Tag Archives: Whitney Houston

Throwback Thursday – 1986

By 1986, Aerosmith appeared to have had their best years behind them. Sales of their releases that decade lagged significantly behind their hits in the 1970s, and the group’s members were struggling with drug addictions.

They did have fans, though. One was music producer Rick Rubin. He was working with rap group Run-D.M.C., who were known in hip hop circles and with music critics for incorporating rock guitars and beats in their boastful raps, such as “Rock Box” and “King of Rock.”

Rubin suggested Run-D.M.C. do a remake of Aerosmith’s 1977 hit “Walk This Way,” but the rappers had no interest in doing a cover. However, the group’s DJ, Jam Master Jay, was open to the idea, and Rubin called Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler and Joe Perry to come into the studio. Perry was familiar with the rappers, as his stepson was a fan. Jam Master Jay convinced Run and D.M.C. to give the remake a shot, seeing as Tyler and Perry were in the studio with Rubin.

The Run-D.M.C./Aerosmith version of “Walk This Way” was not only massively successful, but highly influential as well. It became Run-D.M.C.’s first crossover hit, and the first rap track to make the top ten of Billboard’s Hit 100, peaking at #4, six notches higher than Aerosmith’s original peaked. It opened the door to future song/rap collaborations, something that continues to dominate the charts to this day, not to mention bringing “rock rap” to a wide audience.

Steven Tyler went to rehab in 1986, and the other members of Aerosmith also sought treatment for their drug addictions. On the heels of the success of the “Walk This Way” remake, Aerosmith released the Permanent Vacation album in the late summer of 1987. Its first single, “Dude (Looks Like a Lady),” became the group’s first hit single outside the Run-D.M.C. collaboration since 1978’s “Come Together.” They followed that single with a string of big hits over the next few years, including “Love in an Elevator,” “Cryin’,” “Janie’s Got a Gun,” “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing,” “Livin’ on the Edge,” and “Jaded.”

This week’s Throwback Thursday playlist spotlights the best of 1986, kicking off with the groundbreaking “Walk This Way,” performed by Run-D.M.C. and featuring Aerosmith’s “Steven Tyler and Joe Perry.


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It’s LGBT Pride Month And I Need To Dance!

Because there are millions of people who tell us we shouldn’t be who we are because it doesn’t conform to who they think we should be;

Because this “government of the people, by the people and for the people” often isn’t for all the people;

Because “All men are created equal” doesn’t include those in the LGBT populations per many politicians and their constituents;

Because our Pride parades are attended not only by LGBT peoples are their allies, but by “counter protestors” who shout hateful rhetoric through megaphones in the name of religion, as these self-proclaimed Christians have no place better to be on a Sunday morning;

Because LGBT youth represent 7% of the youth population, while LGBT homeless youth make up 40% of the homeless youth population;

Because LGB and questioning youth are four times more likely to attempt suicide than non-LGB youth;

Because queer youth need to see there are many people like them;

Because if we don’t celebrate who we are, then we tacitly say we are not worthy of celebration and things are fine as they are, neither of which is true;

Because there is strength in numbers;

Because in many parts of the world one is killed for the suspicion of being gay or lesbian;

Because in many parts of the world it is illegal and/or dangerous to show your LGBT pride;

Because nobody should live in fear of expressing their authentic self, including the asshats who attempt to intimidate us from doing so;

Because it is empowering to be able to express one’s sexuality or gender identity in a supportive environment;

Because coming together brings about positive change;

Because while marrying someone of the opposite gender has been legal throughout US history, the right to marry someone of the same gender is coming on just one year;

Because we still have a ways to get to before we reach true equality, and we’ve come too far to stop now;

Because it’s fun!;

Because diversity should be celebrated;

Because pride is respect for yourself and you deserve respect;

Because men in Speedos;

Because despite all of the bull feces, we persevere. That is why

We still need LGBT Pride Month celebrations.

Here is your expanded soundtrack:


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The Gladys Knight-Farrah Fawcett Connection

Our story begins in 1970 with a phone call placed by singer-songwriter Jim Weatherly to his friend, actor Lee Majors. Pre-The Six Million Dollar Man Majors was dating pre-Charlie’s Angels actress Farrah Fawcett. Fawcett answered the phone and while chatting with Weatherly, mentioned she was leaving that night to visit her parents in Texas. She told him she was taking the midnight plane to Houston.

That phrase stuck with Weatherly, who immediately upon hanging up the phone, turned it into a song. He recorded “Midnight Plane to Houston” for his 1972 album, Weatherly. Among the album’s other tracks was another song he wrote, entitled “Neither One of Us (Wants to Be the First to Say Goodbye).”

