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Category: 1980s

148: Another Chat With John Hall

John Hall, you may remember from a couple of episodes ago, is the founder of the band Orleans. He recently released a solo album, his seventh (if you count the John Hall Band material). After spending some time in local and national politics, he returned to Orleans and they’re still making music. In fact, at the time of the previous interview they were putting the finishing touches on Orleans’ first Christmas album.

That album is now finished and is available for your purchasing and listening pleasure. It’s called New Star Shining, and it’s a great piece of work. There’s a lot of original material, a traditional Christmas carol and a single song from more recent holiday music canon. For lack of a better term, it’s a kind of Yacht Rock Christmas album. I think the rowdiest track on it is their version of “Winter Wonderland.”

John and I met in the atrium of a Nashville hotel (more details during the show itself), and I do hope you’ll forgive a little ambient noise. Plus, there was a little bit of both of us fidgeting with our handheld microphones. For all that, once again John comes through as a very thoughtful fellow. By that I mean he’s not spouting out canned answers to the questions I asked (although some of them were inadvertentely rehearsed–my recorder failed and we had to start over again). And even with that technical glitch, he was both gracious and forgiving, and managed to make me feel not as stupid as I originally felt when I looked at the recorder in horror and realized what happened.

Also, I’m a complete idiot because I didn’t ask for an autograph, or a selfie of the two of us, or anything. So this recording is the only evidence that we were in the same space together.

As an aside, the next day I was in the Podcast Movement conference and chatting with the people from ElectroVoice Microphones. I was using some new EV microphones for the interview. I told them about my interview “right over there in the atrium,” and some of the issues I had with the fidgeting noises and such. While we chatted, one of the EV reps walked away and then came back. He handed me a box and said, “Here, try this one.” It was a different model microphone, which he said would probably solve that problem. Boom! Free microphone! I used it to record some other material you’ll hear in an upcoming episode and I think you’ll notice the difference! This is why I worship at the Church of ElectroVoice. I did get the opportunity to thank them again a couple of days later.

So here is my follow-up interview with John, which we did during the first week of August this past summer. Enjoy!

Sorry, no transcript available for this episode. Enjoy this instead.

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147: 99 Luftballons

I gotta tell you, I’ve been trying like a maniac to record this episode for several days.

I typically take a break in August when I go to the Podcast Movement confab (every other year, it seems), and I come back with a bunch of actionable ideas and a few new contacts, and I kind of have to let it percolate in my head before I’m ready to come back.

In the meantime, I was working on a David Bowie episode, and I frankly got writer’s block. I was going in a hundred directions at once, and the story wasn’t jelling right for me, so finally I abandoned it in favor of this one.

And then, both of the computers that I use to produce this show died on me within a day of one another. I knew they were probably fixable, so I took them to my local shop, a guy I’ve used for years and would trust with my search history at this point. My problem is that he’s really, really good and other people have figured it out, so now instead of a few days, the repairs are more like two weeks.

I decided to persevere–after all, I don’t use the desktops when I’m in the Southern Studio, right? But for whatever reason, the laptop wasn’t cooperating with recording. I sounded bad. I mean, really bad. After three fixes and three re-tries, it still sounded terrible. But fortunately, I got the word that the computers were ready for pickup this morning. So I spent a chunk of the evening re-assembling my studio (with the able help of my daughter), and then re-re-re-recorded the show. By this point I nearly had the thing memorized and I barely glanced at the script.

Anyway, it’s been a frustrating few weeks and I thank you for hanging in there with me. I do have some cool stuff coming up over the next few episodes, some of it related to my trip to Nashville. I also have something that I’ve never done before: I’m working on a special Patron Exclusive episode which should be ready to go pretty soon. I had a pretty cool idea but it cost me a few bucks to get the source material, so I figured that the people whose donations made it possible for me to make that purchase should get first crack at it. And, incidentally, during this hiatus they got a newsletter every week except one, when I made the inexplicable mistake a couple of weeks ago of writing a newsletter and then not sending it out.

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144: Everlasting Love

The interesting thing about this song is that it was written for a specific singer. That said, it’s been a pretty big hit for many different artists over the years.

