Tag Archives: George Michael

Episode 7: Remembering Alan Thicke, George Michael, and Carrie Fisher

memorial-cover

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.


Alan Thicke (3/1/47-12/13/16)

Of course we know Alan Thicke as Jason Seaver on Growing Pains. However, he was also a songwriter for many shows, including Diff’rent Strokes and The Facts of Life.

The multi-talented Thicke also hosted the game show Animal Crack-Ups, and also wrote and performed the theme song. Here is an opening segment of that show:


George Michael (6/25/63-12/25/16)

George Michael had a very successful career as both a member of Wham! and as a solo artist. Some of his highlights we cover are”

Wake me up Before You Go-Go
Careless Whisper
Last Christmas
One More Try

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.


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We’ll Be Right Back – Clips of Alan Thicke, George Michael, and Carrie Fisher

Hi Everybody, After all the devastating news over the past week, Robert and I have been preparing a special podcast episode. The regular Remember That Song and Quote of the Day segments will be back in 2017. In the meantime, here are a few videos of a happier time. Enjoy.

Although he was mainly known as Jason Seaver in Growing Pains, Alan Thicke also starred in this show, Animal Crack-Ups, which aired while he was still on Growing Pains. Not only did Thicke host this show, he wrote and sang the theme song. Here is the opening segment of an episode:


I’m sure all of you have been listening to a lot of Wham! and George Michael songs lately. Here is something a little different. James Corden’s Carpool Karaoke is enormously popular these days. As it so happens, George Michael appeared in the very first Carpool Karaoke. This is from Comic Relief in the U.K. in 2011. At the time, James Corden was best known as Smithy from Gavin and Stacey.
This scene begins with “Smithy” receiving a call from Lenny Henry at Comic Relief who asks him to head to BBC Television Centre to help record a charity single. For U.S. readers who may not know, Lenny Henry is a legendary comic in the U.K. Of course Corden is hilarious. But, this clip really shows George Michael’s sense of humor. ’80s fans may possibly recognize the songs that get played here…


Last but not least, here are a couple of appearances by Carrie Fisher on Late Night. These interviews are from:

May 30, 1983: promoting “Return of the Jedi”
August 27, 1987: promoting her new book “Postcards from the Edge”

Her interviews are always funny and honest (to say the least).

Sax in the ’80s

Hi Everybody! This week Robert is taking a break from Deep Tracks. Instead, he is delving into an awesome topic – 80’s songs that feature a saxophone. Along with the synthesizer, I feel that the sax gives songs that classic ’80s signature sound. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that just about the only new song I’ve liked in recent years is “The Edge of Glory” by Lady Gaga. The late, great Big Man, Clarence Clemons (of E-Street Band fame) has a sax solo in that song.

This will be a two-part series, with 5 songs each day. Take it away, Robert


It has been a tough few weeks for fans of ‘70s and ‘80s pop culture. The recent deaths of David Bowie, Alan Rickman, and Glenn Frey have taken many of us by surprise. We have all read about the lives and careers of these great artists, so I am not going to rehash all of that information. As I have been thinking about these three, I keep coming back to Glenn Frey, both his solo work and the music he created with the Eagles. For years I have enjoyed the great songs that he created on his own or with the legendary band. I vividly remember buying the Eagles single “New Kid in Town” and listening to it over and over again, each time feeling sadder and sadder for the new kid. As I moved into high school and college I gained a huge love and respect for all of the Eagles’ music. Frey’s solo work was also outstanding. Songs like “The Heat is On” and “Smuggler’s Blues” were on dozens of mixtapes that I made- forcing my friends to listen to these great songs.

Over the past week I have listened to many of Frey’s songs and have rediscovered two of my favorites, “The One You Love” and “You Belong to the City.” I also remembered that one of the reasons I love these songs is the use of the saxophone. Naturally, this lead me to thinking about other ‘80s songs that have the prominent use of a saxophone. It took some deep trips into my memory and a little research, but I have come up with my ten favorite ‘80s hits that feature the smooth sounds of the sax; I am defining “feature” as having, at minimum, a sax solo. This is by no means meant to be a comprehensive list, just my favorites and a nod to Glenn Frey whose music got me thinking about it. So here they are – in no particular order, my favorite ten ‘80s song with a clear saxophone element being used.


