love is a very powerful word and it finds its way into the title of many songs. Not all of these songs are necessarily about love as romantic affection, though many are. Some are about the pain and heartache that can be caused by love. Some are about platonic love, physical love or simply describing a strong liking for something. I am a sucker for a sappy love song, but what constitutes a love song can be so subjective. I decided to focus on the far less subjective topic of songs which simply use the word "love" somewhere in the title which were released sometime between 1980 and the end of 1989. I made the decision not to include variations of the word, so "lover", "loving" or even "loves" did not qualify. If there were multiple songs by the same artist, I combined them together for ease. As you'd expect, there are lots of candidates so I'm giving you really a Top 80 and including some anecdotes on many of them. With all that being said, here is OLD SCHOOL'S TOP 10 SONGS OF THE 80s WITH THE WORD "LOVE" IN THE TITLE (+ Bonus 70):
80. "Baby, I Love Your Way/Freebird Medley" (1988) by Will To Power - This was the last medley to reach #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 combining the Peter Frampton and Lynyrd Skynyrd classics.
79. "Love Will Tear Us Apart" (1980) by Joy Division
78. "I Just Called to Say I Love You" (1984) by Stevie Wonder - I always remember the 1986 episode of The Cosby Show (season 2, episode 18) which guest-starred Stevie Wonder and they ended up singing this song in his studio.
77. "Love Bites" (1988) by Def Leppard - It was released as a single a year after its album, Hysteria, was released and became the first and surprisingly only #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for the band.
76. "Sea of Love" (1984) by The Honeydrippers - The Honeydrippers was a super-group including Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, Jeff Beck, Nile Rodgers and Paul Shaffer among others.
75. "Love Stinks" (1980) by J. Geils Band
74. "Baby Love" (1986) by Regina - The song was written by Regina with Steve Bray (who had written several hits for Madonna) and was originally intended for Madonna, with Regina only deciding to record the song herself when Madonna declined.
73. "Put a Little Love In Your Heart" (1988) by Al Green & Annie Lennox - A cover of the 1968 Jackie DeShannon original that was featured in the Bill Murray film Scrooged.
72. "65 Love Affair" (1981) by Paul Davis
71. "Space Age Love Song" (1982) by A Flock of Seagulls
70. "Soldier of Love" (1989) by Donny Osmond - Fearing that the public were not going to buy a new Donny Osmond record, his label decided to release the single with no indication of who the artist was, and radio stations advertised it as being from a "mystery artist".
69. "Love Theme from St. Elmo's Fire" (1985) by David Foster - The only instrumental on this list, there was also a version on the soundtrack with lyrics called "At This Moment"
68. "Love Me In a Special Way" (1984) by DeBarge - This song was written and produced by El DeBarge and features his recognizable falsetto as well as a harmonica solo by none other than the great Stevie Wonder.
67. "Piece of My Love" (1988) by Guy - From the band's self-titled debut album which really helped to put new jack swing on the map.
66. "Shake Your Love" (1987) by Debbie Gibson
65. "Real Love" (1989) & "Looking for a New Love" (1987) by Jody Watley
64. "(It's Just) The Way That You Love Me" (1988) by Paula Abdul
63. "Prove Your Love" (1988) & "I'll Always Love You" (1988) by Taylor Dayne
62. "I Love a Rainy Night" (1980) by Eddie Rabbitt - I remember listening over and over to the 45 of this song which went on to reach the top spot on the Billboard Hot 100, Hot Country Singles and Adult Contemporary Singles charts in 1981.
61. "Is This Love" (1987) by Whitesnake - This power ballad was written by vocalist David Coverdale and guitarist John Sykes and was originally intended to be recorded by Tina Turner.
60. "That Ain't Love" (1987) by REO Speedwagon
59. "Woman in Love" (1980) by Barbra Streisand - This song was actually written by Barry and Robin Gibb of the Bee Gees and went on to be one of Babs' most successful singles and her fifth and last to reach #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 where it held the top spot for three weeks.
