Iâ€™m writing this week’s post on a Sunday afternoon. Why is that significant? Because itâ€™s the absolute best day of the week for â€˜80s music. My wife and I end up finding our way to the car around noon every Sunday to flip on her XM and listen to reruns of Casey Kasemâ€™s American Top 40. While itâ€™s nice to hear the countdown in its original form, we both listen specifically for the long-distance dedication.
Quite frankly, it’s the finest moment of â€˜80s radio, and the one thing in the car you’re not allowed to interrupt. Whether real or fake, the dedications are the pinnacle of cheesiness, and thatâ€™s what makes them wonderful. Every Sunday I listen to Casey read the week’s dedication in his finest heartbreaking radio voice, and I canâ€™t help but think to myself how great a long-distance dedication writer I would have been. So I think itâ€™s about time I lived out my dream. Letâ€™s see …
â€œTodayâ€™s long-distance dedication comes to us from a shy 21-year-old girl in the tiny town of Pahrump, Nevada. She writes, â€˜Casey, I have a problem. Iâ€™m in love with a guy that I canâ€™t be with. We met three years ago when I was a senior in high school and our school hired him to be our janitor. Mike is his name and mopping is his game. He could remove gum from the floor like nobodyâ€™s business.
“One night after drama class, he was cleaning the stalls in the ladies’ bathroom and we started talking. It turns out he had dreams of one day owning a McDonald’s, just like me. He was short, kind of ugly, and smelled of bleach, but I slowly fell in love with the guy wearing the rubber gloves anyway. Everything was going great until January of this year, when Mike accidentally ran over a family of ducks with his tractor. He was given three years in prison for his crime.
“I visit him every week despite protests from my family and friends. Even though he told me before he left that fateful morning that he really hated ducks, I know he didnâ€™t mean to hit more than one of them. I just want to let Mike know that I love him and that I will wait for him to be released. Would you please play Rick Dees’ ‘Disco Duck’ for the love of my life and let him know that I miss him every day? Sincerely, Tabitha.â€
What do you think? That would have made it on the air, right?
NEW SOUNDS FOR THE COLLECTION:
The Tourists, Luminous Basement
Michael Wycoff, On the Line
Suzy Q, Get On Up Do It Again
This week we move on to artists whose names begin with the letter D, as we continue looking at the bottom 60 percent of the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the â€˜80s.
â€œSay It, Say Itâ€ — 1986, #70 (download)
â€œSay It, Say Itâ€ was put into my mind long before I ever purchased the song for my collection. It had to be around 2003 or so when I spent every Wednesday night at Steppyâ€™s Bar & Grille in Norristown, Pa., where DJ George would host sports and music trivia for four hours each week. Heâ€™d give some sports trivia question, then play a song, and you had to answer the question and name the song and the artist by the time it ended. He must’ve had a little thing for E.G. Daily, because â€œSay It, Say Itâ€ was played far more than it should’ve been. Itâ€™s not a bad song, but hearing it as part of trivia night in 2003 was the first time I’d encountered it. Needless to say, I didnâ€™t know the answer the first time, but by the 30th time I was an expert on E.G. Daily’s music. Of course, one doesnâ€™t have to listen to very many of her tracks to call himself that.
Daily seemed to be quite a catch back in the day, having dated Nicolas Cage and George Clooney. Then again, she also dated Andrew â€œDiceâ€ Clay and Kato Kaelin, not to mention she was married to Rick Salomon, who provided us with Paris Hiltonâ€™s best movie to date — 1 Night in Paris. Taste is subjective, I guess.
â€œFree Meâ€ is the type of song that I would usually hate, but I have a soft spot for it. As I was listening to it again, I realized how awesome it is around the three-minute mark, when Daltrey screams â€œFree me!” so loud his voice almost cracks. Written by Russ Ballard, itâ€™s from the great soundtrack to McVicar (starring Daltrey). Everything after McVicar was very hit-or-miss, though. There are a lot of moments that I really dig on both 1984â€™s Parting Should Be Painless and 1985â€™s Under a Raging Moon, but neither album is worth a front-to-back listen. â€œAfter the Fire,â€ written by Pete Townshend, is a highlight of this period; the Bryan Adams-penned â€œLet Me Down Easyâ€ is not.
â€œShe Did Itâ€ — 1981, #69 (download)
Michael Damian’s cover of Eric Carmen’s “She Did It” is by far the best song Iâ€™ve heard by him. Last week I mentioned how Cugini’s “Let Me Sleep Alone” was the hardest thing to find for my collection so far, but “She Did It” was even harder to locate. At least Cugini was on Scotti Brothers, which had some successful artists on it. This track was a one-off 45 on some label called Leg. In fact, “She Did It” is Leg 007, which either means the people running the label were Bond fans or they issued at least six other releases.
