Month: August 2023 (Page 1 of 2)

Reader’s Notebook, 8/30/23

Rememberings – Sinéad O’Connor
After O’Connor’s death, there were many references to her autobiography, most of which came with the comment that it was a fantastic read.

Those recommendations were right on.

This is one of the best musician autobiographies I’ve ever read. It’s frank, funny, and frightening although also incomplete. O’Connor admits that a long stretch of her life after that tumultuous period in 1990–91 is lost to her. Which is a shame, because she is often shockingly honest about other parts of her life, and it would have been fascinating to read how she dealt with the years when much of the western world thought she was the embodiment of evil. Alas, I can understand why she was either unable or unwilling to dive deeply into those years.

Much of the book is laugh-out-loud funny, though. Especially when she writes as she talks. For example, she made no secret that she enjoyed having sex with a variety of men over the years. She wrote that people thought she was a “hooer” because of her number of relationships. Every time she used that word, she spelled it that way. It made me laugh every time.

She also mentioned that there was a man she was in love with because he was so beautiful and kind, but that he was “…as gay as Christmas” and nothing ever happened. I laughed for awhile after that line.

That humor balances out the truly terrible moments in her life, which she writes about just as openly as the funny moments. It is truly a shame the world turned its back on Sinéad, and not just because we lost having her voice be part of popular music.

Crook Manifesto – Colson Whitehead
The follow-up to Whitehead’s excellent Harlem Shuffle, it again follows Harlem furniture salesman Ray Carney. He has gone legit, turning his back on the fencing career that supplemented his regular income as he climbed into the middle class of Black New York. When his daughter begs him for tickets to see the Jackson 5 at Madison Square Garden in 1971, he calls up his old police contact, knowing he’ll have a line on admission to the sold-out show. That call soon has Carney chin-deep in the crooked world again.

The book follows a similar path to Harlem Shuffle, just updated for era and with a few more twists. What makes it great is Whitehead’s writing. There aren’t many better crafters of fiction around these days. His words constantly delight. There are so many sly little turns of phrase that I missed at first glance, then had to back up and re-read when they struck me moments later. A fine story written with amazing skill.

The Guest – Emma Cline
From my casual scanning of the web, people either love or hate this book. And I totally get why it pushes people either way.

Alex is an escort who has turned a New York City client into a summer-long relationship. Through a series of dumb choices on her part, he kicks her out of his beach home the week before Labor Day. All she has is a bag of clothes he bought her – even the bag was a gift – a few hundred dollars in her account, a glitchy phone, and a train ticket back to the city. A place she does not want to return to lest the guy she stole drugs and money from earlier in the year find her and exact his revenge.

She believes if she can just survive the week, she can show up at her former lover’s Labor Day party, all will be forgiven, and she can get settle back into the comfortable existence she had been enjoying.

Naturally that week goes off the rails quickly and often.

The split regarding this book is all about how people feel about Alex. Some view her as a survivor, a woman who ended up on a difficult path and is forced to reckon with a world that is hostile to her. Others view her as a grifter who uses people in endless ways to get what she wants no matter how much wreckage she leaves in her wake.

I did not like Alex at all. I think she is selfish and cruel. But I was also all-in on her journey. Not that I wanted her to find happiness or tranquility necessarily. I wanted to see how bad her predicament got along the way and how the story would eventually resolve. While I viewed Alex as an awful person, I did admire her instinct for self preservation, even if her choices led to even bigger problems down the road. In a better person that could be an amazing gift. In Alex it just made for an engaging novel that I couldn’t put down.

Tuesday Links

This is kind of a weird piece. I would put passing on Breaking Bad or Arrested Development’s disastrous fourth season in the same category as the networks calling Florida for Al Gore in 2000. And I’m not sure the numbers next to some of these match their significance. It is a pop culture list, though, and you all know how I love those.

The 50 Worst Decisions in TV History

Does the world need a fairly academic accounting of the making of Anchorman? Probably not. I would have rather this be a more humorous look inside one of the funniest movies ever. I still enjoyed it despite the extremely dry tone.

