Lost in the ’80s: Boys Don’t Cry, “Cities On Fire”

Written by Lost in the '80s, Music

Thought they only had one song, didn’t you?

Actually, the British combo Boys Don’t Cry had two full albums and an EP besides their huge hit, “I Wanna Be A Cowboy,” but of course, that’s all they’ll ever be remembered by.  Taken from their full-length debut, the track very nearly hit the Top Ten in America and became one of the most successful independent label releases in years.  MTV adored the video, pop radio wore the song out, and dance floors were packed every time it was spun.

Then came follow-up time.

Since the rest of Boys Don’t Cry’s repertoire wasn’t packed with novelty tunes like “Cowboy,” the group had to rely on one of its more straight-ahead songs, the driving synth-rocker “Cities On Fire” (download) for the second single off their self-titled album.  While it was a bit cliche-ridden (both the lines “The night time’s the right time” and “Listen to the band!” are in the same song!), I have to admit “Cities On Fire” has always been a guilty pleasure of mine ever since I saw it in light rotation on MTV (no one’s posted the video, drat it).  It was one of those 12-inches I hid under my Smiths and Echo & the Bunnymen albums, pulling it out to rock every so often.

Actually, listening to it with 2009 ears, I’m surprised it didn’t do anything on the charts.  It’s still pretty damn catchy and trust me, there was a lot worse crap clogging up the airwaves in 1986, much of it available right here on Popdose!  We aims ta please.

But flop it did, but that didn’t stop the band from scoring a major-label deal with Atlantic Records, who released their second album, Who the Am Dam do You Think We Am (sigh) in 1987.  Nothing caught fire from this set and Boys Don’t Cry went their separate ways, most members becoming successful studio musicians.

The group did score some coin years later though, when they sued Paula Cole for nicking their chorus in the remix version of “Where Have All The Cowboys Gone?”

Fun Trivia You Don’t Give a Shit About:  Boys Don’t Cry did not get their name from the Cure song, but rather from the whispered portion of 10cc’s “I’m Not In Love.”  Now that you have that knowledge, along with their follow-up single, you can finally sleep tonight.

“Cities On Fire” did not chart.

Get Boys Don’t Cry music at Amazon or on Boys Don't Cry