58. "Jump (For My Love)" (1984) by The Pointer Sisters - This song wouldn't have qualified for this list if they went with the original title of just "Jump". It was modified to add the parenthesis part prior to its release to avoid confusion with the Van Halen song "Jump", which was released earlier the same year
57. "I Need Love" (1987) by LL Cool J -The only rap song on the list, this really helped LL and rap continue its crossover into the mainstream.
56. "What About Love" (1985) by Heart - The song which returned Heart to prominence (giving them their first Top 40 hit in three years and first Top 10 hit in five years) includes additional backing vocals from both Starship's Grace Slick and Mickey Thomas.
55. "Will You Still Love Me?" (1986) by Chicago - This song was Chicago's first Top 10 hit following the departure of Peter Cetera and it featured new singer and bassist Jason Scheff on lead vocals.
54. "You're Lookin' Like Love to Me" (1983) & "Tonight, I Celebrate My Love" (1983) by Peabo Bryson & Roberta Flack
53. "Love in an Elevator" (1989) by Aerosmith - Just as the title states, Steven Tyler claims the song's lyrics were inspired by an experience he had at a hotel, in which he was making out with a girl in the elevator and they started having sex as the doors opened.
52. "One Night Love Affair" (1985) & "It's Only Love" (1985 w/ Tina Turner) by Bryan Adams - "One Night Love Affair" was featured in the film Real Genius.
51. "In the Name of Love" (1982) by The Thompson Twins
50. "Freeway of Love" (1985) by Aretha Franklin - This single from her Who's Zoomin' Who album became Aretha's fifteenth Top 10 pop hit in the U.S. (first of three to come in the 80s) and features the saxophone of the late, great Clarence Clemons.
48. "Turn Your Love Around" (1981) by George Benson
47. "Shower Me With Your Love" (1989) by Surface
46. "Love Somebody" (1984) by Rick Springfield - After it peaked at #5 on the Billboard Hot 100, this was the final Top 10 hit (of five in the 80s) for Springfield who is also well known for playing Dr. Noah Drake on General Hospital.
45. "Method of Modern Love" (1985) by Hall & Oates
44. "I've Been In Love Before" (1986) by Cutting Crew
43. "I Love Rock n Roll" (1982) by Joan Jett & the Blackhearts - The song was written and first recorded by The Arrows in 1975, but this version would reach the top of the Billboard Hot 100 and hold that position for seven weeks.
42. "Love Shack" (1989) by B-52's - The song's inspiration was a cabin that Kate Pierson lived in around Athens, Georgia, complete with tin roof, where the band conceived "Rock Lobster", a single from their first album. The line at the end wailed by lead singer Cindy Wilson, "tin roof...rusted," was originally an outtake but has become the song's most memorable.
41. "Stop to Love" (1986), "Any Love" (1988) & "There's Nothing Better Than Love" (1987 w/ Gregory Hines) by Luther Vandross
40. "Love is a Battlefield" (1983) by Pat Benatar
39. "Love You Down" (1986) by Ready for the World
38. "Nothing's Gonna Change My Love For You" (1987) by Glenn Medeiros - He was just 17 years old when he had a hit with his cover of this song originally recorded by George Benson in 1984.
37. "Sweet Love" (1986) by Anita Baker
36. "On the Wings of Love" (1982) by Jeffrey Osborne
35. "Don't Fall In Love With a Dreamer" (1980 w/ Kim Carnes) & "Love Will Turn You Around" (1982) by Kenny Rogers
34. "Endless Love" (1981 w/ Diana Ross), "My Love" (1983 w/ Kenny Rogers backing) & "Love Will Conquer All" (1986) by Lionel Richie
33. "Higher Love" (1986) by Steve Winwood - This song which features Chaka Khan on vocals with Winwood was his first single to reach #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 and earned two Grammy Awards (for Record of the Year and Best Male Pop Vocal Performance).
32. "If You Love Somebody Set Them Free" (1985) by Sting - This was the first single released from Sting's solo debut album The Dream of the Blue Turtles.
