Tag Archives: Sheena Easton

It’s National Teachers Day And I Need To Dance!

On the off-chance I don’t win an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, which, seeing as I have yet to write a single scene, is a remote possibility, I’d like to present the text of my acceptance speech here and now.

“Thank you! Thank you so much! Thank you! (wink at Meryl) Wow! I wasn’t expecting to win. This is such a surprise. Let me read you the speech I wrote for this occasion.

I’d like to thank the Academy, specifically the members who voted for me. I’d like to thank everyone who bought a ticket to see my movie. I’d like to thank the cast and crew. It takes a village! Am I right? Of course I’m right! I’m a right-er! (smile, acknowledge the laughter in the audience)

Mostly, I’d like to thank all those who taught me about writing and provided encouragement. I’d like to thank all of my English teachers, my writing teachers, my stand-up comedy teachers and my improvisation teachers. I’d like to thank my fellow classmates, workshops and meetup members and the friends and family members who provided feedback and support. In particular, I’d like to…oh, they’re playing the music, indicating it’s time for me to leave. Until next year, remember I love you all, except those who voted for my competitors.”
Winston + Hall-Oates
Today is National Teachers Day. Our weekly dance party kicks off with Daryl Hall and John Oates’ “Adult Education.”


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It’s Umberto Tozzi’s Birthday And I Need To Dance!

Who is Umberto Tozzi? Is that what you just asked?

Born in Italy in 1952, Umberto Tozzi is a singer-songwriter who has sold over 70 million records throughout the world. In 1979 he released a single of his composition “Gloria,” which became a big hit in his home country, remaining in the top ten for 16 weeks, six of those at #2. The song also went top ten in Germany, France, Switzerland, Austria, Belgium, South Africa and Spain.

Ringo + Umberto
In 1982, singer Laura Branigan collaborated with Trevor Veitch on English-language lyrics set to the original’s melody. Her recording of “Gloria,” co-produced by Greg Mathieson, arranger and keyboardist on the Tozzi version, reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Friday is dance day at Tunes du Jour. Our weekly party kicks off with the track for which Umberto Tozzi is best-known in the United States.


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Throwback Thursday – The Hits of 1984

Madonna debuted “Like a Virgin” with a performance on the MTV Video Music Awards in September 1984, weeks before the record was released. Watching her on television rolling around the floor in a wedding dress with a Boy Toy belt buckle, the song’s writers, Tom Kelly and Billy Steinberg, thought “We’re doomed now. This is an embarrassment. This is never going to succeed.”

“Like a Virgin” spent six weeks at #1 on the Billboard Hot 100, her first single to top that chart.

Kelly and Steinberg didn’t meet Madonna until around five years later. At a party they saw her, and asked Steve Bray, who wrote Madonna’s hit “Into the Groove,” to introduce them.

Bray did so. “Madonna, I want you to meet Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly. They wrote ‘Like a Virgin.’”

Steinberg said “Oh Madonna, I’ve wanted to meet you for so long.”

Madonna replied “Well, now you did,” and walked away.

“Like a Virgin” kicks off this week’s Throwback Thursday playlist, spotlighting the hits of 1984.


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Throwback Thursday – 1981

me before promThe blogger in 1981, before heading to the senior prom

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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It’s Friday And I Need To Dance!

While performing stand-up comedy in the late 1990s/early 2000s I appeared in several contests. More often than not I scored very well. In a contest at the club StandUp NY to find New York’s funniest gay man, I came in second. First place went to Seth Rudetsky. Around that same time both of us were entrants in another stand-up contest. Again, I came in second to Seth’s first.

Our acts were similar. Both of us were (are) thin New York gay Jews who mocked silly pop song lyrics in our sets. Seth talked about Sheena Easton’s “Morning Train” while I discussed Air Supply’s “All Out of Love.” I don’t begrudge him his first place winnings – he was great.

Seth went on to write for The Rosie O’Donnell Show, which garnered him several Emmy nominations. He has written for the Grammy Awards and the Tony Awards. He hosts a radio show on SiriusXM about Broadway musicals.

This past Tuesday my friend Scott and I attended Seth’s one-person show at Largo. His opening act was Judd Apatow. In the audience were Barbra Streisand, Sean Hayes, and the guy who played Valerie Cherish’s PR person on The Comeback. Also in the audience was me, the runner-up. Was I jealous? Was I bitter? You bet I was!

