On this episode of Return to the ’80s, Robert and Paul welcome Ty Ray, from the Beats and Eats podcast, to the show. The guys Return to 1981, and count down the year’s top songs, movies, and television shows. Also, find out what the biggest selling toys were in 1981, and reminisce on the big news stories of the year.
As this current decade comes to a close, come join us to Return to the greatest decade ever, and check out the awesome year of 1981!
Oakland Raiders beat the Philadelphia Eagles 27-10 – January 25, 1981 at the Louisiana Superdome
Boston Celtics beat the Houston Rockets 4-2
New York Islanders defeat the Minnesota North Stars 4-1
LA Dodgers beat the New York Yankees 4-1
January 20 52 Americans held hostage in Iran for 444 days freed
March 6 Walter Cronkite signs off of CBS Evening News
March 30 Reagan Assassination attempt
April 18 The Longest Game – Pawtucket Red Sox tie Rochester Red Wings 2-2 in 32 innings (game resumed 23rd June)
May 11 Cats premieres in London
May 13 Assassination attempt on Pope John Paul II
Jun 2 Barbara Walters asks Katharine Hepburn what kind of tree she would be
Jun 5 AIDS Epidemic officially begins when US Centers for Disease Control reports on pneumonia affecting five homosexual men in Los Angeles
Jun 12 Baseball players begin a 50 day strike, their 3rd strike
July 29 Royal Wedding
Aug 1 MTV premieres at 12:01 AM
Aug 3 13,000 Air Traffic Controllers (PATCO) begin their strike; US President Ronald Reagan offers an ultimatum to workers: ‘if they do not report for work within 48 hours, they have forfeited their jobs and will be terminated’
Sep 12 “The Smurfs” animated cartoon series by Hanna-Barbera first broadcasts in North America
Sep 25 Sandra Day O’Connor sworn in as 1st female supreme court justice
Dec 11 Muhammad Ali’s 61st & last fight, losing to Trevor Berbick
Dec 28 1st American test-tube baby, Elizabeth Jordan Carr is born in Norfolk, Virginia
Well, the day has finally arrived – the new Star Wars movie is out. Now, let’s Return to where it all began.
Han Solo: Look, Your Worshipfulness, let’s get one thing straight. I take orders from just one person: me. Princess Leia Organa: It’s a wonder you’re still alive.
[Pushing past Chewbacca] Princess Leia Organa: Will someone get this big walking carpet out of my way? Han Solo: No reward is worth this.
General Tagge: What of the Rebellion? If the Rebels have obtained a complete technical reading of this station, it is possible, however unlikely, they might find a weakness and exploit it. Darth Vader: The plans you refer to will soon be back in our hands. Admiral Motti: Any attack made by the Rebels against this station would be a useless gesture, no matter what technical data they have obtained. This station is now the ultimate power in the universe! I suggest we use it! Darth Vader: Don’t be too proud of this technological terror you’ve constructed. The ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of the Force. Admiral Motti: Don’t try to frighten us with your sorcerer’s ways, Lord Vader. Your sad devotion to that ancient religion has not helped you conjure up the stolen data tapes, or given you clairvoyance enough to find the rebels’ hidden fort-…
[Vader makes a pinching motion and Motti starts choking] Darth Vader: I find your lack of faith disturbing. Governor Tarkin: Enough of this! Vader, release him! Darth Vader: As you wish.
Stormtrooper: Let me see your identification. Ben Obi-Wan Kenobi: [with a small wave of his hand] You don’t need to see his identification. Stormtrooper: We don’t need to see his identification. Ben Obi-Wan Kenobi: These aren’t the droids you’re looking for. Stormtrooper: These aren’t the droids we’re looking for. Ben Obi-Wan Kenobi: He can go about his business. Stormtrooper: You can go about your business. Ben Obi-Wan Kenobi: Move along. Stormtrooper: Move along… move along.
Luke Skywalker: You don’t believe in the Force, do you? Han Solo: Kid, I’ve flown from one side of this galaxy to the other, and I’ve seen a lot of strange stuff, but I’ve never seen *anything* to make me believe that there’s one all-powerful Force controlling everything. ‘Cause no mystical energy field controls *my* destiny. It’s all a lot of simple tricks and nonsense.
Rey: There are stories about what happened. Han Solo: It’s true. All of it. The Dark Side, the Jedi. They’re real.