‘Let’s Let the Squirrel Out of the Bag’ On the Anchorman set, improv-comedy masters had the freedom to reimagine the film one line at a time.

With the US Open starting, it’s the perfect moment for this profile of the last American man to win a Grand Slam. Which still seems nuts – 20 years ago! – even having lived through the Federer-Nadal-Djokovic era.

Andy Roddick’s Open Era

We’ll wrap it up with two posts about regionalism in the US.

Midwesterners love to complain about East Coast Bias. Often rightly so. But here’s an area where the East, specifically the North East, gets something 100% correct.

‘Back to school’ means anytime from late July to after Labor Day, depending on where in the U.S. you live

Fascinating stuff here. Growing up we were a solid 6:00 for Dinner family. You watched Tom Brokaw, then you ate. In our early years together, S and I usually ate around 7:00. But once we had kids that turned into 5:00. As they got older that bumped back to 6:00, which had been pretty steady until the past year, when I’ve tried to nudge it more towards 6:30. Looks like we fit right in the window for “normal” across the US.

When is Dinner, By State

Weekend Notes

Not the most exciting weekend of the year. I feel obligated to share the minor doings anyway, since that’s kind of our thing here.

HS Football

Number two Cathedral went west of town to Brownsburg, where they went 1–1 last year, to face the #5 Bulldogs. Last August CHS fell behind 21–0 before making a furious comeback that fell short, losing 42–35.

This year they started better – although they gave up an 80 yard TD pass on the first defensive possession of the game – and led 17–14 late in the second quarter.

But a BHS touchdown just before the half gave them the lead, they added 17 unanswered points in the third quarter, and won 45–31.

Not a great night for the Irish. The defense gave up too many big plays, the receivers dropped a lot of balls, and the quarterback threw two interceptions which made his over 400 yards of total offense kind of moot.

L went to the game. She said it was miserable. Like most games in the area, the start was pushed back to 7:30 to give the kids some break from the heat. Not sure it mattered all that much.

College Football

This week zero thing is dumb. If there are going to be games, there should be GAMES. Not the tease of Navy-Notre Dame and then a bunch of crap teams playing. Oh, I guess USC played, but since it was on the Pac–12 network no one saw it. Which explains why half of that conference is fleeing for other leagues.

I watched a chunk of the Notre Dame game. Gorgeous stadium in Dublin. Be nice if they painted the sidelines so they were visible. I wondered what the cost was to fly the football team, its support staff, and the entire band to Ireland and put them up for a few days. I’m sure NBC and Guinness handled some of those expenses.

My big takeaway from the game was questioning whether they had Irish people who know nothing about football operating the cameras. Multiple times after the snap, the main camera would follow a receiver who was racing down the field while the ball was still in the backfield. Weird and distracting. At least this wasn’t a close or important game.


We survived our week of heat. It ended up being less than intense than predicted, only because each morning was cloudy and breezy, and held the heat back a few hours. But each afternoon was pretty blistering, especially Thursday and Friday. I believe our heat index was near 120 both days. Turns out I’m glad I don’t have one-to-three girls playing kickball on asphalt parking lots this year. Our pool got as warm as 93°, which is right on the edge of miserable.

The heat broke Friday night, though, and Saturday and Sunday were terrific days for sitting around the pool. It was in the 80s Saturday, high 70s Sunday, and the humidity had faded by Sunday morning. As I type this Monday morning it is 58°. It looks like we have 4–5 days of super nice weather before the heat builds again next weekend.

Friday Playlist

“Make It Work” – Swiss Banks
Holy Smiths tribute! Or is it an Interpol tribute? The vocals are straight out of the Morrissey school. But musically, this song is way closer to Interpol than The Smiths. Interesting combination. I think it works.

“Different Now” – Courtney Barnett covering Chastity Belt
It’s been awhile since I’ve enjoyed one of Barnett’s new songs. It took a cover to get me back on board. It still has that Barnett minimalism in the music, but I appreciate it taking her a different direction lyrically.

“the slab” – Slowdive
It is still a little crazy these Shoegaze legends went away for over 20 years, then came back making music as good as anything from their early days. After another six-year hiatus, they are returning with LP #5.