It was the latter song that first made its way to Gladys Knight & the Pips. Their recording of it reached #2 on the Billboard Hot 100, and was their biggest-selling single for Motown. It also turned out to be their last single released on Motown while still signed to the label.

The group had been with Motown since 1966. While “Neither One of Us” was on the charts, negotiations for a better deal with the label fell through, and the group was quickly scooped up by Buddah Records. As songwriter Jim Weatherly just provided them with a huge hit, they looked for more Weatherly compositions to record for their debut album for Buddah. You may see where this is going, but let’s backtrack for a moment.

“Midnight Plane to Houston” found its way to Cissy Houston, r&b/gospel singer and mother to Whitney Houston. Cissy liked the song, but asked Weatherly if she can make some changes. Specifically, her family was from Georgia, so she asked if she could switch Houston to Georgia. Also, her family didn’t fly; they rode trains. Weatherly had no objection to the requested changes, so in 1972, Cissy Houston recorded “Midnite Train to Georgia.”

It was this revised version that made its way to Gladys Knight & the Pips, who also hail from Georgia. The lyrics resonated with Knight. Like the partner about whom the song’s protagonist sings, Knight’s husband at that time was a musician. Perhaps he kept dreaming that someday he’d be a star, a superstar, but he didn’t get far. Unlike the song’s protagonist, Knight didn’t choose to live in his world than live without him in hers. The couple divorced in 1973, the same year that Gladys Knight & the Pips scored their first #1 pop single with “Midnight Train to Georgia,” which knocked the Rolling Stones’ “Angie” from the top slot. “Midnight Train” won the group the Grammy Award for Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Group.

Ringo + Gladys
Twelve years after the group’s first top ten pop hit, 1961’s “Every Beat of My Heart,” Gladys Knight & the Pips went on hit-making roll, following up “Midnight” with three consecutive top ten hits: “I’ve Got to Use My Imagination,” “On and On,” and another Weatherly composition, “Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me.”

Today Gladys Knight turns 72 years old. Tunes du Jour celebrates the occasion with twenty of her group’s finest.


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It’s Earth Day And I Need To Dance!

“I remember writing ‘Earth Song’ when I was in Austria, in a hotel. And I was feeling so much pain and so much suffering of the plight of the Planet Earth. And for me, this is Earth’s Song, because I think nature is trying so hard to compensate for man’s mismanagement of the Earth. And with the ecological unbalance going on, and a lot of the problems in the environment, I think earth feels the pain, and she has wounds, and it’s about some of the joys of the planet as well. But this is my chance to pretty much let people hear the voice of the planet. And this is ‘Earth Song.’ And that’s what inspired it. And it just suddenly dropped into my lap when I was on tour in Austria.”
– Michael Jackson

Ringo + MJ
Today is Earth Day. Our weekly dance party kicks off with Michael Jackson’s “Earth Song,” which spent six weeks at #1 in the UK beginning in December 1995, but didn’t chart on the US Hot 100.


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Throwback Thursday – 1992

Prior to Nirvana, alternative music was consigned to specialty sections of record stores, and major labels considered it to be, at the very most, a tax write-off. After the band’s second album, 1991’s Nevermind, nothing was ever quite the same, for better and for worse. Nirvana popularized punk, post-punk, and indie rock, unintentionally bringing them into the American mainstream like no other band to date.
AllMusic

It’s the Song that Broke Punk, the incantation about self-despising entertainment that turned a dead-end Aberdeen kid into a supernova, the very last rock song everyone could rally around.
Pitchfork

Winston + Nirvana
The song that changed everything, “Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” was released as a single in September 1991. It reached #6 on Billboard’s Hot 100 in January of the following year, and kicks off this week’s Throwback Thursday playlist focusing on 1992.


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Throwback Thursday – 1999

Eminem has often been accused of being homophobic. Maybe it’s because he rapped “I’ll still be able to break a motha-fuckin’ table over the back of a couple of faggots and crack it in half.” Maybe it’s because he rapped “My words are like a dagger with a jagged edge / That’ll stab you in the head whether you’re a fag or lez.” And “All you lil’ faggots can suck it / No homo, but I’ma stick it to ’em like refrigerator magnets.” And “Little gay-looking boy / So gay I can barely say it with a straight face-looking boy / You witnessing massacre like you watching a church gathering taking place-looking boy / ‘Oy vey, that boy’s gay,’ that’s all they say looking-boy / You take a thumbs up, pat on the back, the way you go from your label every day-looking boy.” And “You fags think it’s all a game.” Anyone can see how the artist born Marshall Mathers got labeled a homophobe, even if he pretends he doesn’t see it.

So it’s ironic that in his first hit single, the song that put him on the map and into the international consciousness, the music bed is based around a sample from an openly gay singer-songwriter.