31. "Not Enough Love in the World" (1985) by Don Henley
30. "Addicted to Love" (1986) by Robert Palmer - This was originally intended to be a duet with Chaka Khan but her label at the time wouldn't grant her release to work on it. It features Andy Taylor on guitar and I always remember it because of its iconic music video and the scene in Cocktail where Tom Cruise has the entire bar singing along.
28. "Jungle Love" (1984) by The Time - This song is featured in the film Purple Rain and was released on their Ice Cream Castle album.
27. "Love Touch" (1986) by Rod Stewart - This song is featured in the Robert Redford film Legal Eagles.
26. "Lawyers in Love" (1983) by Jackson Browne
25. "Tender Love" (1985) & "Love Is A House" (1987) by Force MDs - "Tender Love" was written by Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis was featured in the soundtrack for the film Krush Groove.
24. "I Don't Want Your Love" (1988) by Duran Duran
23. "You Give Love a Bad Name" (1986) by Bon Jovi - This was the first single released from the Slippery When Wet album and became the band's first #1 (of 4 during the 80s) on the Billboard Hot 100.
22. "Why Can't This Be Love" (1986), "Love Walks In" (1986) & "When It's Love" (1988) by Van Halen - The first two are both from the album 5150 which is the first released after Sammy Hagar replaced David Lee Roth on lead vocals.
21. "Love Plus One" (1982) by Haircut 100
20. "Making Love Out of Nothing At All" (1983), "Lost In Love" (1980), "All Out of Love" (1980) & "The One That You Love" (1981) by Air Supply - The Australian duo of Graham Russell and Russell Hitchcock have made a career off of love songs including eight Top 10 hits.
19. "Sowing the Seeds of Love" (1989) by Tears for Fears - Curt Smith said this was probably the most complete song they'd done as far as writing AND production working so well together in my interview with him.
18. "Love My Way" (1982) by The Psychedelic Furs
17. "If It Isn't Love" (1988), "Helplessly in Love" (1987), "Lost in Love" (1984) & "Popcorn Love" (1983) by New Edition
16. "You Can't Hurry Love" (1982) & "Groovy Kind of Love" (1988) by Phil Collins - Both are cover versions of the 1966 Supremes and 1965 Mindbenders songs respectively.
15. "The Glory of Love" (1986) by Peter Cetera - This was the first single released after he left Chicago to pursue a solo career and was featured in the film The Karate Kid Part II.
14. "I Want to Know What Love Is" (1984) by Foreigner - The song, written by Mick Jones, was the first and only to reach #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 for the band and features backing vocals by Jennifer Holliday, Tom Bailey (of The Thompson Twins) and the New Jersey Mass Choir of the GMWA.
13. "What's Love Got To Do With It" (1984) by Tina Turner - This song was a huge success serving notice of Turner's comeback and received three Grammy Awards including Record of the Year, Song of the Year, and Best Female Pop Vocal Performance.
12. "Bizarre Love Triangle" (1986) by New Order
11. "Look of Love" (1982) by ABC
10. "Chains of Love" (1988) by Erasure - After much success in the UK, this became Erasure's mainstream breakthrough in the U.S. peaking at #12 on the Billboard Hot 100.
9. "Pride (In the Name of Love)" (1984) by U2 - The first single released from the Unforgettable Fire album, most listeners know it was written about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., but many might not know that The Pretenders' Chrissie Hynde actually sings backing vocals on the track.
5. "Lessons in Love" (1986) by Level 42 - In my interview with Mark King, he confirmed that they rushed this song to be released because a female German artist was going to release her version before them and the Level 42 version ended being #1 in Germany for seven weeks.
4. "Do You Believe In Love" (1982) & "The Power of Love" (1985) by Huey Lewis & the News
3. "Modern Love" (1983) by David Bowie
2. "Let My Love Open the Door" (1980) by Pete Townshend - This song came from his first totally solo album, Empty Glass, which also was his most successful outside of The Who and peaked at #9 on the Billboard Hot 100.
1. "Your Love" (1986) by The Outfield - The second single released from their triple-platinum debut album, Play Deep, it peaked at #6 on the Billboard Hot 100 and has always been one of my favorite songs of the decade despite a subject matter I do not personally relate to. All I need to hear is the first couple of notes and I am immediately transported back to 1986 and that is just one example of the magic of music.