“The One You Love” by Glenn Frey

I begin this list with the song and artist that is the inspiration for this list. This is my favorite solo hit by Frey and comes from his debut solo album No Fun Allowed in 1982. The song reached #15 on the AT 40 and, while that is a respectable chart position, it does not really capture the full quality of this song. The saxophones are played by two musicians; the repeating theme in the song is played by Ernie Watts and the solo sax at the end of the song is played by Jim Horn (no, this is not a pun). This is a slow paced, somber tune that depicts a moral dilemma. The woman in the song is trapped between two men and must make a choice that is going to have a profound effect on both men, “Someone’s going to cry when they’ve learned they lost you / Someone’s going to thank the stars above.” Each man speaks to a different side of the woman which makes her decision extremely difficult. One of the men has hurt her before and the one she is with now treats her well, but she is not crazy in love with him. The chorus ask the question that is perfectly captures her choice: “Are you going back to the one who loves you / Or are you going to stay with the one you love?” There is no easy answer to this difficult situation, but we do know that this song gets Frey’s solo career off to an excellent start.

“Fortress Around Your Heart” by Sting

I will confess to being a huge fan of the Police and Sting due to the songwriting. My English teacher self loves Sting’s lyrics full of symbolism, imagery, and metaphors – call me a literary geek if you want, I will fully acknowledge and accept the label. On Sting’s first two solo albums, Dream of the Blue Turtles and Nothing Like the Sun, he seems to be trying to stylistically separate himself from the Police. He has abandoned the reggae influences for a more jazz based sound, hence the prominence of the horns. The saxophone on this track is played by the incomparable Branford Marsalis. The sax is spread throughout the song and blends nicely with Sting’s bass and guitar work. This will always be my favorite Sting song because of the lyrics. He takes an unusual twist and uses war imagery to capture a man who is regretting the way he has handled the relationship with his love. He wants to protect her, but he may have taken this to an extreme and now feel remorseful, “I recognize the walls that I once made / Had to stop in my tracks for fear of walking on the mines I’ve laid.” I believe his intentions were good, he just let things get out of hand. The chorus captures both this and his regret in doing so: “And if I built this fortress around your heart / Encircled you in trenches and barbed wire / Let me build a bridge, for I cannot fill the chasm / Let me set the battlements on fire.” I have always been a huge fan of Sting’s songwriting and this song is a prime example of this. I am looking forward to seeing him at the NBA All-Star game in a few weeks.

“Careless Whisper” by Wham! featuring George Michael

I have absolutely no problem in declaring my love for Wham!’s album Make It Big. It was one of my favorites in high school and my best friends and I nearly wore the grooves off of the record. This particular song ended up as the #1 song of 1985 (“Wake Me Up Before You Go Go” was #3) and I have always been fascinated with the raw emotions of the lyrics. The gorgeous saxophone is played by Steve Gregory and truly carries this somber song. When people think of this song Gregory’s excellent sounding horn comes to mind immediately. While this song is from the Make It Big album, it is a solo effort by George Michael and it clearly played an instrumental role in him embarking on a solo career soon after it’s success. The song is one of regret. The speaker has made an enormous mistake and lost his love, “Should have known better than to cheat a friend / And waste the chance that I have been given.” Now he is realizing that he has lost a very special relationship and realizing he can never get it back, “I’m never going to dance again / These guilty feeling got no rhythm . . . So I’m never going to dance again the way I danced with you.” The chorus is agonizing and full of guilt and hopelessness – he know he has lost her forever because of something he did. I am always caught by the bridge in this song, “Maybe it’s better this way / We’ve hurt each other with the things we want to say / We could have been so good together / We could have lived this dance forever / Now who’s going to dance with me.” As an adult who married his high school sweetheart, this song has always stayed with me and serves as reminder of being true to the one who is most important in my life.

“True” by Spandau Ballet

This 1983 hit may now be best remembered for making an appearance in Sixteen Candles – remember the dance scene?