“Melancholy Molly” – Seablite
There’s definitely some ’90s Shoegaze in this San Francisco band’s sound, although it leans way more towards Lush than Slowdive.

“20 Years and a Nickel” – Hiss Golden Messenger
MC Taylor’s ode to music and how, after 25 years in the business, perfection remains elusive.

“Dig Your Hips” – THE BOBBY LEES
Insert GIF of Beavis and Butthead banging their heads and yelling “YES! YES!”

“august” – Taylor Swift
Man summer goes by fast.

“Complete Control” – The Clash
Joe Strummer would have turned 71 this past Monday. To honor him, perhaps the most Strummer song from the Clash’s catalog: a song complaining that their record company released a song the band didn’t want released.

Ranking Shit: Old Man Stuff

Time for another entry in the (very) occasional Ranking Shit series. This time I’m going to rank a few of my Old Man Tendencies that have popped up, or grown stronger, in recent years.

5 – Fussy About the Dishwasher
I’ve set some very clear standards on how our dishwasher should be loaded. But the other three (sometimes four) people who live with me just refuse to follow those guidelines. To be clear, if you are a guest at our house and you are kind enough to load the dishwasher after a meal, I do not care how you do it. I will appreciate the gesture. I may correct your effort later in secret, but I will not be annoyed by it. But my immediate family? They all know better.

4 – Fussy About Clothes
It’s a real Larry David situation with me and clothes. If a shirt is off by even a half inch, it can drive me crazy. This includes being a half inch too long, too short, too wide, too narrow. Anything that doesn’t seem to fit perfectly will make me fidgety and cranky. Don’t get me started how one brand’s large is another brand’s extra large is a third brand’s medium…

3 – People Who Get Confused About Trash Day And Holidays
Our trash comes on Tuesdays. I die a little each time I see a neighbor dragging their cans out on Memorial Day, Labor Day, etc.

To be honest, I revel in the smugness that comes with always knowing the proper trash day way more than I get perturbed by those people who can’t get it right.

2 – People Driving Without Headlights When It Is Dark
Seriously, you’re going to kill someone! And headlights are automatic these days: you have made a choice to turn them off. Which makes you an asshole.

This could be a whole section about traffic in general, but this point in particular really gets me going.

1 – I Report A Shitload of Potholes to the Indianapolis Department of Public Works On Their Official App
And then I brag to my daughters when ones that I flagged get repaired. They really love that.

Reaching for the Stars, Vol 89

Chart Week: August 29, 1981
Song: “For Your Eyes Only” – Sheena Easton
Chart Position: #29, 6th week on the chart. Peaked at #4 for for weeks in October and November.

I’ve heard a glut of 1981 countdowns recently. To be honest, it’s a little much. The quirkiness of that era grates rather quickly upon repeated exposure.

However, I did learn something new and amazing in the process.

On a countdown from earlier in the summer of ’81, a bonus track outside the Top 40 added to the new recording was Sheena Easton’s “For Your Eyes Only.” I didn’t like that song much as a kid; I have no love for it as an adult. I believe I was cooking dinner while listening and focused on my work rather than the music.

When it ended the announcer mentioned that it was, of course, the theme to the James Bond picture of the same name. He also stated that Blondie had recorded a song for the movie with the exact same title.

Wait, WHAT?!?! Blondie recorded something for a 007 flick? How had I never heard that before?

After dinner I raced to the computer and started searching. Turns out, the story was true. The production team behind the twelfth Bond film indeed requested that Blondie perform the title song. They wanted the band to record a piece written by Bill Conti, who composed the picture’s score. I bet you’ll recognize another of his themes.

Blondie thought this was a terrible idea. They wanted to write their own music. So they did. They submitted their recording, but it was promptly rejected. The film’s producers pivoted to the rising Scottish artist Sheena Easton, asking her to interpret Conti’s original effort. The rest is history.

Easton’s track peaked at #4 in the US, #8 in the UK, and was nominated for an Academy Award. The producers liked Easton so much that she became the first, and still only artist to appear performing during the movie’s title sequence. Star Roger Moore said she was sexier than any of the Bond Girls in the film.

