This podcast episode should be more upbeat than the last episode. But, it doesn’t start that way. We recorded this podcast the same night we recorded the Alan Thicke/George Michael/Carrie Fisher tribute. Immediately after we finished recording the tribute, we got the news that Debbie Reynolds, Carrie Fisher’s mother, had just died. But, I think we recovered nicely. Since 2016 was such a crappy year for most of us, Robert and I decided to go back to happier times, and take a look back at the year 1980. We count down the top 10 songs from that year. And in between, we take a look at the top movies, television shows, toys, and news items.
So, if you want to escape for a little while, sit back, relax, and Return to 1980.
– R.I.P. Debbie Reynolds
Play This, Not That
Instead of This (“Missing You”)
Play That (“Change”)
Remember That Song
Last Song: “Cult of Personality” by Living Colour – Neon lights, a Nobel Prize / When a mirror speaks, the reflection lies / You don’t have to follow me / Only you can set me free
Great job Kurt Torster!!!
Question: What colors were on the original Rubik’s cube?
Top 10 movies of 1980
10. The Blues Brothers
9. The Blue Lagoon
8. Smokey and the Bandit II
7. Coal Miner’s Daughter
6. Private Benjamin
5. Any Which Way You Can
4. Airplane! Paramount
3. Stir Crazy
2. 9 to 5
1. The Empire Strikes Back
William Golding, Rites of Passage
John Kennedy Toole, A Confederacy of Dunces
Pittsburgh d. La Rams (31-19)
Philadelphia Phillies d. Kansas City (4-2)
LA Lakers d. Philadelphia 76ers (4-2)
NY Islanders d. Philadelphia (4-2)
Women: Evonne Cawley d. C. Evert Lloyd (6-1 7-6)
Men: Bjorn Borg d. J. McEnroe (1-6 7-5 6-3 6-7 8-6)
Events of 1980
Miracle on Ice – (February 22) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qYscemhnf88
Mount St. Helens (May 18)
Release of Pac-Man arcade game
CNN becomes the first 24hrs News Station
U.S. Boycotts Moscow Summer Olympics
Ronald Reagan elected president (11/4)
Who Shot JR?
John Lennon killed by Mark David Chapman (12/8)
It was 1981 and I was sitting in my grandparent’s living room in Valkenburg a/d Geul, the Netherlands. My grandfather and I were waiting for the weekly Saturday soccer highlight show to start and, to fill air time, the station was, as expected, showing music videos. As I watched the first video, I saw a large black and white face begin to fill the screen. The music was quiet – it had an almost foreboding feel to it. I was about to walk away and get a drink, but something made me stay. I watched the video, wondering the entire time what was going on. I did not like the music much, but I did like the singer’s voice and I was intrigued by the song’s haunting sound. I kept watching and the song built a bit and then, seemingly out of nowhere, a burst of drums blasts from the TV. I was taken aback — and hooked. The song was “In the Air Tonight” by Phil Collins, so the Monday, after school, I went to my favorite record store and bought the album Face Value.
This was my first experience with the artist whose career I would follow for the next three decades. I bought every Collins album as soon as each was released – I went back and bought the Genesis albums that he sang on and then bought all future Genesis releases. Don’t believe me? As I look through my music collection now, I see:
Phil Collins albums:Face Value (original and remastered 2015), Hello, I Must Be Going (original and remastered 2015), No Jacket Required (original and remastered 2015), . . . But Seriously (original and remastered 2015), Serious Hits Live, Both Sides (original and remastered 2015), Dance Into the Light, Testify, Love Songs: A Compilation . . .Old and New, Going Back, and The Singles. Yes, both Tarzan and Brother Bear are missing – I just couldn’t.
Genesis albums:A Trick of the Tail, Wind and Wuthering, And Then There WereThree, Duke, Abacab, Genesis, Invisible Touch, We Can’t Dance, Turn It On Again. There are still a few live albums I need to acquire.
You see? I like me some Phil Collins! I do not like all albums equally, in fact, I have been disappointed in a few, but I have never stopped listening to him. When I read, and finally saw, that he was releasing an autobiography, I was excited and a bit nervous. I am a picky reader and I was worried that the writing would not be very good. Also, I did not want my vision of him ruined with “the truth.” Despite my trepidations, I picked up the autobiography, Not Dead Yet, and started reading.
I was not disappointed. The writing is not horrible as he dictated his stories, organized them, and put them in written form – the book sounds like Collins is talking to you. He has a clever sense of humor and tries his best to be honest. This is difficult as he has been married three time which, as a whole he takes responsibility for his role in the ending of all three marriages (although, presently Collins and his third wife are back together, but not married). Collins organizes his stories chronologically starting with his childhood days, his time with Genesis as a drummer and then vocalist, his solo career, and his comeback. The stories are real and full of insights on how some of his great songs were created. This is by no means an expose, but Collins does broach some touchy situations with professionalism and no true axe to grind.
I do want everyone to read Not Dead Yet, so I am not going to give away all of the cool stuff, but I do want to intrigue you all a bit, so what follows are a few interesting tidbits from Collins’ book.