This is Spandau Ballet’s only significant hit in the U.S., putting this song on the category of one hit wonder. If you only get one hit, it might as well be a memorable one like “True” that still makes us stop, listen, and reflect on our high school days. This slow jam of a song is a perfect fit for and a staple of high school dances in the ‘80s. I have fond memories of standing up against the wall, too embarrassed to dance to the fast songs and way too scared to ask anyone to dance to this one. Most memorable are the smooth vocals by Tony Hadley, the simple and repeating guitar plucks and the sax by Steve Norman. There is not much about the lyrics that has not been said, so I offer you a challenge: play this song sometime soon and try not to sway back and forth and hit those “dunt dunt (pause) dunt dunt” sounds. You can’t resist – and neither can I.

“Urgent” by Foreigner

I love Foreigner and the album 4 that this song comes from is one of the major reasons why. There are truly no bad songs anywhere on this album. This album, released in 1981, had five AT 40 hits with “Urgent” hitting #4. This is a great rock song with great guitar work by Mick Jones and Lou Gramm’s signature vocal style. The unforgettable sax solo is played by Junior Walker while the rest of the sax is played by Mark Rivera (although the video does not suggest this). The song as about a woman who just seems to have a burning need to be with the speaker. This is never meant to be a long term relationship, rather a quick-hit whenever needed. I have always enjoyed the pace of this song, lyrics included. I love the way they phrase lines like, “You play trick on my mind / You’re everywhere but you’re so hard to find / You’re not warm, you’re sentimental / You’re so extreme, you can be so temperamental.” This is a fantastic song that played a large role in getting me into music. Years later (1986) when I started dating my future wife, I quickly discovered that we do not have the same passion for or taste in music – except for this album. “Urgent” and 4 was one of the first albums we listened to together and, when it comes on now, we both really get into it.

Top 40 Songs This Week – May 21, 1988: Songs 10-1

Hi Everybody! Welcome back as we conclude this week’s countdown! If you missed the previous songs, you can go ahead and check out songs 40-31, 30-21, and songs 20-11. This is an interesting top 10, as there is quite the variety of music. Now, let’s Return to the week ending May 21, 1988, and wrap up the countdown.

10. “Two Occasions” by The Deele

We kick off the top 10 with an R&B ballad. I had never heard of The Deele until recently. There were a couple of music moguls as part of this group – Babyface and L.A. Reid. I remembered this song when I heard it. I like it.

>9. “Everything Your Heart Desires” by Hall & Oates

As we were approaching the end of the decade, we were approaching the end of Hall & Oates’ great run of hits. This song would peak at #3, and become the duo’s 16th, and final, Top 10 hit.

8. “Wait” by White Lion

We are back with another rock song. I loved White Lion. The rocked, and had a little different sound than some bands at the time. Mike Tramp has an interesting voice, and Vito Bratta is an awesome guitarist. This song was White Lion’s big breakthrough hit.

7. “Electric Blue” by Icehouse

Icehouse, not to be confused by the early ’90s hair band Firehouse, was an Australian synthpop band. This is another song that I recognized as soon as I heard it. This song was written by Icehouse lead singer Iva Davies (who happens to turn 60 today) and John Oates. I really enjoy this song.

6. “I Don’t Want to Live Without You” by Foreigner

This rock ballad would also be Foreigner’s 16th, and final top 40 hit.

5. “Naughty Girls (Need Love Too)” by Samantha Fox

As I mentioned earlier in the week, even though I was more of a rock fan, I loved freestyle music too. So I was a huge fan of Samantha Fox. This was big hit for Samantha, peaking at #3.

4. “Always On My Mind” by The Pet Shop Boys

Earlier in the decade, Willie Nelson had a huge hit with this song. The Pet Shop Boys were successful with it as well, with their own synthpop take on it.

 


Now let’s take a look at what was topping some of the other charts this week:

Topping the Rock charts was “The Valley Road” by Bruce Hornsby and the Range, which we saw at #25 on the Hot 100 this week.

The #1 R&B hit was “Mercedes Boy” by Pebbles

The biggest Country hit was “Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen Roses” by Kathy Mattea

Topping the Dance charts was “Like a Child” by Noel

The biggest Album this week was Faith by George Michael

The #1 Adult Contemporary hit is also our #3 hit on the Hot 100 this week:

3. “Shattered Dreams” by Johnny Hates Jazz

This song was a worldwide hit for the English pop group. It was a #5 hit in England in 1987. A year later it would be even more successful in the U.S., hitting #2.

