Tag Archives: Annie Lennox

FROM THE CREATOR OF THIS BLOG – A NEW PROJECT!

I’d like to invite the followers of this blog to check out my new project – a new podcast entitled The Perfect Podcast. The Perfect Podcast celebrates the highest achievements in music, film, literature, food, visual arts and more! In each episode I talk to a different person about the creations they believe achieve perfection. From the perfect short story to the perfect music video to the perfect cocktail to the perfect skyscraper – the show explores and celebrates the artists who have achieved the elusive, intimidating, confounding and 100% subjective state of . . . Perfection!

http://www.theperfectpod.com/

I plan to tackle some of the subjects I’ve covered in this blog. I definitely think Prince has created a couple of perfect albums, Michael Jackson has created some perfect songs, Madonna and Janet Jackson have starred in a few perfect music videos and Annie Lennox has turned in some perfect vocal performances. I’d love to hear from you about what you think is perfect or ideal in pop culture. Please visit my website and leave a comment and let me know. Thank for checking this out. Enjoy!

http://www.theperfectpod.com/

 

Eurythmics’ Lasting Embrace

eurythmics 2Touch is the album responsible for my 30 year love affair with Eurythmics. Like most of the western world I discovered the duo via their hit “Sweet Dreams,” in 1983. It’s undeniably one of the great pop songs of the 80’s. But Touch is the album that grabbed me and turned me into a fan, but also something more than a fan.

I can remember memorizing and analyzing the lyrics to each and every song; staring at the album cover as the record spun on my turntable; and, in non-cable-ready 1980’s Brooklyn, staying up until 12:30 AM at the end of the week hoping Friday Night Videos would play one of their songs. Although I practiced the same level of near religious devotion with many other bands at the time – there was something about Eurythmics’ music that had meaning for me, connected with me on a personal level, perhaps, more than any other. Somehow this new wave group from the UK perfectly synced with the sensibilities of a 16-year old African-American kid from Crown Heights – and that relationship has endured for 30 years. It feels almost impossible for me to sum up how and why I feel the way I do about this band in a single post – – so let’s do this in stages. Let’s start off by talking about Annie Lennox’s voice.

A voice that simultaneously sends chills down your spine and warms your heart. At one moment you feel like the singer is turning her back on you and the next, running towards you for an embrace. Within one song she conjures a myriad of emotions – love, anger, fear, hope.  The voice is vulnerable. It’s brittle. It soothes and it twists the knife.

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Read the lyrics of the first four lines of “Who’s That Girl,” the first song on Side B.

The language of love

slips from my lover’s tongue

Cooler than Ice cream

and warmer than the sun

This person she sings about sounds pretty great. You’d want to wake up next to him every morning, right? But listen to her sing these lines and immediately it’s a completely different story.

spotify:track:6P8kyob4SPq2Z0TBEHzgZy

Even without hearing the rest of the song you’re suspicious of this lover – his motives, his actions, his words. What Is Lennox conveying – is it nostalgia tinged with cynicism? A mixture of joy shadowed by fear? Continue listening and you know it’s all of the above. Yes, love is a stranger, but it’s also a minefield –  and an unfaithful lover is just one of the dangers leading to a broken heart.

As a teenager you begin to take steps into adulthood without realizing it. If you’re lucky, you fall in love for the first time and begin to understand how surprisingly complex relationships can be. Sometimes you have moments of pure, easy joy. And then eruptions of jealousy and fear. For me, the music of Eurythmics and other pop bands were like a little pocket manual. “Oh – I’ve never felt this specific feeling before – but it does remind me of what Annie/Michael//Tina/Daryl/Paul are singing about.”

Now, pop music is less of a manual and more of a beacon – a way for me to remember and reconnect with some of the feelings and experiences I had 30 years ago. And Annie Lennox guides me back like no one else.

The Poetry of Annie Lennox

herecomstherainContinuing the celebration of national poetry month and my tribute to the music of 1984 I present lyrics from the one and only, my personal diva, Miss Annie Lennox. More on this song, the album and the band in future posts.

Here comes the rain again

Raining in my head like a tragedy

Tearing me apart like a new emotion

I want to breathe in the open wind

I want to kiss like lovers do

I want to dive into your ocean

Is it raining with you?

Welcome to 1984

This blog is dedicated to the irrefutable, undeniable fact that in the year of our lord, Nineteen Hundred and Eighty Four, the pop culture gods smiled down and bestowed upon us the single greatest year of pop music the world has ever known.

Why 1984?

Why not ‘83 or ’85 or ‘64 of ‘92 or any other year that contained a number of great singles and albums? Well, it’s my belief that in 1984 the pop world coalesced in a way it had never coalesced before (and most likely will never again). Call it Karma or call it blessed coincidence  – but this was a unique moment in time when musicians were creating masterpieces AND music labels were making the right decisions AND the general public was ready to hear and see and embrace it all. The result? 12 months of great (the greatest) pop music; from January when Michael Jackson’s Thriller  – THRILLER!!  – sat in the top 10; through December when Band Aid released “Do They Know Its Christmas?”

1984 brought ascension (RUN-D.M.C., Madonna, R.E.M.,), resurrection (Tina Turner, Chaka Khan) and evolution (Bruce Springsteen, Patti Labelle) for countless musicians (and listeners).

1984 also brought us the seminal song, soundtrack and film all sharing the two-word title:

Purple.

Rain!

(MUCH MUCH MUCH SO MUCH MORE on Prince and Wendy and Lisa and Doc Fink and Brown Mark and Bobby Z in future posts!)

I have to admit my love of 1984 has just as much to do with who I was during that year as it does with the great music I listened to. Does anyone love or connect to music as much as they do as a teenager?

At age 16 I was ready to tackle the radical political commentary of Frankie Goes to Hollywood‘s Two Tribes and the subtle sexual lyricism of Depeche Mode‘s Master and Servant.  I also believed that the analytical muscles I developed studying Lord of the Flies and Julius Caesar fully empowered me to decipher the deeper meaning of songs like New Moon on Monday, Pretty Persuasion, and Karma Chameleon.

In ’84 I also fell in with a group of friends who became my group. We came from all 5 boroughs of NYC and were black and white and Asian and Latino and biracial. That level of diversity seemed rare but it felt comfortable and it fit (People are People, indeed). So when I saw Mikey Craig in Culture Club or The System or General Public or Hall & Oates‘ live band or The Revolution – all of the decisions I was making (at the time I didn’t realize they were decisions) felt affirmed.

During this year I also noticed a number of music artists who were playing with gender and sexuality just enough to intrigue, but not freak out an adolescent who had recently become aware of some unexpected desires. Whether it was Annie Lennox or Boy George‘s gender bending or Bronski Beat‘s lyrics or Rockwell‘s eyeliner (and his alleged romantic relationship with Michael) – some of my favorite artists seemed to take their inner most desires and literally wear them on their sleeves. I was far from ready to do that, but felt grateful they were willing to do it for me.

So here’s to the music that entertained me, changed me, guided me, and inspired me to such an extent that 30 years later I’m compelled to return for a visit.