“Everlasting Love” was written in 1967 specifically to match Robert Knight’s voice, but it’s proven to be quite the malleable tune. It’s been rendered in R&B, in disco, in rock, in techno and god knows what else.

So the story behind the song isn’t incredibly interesting. Interesting, but not incredibly so. But the journey it’s taken to embed itself in the hearts of different generations is a fun one. Ride along with me, why don’t you?.

This is not the episode that I teased earlier. That one’s still coming; there’s an interview attached to it and we’ve had some scheduling issues.

As promised, here’s the video of the song by Sandra from 1987. It’s got a very 80s feel to it. I think that comes from the editing and the “backstage” feel it’s supposed to be conveying. I dare you to tell me I’m lying about the Natalie Wood thing:

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137: Same Old Lang Syne

It’s kind of melancholy for a song that many consider to be a Christmas song, isn’t it?

What you have in this tune is the true story of two people who re-encounter each other after several years of separation. And as they spend some time re-connecting, they both recognize that despite opening up to each other, it doesn’t mean that anything else is going to happen for them. The moment has passed them by, and they’re mostly just left with the restlessness and maybe even some self-pity that they hadn’t even realized they were experiencing earlier.

They’re glad they saw each other, and they still manage to come away sadder about their own situation, having gained and lost a shred of hope that this is the opportunity they’ve been waiting for.

Jill Greulich, the woman in the Dan Fogelberg song "Same Old Lang Syne."

Fogelberg always insisted that the story was true, but he never revealed the identity of the woman in the story. But shortly after he died in 2007, she came forward and did an interview with a Peoria, Illinois newspaper. Her name is Jill Anderson Greulich, and she says she hears from Fogelberg’s fans all the time, with almost invariably positive messages, and especially around the holidays.

It’s not really a Christmas song in the sense of Christmas songs we typically think of. It’s set during Christmas, but it’s not the overly-happy, sanitized Christmas we’re used to singing about. It’s more like the Christmas that actually happens to us.

And that’s not always a bad thing.

I meant what I said about the cookies. If you come up with a guess, hit me up on the social media and I’ll let you know if you got it.

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135: Lesser Known Christmas Pop

Merry Christmas!

I actually had a different show in mind but I got to listening to some old radio airchecks (not my own) and I was inspired to do something different from the usual show.

The first thing you’ll notice is that it’s a half-hour long. That’s because I’m playing songs in their entirety and not really talking very much. (If any episode is going to net me a C&D letter, this’ll be the one.)

In this year’s Christmas episode, I’m playing eight songs that don’t get airplay anymore for some reason. A few of them are kinda goofy, a couple are kind of derivative, and I daresay a few of them are seminal to their genre. And while I share a little history with you here and there, the intent this time is to just sit back and wonder why the All Christmas All The Time station in your area is sticking with the same twenty songs, and not playing any of these guys.

All of these songs can be found without too much hassle on Amazon Music or YouTube. If you want to revisit them, here’s the playlist:

  • Merry Christmas, Mary—Tommy Dee and Carol Kay
  • Merry, Merry Christmas, Baby—Dodie Stevens
  • Santa’s Song—The Oak Ridge Boys
  • Yulesville—Edd “Kookie” Byrnes
  • Santa Claus Meets the Purple People Eater—Sheb Wooley
  • Please Come Home For Christmas—Charles Brown
  • White Christmas—The Ravens
  • Silent Night—The Ravens (flip side of White Christmas)

    And just for the giggles, here’s one more song that didn’t make it into the show itself. It’s Bobby Helms’ other shot at a Christmas tune, from 1965. He wasn’t the original artist (I think he was the fourth) to release this song. I think the most popular version came from Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass in 1968, though Bobby Vinton’s version is kind of well-known, too. At any rate, here’s Bobby Helms:

    Sorry, no transcript of this episode, since it’s mostly music.

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128: In Your Eyes

By 1985 Peter Gabriel had released four solo albums, all of them titled Peter Gabriel. Nowadays most people subtitle them based on the cover artwork (e.g. Peter Gabriel (Scratch), Peter Gabriel (Melt), etc.), and while I suppose that amused Gabriel, it did not amuse the folks at his label.

