Inspired by the July 20 birthdays of Carlos Santana, Soundgarden’s Chris Cornell, Kim Carnes, The Exciters’ Brenda Reid, Buddy Knox, JoBoxers’ Dig Wayne and The Dandy Warhols’ Courtney Taylor-Taylor; and the July 19 birthdays of Queen’s Brian May, Eagles’ Bernie Leadon, and Commander Cody.
Tag Archives: Kim Carnes
Inspired by the April 5 birthdays of ABBA’s Agnetha Faltskog, Pharrell Williams, The Hollies’ Allan Clarke, The Platters’ Tony Williams, Three 6 Mafia’s Juicy J, Wall of Voodoo’s Stan Ridgway, Paula Cole, Crispian St. Peters and Bette Davis.
For this week’s Throwback Thursday playlist, we revisit 1981. The 1981 Grammy Award for Album of the Year went to John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s Double Fantasy. The Best New Artist was Shena Easton. Record of the Year and Song of the Year went to “Bette Davis Eyes,” performed by Kim Carnes. Both Carnes and Easton were nominated for Best Pop Vocal Performance, Female, along with Olivia Newton-John for “Physical” and Juice Newton for “Angel of the Morning,” but those ladies lost to Lena Horne for “WTF?”. Rick Springfield won Best Rock Performance, Male (naturally) for “Jessie’s Girl.” “Just the Two of Us,” the Grover Washington, Jr./Bill Withers hit, took home the trophy for Best Rhythm & Blues Song.
Here are some of 1981’s biggest hits:
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Today is the birthday of two music icons – Jam-Master Jay of rap pioneers Run-D.M.C. and disc jockey Wolfman Jack. Besides their place in their history of rock and roll, both men have another thing in common – they were the subjects of songs. That inspired me to put together today’s playlist – songs named after real people.
I found fifty songs whose titles are actual people. Actually I found more than fifty, but I didn’t want to subject you to Chiddy Bang or Mac Miller. I made a few rules for myself:
1) The title can’t have words besides the person’s name, hence no Kim Carnes’ “Bette Davis Eyes” or Sleater-Kinney’s “I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone.”
2) The title has to be the full name the person is known by, so no “Springsteen” by Eric Church or “Jessica” (about Jessica Simpson) by Adam Green. Allowed are “Galileo,” “Joan of Arc” and “King Tut,” as that is how most people identify Galileo Galilei, Joan d’Arc and Tutankhamun.
3) The song doesn’t have to be about the person after whom it is titled, so “Jack the Ripper” and “Rosa Parks” are in.
4) The track has to be on Spotify. This means I left out Bob Dylan’s “George Jackson” and Hoodie Allen’s “James Franco.”
Amazingly for a playlist based on such a goofy concept, it holds together quite well, if I say so myself.
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Nile Rodgers, with his friend Bernard Edwards, formed the band Chic in the mid-1970s. The pair wrote and produced the group’s music. In 1978, they had their first top ten pop single, “Dance, Dance, Dance (Yowsah, Yowsah, Yowsah),” which went to #1 on the Disco/Dance chart and remained on top for eight weeks.
Later in 1978, Chic released “Le Freak,” which was #1 on the pop chart for six weeks and became the biggest-selling single in Atlantic Records’ history.
Two more top ten singles followed in 1979 – “I Want Your Love” and the #1 smash “Good Times.” Rodgers and Edwards also wrote and produced Sister Sledge’s We Are Family album, which spawned that quartet’s only top ten pop hits – “He’s the Greatest Dancer” and the classic title track.
By late 1979 a disco backlash hit hard in the US. Any act the public perceived as a disco act had trouble getting hit records. “Good Times” was to be Chic’s last top 40 single. Even in clubs the group faltered. “Good Times,” coupled with “My Feet Keep Dancing” and “My Forbidden Lover,” hit #3 on the Disco/Dance chart. Chic wouldn’t make the top ten on that chart again until 1992.
By 1980, Chic the band were considered over, just two years after they arrived. Luckily, Chic were more than a disco band, and one person who knew that was Suzanne de Passe. De Passe was the president of Motown Productions. She hired Rodgers and Edwards to work with Diana Ross, who hadn’t had a top ten single since “Love Hangover” in 1976. The resulting album, diana, sold over ten million copies and remains the singer’s biggest-selling album to date. (I should note that it wasn’t the Chic mix of the album that got released. We’ll save that story for another time.) It spawned the top ten smashes “Upside Down” (#1 for four weeks) and the classic “I’m Coming Out,” both Rodgers/Edwards compositions.
In 1982, Nile Rodgers met David Bowie at New York club The Continental. Bowie hired Rodgers to work with him on a new album. The result? Let’s Dance, co-produced by Bowie and Rodgers. The title track became Bowie’s first top ten single since 1976’s “Golden Years” and his second (and last) #1, with 1975’s “Fame” the first. “China Girl” and “Modern Love” were also hit singles.
