Inspired by the May 19 birthdays of Joey Ramone, Pete Townshend, Grace Jones, ZZ Top’s Dusty Hill, and Cyndi Grecco.
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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John “Jellybean” Benitez, along with Arthur Baker, was the pre-eminent remixer of the 1980s. If I saw his name on a 12-inch single, I knew I was going to get something good. He worked with many big names in that decade and beyond. Artists whose work he remixed include Talking Heads, Michael Jackson, Fleetwood Mac, Paul McCartney, Donna Summer, Santana, ZZ Top, Billy Joel, Afrika Bambaataa, Whitney Houston, Daryl Hall & John Oates, Sting, Bangles, A-ha, Cher, Shakira, Bonnie Tyler, The Romantics and, most famously, Madonna.
These days Jellybean deejays parties around the world and is the Executive Producer of Sirius XM’s disco/dance station, Studio 54 radio. A couple of years ago, while I was working at Warner Music, Jellybean and I were discussing a project he wanted to do. I was very into the idea and told him I was confident I could get the big names he wanted on board. We also talked about a radio show he conceived for the Sirius XM channel in which new mixes of classic dance songs were played. To help him with that show I sent him a package with some modern mixes we had done of disco classics by Chic, Ashford & Simpson and others.
He never said thank you. I sent him a follow-up email to be sure he received the package, but he didn’t reply. Oh, well. So he is lacking manners. That doesn’t affect the joy I get listening to his classic remix work. (By the by, he never got around to launching the project he wanted to do about which I was excited.)
Today is Jellybean’s 57th birthday. Many of his mixes are not on Spotify, so today’s dance playlist consists of some of his mixes that are, of Madonna, David Bowie, Irene Cara, The Pointer Sisters, Shalamar and Whitney Houston, alongside other records I love to dance to.
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In many activities in my life, I’m inspired by music, and shopping for gifts is no exception. I spent the last three hours listening to all 20,000 CDs and records in my collection, looking for ideas that I can impart to my reader(s). Here now I present to you the very first Tunes du Jour Gift-Giving Guide, complete with its own soundtrack.
Do you know anyone who wears clothes? Why not buy them some clothes?
For me, clothes-wearers make up exactly twenty-two percent of my gift-recipient list. What do I get the other 10.9 people?
The gift of media is always welcome. For the bibliophile in the family, I recommend a book. Any book. Books are timeless, just like VHS tapes and cassettes.
For those who haven’t learned how to read (i.e. anyone who started school after 1988) or are too stupid, get them a game. Board games are fun and I hear they now have games that can be played on TV and computer screens. If games are too challenging, buy a toy. Anything to keep the kid or moron occupied while you read a book.
Jewelry makes a nice gift. Just make sure the person you give the jewelry to is willing to put out. Seriously, that shit can get expensive. You deserve something in return.
If there’s a person on your list who won’t put out, doesn’t know how to read and is too impatient to read game instructions, buy them some cigarettes. Who doesn’t like cigarettes? They’re easy to work, easy to transport, don’t take up much room and smell like Christmas. Give cigarettes with alcohol unless the person is in recovery, in which case, substitute coffee. Those addicts love their coffee. Jesus, do they love their coffee, though not as much as they love cigarettes.
Oftentimes, the nudist on your gift list will tell you what they want, but you have to listen carefully. Not everyone is tacky enough to come out and say “I want _____” or “Gimme gimme gimme _____,” which brings me to a related topic. If you stole someone’s man, give him back. I’m not going to mention any names (LeAnn Rimes), but if any of my reader(s) started sleeping with Eddie Cibrian while he was married, you should send him back to his wife. At the very least, send her a thank you note along with some cigarettes and alcohol.
Gifts needn’t be physical objects. Perhaps you know someone who can benefit from a spa day, golf lessons or rhinoplasty. That last idea occurred to me while listening to The Ramones’ “Gimme Gimme Shock Treatment.” Let me say this: if someone says to you “gimme gimme shock treatment,” that’s a cry for help.
You can always give the gift of love. However, if you do, make sure you include a gift receipt so the recipient can exchange it for something useful.
If all else fails, money makes a great gift. Save yourself the trouble of shopping for that unintelligent teetotaling nudist with a perfect nose on your list. Think of the dollar amount they deserve and give them half of it. Use the other half to spend on yourself, as you just freed up some shopping time in your schedule.
You may have people on your list who’ll say “I don’t need a gift. I have everything I want.” These people are THE WORST! Call their bluff – don’t give them anything. Don’t call them. Don’t stop by their house. Just leave them alone. They have everything they want, which means they don’t want you hanging around. They are rude and should be avoided.