On the positive tip, I was inspired as well. It was a very fun show and gave me some ideas as to how to structure the one-person show I’ve been saying I will write for the past fourteen years. Destiny is calling me – open up my eager eyes, ‘cause I’m Mr. Brightside.

Our weekly dance party kicks off with The Killers.


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It’s Amelia Earhart’s Birthday And I Need To Dance!

Today is Amelia Earhart’s birthday. She was born on July 24, 1897, and for all we know she is celebrating her 118th birthday with a glass of Chardonnay and a cannoli.

During a 1937 attempt to fly around the world, aviator Earhart disappeared over the Pacific Ocean. Women. Am I right, fellas? Of course not.

Earhart went off the grid before “going off the grid” became part of our everyday vernacular. Maybe not everyday, but our at-least-twice-a-year vernacular.

Sometimes I contemplate going off the grid, but it seems the rewards of doing so are not worth the efforts.

This would have been a good week for me to be off the grid. It started out good. Sunday morning was the fourth and final day of an entrepreneur conference I attended whereat I got educated and motivated and met many cool people with inspiring stories. On my way home I got into a car accident. I’m fortunate I came out unscathed. My car? Not so much.

When I arrived at home I called my insurance company, then set about to make some lunch. I put my food in the microwave and set it on high for six minutes. When the machine beeped the food was still frozen. I know I’m fortunate in that I had a microwave that served me for 17 years, but did it have to die at that moment?

My car got towed to a body shop. They emailed me forms to sign and return. I couldn’t print them, however, as it turns out my printer and microwave were having an affair and the printer decided she could not go on without the microwave in her life. Women. Am I right, fellas?

Feeling a bit depressed about the turn my week/life had taken, I found it difficult to focus on the tasks at hand. Then I saw a videoclip of a colorblind young man who, thanks to new technology, experienced vibrant colors for the first time. His joy in seeing a patch of grass or a container of Clorox put things in perspective.

There is so much beauty in the mundane, and so much that I take for granted for which I should be grateful. My toaster oven, for example.

I have a music consulting business. I love my clients. I love that I can choose with whom I wish to work. I love the projects I’m handling.

I think I’ll stay on the grid for a while.

Steph and Ringo
Friday is dance day at Tunes du Jour. Kicking off this week’s playlist is Stephanie Mills with “Pilot Error.”


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It’s Friday And I Need To Dance!

Trivia Question – Who is the only male solo artist whose first eight singles all went top ten in the UK?

Elton John? No. Elvis Presley? No. Cliff Richard? No. It was Rick Astley. In the US many people remember Rick as a one-hit wonder, but that is incorrect. Rick had seven top 40 singles stateside, including five top tens, two of which, “Never Gonna Give You Up” and “Together Forever,” went to #1. He retired from recording in 1993, by which time he had sold around forty million records.

Winston + Rick A
Today Rick turns 49 years old. We kick off our weekly dance party with a largely-forgotten tune of his that went top ten on both sides of the Atlantic.

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It’s Nile Rodgers’ Birthday And I Need To Dance!

Winston + Chic 2014-09-19 13.37

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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Celebrating Prince

Prince is second to The Beatles on my list of all-time favorite music artists. From the first time I heard “1999” on the radio in my dorm room at Brandeis University, I became obsessed and started collecting his albums and singles. Here are ten items from my Prince collection:

Prince memorabilia - I Wanna Be“I Wanna Be Your Lover” was Prince’s first US Top 40 hit, reaching #11 in 1980.

Prince memorabilia - Still Waiting“Still Waiting” is a track that appears on Prince’s self-titled second album, the same record that spawned “I Wanna be Your Lover.” It’s not his best track, but how cool is it that I have a promotional 12-inch single from Prince’s pre-superstar days?

me wearing t-shirtPrince’s 1999 album was released in October 1982, one month prior to Michael Jackson’s Thriller. I remember taking the train to Harvard Square and buying both albums at the university bookstore. Shortly thereafter I bought a 1999 t-shirt, which I still have. Though I wear it regularly, its color hasn’t faded at all, there are no tears, and it fits me perfectly. Back then they made t-shirts of better quality. Kids today don’t know what good t-shirts are.

Prince memorabilia - Little Red CorvettePrince first US Top Ten single was 1983’s “Little Red Corvette.” The song is from his 1999 album, presently at #36 in my Top 100 Albums of All Time list. The song inspired Stevie Nicks to write “Stand Back,” on which Prince played keyboard.