[Paul from Return to the ’80s gets chills and cries like a baby]
Hi Everybody! We are long overdue for a new Top 40 Countdown. I am so excited for the NEW STAR WARS MOVIE, The Force Awakens, which will be released in a few weeks. New freakin’ Star Wars! As we count down the days of the release, I figure we can count down the top 40 hits from the week that the last Star Wars movie, of the original trilogy, was released. Return of the Jedi was released on May 25, 1983. This is going to be an incredible week of music. I snuck a peek at the list of songs, and I will go out on a limb and say that this may be the best Top 40 we’ve covered so far! So let’s get to it, and Return to the week ending May 28, 1983, and begin the countdown! And as with most of the music posts, you can click on the song title to listen to the song/watch the video.
This song totally brings me back to the early ’80s. It was in heavy rotation in the early days of MTV when we first got cable TV in “our house” (on the corner – not in the middle of our street). This was the lead single off of Madness’ fourth studio album, The Rise & Fall. It would be their biggest hit in the U.S., reaching up to #7.
The Queen of Rock is back in the countdown once again, with a little known hit. This song is off of Benatar’s Get Nervous album, which also had the hits “Shadows of the Night” and “Little Too Late“. “Looking for a Stranger” is a fun little rock song, which would fit in well for Robert’s new “Obscure hits” series if he covers Pat Benatar. She has a lot of hits that get a lot of airplay, but this is one does not get as much attention.
Not too many people were as big a star as Kenny Rogers in the late ’70s/early ’80s. This is another obscure hit that I love. My parents owned the We’ve Got Tonight album, which this song came off of. If I was in the mood for a good ballad, I would throw this album on the record player.
This is another classic ’80s song that got heavy airplay in the early days of MTV. At the time it was released, I didn’t care for the song too much. But, since it was on MTV, my eyes were glued to the TV watching this video anyway. I do appreciate it a little more now. This song was also my introduction to The Kinks.
Before I started doing these countdowns, the only Christopher Cross songs I knew were all the songs from his legendary debut album as well as “Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do)“. But, he did have quite a few other hit songs, although I don’t believe many of them hit the top 10. This is a very good song I had not heard before. The very beginning reminds me of something that would be on a mid-’80s Sylvester Stallone movie soundtrack, until Cross starts singing. Then it is classic Christopher Cross (which is a good thing).
The only song I thought I knew by DeBarge was “Rhythm of the Night” and El Debarge’s “Who’s Johnny“. But, I remembered this song as soon as it started. I didn’t know it was DeBarge. This is an outstanding R&B ballad.
This was the biggest U.S. hit by British singer/songwriter Jim Capaldi, topping out at #28. That sounds about right. This song is ok. It’s not horrible, but not great either. Steve Winwood keyboards kick in in the second half of the song, which is cool. But, if I want to hear that, I may as well throw on some Steve Winwood.
I love the Bee Gees! This is a pretty good upbeat song. In the ’80s, the Bee Gees did not perform too many songs. They mainly wrote hits for other singers. But, they did record this song for the movie Staying Alive, the sequel to Saturday Night Fever. Staying Alive was one of those movies where the soundtrack was way better than the movie itself.
I enjoy a lot of songs by The Little River Band. This is a good one from the John Farnham years as lead singer. This song was from their seventh studio album, The Net. It topped out at #22 in the U.S. If you want to hear an outstanding John Farham solo tune, check out “You’re the Voice“.
This huge iconic Styx hit was the beginning of the end of the band’s initial run. Styx was changing musical direction, which caused a divide in the band. I still really enjoy this song to this day. And it’s a great place to finish today’s list of songs.
Well, that wraps it up for today. Are you liking this so far? It’s just going to keep on getting better. Is anybody else looking forward to The Force Awakens? I’m one of the rare original Star Wars fans that never hopped on the prequel-hate bandwagon. I love the prequels! But, they tell a different story and have a different style. I have a feeling that JJ Abrams is going to capture the same spirit as the original. And it doesn’t hurt that the main characters, that we grew up with, are returning.
So, let’s talk Star Wars and music. And we’ll be back to continue the countdown tomorrow.