1983 kept Rodgers busy, working with Paul Simon, INXS, Daryl Hall and John Oates and Southside Johnny. One night he went to New York’s Roxy to catch a performance by Jenny Burton. He was intrigued by Burton’s opening act, an up-and-coming singer who went by her first name, Madonna. By the summer of ‘84, Madonna had three pop hits – “Holiday,” “Borderline” and “Lucky Star” – under her belt. When it came time to record her sophomore album, she called on Nile Rodgers.
Madonna named her second album Like a Virgin. Its title track, produced by Nile Rodgers, became Madonna’s first #1 single, staying on top for six weeks. Other hits pulled from the album were “Material Girl,” “Angel” and “Dress You Up,” all produced by Rodgers. The album has sold 21 million copies worldwide.
I won’t go into detail about every artist Nile worked with, but here’s a partial list: Duran Duran, Mick Jagger, Debbie Harry, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Michael Jackson, Prince, Rod Stewart, Robert Plant, Depeche Mode, Peter Gabriel, Grace Jones, Bryan Ferry, Johnny Mathis, Kim Carnes, Jeff Beck, Thompson Twins, Sheena Easton, Laurie Anderson, Al Jarreau, Ric Ocasek, The B-52s, David Lee Roth, Michael Bolton, Adam Lambert and Daft Punk.
Today Nile Rodgers turns 62. As it’s Friday, and I need to dance dance dance yowsah yowsah yowsah, today’s playlist consists entirely of songs Rodgers worked on. Good times!
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BEST PICTURE: 12 Years a Slave
ACTOR: Bruce Dern (Nebraska)
ACTRESS: Cate Blanchett (Blue Jasmine)
SUPPORTING ACTOR: Jared Leto (Dallas Buyers Club)
SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Lupita Nyong’o (12 Years a Slave)
DIRECTOR: Alfonso Cuarón (Gravity)
ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Her
ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: 12 Years a Slave
FILM EDITING: Gravity
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Gravity
ANIMATED FEATURE: Frozen
COSTUME DESIGN: American Hustle
MAKEUP AND HAIRSTYLING: Dallas Buyers Club
VISUAL EFFECTS: Gravity
SOUND MIXING: Gravity
SOUND EDITING: Gravity
ORIGINAL SCORE: Gravity
ORIGINAL SONG: “The Moon Song” from Her
Here is your Academy Awards-inspired playlist:
In 2011, I attended the Society of Singers’ tribute to Smokey Robinson. The award was well-deserved, as anyone who has heard him sing knows that Smokey Robinson possesses a sweet, soulful voice, one that he has used to beautiful effect on records going back more than fifty years. The British band ABC paid tribute to him on their top ten single “When Smokey Sings.” In their hit “Genius of Love,” Tom Tom Club sing “No one can sing quite like Smokey, Smokey Robinson.”
In addition to his singing talent, Smokey is a writer on many classics in the great American songbook. Chances are you know “The Tracks of My Tears,” “My Girl” (click here for more about that song), “You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me” (originally recorded by Smokey’s group The Miracles as the b-side of a 45), “The Tears of a Clown,” “My Guy,” “Shop Around,” “Ooo Baby Baby,” “I Second That Emotion,” “Cruisin’,” and “The Way You Do the Things You Do.”
I met Smokey one time in the late 1980s. I was working at CBS Records in midtown Manhattan. Our offices were in the Black Rock building, which was also home to WCBS radio. Smokey had just done an interview at the radio station when I bumped into him in the building’s lobby. I told him I enjoyed the article about him in the new issue of Rolling Stone, which I was holding. He said he hadn’t seen it yet and took my magazine from me to look at it. I wouldn’t let him keep my issue – I was a poor office clerk, after all – but he was gracious enough to sign an autograph for me.
Today is Smokey’s 74th birthday. Enjoy this playlist comprised of songs Smokey sings and songs Smokey wrote or co-wrote, songs you know and songs you should know.
The nominees for the 56th annual Grammy Awards were announced last Friday. The nominations always elicit strong reactions from music fans. I’m pleased with many of the Academy’s selections (Go Kendrick Lamar and Daft Punk!) and puzzled by others (Ed Sheeran is nominated for Best New Artist. Last year he was nominated for Song of the Year. Was he pre-new then?).
Today’s Tunes du Jour playlist consists of some of the tracks that have won Record of the Year. I choose to focus on the positive. I refuse to bash the Grammy voters for when they got it wrong (such as, for example, when they gave Record of the Year to Bobby McFerrin for “Don’t Worry Be Happy.” What the hell was that about? That record won over Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car.” Are you kidding me?).
Herewith are some of the better Record of the Year winners.