Blondie put their version of “For Your Eyes Only” on their 1982 album The Hunter, but never released it as a single. The album received some of the worst reviews of their career, it didn’t sell well, and soon the band split up.

Blondie’s record is interesting. You can hear them trying to connect with the vibe of James Bond, especially in the guitars. And I can 100% envision it as the music played under the title sequence. I sense some common threads to a few of the modern Bond themes that are perfectly fine, but basically serve as background music to the visual playgrounds those scenes have become.

However, it also feels flat, lacking the energy and sex appeal of Blondie’s biggest hits. Their idea of cool didn’t really match Bond’s. It doesn’t sound like a hit to me, even if it had made the soundtrack. Let’s call it a 5 and guess it peaks in the 20’s on AT40 had it been the official theme.

Sheena Easton’s tune, on the other hand, kind of sucks. It’s not her fault. While the film was going for a grittier tone to replace the campy direction the franchise took in the 1970s, this ballad is pure, old people pop. It is overly big and dramatic, and often veers into Cheeseland. I’m not sure why they thought a 22-year-old woman was the right person to sing about a 54-year-old spy. Easton has a nice voice, but it’s not big enough to match what this song asks for. You can hear her straining on its grandest moments. It needed some semi-washed up star of the late Sixties who could belt out those big notes. I can’t imagine Deborah Harry singing it, either. It could not be farther away from what she stood for, or what her voice was capable of.

Conti said he had two other singers in mind when he wrote the piece: Donna Summer and Dusty Springfield. Summer would have been an interesting choice. She certainly had the voice, but I’m not sure she was a good match for the vibe either. Especially since she was still considered the Queen of Disco in 1981. But Dusty Springfield? Yes, yes, a thousand times yes! It would have been a perfect, late-career revival for her. Alas…

The Conti/Sheena track gets a 2.

Most of my research for this post came from a single article, written in 2020. I had to laugh when the writer suggested “For Your Eyes Only” was the highlight of Easton’s career. Keep in mind she hit #1 in the US with “Morning Train (Nine to Five).” And, as my two brothers-in-music John N and Ed L immediately noted, had this guy not heard of “Strut” or “Sugar Walls”?

A highlight? Sure. But THE highlight? I don’t think so.

Weekend Notes

Even down a kid, it was a pretty busy week. Although some of that activity was due to the missing kid.

Jinxed Myself

I mentioned in last week’s post that I was off the hook for driving to/from school for awhile. Well, not so fast…

C got rear-ended leaving campus by another student on Monday. No injuries, thankfully. Her car is still drivable, fortunately. But at some point it will go to the shop and stay there for a bit as it gets repaired, putting me back on the daily driving grind.

HS Football

Friday was opening week for high school football in Indiana. I took the girls downtown to watch Cathedral play in Lucas Oil Stadium against Lafayette Jefferson. It was a pretty easy 55–14 win for the #2 Irish. I didn’t think their offensive line looked very good, and there were some holes in the defense at times. But the skill players are very good.

It was a perfect night for football. The Colts were even nice enough to open the roof and window for the fans.

We’ll find out a lot more about how good the Irish are this week when they face Brownsburg, who beat them last August before CHS returned the favor in the regional round of the state playoffs.


Saturday was as nice a day as you could ask for. Sunday we finally got reminded that it is summer, and we have a fairly brutal week ahead of us. Right now it looks like we’ll top 100 at least once, although the heat index was already above 100 yesterday. Last night I walked outside around 11:30 to make sure everything was straightened up around the pool and it felt disgusting. Not sure how we managed to avoid the humidity for so long, but it made me appreciate how great this summer has been even more.

I won’t complain too much as I know a lot of my readers are facing way worse heat, and have been for some time.

New KU Stadium

Kansas finally revealed plans for the new football stadium. There have been so many false starts for a stadium renovation over the years that you always have to take these announcements with a grain of salt. But it seems like this time it’s really going to happen.

I loved the renderings the school released. Yeah, the lights look a little strange, but as long as they work I’m not sure why some people were so fired up about them. The current stadium is a dump and has been a dump for decades. Don’t let the little details get in the way of the big-picture end point of KU having a really nice stadium that is a good place to watch a game for the first time ever.


