Thursday, 1 September 2022

a second-hand emotion (10. 102)

Originally written for Cliff Richard and offered to Phyllis Hyman and Donna Summer, Tina Turner’s rendition of the song, released as the lead single on the first of May from her solo album Private Dancer, climbed to the top of the charts in America on this day in 1984, holding the number one spot for three weeks, becoming the second biggest song of the year (number one was “When Doves Cry” by Prince) and garnering three awards at the 1985 Grammies. In addition to its inclusion on the soundtrack of Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, it is the namesake of Turner’s 1993 biography. Not surpassed until 1999 with Cher’s scoring a number one hit with “Believe,” Turner, then forty-four-year-old, held the record for oldest female singer to make this accomplishment on the US Billboard Hot 100.

Tuesday, 21 June 2022

texas v johnson

The landmark decision announced on this day in 1989, a split US Supreme Court invalidated prohibitions against the desecration of the American flag, which at the time of issuance were on the books of forty eight of fifty state jurisdictions, ruling first that the category of protected speech as defined by the US constitution as amended extends to symbolic acts and that counter arguments against the plaintiff’s right of expression of a compelling interest to protect a venerated symbol and to prevent a “breach of peace” that allowing the above might incite failed to reach the threshold for its continued abridgment. The defendant, activist Gregory “Joey” Johnson, then an associate of the Revolutionary Communist Youth Brigade, had engaged in a political demonstration during the 1984 Republican National Convention, held in Dallas, which re-nominated the Reagan administration, culminating in dousing a flag in kerosene and burning it, chanting “America, the red, white and blue—we spit on you! You stand for plunder, you will go under!” The protest was peaceful but some spectators were profoundly offended by the act, prompting one onlooker to collect the ashes and inter them in their backyard. Johnson’s conviction was initial not upheld by the state judges under the same logic and appeals elevated the matter to the high court, represented by civil rights attorney William Kunstler. There have been numerous attempts by congress to subvert the ruling by introducing an amendment to the constitution excluding the national flag from first amendment protections, which have been generally introduced around the anniversary of this ruling and have all failed to pass the senate. On 20 June 2016 while protesting the RNC in Cleveland, Johnson was arrested after burning a US flag on unclear charges, with the state of Ohio paying him nearly a quarter of a million dollars in restitution three years later, admitting his arrest was unwarranted and a violation of his free speech

Monday, 23 May 2022

i keep telling you, you listen to me more, you live longer!

One of the first coinages of prequel and prompting the Motion Picture Association of American to mint a new intermediate rating between parental guidance suggested and restricted (PG-13), Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom debuted in US cinemas on this day in 1984, with the highest opening weekend of the year, competing with other blockbusters Beverly Hills Cop, Ghostbusters, Gremlins, The Karate Kid, Footloose, Romancing the Stone, Splash and Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, and received Oscar nominations for musical scoring and visual effects.  Mola Ram, prepare to meet Kali, in Hell!

Thursday, 5 May 2022

diggi-loo diggi-ley

Winning the twenty-ninth installment of the Eurovision Song Contest (previously) hosted by Luxembourg City on this day in 1984, the clean-cut Swedish trio of the brothers Herrey were referred to once by fellow contestant and performer Tommy Kรถrberg (Anatoly from Chess) as the “dancing deodorants” which stuck in the press and followed them their whole career. An English-language version was released as “Golden Shoes” at a later date, the more expository title affords non-Swedish speakers a glimpse into the lyrics about the lead singer discovering a magical pair of shoes that make him dance in the streets and wishes everyone in the world could have the same experience. In 1985, the group—the original boy band ahead of the later boom—won the Sopot International Song Festival with “Sommarparty,” and was the first Western band to be invited to tour behind the Iron Curtain.

Sunday, 27 March 2022

rolling stock

Retelling the story of the “Little Engine that Could” with love-interest and with due inspirational credit given to Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends, the Andrew Lloyd Weber and Richard Stilgoe musical spectacle with all principals and dancers portraying locomotives on roller skates had its debut on the West End in the Apollo Victoria Theatre. Following a year-long run on Broadway, the show came to the industrial city of Bochum in 1988, and hosted in a custom-built theatre (designed like a skating rink) has become the most attended musical in Germany, still running and seen by over seventeen million. Much more, including the original cast recording of the musical numbers and various performance highlights at the link above.

Saturday, 8 January 2022

baby bells

Though not coming into force until the first of the year in 1984, the consent decree mandating the breakup and divestiture of the Bell System’s monopoly, vertical integration of telephone services in the US and Canada was finalised on this day in 1982. American Telephone & Telegraph could still provide long-distance services but was subject to competition and could no longer require subscribers—locally use telephonic equipment produced by its subsidiaries. The regional companies were independent and control of the Yellow Pages—the telephone directory—and the research and development branch, Bell Labs, were decentralised and given to the successor holding companies.