There's my list. I included the videos for the top 5, but you can surely find many of the others on YouTube. These are based on my personal preferences and the order could very well change a little depending on my mood on a given day. I'm sure I might have missed some all together. Are there any 80s songs with the word "love" in the title that you feel I have overlooked? If so or if you'd rank any differently, please leave them in the comments section below or on Facebook. There are several songs that just missed being in the 80s which would've surely made the list like "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" by Queen and "After the Love Has Gone" by Earth, Wind & Fire from 1979 or many in 1990 like "Cradle of Love" by Billy Idol or "Love Will Lead You Back" by Taylor Dayne. This does not even include the songs about love that don't use the word in the title or the ones using variations of the word like loving or lovers. They say that love makes the world go 'round. Well at least now you have 80 songs from the 80s that help prove that is the case when it comes to music. "Love is a many splendored thing" and as the Beatles so eloquently sang back in 1967, "All You Need is Love". It goes without saying, I LOVE the 80s.
That does it for another issue of Kickin' it Old School. Thanks so much for reading. If you are interested in reading more of my Top 10 lists, please click there for a summary. If you are interested in reading any of my other 80s related issues, please click there for a summary of those. You can also always click on the Archives in the upper left hand column or use the Google Search Box at the top of the right hand column to find any other issues you may have missed. If you are a fan of Kickin' it, PLEASE CLICK ON THE FACEBOOK LOGO in the upper right hand column. This will take you to the Fan Page where I ask you to then click on the "Like" button. Even if you are not a Facebook member yet, please consider joining and registering as a fan at that page. You can also follow @OldSchool80s on Twitter by clicking on the FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER LOGO also in the upper right hand column. This will take you the page and you can just click on the box that says "Follow". I am sending daily 80s tweets, so sign up to get those. Let other 80s fans know about it as well! Peace and much love.
Check this out: I'm not endorsing this company necessarily at all, but I do love their use of many of my favorite cartoon characters in this ad which debuted during the Super Bowl. I am sure you will recognize many of the characters, but I was most impressed to see Voltron standing there joining the others at the end. Enjoy...
Quote of the day: "The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart." -Helen Keller
Whitney Houston was an artist that burst onto the scene in the mid-80s with a voice that was seldom, if ever, heard before. She became a major part of the soundtrack of our lives and her music touched so many people at so many levels. I was deeply saddened to hear of her surprising and tragic death on February 11, 2012 at just the age of 48. I felt the need to give her music a tribute that it so richly deserves, so a Top 10 list is certainly in order. Of course, this list will focus on her 80s music though her career continued to climb well into the 90s and beyond.
Houston released her self-titled debut album in 1985 and it went on to sell over 25 million copies worldwide, going 13x platinum in the U.S. and holding the top spot on the Billboard album chart for 14 weeks. It included three #1 singles and she stretched that out to a record-breaking streak of seven straight #1 singles with the first four released from her second album. Whitney was released in 1987 and would go 9x platinum selling over 22 million worldwide. It goes without saying that her career was off to an incredibly impressive start and took the 80s by storm. She even added a successful Christmas song and the theme song for the 1988 Olympics in for good measure. So without further ado, here are OLD SCHOOL'S TOP 10 WHITNEY HOUSTON SONGS OF THE 80s:
10. "Do You Hear What I Hear?" (1987) from A Very Special Christmas - One of the best renditions ever recorded of this holiday classic. You can find out more about this charity effort with my special issue on the album.
9. "I Wanna Dance With Somebody (Who Loves Me)" (1987) from Whitney - This was one of her seven straight singles to reach #1 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was the second Whitney Houston song written by George Merrill and Shannon Rubicam of Boy Meets Girl and they discussed it a little in my interview with them.
8. "Where Do Broken Hearts Go" (1987) from Whitney - This was the final #1 single in her incredible streak of seven straight. Though the streak was broken, she would hit the top spot again four more times with the next being "I'm Your Baby Tonight" in 1990.
