Still Fond

Some people have expressed surprise that I kept a diary every day as a teenager. Well that’s nothing compared to the surprises I’ve uncovered within. Here is a lengthy quote from Sunday January 22, 1984.


They’re just about to start the second half of Superbowl XVIII with the Los Angeles Raiders beating the Washington Redskins by 21:3. It is ridiculous. John Riggins and Joe Theismann have just not got going but it’s starting to fit together as Charlie Brown completes his first pass. It looks like a comeback.

It wasn’t. The Raiders went on to beat the favourites 38:9. What’s amazing to me is that I had no recollection of any of this. No recollection of being invested in the outcome of the Superbowl. No recollection of supporting the team from Washington over the Raiders, although my diary notes that my friend, Jeremy, was a Raiders fan.


I must have stayed up late to watch the game and I would have been watching it from bed on a 5-inch black and white screen that was part of an amazing portable TV Clock Radio Cassette thing I got as a barmitzvah present from the Davis family.

Portable 5″ B&W TV Radio Tape Cassette

Without seeing that diary page I couldn’t have come up with any of the players’ names if you’d threatened to torture my children. I might even have sworn that I’d never heard them in my life. Strange, the things we retain and the things we let slip, unvalued, from our memories.

Oddly, when it comes to music almost everything has been retained including, implausibly, the first new entry of the week. At number 40 comes a one hit wonder that has somehow endured. Elbow Bones and the Racketeers “A Night in New York” seems tied to a Big Band revival which never really took off. It’s light as a feather and thoroughly inconsequential.

The band was the brainchild of August Darnell, AKA Kid Creole. I had the cassette of Kid Creole’s 1982 album with the Coconuts, Tropical Gangsters, and I played it til it wore out.

New at number 39 was ABC with “S.O.S.”. It’s not the greatest ABC track, but the great ABC tracks are so ruddy great that I’m willing to give them a pass and “S.O.S.” does have a really great “ba ba bada-dada” bit in the middle that’s kinda hard not to love.

The new entry at number 35 was Thomas Dolby with “Hyperactive”. Hmm… Dolby’s an odd one. He claims to have written this song originally for Michael Jackson. I heard an interview with him recently where he talked about having to build the first synthesizers himself from kits as there really didn’t exist anything to do the things he wanted to, musically. It reminded me of the most animated parts of Eric Clapton’s dullish autobiography where he talks about building the perfect guitar.

Top bit of Thomas Dolby trivia – You know that epic synthesizer intro to Foreigner’s “Waiting For a Girl Like You”? That’s Thomas Dolby.

New at 33 was the last UK hit for Manhattan Transfer. “Spice of Life” just doesn’t seem to fit with the rest of the chart (Elbow Bones and the Racketeers notwithstanding). Manhattan Transfer was the group that every set of 1980s barmitzvah singers dreamt of becoming. Look at this video. It’s like a bunch of your parents’ friends got a little tipsy and started miming to some old vinyl.

Part of the charm of 1984 is that the charts found room for Manhattan Transfer at one end of the spectrum and The Smiths at the other. “What Difference Does It Make?” was a new entry at number 26 this week in 1984. It was still too early for me to appreciate The Smiths. I was into Paul McCartney and Paul Simon and Kid Creole. It was another couple of years before I was turned on to The Queen is Dead but then I came back to these early singles and realized how miraculous they were. I’m still fond of Morrissey. I think about him often and, like so many other people, I have a strong desire to hug him, to thank him, even if he doesn’t hug me back.

The second highest new entry was from Simple Minds. In at No. 20, “Speed Your Love To Me”. A year before their inclusion on the soundtrack to The Breakfast Club and an unbeatable run of singles from the Once Upon A Time album, Simple Minds weren’t yet my cup of tea.

The highest new entry of the week at 17 was “The Killing Moon” by Echo and the Bunnymen. I never got on with Echo and the Bunnymen. My head tells me “The Killing Moon” is a great song. My reactions to it, though, are all intellectual. I know it’s good, but I just don’t love it. Not even close. The band went away at the end of the 80s and it was only working with Johnny Marr that brought Ian McCulloch back to music in the late 90s. Then for one brief moment they produced something which I found and still find magical.

This, from 1997, is Ian McCulloch’s finest moment. It’s when he realized that he was never going to be as big as he thought he should have been. I love this.

The top 5 for the week is just a rearranged version of last week’s with one major exception – Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s “Relax” arrived at number 1. It was the first of 15 weeks that the band would spend at number 1 in 1984.

Today’s Stats

  • Podcasts listened to: Brain of Britain, Kermode and Mayo’s Film Reviews, Desert Island Discs: Ray Mears, Miranda Hart
  • Total no. of levels of Candy Crush completed – 322
  • Movies watched since last post – The Hunger Games: Catching Fire – watched this with my daughter last night. It was way better than the book, which was a tired retread of the first one. Jennifer Lawrence raises the whole endeavor higher than it had a right to expect. I still have issues about everyone knowing what’s going on except Katniss, but I kinda loved the movie anyway.
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