They pushed back hard to get him to take marketing his work more seriously, so he came up with a title that wasn’t really much of a title: So. But Gabriel had, perhaps because of his work on Birdy, had caught on to the worldbeat sound, and incorporated it into the compositions on So. In addition, he got ridiculously lucky with some very creative people to direct and produce the videos that supported the singles. “Sledgehammer” and “Big Time” in particular were very MTV-friendly, and all of a sudden Gabriel is himself on his way and making it in the Big Time, with So going Top Five around the world.

And the fact that the “In Your Eyes” single was a tonal changeup from most of the other singles (“Don’t Give Up” notwithstanding), meant that Peter Gabriel was being taken more seriously as a versatile performer than he was previously, when he was thought of largely as a cult favorite.

I didn’t promise this during the show, but I’m throwing it in here anyway. Here’s the source material for some of the “In Your Eyes” video.

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127: Foreign Influence

I don’t know why it fascinated me so much recently to poke around with songs that had foreign lyrics in them. But, here we are. This week’s show (and I promise I’m done with the premise for awhile) looks at four songs between 1969 and 1984 which have non-English phrases in them. Some of them have been hilariously misunderstood for a long time. One of them is pretty obvious but I decided to throw it in anyway. And one may come as a surprise to you, especially if you don’t speak Spanish.

As promised, here’s an episode of the European game show Jeux Sans Frontières from 1975. This episode comes from Engelburg, Switzerland:

And here’s another, airing from Vilamoura, Portugal in 1980:

And just for laughs, here’s this week’s episode:

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126–Kyrie

Mr. Mister is kind of a peculiar name for a band, but a lot of them have peculiar names, so there’s that. This particular band, originally from the Phoenix, Arizona area, got their name from an inside joke about the Weather Report album Mr. Gone.

Sorry, not all the stories I have are great stories.

“Kyrie” is one of those songs that is very well understood by a certain slice of America. It’s also very misunderstood by the rest of the country, and it largely depends on your religious upbringing, although if you know a lot about classical music, you may also have a clue. No, I’m not going to tell you here. Go listen to the show.

Also, I probably shouldn’t mention this, but this is one of a few songs that will invariably have me Chasing Amy…so to speak. And if you think you’re Amy, drop me a line.

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Everything Old Is New Again

Phil Collins' 'In the Air' Is a Hit Again, Thanks to Reaction Video

Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight,” which we looked at back in Episode 5, is not only on the charts again, it’s made it back into the Top 10 on iTunes in the US, nearly 40 years after its release.

Why? You ask. I presume you’re asking because you’re reading this in 2025 or something, and don’t remember this phenomenon. But a pair of YouTubers, Tim and Fred Williams, have been making videos where they listen to older pop songs recommended by viewers, and they’re recording their reactions as they listen to the song for the first time.

The 21-year-old twins already had a pretty respectable following, and then someone edited their response to “In the Air Tonight” down to a roughly 45-second snippet where they hear the drum break for the first time and they’re both surprised and wowed by it.

The video as a whole (all of their stuff, really) is pretty cool, with them stopping and starting the song to comment in-between, but what makes this one extra-good, I think, is that the song is such a slow burn, they’re slowly warming up to it, and then WHAM! They’re literally (their words) woken up by the beats. The whole thing is worth watching, but if you’re impatient, skip to 4:13:

(Fair Warning: They run an intro at the beginning that drops some NSFW language.)

What’s tough to remember, years and years down the road, is how WE first reacted to this song, and I have to think that it was much the same, and that’s the fun of this particular set of reaction videos. These guys know what they’re talking about musically, and they express it in a unique way. And because they’re usually pulling the songs from YouTube (recursive stuff, that), sometimes they spend a little time reacting to the videos (if the song has an official promotional video).

And once you’ve seen this one, go check out some of their other reaction videos over on YouTube. Their YT handle is TwinsTheNewTrend. Good luck getting out of that rabbit hole.

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121–Take On Me

Some songs seem to spring out of nowhere, and then you take a deeper look and you realize that it’s a cover, or a rewrite, or it’s a re-release that flopped the first time. “Take On Me” by A-ha, it turns out, is in the All Of The Above category. It was re-written several times and re-recorded a couple of times, and released three times before it finally became the hit we know today.

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