Fun Songs from the 80’s

Image result for Culture Club
If you can identify these artists from the 80’s,  you were a true teen of the 80’s!

I admit it, I am biased. I started high school in the fall of 1979, and graduated in the spring of 1984 (Grade 13). I loved high school – that probably makes me weird! – and especially the music. I have fond memories of playing some vinyl at every get together with friends, and playing it loud! And then 4 years of University after that rounded out my entire decade of listening to 80’s music.

Fondest memories: Cyndi Lauper, Bryan Adams, Corey Hart, Bon Jovi, Guns N’ Roses, U2 became popular at my Uni during 1985, The Smiths, Motley Crüe, a couple Aerosmith songs, Tears for Fears, R.E.M., the Eurythmics, Poison, Metallica, a Flock, Culture Club, the Police, INXS – Holy cow, I think I just saw my whole life flash before my eyes!!

Related imageThe most influential artist ON ME during this decade of my youth was Madonna. The picture on the left is a promo shot for the movie Desperately Seeking Susan. I had a couple of albums but later I started compiling entire CD’s of her stuff and I would listen to every song, over and over and over. Here’s a true story directly related to her influence: I had a 45 of her singles Lucky Star and Border Line. I had just put the needle on the vinyl and was about halfway through Lucky Star when my mother came charging up the stairs, into my room and ripped it right off the turn-table. She snapped it right in half, LOL! Mom, if you’re reading this, it back-fired on you because that made me like Madonna even more! Long live Madonna!

Other Madonna songs with that similar “fun bop” to them are Into the Groove and Like a Virgin from 1984, and Open Your Heart from 1986. Whitney Houston’s I Wanna Dance With Somebody from 1987 also has the “fun bop” sound that I associate with the 80’s according to my memories. Movies like Flashdance and Footloose epitomized the music of this decade.

So without going too far into “big hair” band discussion, I am just going to provide as many songs as I can from the previous list, and hope that ukulele enthusiasts will enjoy my representation of the music of the 80’s as much as I do 🙂

Queen/Freddy Mercury: Crazy Little Thing Called Love

The Police: Every-Breath-You-Take-by-The-Police

George Michael: Faith

Kenny Loggins: Footloose

Cyndy Lauper: Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

Eurythmics: HERE COMES THE RAIN AGAINSweet Dreams

Foreigner: I Want To Know What Love Is

Culture Club/Boy George: Karma Chameleon (Word)

The Cure: Lovesong by the Cure

Madonna: MATERIAL GIRLLike A Prayer (Word)

Billy Joel: The Longest Time

Men Without Hats: The Safety Dance (PDF)

Michael Jackson: The Way You Make Me Feel (Key of G)(PDF)

Katrina and the Waves: Walking On Sunshine (G)

Bon Jovi: YOU GIVE LOVE A BAD NAME by Bon Jovi

Hits of the 80’s, Part 2: Canadian

Okay, okay. I already wrote enthusiastically about this, in a previous article in June. The problem is, I have this…. condition. Called…. “Sometimers”. And, even with the very best intentions, this….. ailment gets the best of me occasionally. Technically speaking, the True Colors Sunglasses at Night post was actually Part 1 making Part 1: Country Part 2.

Clear as mud?

To enjoy what I already wrote, go here: Related image

https://catporritt.com/2018/06/07/true-colors-sunglasses-at-night/

And, coming up! Hits of the 80’s, Part 3: Fun Pop, will actually be the third, and final, chapter in this examination of the genre. (I’m just doing this because I have a ukulele theme night coming up August 7th, OK?)

 

Hits of the 80’s, Part 1: Country

Image result for 80'sI know the music of the 80’s has a reputation as being quirky, fun even, but to truly represent the musical hits of the 80’s I wanted to look at Country Hits of the era as well as Canadian, Pop and British or European, in as far as what made it onto the radio waves here in North America.

Part One is COUNTRY.

Here is one of our karaoke favorites and was a big hit on the Country Hits chart in 1982 and won Willie Nelson a Grammy Award for Record of the Year.

Always On My Mind  Image result for Willie Nelson

The Oakridge Boys had a massive hit with this light-hearted and fun song called Elvira, still within the country music genre in 1981.

ELVIRA

Neither one of these songs was actually written in the 80’s. Elvira was written in 1965 and Always on My Mind was written in 1972 by Johnny Christopher, Mark James and Wayne Carson. But who made it famous? These guys. Willie Nelson’s version actually won him a Grammy Award, and Elvira put the Oakridge Boys on the country music map.

Image result for Grandpa tell me bout the good old days

The 80’s was a great decade for a mother and daughter singing duo who called themselves, quite simply, The Judds. Their country hits were Mama He’s Crazy in 1984, Have Mercy in 1985 and Grandpa (Tell Me Bout the Good Old Days) in 1985.