Pretty cool that the Jayhawks and Illini are taking their “secret” basketball scrimmage – I’m not sure why everyone calls them secret when we all know they are happening – public, moving it to Champaign, and using it as a way to raise money for the people in Maui. Savvy of Illinois to open up ticket sales to KU fans. I guess they think not enough U of I fans will show up just to boo Bill Self to fill the arena.

Brunch With Friends

We were delighted to have bunch Sunday with the Roeders from KC, who dropped their son off at Notre Dame over the weekend. I think all of my friends scattered around the country should send a kid to college in Indiana so we have an excuse to get together.

Rush Week

I’ve saved the biggest topic for last, with M participating in Rush Week at UC.

She gave us periodic updates throughout the week and it always seemed like it was going well. Each time there was a cut, she got called back by the maximum possible number of houses. We talked to her on Thursday, when it was down to five houses, and she told us she had really connected with a girl at one house who said she thought M embodied what their sorority was about. That was her clear #1 choice, but she also had a clear #2 followed by the other three that were a jumble together at the bottom.

Then the #1 house dropped her Saturday going into the final round, which really bummed her out. Her #2 kept her, but she wasn’t crazy about the other house that called her back for the last set of visits. What seemed like a pretty straight-forward week was suddenly very stressful. I’m sure it was more stressful for her being in the midst of it. As parents we were concerned that things wouldn’t work out and she would have a huge disappointment right before classes began.

Fortunately she got an offer from her new #1, Pi Phi. We talked to her Sunday afternoon and she was happy, although very tired and a little sick.

The Pi Phi house is pretty new at UC, only opening in 2010. I don’t know what that means for its quality. She doesn’t know any of the girls in her pledge class, which she thought was good. M’s roommate got into her first choice, and her high school buddy and her roommate both got into houses, so their little friend group all landed on their feet.

After she matched I did some searching to find pictures of the house, info about it, etc. I came across this site that listed the reputations and stereotypes of several of the biggest sororities. This clearly isn’t scientific and we found it hilarious. Pi Phis are said to be a top-tier house, but “fake, social, pretty, and not service-oriented.” That made me laugh. I sent it to her and her response was “Ur fake. And Mid.” Ok, then.

I haven’t told her yet that I knew a few Pi Phis at KU – where it was the oldest house on campus – and they were all super granola rich girls. Like girls who were wearing Birks and flannel before it was cool, but still drove BMWs. Not sure how she’ll take that. She better not expect a BMW.

M’s friends at IU and Miami don’t have rush until the spring semester. I kind of like that system, although having to walk to all the houses in the winter would suck. At least they have a semester to build up a group of relationships as something to fall back on if rush doesn’t work out. If you’re the one girl out of your group who doesn’t get into a house, it can still be awkward, so I guess there’s no perfect way or time to do rush.

Her first college class is at 11:15 today.

Friday Playlist

I must begin this week’s playlist with an apology. Last week I teased that I would be doing something new and exciting this week. Unfortunately that will not happen.

I was going to get back into the world of podcasting, inserting actual vocal segments between songs. I’m not sure anyone needed or wanted to hear my voice, but I was eager to scratch that radio DJ itch I haven’t been able to service since I stopped my “secret” podcast years ago.

This was promoted by learning that Spotify allows you to insert music from their library into podcasts if you publish on their platform. Perfect! No more tracking down individual MP3s, plus I’m covered by Spotify’s licensing of the songs!

Then I tried to record this week’s playlist. I discovered that the resulting podcast only plays songs in full for Spotify Premium users. Not sure how many of you pony up for the higher-tiered service, but those who don’t would only hear 30 second snippets of each song. Which seems kind of dumb.

That’s a big bummer. I’ll keep my eyes open and perhaps eventually there will be a way to legally use streaming tracks with my own recorded comments.

For now you’re stuck with the format that’s worked just fine for quite awhile now.

“Colt” – HighSchool
A lot going on in this track. I like all of it.

