Off the Kuff Rotating Header Image

Friday random ten: The past is never what you remember it to be

What hath the iPod wrought this week?

1. The Best Is Yet To Come – Frank Sinatra and Count Basie
2. Better Be Good To Me – Tina Turner
3. Hammer To Fall – Queen
4. Bridge Of Sighs – Robin Trower
5. Born In Time – Bob Dylan
6. Downtown – The B-52’s
7. Yours Is No Disgrace – Yes
8. White Rabbit – Austin Lounge Lizards with Karen Abrahams
9. Blind Man – Aerosmith
10. Farewell To The Fairground – White Lies

A few years back one of the radio stations here in town converted to an “all 80s” format; they were more or less on the leading edge for that. For awhile, it was awesome – the station started out playing 10,000 songs in a row, commercial- and DJ-free. I’d be listening in my car and song after song I’d be saying “Wow, I haven’t heard that in awhile”, as they had a pretty extensive playlist at first. Well, that sort of thing never lasts forever, and before you knew it they were playing the same damn thing over and over again, and I moved on to other things. But what I still remember from those early days is that somehow they never played a Tina Turner song, at least never while I was listening. How can you call yourself an 80s station and never spin a tune from “Private Dancer”, I wondered? They never played any Michael Jackson, either, which I must admit I appreciated, but that brings up the same type of question. No doubt it was a matter of what type of 80s-nostalgic audience they wanted, but still. How can you call yourself an 80s station and never play “What’s Love Got To Do With It?”, or “Private Dancer”, or “Better Be Good To Me”? I mean, seriously.

Another bit of 80s music nostalgia came in an unlikely place, this Baseball Prospectus article by Steve Goldman, in which he riffs on 1987; you have to scroll down to get to it. He lists and mostly laments the Billboard Top 10 songs from that year, which one must agree contained an impressive amount of dross. I was rather stunned to realize that I’d never heard of two of the songs and their artists – “Shake You Down”, by Gregory Abbott, and “C’est La Vie”, by Robbie Nevil. I was never a Top 40 station listener, but I don’t remember hearing either of them on that 80s station back when I was listening to it.

If you want a great example of how music changed from the 80s to the 90s, browse through the first few entries in Popdose’s Ass End Of The 90s series. They had two long such features previously on 80s music, and the vast majority of the tunes and the artists were at least passingly familiar to me. This one is largely alien to me. Some of that is undoubtedly me getting older, even if I was only 24 at the start of the decade, but a good bit of it was the extreme fragmentation of radio that began around that time and continues today. It’s not just me, is it?

Finally, I gave props awhile back to an excellent cover of “White Rabbit”, and I want to do the same here. I don’t know how Karen Abrahams came to sit in with the Austin Lounge Lizards for this number, which isn’t on any of their CDs but which is available via iTunes and Amazon, but it’s awesome. In fact, according to Abrahams, this version was listed in Esquire Magazine’s Top Ultimate Cover Songs for Download. I’m not sure if this is the list she has in mind, but whatever the case, I agree. Go get yourself a copy.

Related Posts:

One Comment

  1. Thanks for the wonderful comments . i had had a long career before I came back to Texas. i met rod Kennedy and Tom Pittman at a party. The next thing I knew I was singing the Blues project at Kerrville as well as sitting in on the Austin Lounge Lizard’s set at the Folk festival. I have appeared quite a few times on the main stage over the years.I am forever grateful to both for them so graciously including me.. That song on my CD with the late Paul Skelton and many other Austin greats was a last minute contribution. i always thought it would be funny. Who knew ? I am again floored at how much exposure it has gotten.. Thanks to people like you