Wednesday, 10 November 2021

i feel for you

Climbing to first place on the UK singles charts on this day in 1984, singer Chaka Khan’s hit was written by Prince with accompaniment by Stevie Wonder on chromatic harmonica and Grandmaster Melle Mel, whose Ch-ch-ch-chaka-chaka-chaka Khan was originally an editing slip up that the producer decided would stay in.

Wednesday, 13 October 2021

shout it to the top!

Reaching its pinnacle on the UK charts on this day in 1984, this Sophisti-Pop ballad by lead Paul Weller was a hit single from The Style Council’s album Our Favourite Shop and was part of the score for Billy Elliot and the soundtrack for the 1985 Matthew Modine, Linda Fiorentino coming-of-age vehicle Vision Quest. The film is most remembered for a debut performance by Madonna in a local night club—prompting many markets to release it as Crazy for You, her signature piece in the scene.

Friday, 3 September 2021

we move in space with minimum waste and maximum joy

The seductive Sophisti-Pop single from the band’s debut studio album, Diamond Life, was released on this day in 1984 and quickly climbed the Billboard Adult Contemporary charts. Sade Adu’s signature hit spoke to the jet-setting, opportunistic nature of globalism reflected and referenced in the refrain about a faithless, aquisitive playboy. No need to ask.

Wednesday, 25 August 2021

non piรน andrai

Always appreciative of learning that that the villainized and vilified come down to a matter of apocryphal license, we enjoyed disabusing ourselves of this staple fact of pop-culture (see also) in that there’s no substantiating the feud between Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Antonio Salieri and their vying for the position of court composer. The narrative was first introduced in a two-act opera by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov with book by Alexander Pushkin in 1897 with the elder dedicated maestro scheming to poison his younger rival, inspiring the 1984 film Amadeus by Miloลก Forman.

Thursday, 12 August 2021

all night long (all night)

For the closing ceremony of the Los Angeles Summer Olympiad this evening in 1984, Lionel Richie gave a live performance of his signature calypso song to a global television audience of some three billion.

Though most of the lyrics are in English, there are some faux patois lines, namely—tam bo il de say de moi ya, hey jambo, jumbo—like Waka, Waka—This Time for Africa from the 2010 World Cup. The modified verses for Team USA leave out we’re going to party, karma, fiesta forever (see previously), the middle term being a Swahili borrowing for feast, banquet and also used in the context of Kwanzaa celebrations.

Wednesday, 11 August 2021

555-2368

The single released by session guitarist and song writer Ray Parker Jr as theme to the eponymous film (see previously) on this day in 1984 climbed to the top of the US charts and held that place for three weeks. In the UK, it reached the number two spot in mid-September, staying there for the same amount of time. The Oscar-nominated song lost to Stevie Wonder’s Best Original Song, the ballad for The Woman in Red “I Just Called to Say I Love You” (see also) and was the subject of a lawsuit—settled the following year out of court, Parker accused of having plagiarised the melody of Huey Lewis and the News’ “I Want a New Drug” by the band.

Tuesday, 3 August 2021

aw:

Dispatched the day before from Cambridge, Massachusetts using the CSNET (Computer Science Network) platform Informatik and economics student Michael Rotert (“rotert@germany”) of the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology became on this day in 1984 the first recipient (see also) of an email in West Germany, with project director Werner Zorn on the cc-line. The body read “Wlikomen in CSNET! Michael, This is your official welcome to CSNET.”

Thursday, 15 October 2020

the age of consent

Released on this day by London Records in 1984, the synth-pop trio Bronski Beat’s above titled debut album was in reference to legal and social reforms in much of continental Europe that decriminalised homosexuality and harmonised the age of consent with that for heterosexual relationship, legislation which the United Kingdom did not ascribe to at the time. All members of the band were openly gay and their music contained commentary on politics and gay-related issues. Their one charting song “Smalltown Boy” is featured on the record, an eventual anthem addressing hardships of coming-out and experiencing homophobia, released also as a single earlier in the year.

Thursday, 28 February 2019

sede vacante

With already burgeoning anti-Catholic sentiment channeled and thrust to the next level with the assassination of Abraham Lincoln whose conspirators included Mary Elizabeth Surratt, a practising Catholic and hung by the neck until dead, and her son John Harrison Surratt—fugitive from justice who fled to Europe and briefly served as a Pontifical Zouave (the Papal States’ infantry—pictured in uniform) before being recognised and extradited back to the US, on this day in 1867, America suspended consular relations with the Holy See—diplomacy not to be restored until 1984. In the interim, special envoys and emissaries were appointed to negotiate deals and coordinate participation on specific political and humanitarian issues. Kindred sympathies between Ronald Reagan and Pope John Paul II both over their shared crusade against Communism and a bond formed after each survived assassination attempts in 1981.