“Ghostwriter” – Speedy Ortiz
I recently heard SO leader Sadie Dupuis on an old episode of 60 Songs That Explain the ’90s, and she was awesome. I’m glad she’s still putting out music.

“History Books” – The Gaslight Anthem featuring Bruce Springsteen
I’m old enough to remember when audiences harassed GA lead singer Brian Fallon by screaming “BRUUUUCE” at him, since he seemed like the stylistic heir to Springsteen’s classic sound. Fallon did not always take this well. Now they’re performing together. In fact, Springsteen apparently played a big role in getting the Gaslight Anthem back together after a lengthy hiatus. What a time to be alive!

“The Rope” – Semisonic
Who thought I would be excited about a new Semisonic album in 2023? Of course, since it is 2023, I’ve probably already heard all the best songs and the full album will be a disappointment after the high created by the advance singles.

“Summer of Hell” – The Natvral
The latest entry in our Country or Not series. This song seems apt for this year, although I must say, again, that it might be the best summer for weather I can recall here in Indiana. It is supposed to get hot next week, but we’ve only had a handful of truly miserable days this year. As opposed to my friends who live south and west of here. One friend was moving his daughter into her dorm room in Waco Thursday and the air temperature was 107. I hope that makes the lack of personal income tax worth it.

“They Reminisce Over You (T.R.O.Y.)” – Pete Rock and C.L. Smooth
There have been a lot of great pieces honoring the 50th anniversary of hip hop over the past week. One of my favorite was this video, which breaks down some of the best samples, year-by-year, over that half century. I love the visual aspect to it, showing where each sample came from in original songs and then how they were used in hip hop. As we got closer to 1992 I was hoping they would select this song as their example. Really I’m not sure how you couldn’t pick it, as it is one of the greatest songs of the Nineties, one of the greatest songs in the entire history of hip hop, and also one of the greatest examples of how you can build an entire song on a tiny snippet from an obscure track that catches your ear.

“Radio Free Europe” and “So. Central Rain” – R.E.M.
For some reason I’ve been getting a lot of R.E.M. content lately fed to me lately, in various platforms. Never a bad thing. YouTube spit out this amazing video from the band’s first performance on national TV in 1983.

Thursday Links

Somehow in my highly organized list of future posts,[1] my latest collection of articles to share got bumped out of sight. Which is a shame because two of these are some of the best pieces I’ve read this year and I shouldn’t be sitting on them for over a month before I recommend them.

I have no interest in Robert Kennedy Jr. I think many of his views are abhorrent. But there is the very real chance that he could effect who is elected as our next president in 14 months.

This is a terrific profile of him. I think it’s fair, explores why he has drawn interest from some people with similar politics to my own, and still shows that he’s a loon.

It was hard to pick pull quotes as there were so many passages I loved. These are a couple of my favorites.

That’s not to say Kennedy’s campaign is a joke. He is both an addled conspiracy theorist and an undeniable manifestation of our post-pandemic politics. He is an aging but handsome scion of America’s most storied political family, facing off against an incumbent who many in his own party worry is too old and too unpopular to win a second term. Far from an exile, he is an extremely well-connected person with unparalleled access to the centers of influence in New York, Hollywood, and Washington, D.C., who either has no idea what kind of fire he’s playing with, or does and is therefore an arsonist.

If he were your uncle, you also might try hard not to pick a fight with him at Thanksgiving, or maybe you would eagerly pick a fight with him at Thanksgiving. And maybe you would tussle lightly with your parents and siblings and cousins about whether you felt sorry for him or whether he was actually just an asshole.

But if he were your uncle, he would not be performing surprisingly well in a Democratic presidential primary and gobbling the attention of the national press with his every word. That he is tells us as much about this country’s broken systems as any of his diatribes do.

And then there is the bracing reality that, here in Trump’s America, another clearly damaged man, a man whose own close-knit family has waved red flags about his fitness for office, is getting this far in the anti-Trump party.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr.’s Inside Job

This is a wonderful piece about the nearly 50 year long friendship between Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova. Sometimes sports is the best.

Bitter rivals. Beloved friends. Survivors.

My regular reminder that often The Onion has the best take on recent events.

