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Flashback #1: "He's gone, 2000 miles, Is very far. The snows falling down. It's colder day by day."
In 1983, Chrissie Hynde and the Pretenders released their most famous holiday song, as many people believe it tells the story of two people separated over the holidays. However, it was not inspired by, or even intended to reflect, Christmas in any way. Instead, "2000 Miles" was written for for James Honeyman-Scott, the Pretenders' original guitarist who died in 1982 from heart failure caused by a cocaine overdose. It was released as the preceding single for the band's 1984 album, Learning to Crawl. It peaked at #15 in the UK, and it was the B-side for the US release of the hit single, "Middle of the Road." As I mentioned previously, "2000 Miles" is considered a Christmas song, so it has found its way onto many compilation albums. I've included the video of The Pretenders' December 1983 performance of the song on Top of the Pops. But there is also an excellent acoustic version with strings from their 1995 unplugged album, Isle of View.
Flashback #2: "I met a man who lives in Tennessee | And he was headin' for Pennsylvania | And some home made pumpkin pie."
Our next flashback isn't technically from the 80s. However, because it was part of my childhood Christmas memories, and because there was a 1984 CD reissue, I have proclaimed that the Carpenters' Christmas Portrait (1978) qualifies for inclusion here!
The Carpenters released two Christmas albums, but only Christmas Portrait was released while Karen Carpenter was alive. The original LP had a total of 17 tracks (nine on Side A and eight on Side B). The 1984 CD is a 21-track compendium of songs from Christmas Portrait and An Old-Fashioned Christmas (1984), which was started because Richard Carpenter found a bunch of unused tracks from the recording sessions for the 1978 album. Now, because hating the Carpenters was kind of a mandatory thing, I might be giving up some of my coolness cred (if I even have any) by professing my love for this album. But the Carpenter siblings really did a beautiful job here. Karen's voice is in fine shape and Richard's arrangements and production are top notch. These songs are nostalgic without being overly corny. For our second flashback, I have selected "(There's No Place Like) Home for the Holidays" because it fits the ideas of distance and travel and family that I set in the opening for this week. This video uses footage from the band's second Christmas TV special which aired on ABC on December 19, 1978. As you can see, Karen was pretty far along in her anorexia by this point in her career. She would pass away in less than five years after this special aired. Her death did serve to bring more awareness to eating disorders.
Flashback #3: "I take a look at the driver next to me | He's just the same | Just the same | Top to toe in tailbacks | Oh, I got red lights all around. | I'm driving home for Christmas, yea | Get my feet on holy ground."
Our final Flashback of the day, "Driving Home for Christmas," is lifted from the 12/17/2010 Flashback post. This song was originally released in 1988 (on The Christmas EP), and it enjoyed a re-release in 2007. It broke the top 100 in the UK both times. Anyone who has tried to drive home for Christmas, especially in or around a major city, will certainly resonate with Chris Rea's "car version of a carol."
Once again, I remind you that the rule of three applies when doing Flashbacks. As I've made my three offerings, that's all till next week. Dedicated 80s-philes can find more flashbacks 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.
I'll see you in seven for another Flashback! Until then, be safe in your travels!