“My Name Is” became Eminem’s first single to crack the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at #36. Its music is taken from a 1975 release called “I Got the…,” written and performed by Labi Siffre. Siffre, who was born in England in 1945, says he knew he was gay since age four. He met his life partner, Peter John Carver Lloyd, in 1964. They remained a couple for 49 years, until Lloyd’s death in 2013.

Before Siffre would allow Eminem to use the sample, he made the rapper change some of the words on “My Name Is.” The lyric “My English teacher wanted to have sex in junior high / The only problem was, my English teacher was a guy” became “My English teacher wanted to flunk me in junior high / Thanks a lot, next semester I’ll be 35.” The lyric “Extraterrestrial killing pedestrians, raping lesbians while they’re screaming, ‘Let’s just be friends!’” became “Extraterrestrial running over pedestrians in a spaceship while they’re screaming, ‘Let’s just be friends!’”.” Said Siffre, “Dissing the victims of bigotry – women as bitches, homosexuals as faggots – is lazy writing. Diss the bigots, not their victims. I denied sample rights till that lazy writing was removed. I should have stipulated “all versions” but at that time knew little about rap’s “clean” & “explicit” modes, so they managed to get the lazy lyric on versions other than the single and first album.”

For Throwback Thursday this week, Tunes du Jour revisits some of the musical highlights of 1999, kicking off with Eminem’s “My Name Is.”


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Throwback Thursday – 1990

Take a DJ from the Ukraine, a style icon from Ohio, a graphic arts student from Tokyo, three legendary funk musicians from James Brown’s band, a homophobic rapper named after a personal hygiene implement, and a reference to a Dr. Seuss book, and you have the single that was named the best of 1990 by the Village Voice and New Music Express and the second best dance record of all-time (after Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love”) by Slant magazine.

The song is “Groove is in the Heart,” and it kicks off this week’s Throwback Thursday playlist, in which we’ll hear twenty of the best hits of 1990.


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It’s Sia’s Birthday And I Need To Dance!

The Guardian described Sia’s “Chandelier” as “a warning about the pitfalls of a party lifestyle.” About the song, MTV News wrote “Sia serves party-girl darkness, toeing the line between celebration and self-destruction as it becomes increasingly more blurred.” Now sober, the singer/songwriter struggled with alcoholism in the past. She told NPR “I wrote [“Chandelier”] because there’s so many party-girl anthems in pop, and I thought it’d be interesting to do a different take on that.”

Friday is dance day at Tunes du Jour. Our weekly party kicks off with “Chandelier,” co-written and performed by Sia, who turns 40 years old today.


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It’s Jay-Z’s Birthday And I Need To Dance!

Back in July of this year, Morrissey, who used to make news for his music, posted on fan site True to You that a Transportation Security Administration official at the San Francisco International Airport touched his junk (i.e. his genitals, not his recently-published novel, List of the Lost). This week, Morrissey continued the one-sided conversation, saying about the TSA “It is unlikely that ISIS would stoop so low.” ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, frequently makes the news for bombings, shooting people, beheading people, and throwing people off of buildings to their death, among other things. All horrible things, to be sure, but not as horrible as having someone touch your testicles. Morrissey for president! Oh, wait – he’s British. Darn!

This week Thom Yorke of Radiohead compared YouTube to Nazis, as YouTube makes its money from the work of artists, “like what the Nazis did during the Second World War.” He asked “What’s the difference?” Hmmm…I’m stumped. What is the difference between the political party that put Jews, homosexuals, Africans, the disabled and Jehovah’s Witnesses into concentration camps and murdered eleven million of them and the Internet site that gave people the opportunity to watch and share “Gangnam Style?” You’re right, Thom. There is no difference. YouTube are monsters! Thom Yorke for president! Oh, wait – he’s British. Darn!

Though Morrissey and Yorke cannot run for president of the United States of America, they remind me of someone who can and is running for president, Dr. Ben Carson. Carson said that the Affordable Care Act is “the worst thing that has happened in this nation since slavery.” He’s right! One consisted of being kidnapped from one’s home, separated from one’s family, shackled, treated as someone else’s property, being forced to work in inhumane conditions, and being abused, while the other provides Americans with health insurance. I bet you don’t know which one is which! They’re practically the same thing! Ben Carson for president! Oh, wait – he’s a fucking moron. Darn!

Until one of these geniuses becomes president, or until YouTube puts me in a camp, a TSA agent throws me off a building or Blue Shield forces me to pick their cotton, I’m going to keep on dancing. Tunes du Jour’s weekly dance party kicks off with Beyoncé’s “Déjà Vu,” which features Jay-Z, who turns 46 today.


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Throwback Thursday – Hit Songs Of 1993

For Throwback Thursday this week Tunes du Jour revisits the hits of 1993, a fine year for poppy hip hop as you’ll soon hear.


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