Back in the year 1823, I decided to become a slave so one day my descendants could steal college admissions slots. It was a tough decision, but boy, did it pay off big-time!

I Decided To Become A Slave So One Day My Descendants Could Steal College Admissions Spots

This final piece is focused on the Tech Toddler, but it could very easily apply to our former president. And lots of other people in the public eye who seem to live from the rush of spouting constant bullshit and having it broadcast to the world without anyone ever calling them on it.

The issue is that these stories are often published without the skepticism that is appropriate to someone who the Securities and Exchange Commission once forced to pay $20 million for saying something that wasn’t true.

It’s time to change how we cover Elon Musk

  1. Not actually very organized at all, obviously.  ↩

Reaching for the Stars, Vol. 88

I talk a lot about how the summer of 1984 was the greatest moment in pop music history, normally backing that up with examples of some of the songs that were on the chart that summer.

As I was listening to a 1984 countdown a couple weeks ago, it struck me again how freaking solid those 40 songs were. There were a few duds, as there are in any countdown. But there were also a ton of timeless tracks that still get heavy airplay on Eighties stations today.

So why not go through a countdown from that summer to see just how loaded it was?

All my music ratings are highly subjective. In this case, I’m taking it to a whole new level of stupidity, rating each song on a highly arbitrary scale that factors in my like/dislike, how big of a hit it was at the time, if it is viewed as that act’s biggest hit, and then if it had a lasting cultural impact. I can’t say that I’ll weigh each of these factors equally from song to song. I’ll rank them on a scale from one-to-five, five being The Unforgettables.

I’m not sure if my ratings would hold up if given any serious, scientific scrutiny. We’re here to have fun, so don’t overthink them.

Here is the chart for the week ending August 11, 1984. That week I would have been in the midst of my month-long visit to my grandparents’ homes in central Kansas, listening on my Pioneer boom box.

(I’ve copied/pasted these straight from the terrific site and kept their formatting because I don’t want to fix it all.)

1 – GHOSTBUSTERS –•– Ray Parker, Jr. Biggest song of his career, theme for one of the biggest movies of the decade. Kitchy and silly, but it still gets played, both ironically and un-ironically. 5

2 – WHEN DOVES CRY –•– Prince Biggest song of the year from the biggest artist of the year. 5

3 – STATE OF SHOCK –•– The Jacksons with Mick Jagger When you think of Michael Jackson, The Jacksons, or Mick Jagger, this will not be very high on the list. All three of them had better songs in 1984. The ending is very cringey. 2

4 – WHAT’S LOVE GOT TO DO WITH IT –•– Tina Turner The song that kicked off the greatest comeback in music history, and the most iconic song of an iconic career. 5

5 – SAD SONGS (Say So Much) –•– Elton John Maybe his best song of the 80s? Top three for sure. 3

6 – STUCK ON YOU –•– Lionel Richie The weakest of his big hits from 1983–84. 2

7 – DANCING IN THE DARK –•– Bruce Springsteen The song that made Bruce BRUCE to the masses. 5

8 – I CAN DREAM ABOUT YOU –•– Dan Hartman I love this song. But I doubt that’s the case for most people. I’m sadly calling it a 3 since I might be the only person in the world who still gets excited when I hear it.

9 – INFATUATION –•– Rod Stewart I bet the video had whatever supermodel he was dating at the time in it. It sure sounds slight and of its time now. Pretty low on his career best list, too. 2

10 – SUNGLASSES AT NIGHT –•– Corey Hart One of these days I’ll write about Corey Hart, who had a better and longer career than most people realize. This is THE song from his career, though. It is a must on any 80s compilation. 5

11 – BREAKIN’… THERE’S NO STOPPING US –•– Ollie & Jerry As with Dan Hartman above, a song I love but was never sticky in the culture. Another sad 3.

