Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Song for a Crappy Tuesday

Ungh. The Tuesday following a holiday weekend (in which the holiday lands on a Monday) is the most cruel. Especially if it's a kind of half-assed holiday tainted with the lingering scent of centuries-old small pox. Some of us had the day off, others did not, and we were all wondering why we didn't get our mail.

Oh, yeah...it was Columbus Day.

And now, without the benefit of a Monday to ease in to the week, all that stuff you put off with a blithe "Tomorrow Never Comes" shrug, demands attention. It pees in your shoes like an angry cat.

Post-Holiday Tuesday, you are a pissing, farting wretch in a fanny pack. Go away.

(P-HT does not leave, but, instead, stands too close by. He keeps licking his hairy finger and holding it a mere quarter inch from my ear.)


I'll show him...

In the years between 1978 and 1984, while Punk was vandalizing music's underbelly and New Wave was edging its way onto the pop charts, a series of female power belters rushed the airwaves. These women were not the Joan Jetts or Pat Benatars - young chicks with a harder pop edge - who came to prominence on the early-mid 80's - but something in between. Not quite Streisand, not quite Debbie Harry...post-liberation, pre-second wave.

Riding in my Mom's station wagon to and from school, local DJs spun their songs on a loop: Olivia Newton-John's "A Little More Love", Laura Branigan's "Gloria", Sheena Easton's "Modern Girl" and "Morning Train (9 to 5)". Even the 1982 re-release of Charlene's "Never Been to Me".

The vision of womanhood portrayed by these pop songs alternately terrified and enthralled the three marbles I had rolling around in my pre-teen imagination. Was this what being a woman was going to be like? Was I doomed to struggle, with conflicting notions of modernity, the pitfalls of sexual freedom, and a ghastly paranoia when "I think they got the alias (Gloria) that you been livin' under"? JEE-sus. Is this what have to look forward to?

(I think the answer to that would be, "Yeah, pretty much.")

Double-U. Tea. Eff.

Even so...I loved these songs. THIS was what sophistication was all about. Tracks like the mysterious "(We Are) Magic" by Newton-John or Branigan's furtive "Self Control" were enticing and more about sex than love. The life they sang of was shadowy, fraught...it was all so grown up and mature. Sounded to me like a blast.

Not every song by these proto-Celine balladeers was shrouded in mystery or inner conflict. Plenty were downright exuberant, lauding the fun of meeting new people, falling in love.

Lady and Gentleman, Melissa Manchester.

In 1979, Manchester released the iconic (and later Karaoke and Drag Show favorite) "Don't Cry Out Loud." I was six when this song hit the radio, but the sentiment was not lost on me - the glory, the failure. I recall trying the phrase on for size to my friend-for-two-months-in-the-first-grade, Celena. The relationship with her best friend Shannon had gone south (as much as a relationship between two six year olds can go south. Back then a bosom friend might materialize because you both have on the same color shirt) - and I repeated the immortal words from the title. She, of course, had no idea what I was talking about, and was a little confused and offended that I would suggest such a thing.

"Don't Cry Out Loud"? What the hell does that mean?

I had no real answer and from then on kept my borrowed wisdom to myself.

In 1982, Manchester reached her Hot 100 chart peak with "You Should Hear How She Talks About You", her ode to the giddy fun of having a crush. I was in the fourth grade when it was first released. I imagined my most perfect self (dressed in a purple polo shirt, jeans, and pigtails - best dream outfit, none of which I owned.) singing this song to the crush of a lifetime - P. H. To which he would respond, naturally, that I was the coolest thing ever and we'd go together until at LEAST the end of the year.

I heard this song, of course, while driving, and shook the car, I boogied so hard.

The cherry on the top of this week's selection is that the video is culled from her Solid Gold performance. There will be dancing. Oh, yes...there will be rooty tooty fresh and frooty dancing. Using the same eight Solid Gold moves they employ in every dance.

And Rex Smith.

(I take my elbow and jam it into Post-Holiday Tuesday's thigh muscle just in time to prevent his glistening finger from ramming into my ear. He crumples into a heap on the floor)

Take THAT, P-HT!


This is too good to pass up. Below is the footage of Manchester's appearance on The Muppet Show. It is obvious that never in their wildest dreams did they envision a world in which we could revisit, re-watch and reexamine every little snippet from our collective TV memory. Mass irony was not yet en vogue.

If they had been able to foresee this world, would a children's show performance so totally awkward and stunning as this ever have come into being? Our irony kills our ability to create such authentic blossoms anymore, but it is only through our irony that we are able to see the full scope of its odd beauty. What a tragedy.

Also...doesn't Melissa seem so game for anything? Solid Gold AND the Muppet Show. Wow.


Jan Smelk said...

This song inspired me to blog on the Quick Game. Will publish later.

joe g. said...

I've been rediscovering my love for late '70s/early '80s ONJ lately, as I've been working on 'Grease' and digging out my old ONJ greatest hits LP.

That and Dolly Parton's "Here You Come Again," which kicks ass.

rebar said...

Since we're going there...I will admit to recently rediscovering my delight in Anne Murray.

For some reason, I got a Juice Newton song stuck in my head, but then I realised she was a poor man's Murray, so I dumped the zero and got with the hero.

I see your "Here You Come Again" (which is my fav Pardon tune) and raise you a "Broken Hearted Me" and her cover of "Danny's Song."

I'm hanging on to "Snowbird" as my trump.

I think with the economic crisis and the political muckracking...I'm embracing the easy listening portion of my childhood.

joe g. said...

Wow. Well, I'll go for the "Deep Cut" --ONJ's harmony vocals on "Love You Hold The Key" from the "Don't Stop Believin'" LP are amazing. In fact, side one of that record is pretty much perfect.

And I'll follow up with Lynn Anderson's cover of "For the Good Times." From the record that has "I Never Promised You a Rose Garden" on it.

After that, I'm falling back to Joni Mitchell's "The Wolf That Lives In Lindsey."

Anonymous said...

If you're going to Mitchell, then I have to parry with Carole King.

That's just SOP.

Double whammy of "So Far Away" and "Some Kind of Wonderful" (although, the Drifter's version...or possibly Marvin Gaye's.)


joe g. said...

Carole King?

I no can defense.

I mean, if I was even going to try to put up a Karen Carpenter or Emmylou Harris, we've strayed too far afield...

I'll concede.

Though if you'd kept Juice Newton in play instead of Anne Murray, I'd probably still be in the game.

Although I have a Sheena Easton and a Kylie Minogue rookie card somewhere around here...

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