1977 was quite a transitional period in my life. In May of that year, our family moved from an apartment in the city of Providence, Rhode Island to a house in Warwick, Rhode Island. I remember finishing up the last month of first grade at my public school in Providence. I would begin second grade in a Catholic school in my new city. But before that, I made new friends in the neighborhood, and was adjusting to a new house. I missed our landlords, who were an old Italian couple that treated me like a grandchild, and spoiled me rotten. I also missed my, I mean, their dog Penny. They had gotten the Collie/German Shepard mix around the time I was born. So, we grew up together. As much as I missed them, living in a new house was pretty sweet! And I had a group of cool friends. The month we moved, and began adjusting to this new life, a new, incredible, life changing movie came out – Star Wars!
I know I had seen other movies in the theater before Star Wars was released. I’m pretty sure I had seen The Apple Dumpling Gang, and probably had seen other Disney movies. But, Star Wars was the first movie I ever remember anticipating. I know for sure that I did not see Star Wars the weekend it opened, on May 25, 1977. I probably saw it during the summer. Back in those days, before movies came out on vide – hell, before there was even cable TV, a movie could be in the theater for at least a year. This was especially true for Star Wars. Star Wars actually made it easier for me to make new friends. We all had an instant connection, talking all about Star Wars, and what happened in the movie – before any of us had actually seen the movie. I still don’t know how we were able to do that, but we did. In those days before the internet, word of mouth was literally word of mouth. We knew that Obi-Wan Kenobi died, and we knew Luke Skywalker was the hero, and that Han Solo was the coolest person in the world, ever. I was friends with a couple of sisters that lived 2 houses away, and they were even into Star Wars – thanks to Princess Leia. Even though their hair was long, they wanted it even longer so they could put their hair in buns like Princess Leia. By the time they were probably able to do it, that fad had gone out of style, so I never saw them with the Princess Leia buns.
The day finally came when I was able to go and see Star Wars. Since it was the summer, I was still 6 years old. I would turn 7 in September. My life was forever changed from the moment the words “Star Wars” appeared on the screen at the same time as John Williams’ iconic score blared.
Right from the start there was some action. These guys were waiting at a corridor, with their guns at the ready. You hear clanging and banging, wondering what’s going to be coming through the door. The door gets blown up, and a firefight begins as the good guys were fighting with these white robots. I felt bad for the guys that were getting killed. And then the giant black robot named Darth Vader makes his grand entrance, lifts a guy up by his throat, and kills him. Again, I felt bad for the victim. I had already been watching Star Trek with my dad for as long as I could remember. So I was not traumatized by this science fiction violence.
And then we go to Tatooine with R2D2 and C3PO. It was cool seeing these droids. I had never seen anything like them before. This may be blasphemous, but I did get bored for a while. I think I kept asking my parents, “When are we going to see Han Solo?” I knew that once we saw him, then the action would begin.
There was a brief moment of action when Luke was attacked by the Sand People. They were freaky looking. Then this bigger, scarier creature came along making a loud noise, and chased off the Sand People. If they were scared of this thing, it must not be good. As it turns out, it was Ben “Obi-Wan” Kenobi that chased them off.
Then we learned about the Clone Wars (which I always wanted to learn more about), and that Darth Vader killed Luke’s father. Then we see a light saber for the first time. That snapped me out of my boredom. And then Luke finds his Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru burned just as bad as that visual burned into my mind. That freaked me out a little.
And then we finally got to the moment I had been waiting for – the introduction of Han Solo. And just as it was advertised in my mind, this is when the action kicked into high gear for the rest of the movie! Just before we meet Han Solo, we see the light saber in action, as Obi-Wan cut off a bad guy’s arm.
As Obi-Wan and Luke set off to sell the land speeder, so they could get going, Han Solo ran into Greedo.
I don’t want to go into a rant about the special editions. I’m not a hater like most people. But, this is my biggest pet peeve about any of the special editions. Han not only shot first, but he was the only one to shoot! And as a 6 year old, I was perfectly good with it. Ya got that, George?!?! Let me repeat. As a 6 year old, I totally got that Greedo was a threat, and Han was a total badass, and eliminated that threat. It made me like him even more. He had an edge to him that made him even more cool.
The whole rescue of Princess Leia was really cool to me. The garbage compactor scene is classic.
And then we finally got to see a light saber battle. After seeing some great light saber battles – especially in the prequels – this battle between Obi-Wan and Darth Vader is pertty lame. But, back then it was really cool. But, I was sad that Obi-Wan died. To this day, I still don’t understand how his body just disappeared. I’m just as confused as Darth Vader was.