Prince memorabilia - Delirious“Delirious,” also from 1999, was the follow-up to “Little Red Corvette” and also hit the top ten. The 45 came wrapped in a poster of Prince which had a calendar of the year 1999 on the other side.

Prince memorabilia - Purple Rain singles“When Doves Cry” was the first single released from the Purple Rain soundtrack, my #4 Album of All-Time. It became Prince’s first #1 single. It holds the distinction of being the only track without a bassline to go to #1 on the Dance Club chart. Like the album’s title track, the 45 was pressed on purple vinyl.

Me as PrinceMy Halloween costume in 1987 was Prince, inspired by his Parade: Music From The Motion Picture Under the Cherry Moon period. That album, #38 on my Top Albums list, includes Prince’s third #1 pop single, “Kiss.” He wrote the song for the band Mazarati, who were signed to his Paisley Park label. When he heard what the band did with the song, he took it back, replacing the group’s lead vocals with his and adding a guitar lick. Some more trivia – the week “Kiss” went to #1, the #2 song in the US was “Manic Monday” by Bangles. Per that record, the writer of that song was “Christopher.” In actuality, Christopher was a pseudonym for Prince, who also wrote under the names Jamie Starr (The Time’s “Jungle Love”) and Alexander Nevermind (Sheena Easton’s “Sugar Walls”).

Prince memorabilia - autographOne afternoon in 1988 Prince did an impromptu autograph signing at the Sam Goodys a block away from my office. I told my boss I’d be right back and I wormed my way to the front of the line. He was there to promote his Lovesexy album, which includes “Alphabet St.” I already had the album (on its first day of release, of course!), so he signed a piece of stationery I took from my office.

Prince memorabilia - Batman“Batdance” was Prince’s fourth #1 single. It appears on his Batman soundtrack though was not used in the film. The CD of the Batman soundtrack was released in a tin case.

Prince memorabilia - Most BeautifulDuring one of his fights with Warner Bros. Records, Prince self-released a single of “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World,” which was available by mail order in an oversized greeting card.

Today, the seventh day of Black Music Month, Prince turns 56. I don’t think he celebrates his birthday due to his religious beliefs, but that doesn’t mean we can’t. Here are twenty of his finest.

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Bad Music I Love – Sheena Easton

Ringo + Sheena
As you may gather from my blog, there’s a lot of great music I love. There is also a lot of bad music I love. I find the combination of dopey lyrics with catchy music irresistible.

That brings us to Sheena Easton, who turns 55 today.

Her first hit single was “Morning Train.” In England it was entitled “Nine to Five,” but they changed the title stateside so as to avoid confusion with Dolly Parton’s hit “9 to 5.” Easton’s Scottish brogue could very easily be confused with Dolly’s Tennessee twang by the hearing-imparied.

The chorus of “Morning Train,” a #1 hit from 1981, begins “My baby takes the morning train / He works from nine to five / And then he takes another home.” Fascinating, Sheena! Tell us more! I’ve never heard such a unique story.

Her follow-up single was “Modern Girl,” which includes the couplet “She eats a tangerine / Flips through a magazine,” a rhyme that was used to better effect 14 years later in The Flaming Lips’ “She Don’t Use Jelly.”

The James Bond theme “For Your Eyes Only” came next. I have no beef with that. It’s on her fourth single where the bad reaches a new level.

You know you’re in trouble with “You Could Have Been With Me”’s opening line. “You’re the seventh son of the seventh son.” Who can’t relate to that? Later in the song she sings “You can’t even seem to love yourself, and, with a few exceptions, not anybody else.” With a few exceptions? That negates the point, doesn’t it? He doesn’t love you, Sheena! Get over it! He can’t appreciate the magazine/tangerine rhyme like I can.

Knowing she couldn’t get any worse than “You Could Have Been With Me” (she did know that, right?), she went on to do a series of fun, uptempo hits. This was after an excruciating cover of Bob Seger’s “We’ve Got Tonight” done with Kenny Rogers. I didn’t include that on today’s playlist. Don’t say I don’t care about you.

The pinnacle of the fun dance songs was when she invited the listener to “come spend the night inside my sugar walls.” Sweet! “Sugar Walls” was written by Prince under the pseudonym Alexander Nevermind. She would collaborate with Prince a few more times, most notably on his hit “U Got the Look.”

Spotify is very light on the Sheena Easton tracks; they don’t even have her last big hit, “The Lover in Me,” which went to #2 in 1989. Here’s what I scraped together. Strut, pout, put it out and enjoy!

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