Grandpa Tell Me Bout the Good Old Days

Other personal country favourites from this decade are Fishing in the Dark, 1987 by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, as well as I Told You So by Randy Travis, 1988.

Stay tuned for Hits of the 80’s, Part 2: Canadian.  🙂 

 

True Colors Sunglasses at Night

Related imageTwo iconic songs of the 80’s: True Colors and Sunglasses at Night.

Corey Hart, the underdog crooner of the 80’s, a Canadian from Montreal no less. (However, it worked for Celine Dion, did it not? LOL) I wasn’t too fond of The Boy in the Box (my hubby loves that song) but I could really party to Sunglasses at Night.

As I have told my kids and hubby numerous times: we sang this song in the hallways of my high school going between classes and my Grade 12 started a daily movement to wear sunglasses in classes, to the point where the Vice-Principal had to enforce a strict no-sunglasses rule. Yeah! That was us! We did that! VHSS Class of 84! GOD what a fun year! (We also used to sing Wasn’t That a Party between classes as loud as we could, but this is beside the point…..)

Enter Corey Hart, great looking clean-cut guy, great hair, big kissable lips, I mean, what a heart-throb! The picture of him in his brown leather jacket was taped onto every girl’s closet door, I’m sure. Sunglasses at Night came out in 1983/84 along with his other platinum hit, Never Surrender, but the real romance started when he released Can’t Help Falling in Love in 1986. I was in second year of Uni and girls were swooning over this song all night long.

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Lately, she’s been looking a little more like this, with the pink hair. Promoting her True Colours Fund which can be found at her website, cyndilauper dot com
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This look is how I remember her: wild looking a little bit off the cuff.

When Cyndi Lauper’s debut album She’s So Unusual hit the stores in 1983, we couldn’t get enough of it: Girls Just Want to Have Fun, Time After Time, She Bop, All Through the Night, to name a few of the good ones. Set in the midst of the new-age techno sound, we bopped and ‘lauped’ to  all. True Colors in 1986 became a national anthem of sorts.

(Hopefully the vid is there for Sunglasses. I haven’t had much luck with the one for Octopus’s Garden showing up.)

Here are my ukulele arrangements of these two songs:

TRUE COLORS

SUNGLASSES AT NIGHT

Hallelujah

Yes, another 80’s song! High five!

Hallelujah was written by Leonard Cohen in 1980. A very famous and popular version was recorded on guitar in 1994 by Jeff Buckley.

A version by Rufus Wainright was used in the 2001 film Shrek, featuring (another Canadian) Mike Meyers. Other famous artists to cover this song include Jon Bon Jovi.

So this arrangement is intended for linear ukulele, which means it sounds better on an ukulele that has the low G string on it.

That’s what I use.

(Actually, I use both.)

Hallelujah linear

The video below is a really good instructional by Brett McQueen over at Ukulele Tricks, explaining how you can do two possible picking patterns, and how it fits together with the chords. I use a lot of his video’s both at his website and on youtube.

Brett’s website: http://www.ukuleletricks.com/ukulele-songs/

 

Another Auld Lang Syne

Here is another throw back to the 80’s, by Dan Fogelberg. Some say the lyrics of the song were the inspiration for the “cute meet” scene in the movie, He’s Just Not That Into You. That’s a rumour, so don’t quote me on it.

The song “Same Old Lang Syne” by Dan Fogelberg is called a “cyclical song”, where the writer takes you through an event from start to finish. The album it comes off was considered cyclical in nature, called the Innocent Age, in 1981. The song was actually released in late 1980, but the album had not been released yet. There is some internet conjecture that it was not completed yet. Why the song was released ahead of time was not explained, but may have been a marketing ploy by the record company because the Innocent Age wound up going double platinum.

I’ve always loved this song. It starts out with nostalgia, revisiting the past and then ends with the present. The lyrics at the end, “and the snow, turned in.. to… rain……” manage to evoke two emotions at the same time. The beautiful whimsy of fresh falling snow, and the happy awe that it evokes, the positive feelings of snow associated with Christmas, turning into melancholy and sadness with the rain. And how he takes us from one sensation to the other from the beginning of the song to the very last words, from that moment back in time to the reality of now, exposing a deep longing that can never be satisfied, that unresolved ‘what if’ regarding the road not taken. Is genius.

And on top of it all, I managed to arrange the song in the same key! You can pretty much strum along to the song as you listen to it!

Same Old Lang Syne

 

 

 

Let It Snow!!