2. “One More Try” by George Michael


The ’80s were a good time for George Michael. He had some huge hits as a member of Wham!, and he had an even bigger solo career. This was a #1 hit off of his classic Faith album. This is one of those songs that I didn’t care for much back then, but love it now.

1. “Anything For You” by Gloria Estefan & Miami Sound Machine

Gloria Estefan and the Miami Sound Machine already had a handful of big hits in the U.S. by this point. But, this was their big breakthrough hit throughout the rest of the world. Just about every hit for Estefan this point forward was an adult contemporary song.


Well that wraps up this week’s countdown. Thanks so much for checking it out. I hope you enjoyed it. There will be more to come in the upcoming weeks. In the meantime, Keep your feet on the ground, and keep reaching for the stars.

Top 40 Songs This Week – March 9, 1985: Songs 10-1

Welcome back to this week’s Countdown! If you missed the previous songs, you can go ahead and check out songs 40-31, 30-21 and 20-11. Well, I think this has been a really solid countdown this week. And there are going to be some ’80s classics in this Top 10. So, let’s Return to the week ending March 9, 1985, and wrap up this week’s countdown.

10. “Misled” by Kool & the Gang


Once again, a great way to begin the countdown today! This is one of my favorite Kool & the Gang songs. This was off of Kool & the Gang’s biggest selling album, Emergency.

9. “Sugar Walls” by Sheena Easton

I love Sheena Easton, but this isn’t one of my favorite songs by her. It does have that classic ’80s synth-pop sound though. This song was composed by Prince, and you can totally hear it.

8. “I Want to Know What Love Is” by Foreigner

This classic power ballad by Foreigner was a #1 hit. It was also overplayed. But, after avoiding it for a while, it sounds good to me again.

7. “Neutron Dance” by The Pointer Sisters

This is a great fun song by the Pointer Sisters, with Ruth as the lead singer. It was included on their great album, Break Out. However, it’s inclusion on the Beverly Hills Cop soundtrack may have helped it become a huge hit. The song went so perfectly with the awesome chase scene at the beginning of the movie.

6. “Too Late For Goodbyes” by Julian Lennon

This was Julian Lennon’s biggest hit. I could not get over how much he looked and sounded like his father, John. Back then, I was kind of hoping the Beatles would reunite, with Julian taking his father’s place. But, I could not even imagine the pressure he already must have felt. So, that may have been unfair to him. I kind of like this song, and it really brings me back.

5. “Material Girl” by Madonna

I do love me some classic Madonna! I even had a little crush on her back then. It was nice when she was relevant. By the way, did you know she has a new studio album out? I didn’t, until I just went to iTunes for something else. Oh well. After this song, Madonna would sometimes be called the Material Girl in the headlines of newspapers and magazines. She did have a hit with “Like a Virgin“, but I notice she was never called Virgin Madonna. Anyway, “Material Girl” helped play a big part in helping Madonna become a pop icon of the ’80s.

4. “California Girls” by David Lee Roth

I loved this song when it came out! I much prefer DLR’s rockin’ music, but this was fun. He always has the strangest characters in his music videos.

3. “The Heat is On” by Glenn Frey

Another ’80s classic! And another smash hit from Beverly Hills Cop. This song would top out at #2, being held off by this week’s top song. However, it is the highest U.S. charting solo single by any member of The Eagles.


Now is the time of the countdown where we find out what was topping the other charts this week in 1985.

Topping the Country charts was “My Only Love” by the Statler Brothers

Topping the R&B charts was our #34 song on the Hot 100 – “Missing You” by Diana Ross.

The top Rock song this week was our #25 hit on the Hot 100 – “Just Another Night” by Mick Jagger.

The top Dance tune was “New Attitude” by Patti LaBelle.

The top album was Make It Big by Wham

And the top Adult Contemporary song this week is our #2 song this week:

2. “Careless Whisper” by Wham! Featuring George Michael

This was George Michael’s first solo hit, although he was still performing in Wham! at the time. The song was on Wham!’s Make It Big album. This is one of those songs that I did not like at all when it came out. But, I like it now.

