51 Weeks: 51 Songs From the Past: Week 18: Paul Simon- You Can Call Me Al

For 51 Weeks: 51 Songs From the Past, this week was supposed to be “50 Ways to Leave Your Lover” but as I was looking for a good video of the song, I saw this one in the Up Next column on the right of the screen and had to check it out.

“You Can Call Me Al” was written and performed by Paul Simon. According to Wikipedia:

The names in the song came from an incident at a party that Simon went to with his then-wife Peggy Harper. French composer and conductor Pierre Boulez, who was attending the same party, mistakenly referred to Paul as “Al” and to Peggy as “Betty”, inspiring Simon to write a song.[1][2]

Paul Simon did not like the original music video that was made, which was a performance of the song Simon gave during the monologue when he hosted Saturday Night Live in the perspective of a video monitor.[7] A replacement video was conceived partly by Lorne Michaels and directed by Gary Weis, wherein Chevy Chase lip-synced Simon’s vocals, with gestures punctuating the lyrics.[8]


51 Weeks: 51 Songs from the Past: Week 8: Toni Basil- Mickey

When I first heard about Hugh’s new feature- 51 Weeks: 51 Songs from the Past, so many songs came to mind. This week’s song is one of those that made every list that I wrote. There are currently three different lists of songs, as I keep losing my notes. I find it interesting to compare them when I find them. (Two keep getting misplaced, for some unknown reason.)

I’m featuring Toni Basil’s 1981 hit- Mickey– this week. This song was originally recorded by the UK group, Racey, in 1979 as Kitty. Toni Basil is credited with writing the iconic cheerleader chant (“Oh Mickey/you’re so fine/you’re so fine/you blow my mind/Hey Mickey!”)

I chose this song because it reminds me of my sister, who I was hanging out with today. It was her favorite song and she walked around chanting, clapping, and singing it endlessly. It drove us all crazy! But looking back, this song is SO HER…. well her in the very early 80’s. Not now. I am two years older than her and completely opposite. If I’m quiet, shy and reserved now, I was a thousand times more so as a child and then teenager. While I just wanted to fade into the background and not be noticed, my sister was this bundle of motion and sound and energy, getting attention wherever she went. Just hearing those words “Oh Mickey, you’re so fine…..” brings back memories of my sister recreating the chant and cheer.

Here is the song- Kitty– performed by Racey.

So what do you think? Mickey or Kitty? Who did it better?


10 Tidbits About Teenage Kat

I spent my teen years growing up in the Midwest during the late 70’s-early 80’s. I raised my children in the same town I grew up in just a few miles from where I lived as a child. My youngest, Andy, just turned 19 a few weeks ago and it’s hard to believe that after 11 years of teenagers, I am nearing the end. Looking back, I can honestly say that their teen years spanning 2004 through the next year are very different than mine. What a difference a few (okay….more than a few….like 25 or more….) years make!

Here’s me as a teenager circa 1978-81ish:

1. Phones Part 1– We had two phones- both rotary dial and both attached to the wall. Lucky for us, my parents got sick of getting clothes-lined or tripped by the phone cord being stretched to its limits by one of us trying to find privacy and they purchased longer and longer cords. The phone upstairs was in the kitchen and no matter where you tried to stretch the cord there was no private place. I had more luck with the downstairs phone, which reached to my room with enough extra play in the cord for me to close my bedroom door and still have freedom to sit on the floor by my bed.j1981uu

2. Jordache Jeans– Designer jeans were a big deal back then. Jordache were my favorites while my best friend preferred Gloria Vanderbilt. And they had to be skin tight. Seriously tight. So tight we had to lay on our beds and suck in our stomachs to get the zipper zipped tight. Sitting was not fun in these jeans. But it was worth it because we thought we looked so good in those jeans!

3. T-Shirts with provocative sayings– The perfect thing to compliment those skin tight jeans was a t-shirt with a suggestive saying printed on it. My mother actually bought me a t-shirt that said “I only sleep with the best”. Mind you, I did not sleep with anyone. I didn’t have a boyfriend until I was 17 and even then, sleeping with a boy was the farthest thing from my mind. I don’t know what my mother was thinking when she got me that shirt!