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Simcoe Christmas Panorama, Saturday, November 28/15

Yep, bring it on already! The Santa Claus Parade was last weekend, Simcoe Christmas Panorama Light-Up was on Saturday, and my daughter and I got the lights and wreathes out on the front porch, too. I even changed the outside light bulb to a green one (although Jeff twisted it off because he says, “it takes away from all the other lights”).

The point is, I’m ready to start praying to the snow gods for just a little white before Christmas. It’s not even December the 1st until tomorrow, but last year at this time we already had snow for about a week.

So in honour of “almost” December, I am kicking the season off with two Christmas songs. One is from our group a couple of years ago, called “It’s Beginning to Look Alot Like Christmas”, by Meredith Willson. The Christmas song with the longest title. This was a hit by both Perry Como and Bing Crosby in 1951, but it’s probably the version by Johnny Mathis for his 80’s television special that I think of.  Popular belief behind the writing of the song is that Willson wrote it in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia while staying at the famous Yarmouth Grand Hotel. From there he could see a decorated Christmas tree in Frost Park, located directly across the street from the Grand Hotel.

This is a really fun song with a moderately paced tempo. That being said, there is one spot in there where I recommend players abandon the Bdim chord, which is a four-finger chord, in favour of playing just a G7, which actually is 3/4 of the Bdim chord anyway, and only because you are already forming Gm7 right before you have to fumble your way into the Bdim. Because of the quick tempo. In a group, no one will notice. 🙂

The arrangement is laid out for an optional kazoo solo, and I’m going to give you one huge free piece of advice for success here. For the kazoo solo, it is absolutely imperative to make sure your kazoo is in tune beforehand.

Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

The second song is “Let It Snow” ~ of course! Composed in July 1945 by Jule Styne, words by Sammy Cahn, in Hollywood, California ~ during a heat wave! This is also the holiday tune most associated with Dean Martin, who recorded it in 1959. Bing Crosby also recorded this tune on his famous 1962 album, I Wish You a Merry Christmas. The original recording by Vaughn Monroe plays at the end of the 1988 movie Die Hard.

This is my own arrangement with a nice tagged ending. I don’t play the song twice through because it’s one of these pseudo-ballads that almost tells a story. I like it in C because it suits my vocal range the best. Not perfect, but close. Also, surprisingly easy to memorize, however when performing for a crowd, keep in mind that most people only know one line: let it snow, let it now, let it snow!

Let it Snow

 

My Online Favourites

Summer Wind2

And now, here are a few of my personal online favourites.

I like them just the way they are – ha ha ha!

Have You Ever Seen the Rain: http://www.scorpexuke.com/song-display.html?song=Have_You_Ever_Seen_The_Rain&id=193

This is a great one. You play Csus4 with just one strum, trust me it will sound the way you remember it. After becoming accustomed to playing that one plus the Gsus4 you might find yourself throwing it into other songs as they come up. Also, this is a great campfire song.

Crazy Little Thing Called Love: http://www.scorpexuke.com/song-display.html?song=Crazy_Little_Thing_Called_Love&id=106

Great arrangement. It has a little mini tablature right in the middle of it, for notes to pick on just the A-string and the E-string for the guitar lick part of the song. After you practice it a while to get it down pat, you will find you can throw it in there with perfect timing while performing. A little bit of a challenge there, but manageable and adds to your growing skills set. 🙂

The Summer Wind: http://www.doctoruke.com/summerwind.pdf

This is one of my weepy favourites:  we can only play this one at certain times and not around certain people, ie. not during break-up recovery. At first glance, you might feel overwhelmed by the amount of chords but that is just the Dr. Uke style. The lyrics with just the chord letters will be on page two. Advice on the chords: not necessary to play the full F7 chord, just play it as 2310, and on the last line, I like to morph the last 2 C7’s into something I don’t know the name of – but sounds better – which is to bar the first fret and press the first string in the third fret (C note). Or 1113, then add that as well after the final F6 with an F chord as well for finalé. It’s a great little jazz arrangement, you could go on and on with it because it has lots of potential, and the chords are easy – who doesn’t like Am7? LOL

These already published online songs won’t be included in my next songbook, which is generally a reflection of my own arrangements and personal taste with regard to wording, strumming, timing, morphed chords, intro’s, outro’s and sentiment.

Finé

3 Love Songs

February is the month of love, and I was remiss in not posting a song or two in honour of St. Valentine’s Day.

So I am making up for that by posting some songs that I enjoy playing, Kaempfert’s L-O-V-E and Hey, Baby by Bruce Channel. And the other one is You Send Me, the debut single by American singer-songwriter Sam Cooke.

