Friday, January 14, 2011

Friday 80s Flashback for January 14, 2011

[MLK] -- Let me begin with an apology: I'm sorry this week's flashback is only getting posted during Friday's last few minutes. Unfortunately, my day job required more of my time than usual. I can't promise it won't happen again, but I will do my best to keep such occurrences to a minimum.

So, where were we? Oh, yes! This week's flashback.

Many folks are enjoying a three-day weekend because they are employed at a business that observes Martin Luther King Day, a celebration of the life and work of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. So, I figured that it would be great to kick off the weekend with 80s songs about, inspired by, or in some way reminiscent of MLK. Now, I do not want to assume that everyone visiting Prophet or Madman for the Friday 80s Flashback knows why MLK is honored with a federal holiday. However, I don't want to spend too much time explaining it either. Fortunately, with sites such as The King Center and MLK Online providing easy access to archival footage, audio clips, service information, etc., I can simply point you in their direction. So, surf on over before festivities begin on Monday. You can even look at them before you delve any further into this week's flashback. 

Go on, I'll wait. 

Oh, you can't wait to find out what songs I have selected to go with this theme? Well, then, read and hear more after the jump.
Flashback #1"How do we show the children of today  |  How to live together as one?"  In 1986, El DeBarge, Fat Boys, Full Force, Grandmaster Mel, Whitney Houston, Kurtis Blow, Stacy Lattisaw, Lisa Lisa, Teena Marie, Menudo (with Ricky Martin), Stephanie Mills, New Edition, Run-D.M.C., James "J.T." Taylor, Whodini, and quite possibly a gaggle of kids from down the street and around the corner joined forces to record an MLK tribute song. (Hey, star-studded charity songs were all the rage after "Do They Know It's Christmas" and "We Are The World"). Although this song was aimed at children (just look at that low-budget "one to grow on" style intro), it was required viewing when I went through the Resident Assistant training program at Penn State. Or, maybe I just happened to see it around the same time. I cannot really be sure one way or the other at the moment. But I am sure "King Holiday" by The Dream Chorus and Holiday Crew will jog a memory or two.

Flashback #2
"For there's another voice crying in the ghetto  |  Another mouth to feed  |  Another heart beating in the ghetto  |  Another soul to set free."  Of course, when you think of Martin Luther King, you think of the marches he led. Our second flashback of the day is not explicitly about King's marches or the civil rights movement. It's not even sung by Americans. But these lads created some of the best protest music of the 80s, and this song is certainly reflects King's spirit and energy. So stand up! It's time to go marching on.

Flashback #3"I had a dream I had an awesome dream  |  People in the park playing games in the dark."  Lionel Richie burst onto the music scene with the Commodores in the late 60s and early 70s. By the late 70s, Richie had broken out as a songwriter for other artists. But you probably remember him as a solo act, one of the most successful of the 80s. His career had pretty much hit the stratosphere by the mid-80s, and then he all but bowed out of the public eye in 1987, citing exhaustion and the need to care for his ailing father. Richie returned to music in 1992 and has enjoyed some measure of popularity, but he never reached the same dizzying heights. His last #1 hit was released in 1985 as the theme song for the film White Nights (and later, in 1986, on his own Dancing on the Ceiling album). If you recall the plot of the movie, then you'll agree that the lyrics of our 3rd flashback, with their message of people getting along and understanding each other, is perfectly in the spirit of MLK's life and work. Here is Lionel Richie with "Say You, Say Me." 

Flashback #4"What more in the name of love?"  Oh, yes, there's a fourth flashback today. Why? Maybe I'm thinking a three-day weekend needs extra music. Maybe I'm trying to make up for the fact that this post is so late. Or maybe, just maybe, I knew I could not do a series of songs for the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King and not include one of the most popular, albeit preachy, songs of the 80s. Released as the first single off The Unforgettable Fire (1984), this is arguably the song that opened the door for U2 to tread their righteous (or, as some would say, holier than thou) path of bombast and faith on the world stage. Were it not for the success of this song, would we see U2, or more accurately their frontman, Bono, as the face of debt-relief for third world countries? That's a riddle harder to crack then determining the exact number of licks it takes to get to the center of a Tootsie-Pop, and it's a mystery we'll have to leave for another day (or flashback). For now, I invite you to tap your foot along with me as I listen to "Pride (In the Name of Love)" -- woolly krackers, they look so young here!

That's all for this week, 80s-philes. Next week we will reinstate the Rule of Three. Enjoy the weekend and watch our for each other. 

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