What were we listening to in 1988? – A musical nostalgia trip!

Nothing is as quite as good as music for transporting you back to past times of love, loss, and the gaining of life’s experiences. I know that most of my childhood can be most effectively measured musically!

I was suitably shocked to learn that ‘Simply Irresistible’ by Robert Palmer featured prominently in the New Zealand charts waaaaayyyyy back in 1988! I still remember vividly that steady rock beat, the simple, punchy, and catchy tune, the stabby brass section, and those almost-very-nearly-identical dancing/band girls – an astonishing coming-together of style and substance built to last (complete with that awesomely syncopated drum fill that inspired the young drummer in myself!) – it’s in your head right now isn’t it!?

And that got me to thinking, “I wonder how many other standout classic tunes that, just like me, are maybe getting on a bit?” and “I wonder what other songs were around at the same time as ‘Simply Irresistible'”? Turns out that 1988 was a bumper year for iconic music!

So I made a list to share with you all – I’m referring to it among my colleagues as “A Musical Nostalgia Trip” to avoid having to feel too old myself! This is by no means an exhaustive list of the quality of music back in 1988, merely a list of tunes to hopefully trigger some nostalgic thoughts and memories, and maybe even prompt you into some nostalgic musical discoveries of your own!

There’s some big hitting songs in here so if you remember them from 1988, maybe go easy and have regular cups o’tea…

Enjoy:

What we were listening to in 1988!

List created by DevilStateDan

All of these songs listed here could be considered classics and, in some cases, so can the albums that featured them. And as always with music there are so many ways to experience the world of sound, so in this list I offer you CDs, artists’ biographies, live shows on DVD, music press articles, and printed music so you can play them yourself! Get borrowing and set off singing along your own musical nostalgia trip!

Bad – Yep, we were groovin’ to ‘The Way You Make Me Feel’ 30 years ago this year. In fact, the first week of 1988 saw the great song at #6 on the NZ charts! Great tune, so cool, and still so good after three decades!

Cover of Michael Jackson The Making of Thriller : 4 Days/1983Michael Jackson – MJ sure did release some amazing music. This book looks behind the scenes during the making of ‘Thriller’, with exclusive photographs and insights.

The Very Best – INXS were big in Australia and New Zealand. ‘Never Tear Us Apart’ was, and still is, a massive hit, reaching #11 in Aus and #30 in NZ and still one of their very best – hard to believe it was 30 years ago though….

Cover of Best of INXSBest of INXS – Why not celebrate the 30th birthday of ‘Never Tear Us Apart’ by learning to play some of INXS’ other hits! This is music in P/V/G – that’s to say it has music for piano/vocals/guitar to play the tunes listed – get playing!

Rattle and Hum Songbook – We’re getting all kinds of opportunities to learn to play these songs that we were rockin’ to 30 years ago this year, including ‘Desire’ by U2! Hey, if the Edge can do it then so can you…

U2 – The latest telling of the U2 story, they gotta mention ‘Desire’ in there somewhere, right?!?

Faith – Has there ever been a more widely celebrated breakout solo album than ‘Faith’ by George Michael…!?!? The title track was the first #1 of NZ’s 1988 calendar year! Give it a spin to mark the occasion, and listen without prejudice!

Cover of George Michael: The lifeGeorge Michael – The most recent account of the life of the iconic singer/songwriter penned by a writer who has all the skills in producing engaging biographies.

George Michael: The Lone Star State. By Adrian Deevoy, Q, Jun 1988. Part of Rock’s Backpages.

Access All Areas – Big hair, slow-mo dancing, oversized and off-the-shoulder cardies…and Belinda Carlisle – it must be 1988! ‘Heaven is a Place on Earth’ turns 30 in 2018.

Belinda Carlisle – Heaven Is A Place On Earth. Official video. Released in 1987, taken from Belinda’s album ‘Heaven On Earth’.

Cover of Guns n' Roses FAQGuns N’ Roses – What a debut album Appetite for Destruction was for the band Guns n’ Roses and the standout commercial track on that album was definitely ‘Sweet Child of Mine’! That iconic guitar riff, the snake-like dance moves of Axl Rose – all that hit up to #7 in the NZ charts, 30yrs ago!

Guns N’ Roses: Dancing with Mr Brownstone. By Paul Elliott, Sounds, 4 Nov 1989. From Rock’s Backpages.

Guns N’ Roses FAQ – Think you know everything there is to know about these rock legends and the music that hit the world rock n’ roll scene like a speeding night train?!? Try this new book out and see how much you missed!

Cover of The best of Bobby McFerrinThe Best Of Bobby McFerrin – This one is such a classic that I still hear folks whistling the tune to ‘Don’t Worry, Be Happy’ at the shops or in the library! This guy is a huge talent so if ‘Don’t Worry, Be Happy’ is the only tune you know of his then follow the link and stream some more! And YES, he’s still alive – there was never anything to the rumours of the 1990’s…

Bobby McFerrin. By Tim Page, Newsday, 30 Jul 1995. Part of Rock’s Backpages, The ultimate library of rock music writing and journalism.