Hey, Baby was written by Margaret Cobb and Bruce Channel and was recorded by Bruce Channel in 1961. The song features a prominent riff from well-known harmonica player Delbert McClinton and was a #1 hit in 1962. Hey, Baby actually enjoyed a massive re-popularization when it was used in the movie Dirty Dancing in 1987. The movie’s soundtrack album became a huge commercial success. Wikipedia says it sold 32 million copies world-wide and is considered one of the best-selling albums of all time. In 2000, Austrian artist “DJ Ötzi” recorded a cover version for dance clubs. In 2002 it became the unofficial theme song for the 2002 FIFA World Cup. His version reached number 1 in the UK, Ireland, Australia and Japan.

Here is the song: HEY BABY

Classic Bruce Channel recording of the song:

DJ Otzi dance version:

Bert Kaempfert was a German orchestra leader and songwriter. He made easy-listening and jazz records and composed the music for a number of well-known songs. Many of his tunes became huge successes for famous recording artists. Wooden Heart, sung by Elvis Presley in the film G.I. Blues was a hit in 1961. Strangers in the Night became a huge hit for Frank Sinatra in 1966. Danke Schoen, with words added by Milt Gabler, became Wayne Newton’s signature song. Milt Gabler also wrote the lyrics for L-O-V-E in 1964 which became a hit song for Nat King Cole in 1965.

Here is the song: L.O.V.E

L-O-V-E by Nat King Cole:

You Send Me was Sam Cooke’s debut single released in 1957 as the B-side recording of Summertime. It was a massive commercial success, becoming a number one hit on both the Rhythm and Blues and Pop song charts. This was one of the first songs outside the realm of Gospel recordings for Cooke. Although the intended A-side was Summertime, radio disc jockeys preferred You Send Me. Over the years, it has become the landmark song of the “soul genre” which Cooke helped create.

Here is the song: You Send Me You can add the extra singing bits he does, ie. “I know, I know, I know, I know” etc. at the end, and he sings “you send me” about 4 times over at the end. Basically, if you aim for about 2 1/2 to 3 minutes length of time you will have the song covered.  🙂

You Send Me video of Sam Cooke:

My Nod to St. Patrick’s Day

 Well, Aloha to Saint Paddy, he sure was a brute of a legendary figure, wasn’t he?

During the day the ukulele group played at the Grace United Church for their Irish Stew Supper fundraiser, I heard a couple of stories about St. Patrick. One was that he was enslaved by the Irish nation, and that upon his freedom having become a Christian missionary, he actually returned to the country of his abuse as a Bishop. Til his dying day, I hear.

Extra, extra, read all about it, here: Saint Patrick

In the meantime, we had a couple of places that we played out for St. Patrick’s Day and for one place we needed some extra songs so I sent this one out to the group. Canadian Irish Folk Group, The Irish Rovers, were formed in 1963 and named after the popular Irish song, The Irish Rover. They are best known for their international tv series, popularizing Irish music in North America, The Unicorn Song (written by Shel Silverstein) and Wasn’t That a Party. All of the band members are from Ireland, half of whom now live in Canada. The Irish Rovers have represented Canada at five World Expos.

In 1980 the group re-named themselves “The Rovers” and found success with the chart-topping song, Wasn’t That a Party. But by 1989 they had reverted back to their famous original name, The Irish Rovers. As a high-school student, nothing was cooler than this song, except for maybe I Wear My Sunglasses at Night…..

WASN’T THAT A PARTY

CHORUS:

[C] Could’ve been the whiskey, might’ve been the gin.

Could’ve been the three or four six-packs, I don’t know

But [C7] look at the mess I’m in: my head is like a [F] football,

I think I’m gonna [C] die! Tell me, [G] me oh, me oh my! [STOP]

Wasn’t that a [C] party?

.

[C] Someone took a grapefruit, wore it like a hat.

I saw someone under my kitchen table

[C7] Talking to my old tom cat – they were talking ‘bout [F] hockey –

The cat was talking [C] back!!!

Long about [G] then every-thing went black! [STOP]         

Wasn’t that a [C] party?

CHORUS

BRIDGE:           

[C] I’m sure it’s just my [F] memory

Playing tricks on [C] me

But I [D] think I saw my buddy

Cutting [G] down my neighbour’s tree! [STOP]

CHORUS

2nd BRIDGE:

Billy Joe and [F] Tommy

Well they went a little [C] far

They were [D] sitting in the back yard, blowing on a sireen

From [G] somebody’s police car

So you see, Your [C] Honour, it was all in fun

That little bittie drag meet down on Main Street

Was just to [C7] see if the cops could run

So they run us in to [F] see you, in an alcoholic [C] haze

I sure can [G] use those thirty days [STOP]        To re-cover from the [C] party!

CHORUS

ENDING:  Wasn’t that a party? Wasn’t that a [C(4)] party?    F(4)   G7(4)   C(1)