And if the shootouts, and light saber battle on the Death Star wasn’t enough, we got to see a little space battle between the Millennium Falcon and a bunch of Tie Fighters. It made me (and Luke) quickly forget about the loss of Obi-Wan.
And then we had the final space battle, to blow up the Death Star. This was so exciting to me. Again, I felt bad for the rebels who died. I was especially upset about Luke’s best friend, Biggs, being killed. We only knew him for about 2 seconds, but it was still upsetting. And what’s more upsetting is that there are some goofy things that were added in the special editions, but they left out a scene where Biggs and Luke were talking on Tatooine early in the movie. I have seen pictures, so I know something was filmed between them.
Anyway, it was still a cool battle with a great ending.
And the medal ceremony at the end was my first exposure to racism against Wookies. Luke and Han were the only ones to get medals. I already knew that they there was hatred towards droids. They weren’t even allowed in a crappy bar, so R2D2 and C3PO sure as hell weren’t going to get a medal, even though they were ones who delivered the plans of the Death Star, which led to the victory. But, poor Chewie deserved a medal as much as anybody else did there! And then the movie ended with that incredible music.
After seeing this incredible movie, I could not get enough of Star Wars or any space related movie or television show. I also collected some memorabilia. For example, here is the lunch box I got for my first year at St. Peter School:
I also had every Star Wars action figure except for Walrus Man.
I had this case to store them in:
And it was not just a case! You could flip it over, and stick the action figures on the little pegs so that they could stand up. There are some post-original Star Wars action figures in this picture.
And my action figures did not stay in the packaging. I actually played with my action figures, and didn’t just stare at them. You would never see Luke Skywalker stay like this for long:
By the way, Luke never had a yellow light saber, so I don’t know where they got that from. I don’t think there has ever been a yellow light saber in any movie period.
I never owned the Millennium Falcon, or the Tie Fighter. I did have this X-Wing Fighter though. You would push R2D2’s head, and the wings would open up. And there was a little button behind R2 and the little light bulb in the front would light up, and make a firing sound.
Besides the collection I had, and my love of science fiction/fantasy, there was something else that Star Wars did that changed my life. It jump started my creativity. It helped me make up stories in my head. Perhaps they action figures helped with that, as I could make up any story I wanted. But, eventually I was able to get my creativity out on paper by telling stories. This happened just before The Empire Strikes Back came out. And my writing is continuing to this day – talking about Star Wars. I have more to say, so the saga will continue with The Empire Strikes Back. I know May the 4th is Star Wars Day, but I’ll make up my own rules, and make this Star Wars Week. After all, I take orders from just one person: me.
May the 4th Be With You!! Here is a quote from each of the original Star Wars trilogy films.
Han Solo: Uh, everything’s under control. Situation normal.
Voice: What happened?
Han Solo: Uh, we had a slight weapons malfunction, but uh… everything’s perfectly all right now. We’re fine. We’re all fine here now, thank you. How are you?
Voice: We’re sending a squad up.
Han Solo: Uh, uh… negative, negative. We had a reactor leak here now. Give us a few minutes to lock it down. Large leak, very dangerous.
Voice: Who is this? What’s your operating number?
Han Solo: Uh…
Han Solo: Boring conversation anyway. LUKE, WE’RE GONNA HAVE COMPANY!
Darth Vader: There is no escape. Don’t make me destroy you. Luke, you do not yet realize your importance. You have only begun to discover your power. Join me, and I will complete your training. With our combined strength, we can end this destructive conflict and bring order to the galaxy.
Luke: I’ll never join you!
Darth Vader: If you only knew the power of the Dark Side. Obi-Wan never told you what happened to your father.
Luke: He told me enough! He told me you killed him!
Darth Vader: No. I am your father.
Luke: No. No. That’s not true. That’s impossible!
Darth Vader: Search your feelings, you know it to be true!
Luke: No! No!
Luke: If I don’t make it back, you’re the only hope for the Alliance.
Princess Leia: Luke, don’t talk that way. You have a power I don’t understand and could never have.
Luke: You’re wrong, Leia. You have that power too. In time you’ll learn to use it as I have. The Force runs strong in my family. My father has it. I have it. And… my sister has it. Yes. It’s you, Leia.
Princess Leia: I know. Somehow, I’ve always known.