â€œRappinâ€™ Rodneyâ€ — 1983, #83 (download)
Dangerfield won a Grammy in 1984 for his comedy album No Respect, featuring his only single, â€œRappinâ€™ Rodneyâ€ (â€œTalkinâ€™ Rodneyâ€ would’ve been a more accurate title). Personally, I will always remember Dangerfield not for his â€œI donâ€™t get no respectâ€ line but for his “triple Lindy” dive as Thornton Melon in the classic movie Back to School (1986).
Terence Trent Dâ€™Arby
â€œIf You Let Me Stayâ€ — 1987, #68 (download)
Terence Trent Dâ€™Arby is dead, or so he wants you to believe. In 2001 he legally changed his name to Sananda Maitreya and pronounced his original self deceased. I remember being one of the millions who bought his debut record, Introducing the Hardline According to Terence Trent Dâ€™Arby, after hearing the ridiculously great â€œWishing Wellâ€ (which could definitely use a good remastering). I also remember thinking both D’Arby and his music were kind of strange, and having listened to some of Maitreya’s recent tracks, I can tell you it hasnâ€™t gotten any less weird over time.
â€œWordsâ€ — 1983, #62 (download)
This was F.R. Davidâ€™s only hit, and though it didnâ€™t do much in the U.S., it went to #2 in the UK and supposedly has sold over eight million copies worldwide. In 1999 David did what any self-respecting man living off one song would do: he recorded a dancier, more modern version of “Words.”
David & David
â€œAinâ€™t So Easyâ€ — 1987, #51 (download)
A tragically underrated song by a tragically underrated band, from Welcome to the Boomtown, a tragically underrated album. We started talking about David & David in a previous Bottom Feeders, and I know there are plenty of fans out there, so I expect there to be another lively discussion this week.
Jimmy Davis & Junction
â€œKick the Wallâ€ — 1987, #67 (download)
This is a pretty good song from a guy whoâ€™s a whole lotta country at heart. Davis has written tracks for country artists like Martina McBride and Restless Heart, and has been part of a roots-rock group called the RiverBluff Clan, but this nice slab of rock was Junctionâ€™s only hit song.
One of my secret favorites of the decade, â€œItâ€™s Hard to Be Humbleâ€ is like the story of Steed.
Oh Lord, itâ€™s hard to be humble
When youâ€™re perfect in every way
I canâ€™t wait to look in the mirror
‘Cause I get better lookinâ€™ each day
To know me is to love me
I must be a hell of a man
Oh Lord, itâ€™s hard to be humble
But Iâ€™m doinâ€™ the best that I can
â€œDonâ€™t Tell Me the Timeâ€ — 1987, #80 (download)
This is a pretty disappointing solo debut from the Motels frontwoman. Itâ€™s a punchless pop song lacking any of the edginess that the Motels showed on their All Four One and Little Robbers albums.
â€œCry Just a Littleâ€ — 1980, #78 (download)
Back in April, after Paul Davis passed away, Jason Hare posted a rerun of Adventures Through the Mines of Mellow Gold focusing on the singer. Give that another peek as you listen to â€œCry Just a Little.â€
â€œAre You Seriousâ€ — 1982, #57 (download)
Tyrone Davis had been releasing hits since 1965, and while his output and chart success had slowed down by ’82, he was still able to make some quality music. He should have had another hit in ’84 with the excellent â€œLet Me Be Your Pacifier,â€ but he couldnâ€™t get the necessary promotional push from his label, Ocean Front Records.
â€œI Surrenderâ€ — 1981, #71 (download)
As far as I can tell, â€œI Surrenderâ€ is the only single Day released from his only LP, Surrender.
â€œThe Oak Treeâ€ — 1985, #65 (download)
My wife hates this song. Actually, itâ€™s more like she hates me when this song comes on. See, if youâ€™ve read this series for a while, you know Iâ€™m a fan of the funk. My favorite artist is also Prince, so any of his protegÃ©s, side projects, and lingerie-clad women interest me as well. Morris Day & the Time were, of course, the most talented and biggest of any acts associated with Prince, and recorded some of my favorite songs of all time, like â€œThe Birdâ€ and â€œC-O-O-L.â€ The reason my wife hates me when this song comes on is because for the rest of the week at random times I start screaming, â€œOak tree!â€
Iâ€™ll be walking in the supermarket picking up a box of crackers and Iâ€™ll yell, â€œOak tree!â€ Just the other day, when I saw that “The Oak Tree” was going to be part of this week’s post, I was playing Madden â€™09, and after a nice run from Eagles running back Brian Westbrook I shouted, â€œOak tree!â€ Can you see why my wife gets annoyed?
Best song — Morris Day, â€œThe Oak Treeâ€
Worst song — Martha Davis, â€œDonâ€™t Tell Me the Timeâ€
Next week weâ€™ll gender-bend and finally get to talk about tracks from one of the most-talked about artists in this series.