Collins’ interest in show business started with acting. He attended a fine arts performance high school and wanted to be an actor. As a boy, he played the Artful Dodger in Oliver. Clearly, he pursued a career as a drummer and played in several bands before joining Genesis. This acting bug resurfaced when Collins stared in Buster and made appearances in Miami Vice and Hook.
Collins hesitantly replaced Peter Gabriel as the lead vocalist of Genesis. After auditioning many potential vocalists, Tony Banks (keyboards) and Mike Rutherford (guitars) encouraged Collins to try the lead vocals. Everyone liked what they heard and the rest is history. Collins did not think he could be the lead vocalist and play drums for the band in concert. So, when performing live, Chester Thompson played drums while Collins was the front man. Collins maintained Thompson for his live solo shows. During all Genesis and solo shows, there would be segments (mostly instrumentals) in the show where Collins would jump back on the drum kit. Despite all of the many things Collins did during his career, he always came back to drumming as his ultimate love.
“In the Air Tonight” has nothing to do with witnessing a drowning. It is a bitter song about the breakup of his first marriage. “Well, if you told me you were drowning / I would not lend a hand / I’ve seen your face before my friend / But I don’t know if you know who I am” is nothing more than some really hard feelings about the way that first marriage ended. Collins is fully aware now that the constant touring and recording schedule that Genesis maintained was a recipe to end any marriage, but he was totally driven by the work.
The Genesis song “Since I Lost You “ from the We Can’t Dance album was written for his good friend Eric Clapton, whose son died in a tragic accident. Collins played it for him, asking his permission to include it on the album, saying that he would gladly drop it if Clapton did not approve. Clapton loved it and played “Tears in Heaven” for Collins; both men cried with each other that night and remain good friends today. Clapton appears on the Collins albums Face Value and . . . But Seriously.
“Since I Lost You”:
“I Wish it Would Rain Down”:
The title to Collins’ #1 hit “Sussudio” from No Jacket Required means nothing! Both as a solo artist and as a member of Genesis, the writing of the songs came in a similar manner. The musicians would be in a room together and play. The music was almost always written before any lyrics came about. While working on No Jacket Required, Collins was working on the music and, as was typical, needed to improvise lyrics. He used the word “sussudio” as a place holder. The song started to take shape and lyrics were added, but “sussudio” fit so well he decided to leave it.
One last one: Many people have said that there is some contention between Peter Gabriel and Phil Collins after he replaced him as Genesis lead vocalist. Collins insists that this is not true. He feels that he and Gabriel are still good friends as was evident when the original members reunited for a BBC documentary Genesis: Together and Apart.
Documentary (1 ½ hours long):
For ‘80s music fans Not Dead Yet is a must read. It is full of insights to Collins’ creative process as a member of Genesis and as a solo artist. Collins discusses all of his big songs and how they came to be. One more note: Both “Against All Odds” and “Separate Lives” (both #1 hits) could not make the cut for a Collins album and sat on the shelf for some time until given to the soundtracks of Against All Odds and White Knights respectively. The book reads well and is an evenly told autobiography. Yes, there a few things that could use a little more explanation, but Collins does not avoid touchy or embarrassing situations. He is, for example, very honest about his role in the debacle of performing in London and Philadelphia for Live Aid. The book did not talk me out of my Phil Collins fandom, rather, it may have increased it. Collins is performing a Not Dead Yet tour in Europe in 2017. There are rumors that he will bring this tour to the U.S. – one can only hope. Not Dead Yet end optimistically, giving the reader hope that his fantastic musical career continues.
2016 was a notoriously brutal year as we have lost several entertainment icons of the ’80s. Unfortunately, the year ended with a flurry. Alan Thicke suddenly passed away on December 13. We were planning on doing a segment on him for the next podcast. The day before our planned recording, we received the news that George Michael died. So, we decided to do an episode on both stars. Then the following day, Carrie Fisher died. Now, what we have here is a tribute to 3 awesome entertainers. I should also note that moments after we finished recording this, we received news that Debbie Reynolds, Carrie Fisher’s mother, had died. So, let’s Return to the ’80s and relive some happier times and memories. And please send us your thoughts about these stars in the comments below or you can email us at Returnto80s@gmail.com.
The day following George Michael’s death, this special tribute was made at a soccer match:
George Michael also had a great sense of humor. Here he is on the first ever, Carpool Karaoke with James Cordon:
Carrie Fisher (October 21, 1956 – December 27, 2016)
Of course we know Carrie Fisher as Princess Leia from the Star Wars movies. She also starred as Meg Ryan’s best friend in When Harry Met Sally and played Tom Hanks’ wife in The ‘Burbs.
She was also a successful writer, publishing Postcards from the Edge in 1987, and just recently published The Princess Diarist.
There are a couple of interviews with Carrie Fisher on Late Night with David Letterman. The first part is from May 30, 1983, promoting Return of the Jedi. The second is from August 27, 1987, promoting her new book Postcards from the Edge.