The WTIT Blog’s feature A DJ’s Take has been one of our most popular features. Today we continue our latest version of this feature that we have “sub-titled” 5 Random Songs. When writing this, we simply pick out five songs (at random…who’d a thunk?) that we have grown to love over the years. We hope to share with you some of the background of the songs and of course why this music is important to us. Sometimes it is because of the trival nature of the song, sometimes it’s the song’s history. Today let’s look at these five songs:
Sex as a Weapon by Pat Benatar. It did not get bigger for a female rocker in the 80’s than Pat Benatar. She won Grammies in 1980, 1981, 1982 and 1983. While Heartbreaker was her first mega-hit from 1979’s In the Heat of the Night and Hit Me With Your Best Shot from 1980’s Crime of Passion is probably her best known and signiture song, we always found Sex as a Weapon her most intriguing song.
Pat’s main songwriter was her guitarist Neil Giraldo. He became her second and still current husband in 1982. We always felt that this song was out of time and space. Do men really use sex as a weapon? We think it is usually the other way around. So what? It was her husband who wrote the song and it shows. It was released on 1985’s Seven the Hard Way. That album was an attempt by Pat and her band to move to a bit more mainstream place and less the rebellious rocker that made her famous. While she released albums after this, she was essentially done. By the time that Neil and Pat recorded a edgie rock album again it was the early 90’s and rock had changed. Melissa Etheridge, Sheryl Crow, Alanis Morrosette and Jewel were now in place. All in all though, she is one of the best ever.
Tainted Love by Soft Cell. Ed Cobb, a legendary songwriter, wrote this song. Does the name sound familiar? He also wrote Dirty Water that was a hit by the Standells featured in this space not long ago. Gloria Jones originally recorded Tainted Love as a soul song in 1964. While her discography includes a series of songs recorded in the sixties (no we never heard of her either), she made her living as a back up singer to the likes of Neil Young and Bob Dylan. We had not heard her version until yesterday when we wrote this piece. While it is similar to the Soft Cell hit, Soft Cell added the famous “boink-boink” sound. Marc Almond and David Ball were the members of the British band that had just recorded a major flop. The record company pushed the song on them. It became one the biggest hits of the 80’s, but while Soft Cell was a one hit wonder in the US, in the UK they sold a ton of records for several years in the early 80’s.
Jenny (867-5309) by Tommy Tutone. There is no Tommy Tutone. The leader of the band Tommy Tutone was lead singer Tommy Heath and the original band name was Tommy and the Tutones. Jim Keller was the guitarist, and he had a friend named Alex Call who came up with the “name and number” and was trying to write a song with it, but was not yet really a songwriter. As it turns out, the name and number meant nothing. Like there is no Tommy Tutone, there is no Jenny. We won’t even touch on Santa. But when Jim Keller heard the idea and was told Jenny and the number meant nothing, he countered that it should be a phone number and message on a bathroom wall. While laughing at this absurb srory, the two wrote the whole song in fifteen minutes.
When the song came out the band used a story about how it was a true story, but of course it was not. From there the band with no fanfare recorded the song. Alex Call would end up as original lead singer of Clover, which became most notable for its harmonica player and later lead singer Huey Lewis. The stories of the amount of calls people who happened to have that number are legendary. Alex Call still is in the music business and recorded an album in 2004 with Jenny (867-5309) on it. Tommy Heath is now a computer analyst.
Ohio by Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. There is not much to tell and so much to tell about this song. We were in college on May 4th 1970 and very active in the anti-war movement. We remember the horror when we found out that the National Guard had killed four unarmed protesting students at Kent State. We were home that weekend and returned to Boston on the Sunday night to find the students on strike.
We would not attend another class that year. We were head of communications for the student strike, which mostly meant we did a lot of interviews. The amazing thing is how fast this song went from being written by Neil Young and recorded by CSN&Y and released in ten days. And unlike Neil’s similar effort after 9/11 with the song Let’s Roll, Ohio was a terrific song and still a classic. Neil Young has acknowledged it was the best song he wrote for the band. And let us add our current continued opposition to the current illegal war in Iraq. We thought the nation learned a lesson in getting involved in other country’s civil wars. The only reason that the country isn’t in as much turmoil now as it was then: There is no draft. Those fighting in this war chose the military. Not that the majority hasn’t got more than it bargained for, but that is the truth. George and Dick cannot go away soon enough. And fuck McCain and his “stay there 100 years” shit. He’ll only be 170 years old when we are done. Old men forcing wars on young people to fight. It is time for the madness to end.
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