Cover of Bon Jovi chord songbook collectionChord Songbook Collection – Learn to play ‘Bad Medicine’ to celebrate it’s 30th birthday this year! It got to #2 on the NZ charts and is there a bigger rock anthem..!?!?

Bon Jovi – The story of the rockers from Jersey. Get some background and context for their penning of ‘Bad Medicine’, 30yrs ago this year.

Def Leppard – Working class boys from northern England make it big with one of the biggest albums in rock history, but right now we’re talking about that iconic smash that entered the NZ charts mid-March, topped out at #40, then disappeared. We’re talking about ‘Pour Some Sugar On Me’ a song that had us rockin’ out in 1988! – wrecking ball at the ready!

Def Leppard: Loadsamoney!!. By Mat Snow, Q, May 1988. Part of Rock’s Backpages.

Cover of Easy acoustic songsEasy Acoustic Songs – ‘Fast Car’ by Tracy Chapman is one of those songs that instantly transport you back to where you were when you first heard it – what a beaut song! Give it a go on Piano, Vocal, Guitar in this easy acoustics songbook, where it’s jammed in with loads of other tunes you’ll want to try too!

She’s Gotta Ticket: Tracy Chapman. By Lucy O’Brien, City Limits, 5 May 1988. Part of Rock’s Backpages.

Pet Sounds – Has there ever been a song so divisive amongst its artists devout followers as was ‘Kokomo’…?!?! It got at least up to #11 in the NZ charts! Still not sure how I feel about it even after 30 years! Why don’t we have a listen to their best album instead…

The Very Best of – Gee these boys hit us hard in the late nineties, non bigger than their iconic hit ‘I’m Gonna Be’ which is still shouted as loud as a roaring soccer crowd at any Celtic-themed pub around the world today! It made it all the way to #3 on the NZ charts in 1988 but ran home to #1 in January of 1989, not 500 miles from our featured year by any extent! ….it’s stuck in your head now isn’t it. Go on, sing it!

Sunshine on Leith – The Proclaimers songs are so iconic that a musical movie was built around them a few years back. If you’re a fan of the music and you missed this film then you’re in luck as we have it in our collection!

View Full List

God Moves On The Water

Titanic song copyrighted just ten days after the disaster!

The sinking of the “unsinkable” Titanic on April 14-15, 1912, in which 1,513 people died, was (and still is) widely chronicled in song as well as, other media. Indeed the earliest known commercial song about Titanic was copyrighted just ten days after the disaster. Numerous pieces of sheet music and gramophone records were subsequently produced.

It was sad when that great ship went down.

Some songs draw attention to the confining of the lower class passengers below decks, thus assuring their certain death. Many versions also mention, perhaps sardonically, the myth of the band’s playing of the well-known hymn “Nearer My God To Thee.”

More songs were made about the sinking of the Titanic than any other single disaster, but it was in the rural south that composers and singers – both black and white – kept the memory and immediacy of the event fresh through numerous performances for years afterward. Many continued the theme of man ‘s hubris and God ‘s will allowing them to use it as a framework for greater meaning.

Here is a selection of 25 songs – God Moves On The Water – Songs about the sinking of the Titanic. From Alexander Street – Music Online

Find more about the Titanic in our collection.

New Zealand’s national anthems. Yes, anthems!

So how many people in New Zealand realise that we have two national anthems? I bet not a lot.

Everyone knows God Defend New Zealand/Aotearoa. Well, at least the first verse anyway.

There are actually five verses in total. You may have heard part of the third verse in the Royal New Zealand Navy ad.

The words to God Defend New Zealand/Aotearoa were written by Thomas Bracken back in the 1870s. These were then used in a competition to compose a national air (tune or song) for New Zealand, with John Joseph Woods, a teacher from Otago, winning with his now familiar composition.

Cover of Hear our voices, we entreatThe song’s popularity grew throughout the the 19th century and became one of the most popular songs in the 20th century.

It became our national song in 1940, but wasn’t adopted as one of our official national anthems until 1977! This was as a result of a petition to parliament the previous year.

Hinewehi Mohi sang God defend New Zealand/Aotearoa in te reo Māori only before the All Blacks versus England match at the 1999 Rugby World Cup, causing a huge public debate in New Zealand. Wow, I remember that. Some people were outraged and others said “about time”.

It just shows you how one person’s brave act can change history. Everyone now expects both languages to be sung. As it should be.

Our other national anthem is God Save the Queen. Yes, the British national anthem. I’m sure most New Zealanders wouldn’t know the words to this, but as a proud dual citizen – the child of a British parent, and with strong Loyalist Grandparents – I can belt this out. Well, verses 1 & 3, haha.

It is usually only used when Her Majesty The Queen, a member of the Royal Family, or the Governor-General is officially present, or when loyalty to the Crown is emphasised.

The Ministry for Culture & Heritage/Manatū Taonga website has lyrics to both God Defend New Zealand/Aotearoa and God Save the Queen if you’re feeling inspired to learn all the verses.

