3 Comments

Admission.

I can’t remember if I have admitted this before here on my blog and quite frankly I’m too lazy to do a search on past entries, but today I found myself daydreaming at my desk at work about a dream I had long, long ago when I was a teenager.

I wanted to be a backup singer for The Human League.

 

human_league

 

That’s right, I once dreamed of being a touring backup singer in The Human League, probably best known for one of the definitive songs from the 1980s, “Don’t You Want Me” and a whole slew of other tracks here in the U.S. including “(Keep Feeling) Fascination” and “Human”.

In 1984 I purchased a Yorx Stereo (complete with recordable 8-track) at the local Ames. One of my very first purchases with my own money, my Yorx stereo had a turntable, the aforementioned 8-track, a radio and a cassette deck in it. It even had detachable speakers that could sit on a bookcase.

That Yorx Stereo played every Human League 12-inch single I had in my library (which was each title released to date) and it played each album over and over again as I studied and learned each lyric, each version of every single and the smattering of harmonies found on their records.

Why The Human League, you ask? Well, there are a couple of reasons for this. First of all, if I don’t squeeze my balls hard I sing baritone and I tend to linger more in the bass range. Some find this surprising. I have only sang tenor on a few occasions when singing in part of a group and that’s where the uncomfortable ball squeezing has had to come into play. The lead singer of The Human League, Phil Oakey, sings comfortably in my range, something that was a rarity in the days of Duran Duran and the likes of Boy George (and especially today!). The only other singer that I could really sing with in the pop world was Pete Burns from Dead or Alive, and while I loved their music, I KNEW I could not get away doing the Pete Burns thing in the small farm town in Central New York I grew up with. At least The Human League was relatively popular and yet they were eccentric enough to stand out in the crowd. Plus, all of their music was electronically derived. THAT was wicked cool to me, being a gadget geek and all. In addition, The Human League had a very “80s” look to them. I knew I couldn’t pull off Phil’s lopsided haircut but I could wear the slightly daring style that they did and not get beat up in school. (Funny that I didn’t get my first leather pants for another 20 years or so).

So yes, back in the day I had dreams of singing backup vocals for The Human League in concert. They came to our area back in the late 1990s during a rewind tour with Howard Jones and Culture Club. Working in radio at the time, I tried to pull some strings to get backstage and meet them but they had no interest in meeting anyone. Honestly, my hopes were dashed and I childishly punished them by pulling their catalog from the music rotation at the station for a while. While I knew I wouldn’t be able perform with them, I thought it might be whimsical to share my dreams with them before or after their performance, but no, it was not meant to be.

The Human League still performs live from time to time. Perhaps I’ll catch them at a future gig and share my little daydream with them. After all, these are The Things That Dreams Are Made Of.

In honour of my remembrance of this little daydream, I share one of their tracks. This is the single that preceded “Don’t You Want Me”, it’s “Love Action (I Believe In Love)”, also from the ‘Dare’ album. This track is actually part of a longer instrumental called “Hard Times”, which wasn’t released in the U.S. until later in 1983 on the Fascination! EP.

3 Comments

  1. A recordable 8-track home stereo system in 1984? You must have entered the 7th level of mega-geekdom!

    Sorry, I just never heard of such a thing. Hell J.P., didn’t CDs come out just a year later?

    It’s not too late to live your dream. Go for it!

    BTW, you have given me a case of induced musicosis. Now I’ll have to listen to “Don’t You Want Me” over and over in my mind for the next few days. You are brutal!

  2. Just spent the last 20 minutes at work glued to YouTube watching Philip Oakley and the girls. Thanks JD – I now have synth riff of Facination stuck in my head. When I was managing the box office at SPAC in the 80s, we had HL (and some other 80s group – don’t think it was Howard, maybe it was) Sat in the pit and just watched, danced and stared at Philip for 2 hours. Thanks for the memory – fuzzy – don’t know if its my memory now or the beer at the time.

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