I have a friend from high school – Tommy Brewster – well, I still call him Tommy Brewster, but he goes by Thomas and is an accomplished educator and professional now. In high school, he was so ultra-cool! He was a senior when I was a freshman and I thought that he pretty much walked on water. He had the spiked hair that was the right colors. He wore the perfect clothes (I still don’t know where he got those amazing threads, because they were not your typical Tazewellian fare, lol!) And, he actually LIKED Duran Duran! I used to say, “Tommy Brewster is the closest thing that Tazewell will ever see to John Taylor!” In recent years, we’ve had this discussion. And, it turns out, he was trying to look like Nick Rhodes, not John Taylor. Maybe you have to be a Duranie to appreciate that. (Just trust me – he was soooooo John Taylor!)
Anyway, I digress… Tommy posts a Top 20 List on Facebook each week, typically from that week at some point in the 80s, occasionally the late 70s. And tonight, he posted one from 1985. Two things that I want to say up front about that. 1) This was the week of Live Aid in 1985; 2) Music from the mid-80s ROCKED! There’s almost no music on the lists from 1984-1986 that don’t bring memories flooding back to me of younger days spent dreaming of being a grown-up, traveling to exotic places, and living in a world where Duran Duran knew that I actually existed. (If only I could have seen the future, right?!?!? Nah, I would have never believed back then what I’ve been blessed with in my life!) So, each week, Tommy asks his Facebook followers to tell what their favorite song was from the charts that he posts.
You know me. I’m not a multiple-choice kind of girl. I’m a fan of short answers and essays. So I tend to do a couple of things – first, name more than one song, because, really, who can limit themselves to just one song from a Top 20 pop music chart from the mid-80s? And, who would I be if I didn’t try to explain WHY I loved those songs? (Certainly not Chrissie Anderson Peters!)
So the chart this week, of course, is stacked with winners, top to bottom. At number one, we find no other than my then-beloved Duran Duran with the only James Bond theme to this day to ever reach number 1, “A View To A Kill.” (Side note: I’d never seen a James Bond movie until that one. And the only reason I went to see it was to hear the theme song.) It was a scary time to be a Duranie, truth be told. You had The Power Station with John Taylor, Andy Taylor, and Roger Taylor. Then you had Arcadia with Simon LeBon, Nick Rhodes, and Roger Taylor. Yep. Poor Roger got pulled between the two side projects and eventually left the band with pretty much a nervous breakdown. After Andy Taylor had already left to try his hand at a solo career, which he still does. And John was trying his hand at a solo career, too. Both of them scoring hits with movie theme songs. But as a Duranie, you were torn about all of these side projects. Because, the writing was on the wall. There was only so much of those guys to go around. And Duran Duran proper was not possibly going to win out with all of this other stuff going on. (Well, flash forward 37 years and, yes, Duran Duran are still making music, but there were several lean years and multiple staffing changes over the years before the current lineup got their act together, literally, and got back on track…)
But this week in 1985, they were on top. And in terms of which songs on this chart were my favorites? Everyone expects me to say “A View to a Kill,” and that week, it probably was. I very specifically remember being at Flat Top Lake with my best friend, Pam Smith Waddell, in the boathouse at their lake house, rejoicing that “Raspberry Beret” had been knocked out of the top spot by Duran Duran, lol! We had also been talking about Live Aid non-stop.
But, looking at the whole list, there are so many treasures here! I was also pretty invested in Tears For Fears and was playing Songs From the Big Chair on vinyl until I about wore it out. My cousin Andy was visiting from Detroit that Summer and had a mad crush on Pam. It was the first Summer that his older sister Missy, my age, didn’t come to visit with him and his younger brother Adam, and I was so happy because Missy and I competed over everything! With Andy, there was a sure and steady friendship that I still honor, respect, and adore to this day. (I love Missy now, too, but when we were 14, we could really be cut-throat with each other!) Andy and I listened to music together that whole Summer. He spent a lot of time on the God-Forsaken Hill where I lived with Mom and Tom, and after he helped Tom on the farm during the day, he and I listened to the old floor-model stereo in the living room at night, or the boom box in my bedroom. On Friday nights, we would stay up late to watch Friday Night Videos, because we lived out in the sticks and didn’t have cable or MTV. His eyes used to light up and get really big when we sang, “You Spin Me Round (Like A Record),” and we intentionally lisped the “esses” in “Sussudio,” by Phil Collins and made up videos to songs we liked that we thought were better than the actual videos, a lot of which I had never even seen because – see above for explanation. We shared a lot of hopes and dreams and secret fears of our own over that Songs From the Big Chair album, listening to and singing “Everybody Wants to Rule the World,” and “Shout.” As I commented to him on one of the videos I posted from that concert a few weeks ago, we made it through okay; I think we both ended up with pretty great lives, especially for who and where we were then. We’ve both worked hard. We both survived a lot of crap. And I’ll just leave that at that. Because this isn’t about the bad times, but the good times that got us through.
So many other phenomenal songs on that list that Tommy Posted tonight. “Heaven” by Bryan Adams. “Glory Days” by Springsteen, which I hated back then because I didn’t see how anyone could possibly look back at growing up as being the best times of their life. Fourteen-year-old Chrissie would not have believed the irony in that one! And it wasn’t until later that I would come to love The Eagles and appreciate Glenn Frey and Don Henley and their individual and combined musical genius, but I did love the video to “Smugglers Blues,” because there’s a news headline in it that has the date of August 23 in it, which is my birthday, so I always thought that was ultra-cool.
But over the years, it has been “Never Surrender” that has literally saved my life over and over. Granted, I loved the song back then, but I didn’t fully appreciate it like I do now. (I think I appreciated Corey Hart more than I did the song, to be perfectly honest.) It has come to me on the radio when I had nothing left to live for, nothing left to go on with, nothing left to hope in. I would not be here today if it weren’t for that one song. When I have been at my absolute lowest moments in life, throughout the 90s and even in recent years, that song comes to me, like the answer to a prayer I wasn’t even aware that I was praying. I have a deeper spiritual connection to it than any other song in the universe, “Ordinary World” by Duran Duran my senior year of college coming in at a strong second, for a couple of other sets of reasons. I don’t tend to say that I have a “bucket list” of things that I’d like to do, because I’ve been so blessed to do so much already in my 50 years on Planet Earth. But I will admit that hearing Corey Hart sing “Never Surrender” live would be a huge moment for me.
Yes, the 80’s will always be my saving grace. They’ve made me who I am, what I will always be. Thanks again this week, Tommy, for helping me to revisit the #SoundtrackOfMyLife!