Friday, April 06, 2012

Friday 80s Flashback for April 6, 2012

Year Artwork from ArtGenEeRing

[April 1986 Week 1] -- Hopefully regular 80s-philes realize that this series of weekly blog posts is part music appreciation and (sometimes) part autobiography. Yes, the primary function of these posts is to share my love of 80s music, But I will also, on occasion, share some of my personal memories about growing up in the 80s. I point out this small fact because the collective theme for this month's flashbacks is a little more about me than just my attempt to group songs according to a real or imagined similarity. You see, I will turn 44 at some point in April 2012. So each weekly post this month will have the Friday 80s Flashback featuring music from April 1986: the month in which I turned 18!
Our guide for this month's flashbacks. (Courtesy of

Ready to find out what was on the charts 26 years ago this week? Read and hear more after the break.

Flashback #1"Spare a little candle | Save some light for me."

For the week of April 5, 1986, the #5 song on the Billboard Hot 100 was a "hair ballad" performed by Heart. Written by the songwriting team of Martin Page and Bernie Taupin, this song was Heart's first #1 hit on the US Billboard Hot 100 (reaching the top of the chart on March 22, 1986), as well as their first and only #1 song on the US Adult Contemporary chart. In an unusual turn, guitarist Nancy Wilson, rather than her sister Ann, sings lead. According to Wikipedia, the lyrics speak of a fantasy world into which one can escape the difficulties of real life. That makes sense to me, as I've always felt that the power of this song was in the escapism of dreams. Here is Heart with "These Dreams" off their self-titled 1985 album:

Flashback #2"They come from the cities | And they come from the smaller towns | Beat up cars with guitars and drummers | Goin' crash, boom, bam."

During the first week of April 1986, John Cougar Mellencamp was sitting in the number two position on the US Billboard Hot 100 with the third single from his eighth studio album, Scarecrow (1985). Until I started working on this flashback post, I don't think I ever realized this song had a subtitle: A Salute to '60s Rock. As I was born in the 60s, that subtitle makes this song all the more appropriate to share this week. According to a biography (Born in a Small Town), Mellencamp was reluctant to include this song on Scarecrow as he felt it was too upbeat in comparison to the darker, edgier songs of the album. Fortunately for the record-buying public, he changed his mind. The music video features Mellencamp's band dressed as 60s rockers, but for some reason, he himself does not appear in it. Still, this tribute to a period twenty years earlier than Mellencamp's own still sounds fresh more than two decades later. Here is "R.O.C.K. in the U.S.A."

Flashback #3"Er war ein Punker | Und er lebte in der großen Stadt | Es war Wien, war Vienna | Wo er alles tat."

German lyrics are probably a hint for the casual 80s-phile that our final flashback is by either Nena or Falco. Knowledgeable 80s-philes will realize that Nena's song about balloons hit the charts in 1983, so she can be ruled out for this week's flashback. Dedicated 80s-philes will know there is only one performer who sang about a punk from Vienna, and that guy is Austria's pop star Falco. 26 years ago, Falco rode the #1 spot for three consecutive weeks (March 29 through April 12) with his syncopated ode to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. "Rock Me Amadeus" was Falco's first international hit, topping charts in both the US and Europe, an unusual feat for a performer who sang -- and rapped -- principally in German. It seems fitting that the final flashback this week, the first week of my month-long birthday celebration, is about a prodigy with whom I share many traits (except fame, of course). And it is more than fitting that the music video effortlessly straddles the late 1700s and the mid-1980s: After all, I have always been a man both out of and ahead of my time. 

Even when celebrating my own birth month, the rule of three applies when doing Flashbacks. As I've made my three offerings, that's all till next week. More flashbacks are available in the archives. As always, your comments are welcome on today's, or any other, flashback post. And if you like what I'm doing here, please share the link with your friends. If, however, you don't like the flashback, feel free to share it with your enemies.

And if you are on Twitter, and feel so inclined, please +K my influence in Music on @klout.

I'll see you in seven!

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