This is 2020 in a song.
Last week I posted a video of Friends of Distinction singing “Grazin’ In The Grass”. I’ve always loved their vocals and the way they adapted the instrumental track with their own lyrics to make their own spin on the song.
Youtube suggested another Friends of Distinction track for me this week and it was a song I had not heard in a couple of decades. As soon as I heard the track I was transported into the backseat of my Dad’s muscle car, a 1971 Chevelle Heavy Chevy. It’s one of the songs we’d hear on 62 WHEN.
Here’s Friends of Distinction with “Love Or Let Me Be Lonely”. Gosh, I miss the funky sounds of the late 60s and early 70s.
Originally released in June, the message still holds true, even as Americans grow tired of COVID-19 and trying to stay safe during this pandemic.
This is Wang Chung with special guest Valerie Day from Nu Shooz, with a 2020 appropriate reworking of the 80s hit, “Everybody Have Fun Tonight”, with “Everybody Stay Safe Tonight”.
In the summer of 1986, freshly graduated from high school, I worked for the school district as a summer custodian. It was my second year with the gig; the first year I worked in the high school, the second year I worked in the elementary school. Because it was the school district, I made a little more than minimum wage with that job; I think I was making $4.00 an hour. I worked with a couple of other students from school and the normal custodial staff. It was a good little gig to make some money during the summer and I enjoyed it very much.
Because of my nerdy nature, the first thing I purchased with my first paycheck that summer was a “Boom Box” that ran on batteries. I think it took four “D” batteries and it would last maybe two hours before it was time to change the batteries again, but I would use it to record songs off the radio. The radio station of choice was 93Q out of Syracuse. Interestingly, the station lives on today.
One of the songs I recorded on my Yorx Boom Box was “Man Size Love” by Klymaxx. I found the song to be very singable but with the track being a very female oriented song and me being very not female and rather just peeking around the closet door at the time, I wasn’t about to let my family hear my belt out this song at the top of my voice. Though admittedly, I enjoyed singing the song very much and I did identify with the theme of the lyrics.
At the time I was driving a 1976 Pontiac Astre that was puke green. I had wired up a cassette deck, courtesy of one of my paychecks from the previous year. With a cassette tape fresh out of the Boombox with tracks recorded from 93Q, I drove alone in the “Dis-astre” along Route 177 about 25 miles from the house. It was there I cranked up “Man Size Love” by Klymaxx and sang it in full voice, along in my car. Looking back, that area of New York is probably the closest to the “snowy Alabama” mindset that’s a little rampant in those parts, so it’s pretty ironic that here I was, a young, gay man, peeking around the closet door, singing a song by a group of black women.
I remember pulling over, rewinding the tape, and singing the song again and feeling such happiness. It’s such a simple track but I found it so much fun to sing.
From 1986, here’s Klymaxx with “Man Size Love”.
Edit: I must really like this song, looking back this is the third time I’ve posted this video, and the second time in 2020. To be fair, this is the first time I’ve told the story around why I like this song so much.
Is this track really 12 years old? My goodness, time is flying quickly.
I’ve had this song stuck in my head this morning, so dance along with me. From 2008, here’s Alphabeat with “10.000 Nights (Bimbo Jones Remix)”.
I was originally going to title this blog entry “Karen”, but with the connotation associated with the name these days it would have led would be readers in the wrong direction and I didn’t want to do that.
In 1979 Richard Carpenter went into recovery for his addiction to quaaludes. During that time, his sister Karen, the other half of “The Carpenters” went into the studio with some pretty famous producers and recorded her first solo album, to be simply titled “Karen Carpenter”. The story goes that when the album was recorded, the suits at A&M Records took a listen, along with Richard, who was now out of recovery, and absolutely hated the record. Richard was particularly harsh, saying the record didn’t fit her vocal style at all and that producer Phil Ramone was using the opportunity to try to imitate Richard’s polished vocal productions. A&M Records leaned on Karen to not release the album and it went into the vault. Bits and pieces of the album were released after her death, but it wouldn’t be until 1996 that the intended album was released, following her mixing and arrangement requests.
Richard Carpenter has said in interviews that ultimately he was supportive of his sister Karen recording her own album, he just advised, “whatever you do, don’t do disco”.
There’s a pretty kick-ass disco track on the album. It’s called “My Body Keeps Changing My Mind” and it is bell-bottom swishing disco from beginning to end.
Now, I find Karen Carpenter to be one of the greatest female vocalists of all time. I could listen to her sing all day long, and my recent love affair with the TIDAL Music service and its non-compressed music tracks has pumped her album in high fidelity to my ears for the past several days while I’ve been out doing my daily exercise.
I found an extended version of “My Body Keeps Changing My Mind” that is without 21st century remix; it’s simply an extended version of the original disco track, and I’ve been bopping to it all week. So for your listening pleasure, from 1979 here’s Karen Carpenter with “My Body Keeps Changing My Mind”.
June is Pride Month and no one has been out dancing in ages, so I’m going to feature some obscure dance track videos from my very early days of DJing in gay bars in New England and Upstate New York.
God knows what auto-tuned crud they’re playing in gay bars these days, but I’m sure isn’t nearly as happy as the stuff we had in the 80s and early 1990s.
From 1989, here’s Shana with “I Want You”. The question is, did I end up gay because of the music I liked or did I like this music because I’m gay?
I was listening to a Yacht Rock radio-like playlist on Spotify when Andrew Gold’s “Never Let Her Slip Away” from 1978 came up. I didn’t really remember the track but it sounded very familiar to me. I knew the lyrics but the syncopation on this original version was all wrong from what I knew.
It turns out I forgot about a track I had spun a lot back when I was a club DJ in the first half of my 20s. In 1992, British dance group Undercover had released a cover of this track. I spun the heck out of this record, always had a great response, and I remember getting a bunch of requests for “that slip away” record. I probably still have the 12-inch single in storage in the basement.
I found it on YouTube, here’s Undercover with “Never Let Her Slip Away”.
I don’t know why this song popped into my head but I’m happy that it did! From the summer of 1986, here’s Klymaxx with “Man Size Love”.
I remember loving this song in the early 1980s but thinking folks would think I was gay if they knew I liked this music. Irrational thoughts at age 15, I guess.
From 1983 here’s “The S.O.S. Band” with “Just Be Good To Me”.