Thursday, March 13, 2014

Taylor Dayne’s “Tell It to My Heart” on New Year’s Eve 1987

On the night of December 31st, 1987, I attended a New Year’s Eve party with my parents and my sister. The party was being held at the home of some friends of my parents. There was a fairly large number of people there. During the length of the party, the grownups were in both the living room and the family room, while a group of us kids were hanging out in the master bedroom.

I recall that the windows in that bedroom had gold-colored vertical blinds, which looked somewhat gaudy and tacky. But, seeing those blinds would nonetheless inspire me (years later) to get silver/metallic vertical blinds for my own bedroom. There was also a big-screen tv set in that room. So, we spent most of the night just watching tv, flipping through the channels, and talking about various things. We saw part of the movie called Wildcats (starring Goldie Hawn). We also watched some of the music videos that were being shown on MTV.

One of those videos happened to be for the song “Tell It to My Heart” by Taylor Dayne. And although all of us who were in the room had heard the song before, none of us had actually seen its video. So, we were somewhat  surprised upon seeing what the singer looked like. With her over-the-top hairstyle and heavy makeup, she seemed almost like a bolder version of Madonna. And coincidentally, one part of the video featured the style of dancing known as "Vogueing”, which would go on to be popularized by Madonna’s "Vogue" song (and video) three years later. In fact, the “Tell It to My Heart” video was the first time that I ever saw anyone Vogueing.

Taylor Dayne - Tell It to My Heart
Months later, I bought Taylor’s first album (which was also titled “Tell It to My Heart”) in cassette tape format. I still have that cassette, all these years later. The song itself remains one of my all-time favorite songs. It's one of those songs that I must've listened to hundreds of times (perhaps thousands?) over the years. It's got catchy lyrics and an upbeat sound. There’s also a remixed/extended version to the song which I’ve always loved as well. I've included videos for both versions below, with the first video being the song's official video.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Uptown - "(I Know) I'm Losing You" (1987)

A few nights ago, I was listening to a radio station that plays classic rock music. And suddenly, a rock song (sung by a male singer) came on that had some vaguely familiar lyrics. As I listened to the song, the lyrics jogged a memory of the voice of a female singer from the 80s, but I couldn’t place it. I couldn't remember who that female singer was. I was like, "I’ve heard a different version of this song, but who is the singer???” I couldn’t remember for the life of me.

It turned out that the song that was being played on the radio was "(I Know) I'm Losing You" by Rod Stewart and his band Faces, and it dates from the early 1970s. I actually had never heard that particular song before. However, I decided to look up the lyrics because they sounded familiar to me. So, what I discovered was that the song had originally been recorded by The Temptations in the 1960s. It was covered by Stewart in 1971. And then, in 1987, the song was covered again by a band called Uptown. I then realized that the Uptown version was the version that I had heard back in the 80s, and thus that’s why the lyrics of the Rod Stewart song sounded familiar to me.

Surprisingly, I didn’t even remember the Uptown song, as it had been many years since I last heard it. I guess it sort of slipped out of my mind in all of the years that had gone by. So, I decided to look for it on Youtube, to listen to it again. It's always interesting to rediscover something that you haven't seen or heard in many years. And in this case, I rediscovered this song in the most unexpected way. Who knew that a rock song from the 70s would lead me to a dance music hit from the late 80s? Serendipity perhaps? :)

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Lathe of Heaven: Early 80s science fiction

Lathe of Heaven
In the 1980 made-for-tv movie, The Lathe of Heaven, Bruce Davison plays a man who discovers that his dreams can change reality. The film was based on the novel of the same name, which was written by Ursula K. Le Guin. Le Guin herself served as the creative consultant to the film. The film was originally broadcast by the PBS network.

The film is set in Portland, Oregon in the not-too-distant future. It begins by following the life of a man named George Orr (played by Davison) who had recently overdosed on prescription medication that he had been taking in an attempt to suppress his ability to dream. As a result of this, George is forcibly assigned to the care of a psychiatrist named Doctor Haber. George initially tells the doctor that he’s been having dreams that can change reality since he was 17, and that when he dreams of something, the next day it becomes a reality.

Bruce DavisonLathe of Heaven

At first, the doctor is skeptical of George’s claim that his dreams can affect reality. But he subsequently decides to conduct hypnotic therapy on George with his consent, in order to better understand George’s condition. As part of the hypnosis, the doctor gives George suggestions of topics to dream about so that he can dream about that instead of the involuntary dreams that he’s been having. The doctor’s aim is for George to have pleasant dreams (at first). Nevertheless, through the hypnotic therapy, the doctor comes to realize that George does indeed have what he terms “affective dreams” and that therefore those dreams can in fact alter reality. The doctor then decides that he’s going to manipulate George’s dreams in order to "make the whole world right" with the use of a special machine known as an Augmentor.

AugmentorBruce Davison

George soon becomes aware that the doctor is using both him and his dreams to alter reality to his wishes, and he feels that the doctor is treating him like an experimental animal. He consults with a lawyer named Heather (played by Margaret Avery of The Color Purple fame) in an attempt to end his therapy sessions with the doctor. She’s initially skeptical of George’s story about his dreams, but she agrees to help him out. She gains permission to be present at one of his hypnotic therapy sessions with the doctor, at which she portrays herself as someone who was sent by the government to be an official observer of these sessions.

Margaret AveryLathe of Heaven

It is during the session witnessed by Heather that the Augmentor’s effect causes George's brain to readily accept a suggestive dream about controlling the world’s overpopulation. The result of that is that George dreams of a plague that wipes out most of humanity, and in reality the dream causes 6 billion people to disappear. Upon waking up, George confronts the doctor and tells him to take responsibility for having caused the dream to happen, but the doctor deflects the responsibility by telling George that it was his dream that caused the plague and that the dream came from his own mind. George tells the doctor that his attempts to use his dreams to make the world a better place can destroy it. But the doctor claims he can learn to harness George’s power because he believes that the purpose of man is to build a better world. George decides to distance himself from the doctor and runs away to a remote cabin on the coast. There, he reunites with Heather and tells her that he needed to get away from the doctor because he was just using him to manipulate his dreams. Heather convinces him to let her hypnotize him so that he can dream that everything is ok and so that he can wake up feeling rested and well. But that dream only serves to make things worse, leading to an alien invasion on Earth.

Lathe of HeavenLathe of Heaven

George then consents to have the doctor perform one last experiment on him, so that George can have his last affective dream. By doing so, George would have something that he's always wanted: to be cured. Under hypnosis, the doctor suggestively tells George to dream that he's lost the ability to dream affectively. What the doctor intends is for George's final affective dream to be able give the doctor himself the ability to control reality through dreams via the Augmentor machine. This comes to pass, and the doctor believes that a new era will begin, since affective dreams have eliminated the world’s social ills such as war, hatred, disease, and overpopulation. But ultimately, things don't turn out quite as the doctor had planned.

Doctor HaberDoctor Haber

I would say that despite all of the years that have gone by since this film originally aired on tv, it still holds up pretty well for a science fiction film. It’s got this fascinating indescribable quality that’s particular to some of the films from the late 70s and early 80s. The whole look and feel of the film makes for a very engrossing watch. And, it also has a synthesizer music score, which that too was typical of many films from that time period.