4. Black liquid eye-liner– My make up completed the look. I couldn’t leave the house without my face fully made up, black eye-liner and all. When I ran out of the black liquid liner that ringed my eyes, I would light a match and dip my eye-liner pencil in the flame to soften it so I could get that dark look around my eyes. Since I was as blind as a bat and wore thick glasses, no one could really see my sleazy eye make up.seniorpiccrop

5. The HAIR! I wore my hair feathered. Since it is naturally straight as a stick and thin, it took quite some time for me to get it to feather using a curling iron. I lost count of the number of times I burned my forehead or the side of my face with that curling iron! Then, to hold the style, I used tons of hairspray- Aquanet most of the time. I sprayed it until I could lift up the feathered part in one full piece. (Somehow it always fell by the end of the day anyway!)

6. Phones Part 2– We did not have call waiting or an answering machine until the early 80’s. Having 3 girls in the house meant our phone was in use- A LOT! Without call waiting, it’s a wonder our friends ever got a hold of us. On the flip side, I remember trying to reach my best friend for hours on end because her mother was always on the phone. After fighting my sister for control of the phone, it was frustrating to dial my friend’s number only to hear that busy signal on the other end.And without answering machines, if someone wasn’t home to take a message (and remembered to write it down), you never knew when you missed a call. Imagine that!

7. Waiting for your favorite movies– Before cable and VCR’s we had to wait for our movies to come to tv. I remember it being a major event when The Sound of Music or Wizard of Oz was on. That usually only happened once a year.

8. Tiger Beat Magazine– I got all of my news about my favorite tv and movie stars from Tiger Beat magazine. I would pull out the pictures of my heart throbs and tape them up on my bedroom walls. Shaun Cassidy was my all time favorite. Leif Garrett and Scott Baio were also in the running back then. I couldn’t wait for the latest issue to come out and I would rush up to the neighborhood drugstore to buy it.

9. Music– I listened to my favorite record albums on a record player. It’s from listening to those albums over and over that I developed my habit of always listening to albums from start to finish. To this day, I have to listen to my CDs that way. In my head, I’m always anticipating the next song to play and that’s what I want to hear! Sometimes records would get scratched and then the needle would skip when it was played. There are songs that to this day, I still expect to hear the skip that was in the album I had as a teen. Silly, huh?

10. Atari– My video game of choice was Pong. To be honest, for a long time, that was the ONLY game I had. I had to laugh at the episode of That 70’s Show when Kelso wanted to make the paddles smaller on Red’s Pong game to make it more challenging. While Pong was addictive, it also lost its challenge after endless hours of play!stories

That was my life as a teenager. The funny thing is that back then my favorite things to do were read, write stories and listen to music. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Here’s a little something to end with- it was released in 1979 and became one of the top hits of 1980- Enjoy!

Brick House

The year is 1982 and my best friend, Lori and I are at the roller rink. Decked out in Jordache jeans so tight you had to lay down on your bed to get them zipped and who cared what the shirt was with jeans that tight, our hair feathered and hair sprayed into a shiny shield that flapped as a single piece as we flew around the skating floor “letting it all hang out” to the very cool sounds of “Brick House” by the Commodores. It is Ladies Only, which means it’s girls only out there  and all the guys are hopefully on the sidelines watching. (I cringe at the thought of a bunch of guys staring at my butt now but at the time, I guess it didn’t seem that bad. All I can is it was a different time. A VERY different time.)th2PWZ4Y7S

Back then the rink would have “All Night Skates” and it was pretty much that- It began at 9 or 10pm and ended at 7am. There was supposed to be adult supervision in the form of the rink manager owner. No one was supposed to leave the building. You can connect all the “supposed to be’s” and come to your own conclusion. Somehow Lori and I managed to miss out on all the “real” fun so we had to make the best of it- mostly laughing at the behavior of the others. As a parent now I’m horrified to think of what those other kids were drinking or smoking or whatever. (Needless to say that although we now live just blocks from said rink, I did not encourage my children to go there.)

Lori had been my best friend for a few years by that time. It was at that time that I met Rob, who would become not only my first love but also one of my greatest friends of all time. Lori and I drifted apart when she went away to college and I stayed home and navigated a rocky relationship with Rob. We did grow close again in our 20s and stood up in each other’s weddings. She ended up moving away right after she got married and although we keep in touch, we haven’t seen each other in over 18 years.

When I hear songs like “Brick House” it always takes me back to those days at the rink and my fun with Lori.

25 Songs, 25 Days: Day 13-  A song that reminds you of a former friend