12 – MISSING YOU –•– John Waite This is a great song and the biggest of Waite’s solo career. Not quite iconic, but pretty freaking good. 4

13 – IF EVER YOU’RE IN MY ARMS AGAIN –•– Peabo Bryson Mid–80s, lite R&B schmaltz. 1

14 – LEGS –•– ZZ Top When a good video on MTV could make even bearded good ol’ boys from Texas into pop stars. 4

15 – PANAMA –•– Van Halen “Jump” was the bigger hit, but this was the better song. Arguably the band’s peak. 4

16 – EYES WITHOUT A FACE –•– Billy Idol Great track, but “Rebel Yell” or “White Wedding” are what you think of first when you think of Billy. 4

17 – ROUND AND ROUND –•– Ratt Arguably the song that ushered in the glam metal sound that was huge in the back half of the ‘80s. The video that was very popular with dickheads like me. 4

18 – JUMP (For My Love) –•– The Pointer Sisters Nice song, but I bet you think of “Neutron Dance” or “I’m So Excited” way before this. 3

19 – IF THIS IS IT –•– Huey Lewis & The News Did you know they had three-straight singles that peaked at #6 in 1984? Did they make a deal with the devil?!?! Fortunately they had a much bigger hit a year later that keeps us from having to decide which of those ’84 tracks was their finest overall. 4

20 – SHE BOP –•– Cyndi Lauper Good enough song, but her third-best track of 1984. 3

21 – SHE’S MINE –•– Steve Perry I was really into Perry’s first solo album back then. Can’t say the songs beyond “Oh Sherrie” hold up. 2

22 – ROCK ME TONITE –•– Billy Squier As it gave us one of the worst, most cringey videos of all time, it has a special place in history and gets an extra bump. 4

23 – LIGHTS OUT –•– Peter Wolf The first solo hit by the J Geil’s Band’s lead singer. Not super memorable. 2

24 – SEXY GIRL –•– Glenn Frey Yuck. 1

25 – THE WARRIOR –•– Scandal Featuring One of the great one-hit-wonders of the decade. Great song, great video. 5

26 – I’M FREE (Heaven Helps The Man) –•– Kenny Loggins I shared not too long ago that this was the best track on the Footloose soundtrack. Our third 3 that makes me sad.

27 – THE GLAMOROUS LIFE –•– Sheila E. Checks every box you need to check to earn a 5, including being written by Prince.

28 – SELF CONTROL –•– Laura Branigan Sorry, if it ain’t “Gloria” no one is going to remember it. 2

29 – ALIBIS –•– Sergio Mendes White dude yowling pop (Joe Pizzulo sang the lead). 2

30 – ALL OF YOU –•– Julio Iglesias & Diana Ross Oof. 1

31 – LEAVE A TENDER MOMENT ALONE –•– Billy Joel Billy cranked out a lot of hits from his An Innocent Man album. The fact this was the only one not to reach the Top 20 is telling. 2

32 TURN TO YOU –•– The Go-Go’s Pales in comparison to their classic hits. 3

33 DYNAMITE –•– Jermaine Jackson I have a big, soft spot in my heart for this song, mostly because of its goofy ass video. 3

34 DRIVE –•– The Cars What Cars song you think of first is very dependent on your age. Not one of my personal favorites so 3 to me, 4 to the world.

35 LET’S GO CRAZY –•– Prince & The Revolution Prince was so not fucking around in 1984. 5

36 WHEN YOU CLOSE YOUR EYES –•– Night Ranger My personal favorite Night Ranger song. But, come on, mention their name and there’s another song from 1984 that EVERYONE thinks of first. 4 to me, 3 to the world.

37 CRUEL SUMMER –•– Bananarama I really struggled with this one. I can’t decide whether it is a classic of the decade, or just another fun song tied to a very popular movie. I’ll split the difference and call it a 4 but open to arguments that it is either a 3 or 5.

38 ALMOST PARADISE –•– Mike Reno & Ann Wilson I have some good friends that love this song. I think it’s trash. But it was from Footloose and a lot of people probably slow-danced to it with people that were very important to them, so I’ll give it a 2.

39 MY, OH MY –•– Slade Zero memory. Zero cultural relevance. 1

40 RIGHT BY YOUR SIDE –•– Eurythmics The Eurythmics were a great band and I don’t think they ever made a bad song. But even Mr. Big Music Brain me forgot about this one. 2 because I bet no one else remembers it either.

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