1. “Can’t Fight This Feeling” by REO Speedwagon

We have reached the top of the charts with this classic power ballad by REO Speedwagon. This was the first week of this song’s run as the #1 hit in the country. If you see any ’80s love song compilation, chances are very good that this song will be on it.


Remember That Song: 11/12/14

Can you name the artist and song:

Now there’s a million questions
I could ask about our lives
But I only need one answer
To get me through the night


Last Song: “I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)” by Aretha Franklin and George Michael from the album Aretha (1986)

Great job Jim, Kids Inc Daily (@kidsincdaily), and Candy (@candyissodandy)!!!

When the river was deep
I didn’t falter
When the mountain was high
I still believed

And here is the Kids Incorporated version (featuring Fergie) thanks to Kids Inc Daily (@kidsincdaily)

Remember That Song – 6/27/14

Hair’s to Friday!!!

Can you name the artist and song and complete the lyrics:

Gonna take more than a shot
to get this poison out of me
And I got all the
________ _____ __ _ _ _


Last Song: “Faith” by George Michael from his album Faith (1987)

Baby, I know you’re asking me to stay
Say please, please, please don’t go away
You say I’m giving you the blues

Cool TV and my Fun Facebook Friday Night

This past Friday, I discovered a channel on my cable system that I never knew I had. I noticed it through the guide on the television, and there was a show called Flashback Friday (or something like that). Then I noticed that coming on at 8:00 was a show called 80s on Eight. Of course I set the DVR to record the show. Could it actually be a show that has ’80s music videos? Sure enough it was!! I got so excited, that I went on Facebook, and posted each video that came on with a brief description.
I had so much fun, that I thought I would share it all here as well.

If you are on Facebook, go ahead and Like Return to the 80s. In addition to linking the articles from this blog, I also share other pages, songs, and pictures that I come across.

For now, you don’t have to be on Facebook to share the Fun Friday I had. Hmm, I had fun Friday watching videos. Boy, I must be getting old!

So, below is what I posted along with each video. Enjoy!

One More Try – George Michael

OK, I just found a television channel that I never knew I had – Cool TV. Does anybody else have it? There is a show on now called 80s on 8 (not to be confused with the Sirius/XM channel). It looks like they show music videos from the ’80s! I am DVRing it now, and just started watching it. I’ll share the videos that are coming on. First up:

What Kind of Fool Am I – Rick Springfield

I’m liking this! As much as I love “Jessie’s Girl”, it’s refreshing to see a different Springfield video:

When You Love a Woman – Journey

Ummm..I thought the show was called 80s at Eight. Hold on, let me check…Yeah, that’s what it’s called. Eh, I’m definitely not going to complain! It is Journey after all. And I don’t think I’ve ever seen this video before. I must have stopped watching MTV by the time this came out:

Close My Eyes Forever – Lita Ford and Ozzy

Oh Yeah!!

Queen of the Broken Hearts – Loverboy

Woo Hoo! Here’s another one! Instead of “Working for the Weekend”, we get something a little different:

Shattered Dreams – Johnny Hates Jazz

There are commercials after a few songs. They should throw in some ’80s commercials. Next up…

King for a Day – XTC

I would never have thought to include this on a playlist. Something different for me.

Head Over Heels – Tears For Fears

OMG, I just heard this song on the radio, and was thinking of using it for a “Remember That Song?” post:

Is There Something I Should Know – Duran Duran

I think there may be 1 or 2 of you out there who may like this one. Any
Stuck in the ’80s fans out there? Sing it with me: PPTMN!!

And We Danced – The Hooters

LOVE. IT. I’ll be rewinding this and watch it again!

Breakfast In Bed – UB40 and Chrissie Hynde

Awww!! Last song! I don’t think I ever heard this song in my life. I really like it! Better than “Red, Red Wine”. Happy Birthday again Chrissie Hynde!!

I hope you all enjoyed my lunacy this evening. I don’t go off the deep end too often. And I hope I didn’t annoy too many people by filling up their newsfeed. But, I had fun!