Or you could check out the following:

It’s Babytimes

Central Library, Centre for the ChildSchool holidays are over and now the babies come out to play in our libraries. Every Monday to Friday, all over the city, under twos are having fun in our Babytime sessions.

Halswell Library is the latest into the Babytimes fold with  regular weekly sessions starting on Wednesday, 24  October at 11.00am.

Stories, songs, rhymes, fingerplays and other book related activities are delivered by a lively bunch of librarians.

For at home backup our Baby Rhymes page has a wonderful selection of rhymes you can learn and share with your baby, plus heaps of other resources you can find in our libraries. They are important steps for your child on the road to reading. We have lots of other information for parents of pre-schoolers and our experienced children’s librarians are there to help.

Why not check out a Babytimes session near you.

Why does love do this to me?

There’s something about a Kiwi love song that just makes them unique. They are not all hearts and flowers and ‘I’ll love you until the stars fall out of the sky’ nonsense… they can be sweet and sentimental at times, but also gritty, cynical and giving you love as it can be, complicated, hard or just plain messy… and I love them for that.

Some of my favourite Kiwi love songs and lyrics?

Love not given Lightly by Chris Knox

This is a love song to John and Leisha’s mother
This isn’t easy
I might not write another

But it’s you that I love
and it’s true that I love
and it’s more than what it might be
But I knew this was love
And it’s you that I love
And it’s love not given lightly

Why Does Love Do This to Me?  by The Exponents

I miss you
You know that
But when I see you sometimes
I’m cut up and I’m broken
There am I asking you how you are

I See Red by Split Enz

Squeezed me out of your life
Down the drain like molten toothpaste
I feel used and spat out

Don’t Fight it Marsha it’s Bigger Than Both of Us by The Mutton Birds

And I want you to be happy,
But I’d rather that you were still with me
Don’t Dream it’s Over by Crowded House
Now I’m walking again to the beat of a drum
And I’m counting the steps to the door of your heart
These are just a few of my favs, What are yours amongst the New Zealand Music collection?

Falling in love with music again

CoverFor a while there, I couldn’t listen to any music. Dance-worthy pop songs jarred with my sombre state; rock songs were too loud, too confrontational; and acoustic folk brought up emotions I wanted to avoid.

Then a musician friend of mine, Michal Williams, created a blog. Each week she posts a new song, processing what has happened to Christchurch through music. Listening to her sing and play has reconnected me with my love of music.

Now I have music playing where ever I go; there’s a soundtrack accompanying everything I do. After losing my iPod and CD collection to the quake, the library’s physical and virtual music collections have become a lifeline for me.

Among the musical stylings I’m listening to post-quake are an assortment of New Zealand musicians, including:

What New Zealand music has helped you get through, put a smile on your face, or given you goosebumps (in a good way)?

Happy Birthday J. R. Cash

He was the man in black.

He was the father of two talented children Rosanne Cash and John Carter Cash.

His first wife Vivian wrote a book about her time with him.

He left his first wife for a daughter of the Carter Family clan.

He was a devout but troubled Christian, bothered by addictions of many kinds.

He was given the name “J.R.” because his parents could not agree on a name, only on initials.

He met June Carter in 1968 and later she would help write the hit “Ring of Fire” and become his wife.

He was played in a movie by Joaquin Phoenix with Reese Witherspoon as his wife June.

He created an image of being an outlaw and although convicted of starting a forest fire his time in jail was pastoral – performing to prisoners in places like San QuentinFolsom and Osteraker Prisons.

His early recordings continue to be repackaged and reissued as yet another Best of Johnny Cash – but those early “boom-chicka-boom” freight train recordings are still fantastic.

With his wife June he fronted an eclectic television series – the Johnny Cash show, and later the Johnny Cash Christmas special.

After a period of indifference and troubles he was rejuvenated by Rick Rubin and produced a series of incredible recordings of covers and traditional songs in the series American Recordings.

He featured as a guest on the Simpsons,  the Muppets , and Dr Quinn Medicine Women, and you can listen to his authorized biography read by his friend Kris Kristofferson.

The posthumous American VI has just been released.

Happy birthday  Johnny Cash.

The Joy of the Unlikely Cover

Girl listeningNot book covers but musical covers.  I am a big fan of genre-busting reworkings of famous songs, like Johnny Cash doing Nine Inch Nails and Depeche Mode on his American IV album. In recent years entire albums have been produced that pick up this gimmick and run with it, verily like the wind.

Guns ‘n’ Roses have been given the bossa nova treatment (see this earlier post for more details) and Richard Cheese does superbly loungey things to Tool and Snoop Dogg on his albums.  You can also catch classic tracks from the 80s and 90s redone in a jazz vibe.  By far my favourite at the moment is the rockabye baby series of CDs which feature lullaby renditions of songs by such artists as The Ramones, The Cure, Björk, and The Smashing Pumpkins.  So if you’re raising a future headbanger (or Icelandic pop princess?) you might like to check this series out.

What’s your favourite unlikely cover of a song?  If you could have any artist cover any song what weird and wonderful combination would you dream up?