7. "So Emotional" (1987) from Whitney - This was the first #1 single of 1988 and was written by Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly, who also penned Madonna's "Like a Virgin", Cyndi Lauper's "True Colors", Heart's "Alone" and The Bangles' "Eternal Flame", all of which also reached #1 on the charts.
6. "You Give Good Love" (1985) from Whitney Houston - This was the first single released from her debut album in February and achieved unexpected crossover pop success peaking at #3 on the Billboard Hot 100 near the end of July.
5. "Saving All My Love For You" (1985) from Whitney Houston - Many do not know that this is actually a cover version of this song originally recorded by Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis, Jr. It became Houston's first #1 single on October 26, 1985 and won her the Grammy for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance as well.
4. "How Will I Know" (1985) from Whitney Houston - This song was also written by George Merrill and Shannon Rubicam of Boy Meets Girl and was originally intended for Janet Jackson. You can find out a little more in my interview with them. It reached #1 on February 15, 1986 and held the top spot for two weeks.
3. "One Moment in Time" (1988) from Olympics '88: The Album - This song was written by Albert Hammond and John Bettis and, with Houston's vocal, they don't get much more inspirational than this. Released in August, it was not surprisingly a worldwide hit going on to peak at #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in November of 1988.
2. "Didn't We Almost Have It All" (1987) from Whitney - This was her fifth consecutive #1 single reaching the top spot on September 26, 1987 and staying there for two weeks. The single achieved this success despite not having an official music video. It was widely speculated that the song is about Houston's relationship with then NFL star Randall Cunningham.
1. "The Greatest Love of All" (1985) from Whitney Houston - This was actually a cover of a George Benson song from 1977 which ranks highly on my Top Cover Songs of the 80s list. It was the fourth hit single and third #1 when it reached the top spot on May 17, 1986 and held there for three weeks. To me, this song epitomizes the power, spirit and soul in Whitney Houston's music.
There's my list. It pretty much includes all of her big hits from the decade, but if there any 80s songs that you feel I have overlooked or if you'd rank any differently, please leave that in the comments section below or on Facebook. This does not even include The Bodyguard soundtrack which might be considered her greatest success. That 1992 soundtrack has gone on to be one of the best-selling albums of all time being certified 17x platinum and selling over 44 million copies worldwide. It included her iconic version of "I Will Always Love You" which held the #1 spot on the charts for 14 weeks. This has helped Houston to her rank as currently the 15th all-time best-selling musical artist in the world.
Though she undoubtedly was no longer what she used to be, the world lost an amazing voice and remarkable artist. At least we have these wonderful songs to always remember her by and I will remember the good. As I said earlier, she was a part of the soundtrack of our lives. Our thoughts and prayers are with her family and friends. Rest in peace, Whitney Houston.
That does it for this issue of Kickin' it Old School. Thanks so much for reading. If you are interested in reading more of my Top 10 lists, please click there for a summary. If you are interested in reading any of my other 80s related issues, please click there for a summary of those. You can also always click on the Archives in the upper left hand column or use the Google Search Box at the top of the right hand column to find any other issues you may have missed. If you are a fan of Kickin' it, PLEASE CLICK ON THE FACEBOOK LOGO in the upper right hand column. This will take you to the Fan Page where I ask you to then click on the "Like" button. Even if you are not a Facebook member yet, please consider joining and registering as a fan at that page. You can also follow @OldSchool80s on Twitter by clicking on the FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER LOGO also in the upper right hand column. This will take you the page and you can just click on the box that says "Follow". I am sending daily 80s tweets, so sign up to get those. Let other 80s fans know about it as well! Peace and much love.
Check this Out: Though it did not happen in the 80s, Whitney Houston's 1991 rendition of the National Anthem prior to Super Bowl XXV is one of the best and most stirring of all time. It was performed on January 27, 1991 just 10 days into the Persian Gulf War. Due to the overwhelming response of the patriotic nation, it was released as a single with all proceeds going to charity. The single was re-released again in 2001 after the September 11th attacks with proceeds once again going to charity. Here is that inspiring performance...
