1980-66: Barry Manilow, “When I Needed You”

Here’s the second Barry Manilow song in the blog (see #1980-64) but certainly not the last.

Having worked for toy distributors when my family lived in the northeast, my dad moved the family down to Georgia in 1980 so that he could become an independent toys salesman and represent the entire southeast. He would travel to department stores and toy stores throughout the region to talk about and show them some of the newest toys coming out, and attempt to get them to buy the toys and sell them in their stores. Some times in the summer months I would be allowed to go on trips with him to Florida, Alabama and the Carolina states. He would tell me stories during the long trip rides.

One of those stories was this: Early in his career my dad had met Barry Manilow. Manilow was just a kid then, but my dad worked with or somehow knew Manilow’s mother and recalled seeing little Barry dancing around and singing. I always thought that it was neat that my dad had personally met a singer that I really liked. It was as close to meeting a superstar as I had ever gotten at that point in my life.

“When I Needed You” was another of Manilow’s lesser known hits. It reached #20 on the HOT 100, but was one of fifteen songs that he would end up placing in the chart in the ’80s.  I always liked this song. It reminded me of the theme song to Joanie Loves Chachi, the early ’80s spin-off from Happy Days, titled “You Look at Me.” “When I Wanted You” ends up in the same key as the T.V. theme song and has an almost identical melody line in the choruses. I went ahead and added the video of both songs below so you can hear for yourself…

Memorable lyric: “What was wrong and who was right? In the end you see the light ’cause you think a lot when you’re on your own.”


1980-65: Pat Benatar, “Heartbreaker”

To this day I swear my high school math teacher was Pat Benatar: I recall thinking just that every day when I went to Ms. Apollo’s class.   I felt she looked just like the superstar singer and figured this “Apollo” moniker was just a ruse to keep the student body from finding out her true identity.  She knew I was a music student and shared with me that her husband was a guitarist. At least that’s the way I remember it. How fitting, seeing how Pat Benatar’s husband was her guitarist in the band. I loved my math classes. I could never get beyond Geometry but I loved my math classes.

Released in late 1979, “Heartbreaker” rose to #23 in early 1980. Her first HOT 100 entry, it is certainly one of her signature songs. The song was the beginning of an incredible ride for Benatar and ’80s music lovers. Benatar ended up with 17 HOT 100 hits in the ’80s with 15 of them reaching the top 40, so needless to say I’ll be talking more about her as the blog goes on.

Ms. Apollo if you’re out there, know that your secret’s safe with me.

Memorable lyric: “You’re the right kind of dreamer to release my inner fantasy. The invincible winner and you know that you were born to be. You’re a heartbreaker.”

1980-64: Barry Manilow, “Ships”

Okay, I confess. I was, am, and will probably always be a Barry Manilow fan. I’m a sucker for a sappy ballad with a beautiful melody, lush harmonies and tear-jerking lyrics. And the key changes. Yes! The key changes!

Now don’t get me wrong. As a pre-teen in the ’70s that’s not all I listened to. I put my ears on a strict diet of Billy, Bee Gees and Barry. But since it wasn’t cool to like Mr. Manilow’s music (or the Bee Gees, come to think of it) I did my best to keep it on the down low. When the subject of what music I liked came up, I talked about the other piano man, Billy Joel.

Even though “Ships” peaked at #9 in late 1979, it seems to be one of Barry Manilow’s lesser known hits. (Let’s face it, you don’t hear this one on classic adult contemporary radio as much as “Mandy” and “This One’s for You.”) Nonetheless it charted high enough to become the #98 song of 1980.

I have this vivid memory of driving with my dad in his Lincoln Continental and listening to this song. It was on cassette, and I don’t recall if I owned the cassette or if he did. But either way I liked the fact that the song is about a father-son relationship. On the other hand I hated the fact that it talks about the two drifting apart.

We’ll be hearing from Manilow again real soon. Like in two more posts…

Memorable lyric: “And it seems you and I are like strangers a wide ways apart as we drift on through time. He said it’s harder now we’re far away; we only read you when you write.”

1980-63: Pleasure, “Glide”

And here we have yet another HOT 100 One-Hit Wonder. Though the band took this song to #10 on the Billboard R&B chart, it stalled at #55 on the HOT 100 in 1979. It’s official peak for the ’80s is #63.

This is, again, one of those songs I don’t recall hearing on the radio when I was growing up. It has a somewhat Earth, Wind and Fire feel, what with the multi-tracked vocals and occasional space-sound effects.

Not a whole lot of lyrics in this one. Must have been a good song to dance to. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

Memorable lyric: “Caught the bus to go downtown. Bus broke down, downtown bound. Left the bus, flagged down a cab. The driver said, I want all your cash.”

1980-62: The Spinners, “Working My Way Back to You / Forgive Me, Girl”

Here’s the first medley to appear on the HOT 100 in the ’80s. It seamlessly combines The Four Season’s top ten hit “Working My Way Back to You” and a lesser-known song “Forgive Me, Girl.” Growing up I never realized this was a medley of two songs. The “Forgive Me, Girl” section always sounded to me like a bridge, and is a very short part of the overall song anyhow.

The song peaked at #2 in  and ended up the overall #14 song of 1980. Not sure if they planned it this way, but the song was so successful that The Spinners released another medley as a follow-up (see #1980-263).

Memorable lyric: “I used to love to make you cry. It made me feel like a man inside. But if I’d been a man in reality you’d still be here, babe, loving me.”

1980-61: Dann Rogers, “Looks Like Love Again”

So here’s the third song in the ’80s to peak at the worst possible position: #41. I mean, at least the last two artists we already talked about (see #1980-47 and #1980-50) had other songs that reached the top 40, but not this guy. This is his only HOT 100 entry. That makes him an official One-Hit Wonder, unlike his uncle. Who’s his uncle? Listen to the song. The last name is your only hint.

Dann Rogers did have a minor adult contemporary hit later in the year called “China.” It reached #34 on Billboard’s Hot Adult Contemporary Singles chart… but that still makes him a OHW on the HOT 100 chart.

Oh, and as for my comment about the worst possible peak position: I stand by it. Some may say having a song peak at #2, or perhaps #11, is worse. If your song makes the Top 40, you’re a legit pop artist. Peaking at #2 is frustrating, sure, but it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Who’s with me?! I would gladly record a #2 (or #11) song over a #41.

Rant over.

Memorable lyric: “I’ll be yours if you’ll be mine. I learned my lesson very well: you may lose your heart, you can never tell.”

1980-60: The Inmates, “Dirty Water”

Hmm… sounds like the Rolling Stones. They’re from England, just like the Rolling Stones. They act like the Rolling Stones.  Lead singer dude has one dance move he uses over and over, like Rolling Stones.

But, wait.

They all look like they’re in their late 20’s. Comparison over.

This cover of The Standell’s “Dirty Water” flowed to #51 in January 1980.

Memorable lyric: “Down by the banks of the river Thames- that’s what’s happening, baby. That’s where you’ll find me along with lovers, muggers and thieves. But they’re cool people.”