Quote of the day: "To live in the hearts we leave behind is not to die." -Thomas Campbell
This is the 52nd official issue of my 80s Video of the Week which I call "Flashback Videos." Haven't had many of these lately as interviews have been my main focus over the last year or so. As a reminder, these issues will not include the usual "Check this out" or "Quote of the day" sections at the end like normal issues of Kickin' it Old School usually do.
February 6, 2012 is the 50th birthday of William Bruce Rose, Jr. He is much better known now as Axl Rose, lead singer of Guns N' Roses. Normally, I have tried to some big special issues for artists celebrating the big 5-0, like Prince, Madonna, Bono, Simon LeBon and Bryan Adams to name some. Though there weren't too many bands bigger than Guns N' Roses for a short while in the late 80s into the early 90s, I just don't feel that Axl deserves the same treatment. I did not want to ignore it all together, either, so I decided to at least give him a Flashback Video issue for what I feel is one of the best songs of my lifetime.
In March 1985, Rose and his former band mate Tracii Guns formed Guns N' Roses by merging their respective bands Hollywood Rose and L.A. Guns. By June of that year, after several line-up changes, the band consisted of Rose on lead vocals, lead guitarist Slash, rhythm guitarist Izzy Stradlin, bassist Duff McKagan and drummer Steven Adler. The band signed with Geffen Records in March of 1986 and would release their debut album, Appetite for Destruction, in July of 1987. The album, which is included on many best of lists, has sold over 28 million copies worldwide with 18 million of those coming in the U.S. making it the best-selling debut album of all-time in the United States. This was driven in particular by three hit singles including "Welcome to the Jungle", "Paradise City" and "Sweet Child o' Mine".
The story behind "Sweet Child o' Mine" is that it surprisingly came together quickly during a jam session. Rose heard Slash warming up (and only goofing around) with that recognizable riff and he began writing lyrics which he based on his then-girlfriend Erin Everly. With Adler's added drum part, Stradlin's chords and McKagan's bassline the harmony became the core of the song. They decided they needed a final dramatic breakdown, but weren't sure what to do. Axl started saying to himself, "Where do we go? Where do we go now?" Producer Mike Clink suggested that he just sing that and it put the final touches on what turned out to be an amazing song. It was released as a single in August of 1988 and hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 less than a month later on September 10th. This week's Flashback Video is "Sweet Child o' Mine" by Guns N' Roses...
Though they would have lots of other hits, "Sweet Child o' Mine" would be the band's first and only #1 single. Sadly, by the late 90s, tensions within the band grew to the point that all of the original members had left and Axl Rose basically became a recluse. In January 2001, he resurfaced with a new line-up of Guns N' Roses which was largely panned by critics and Rose would withdraw from public view for a second time. In November 2008, fifteen years after their last album, Guns N' Roses released Chinese Democracy and has been touring the world. Other than Rose and much of the set list, the band is Guns N' Roses in name only now.
But they did have it going on at the end of my favorite decade and created one of the best songs of my lifetime during that time. I am proud that this song came from the 80s, though I would certainly not classify it as an 80s sound. I want to take this opportunity to wish Axl Rose a very happy 50th birthday and thank him for helping to bring us "Sweet Child o' Mine".
That'll wrap up this issue of Kickin' it Old School. Thanks for reading. If you are interested in reading any of my other 80s related issues, please click there for a summary of those. If you want to see the past issues of Flashback Videos, just type that into the Google Search Box at the top of the right hand column and it should give you a list of most of them. You can also always click on the Archives in the upper left hand column or use that Google Search Box to find any past issues or topics you may have missed. If you are a fan of Kickin' it, PLEASE CLICK ON THE FACEBOOK LOGO in the upper right hand column. This will take you to the Fan Page where I ask you to then click on the "Like" button. Even if you are not a Facebook member yet, please consider joining and registering as a fan at that page. You can also follow Old School on Twitter by clicking on the FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER LOGO also in the upper right hand column. This will take you the page and you can just click on the box that says "Follow". Even though the blog only updates a few times a month now, I try to send out daily 80s tweets. Let other 80s fans know about it as well! Peace and much love.
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