Day 105: A song beginning with “C”.

“Come Dancing” – The Kinks

Come DancingIn the summer of 1983 The Kinks were having a resurgence. And it was due to a song called “Come Dancing.” They had been mostly irrelevant for most of the previous decade, reaching the US Top 40 only once since 1970’s “Lola.”

The year 1983 was also my real introduction to music videos. Sure, MTV had been around for a couple of years, but I was not one of the cool kids who had access to it. No, we wouldn’t get it at my house for at least another year or so. And a year when you’re 12 is an eternity. My coolness factor has never recovered.

Actually, my real initiation to videos was via an HBO show called “Video Jukebox.” It was a 30-minute show where they played videos (as you’d expect) and they changed the lineup every month. So, when you watched “Video Jukebox” you saw the exact same 7 or 8 videos every time for 30 days. MTV it wasn’t, but it was all I had.

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I’m pretty sure it was the very first episode I saw that included “Come Dancing.” The video was nothing earth-shattering in terms of plot. It basically followed the lyrics, flashing between an adolescent version of the song’s narrator and shots of the dance hall from the song. Except that Ray Davies played the proprietor of the “local palais”. (And he looked creepy.)

One thing that caught my attention right away the first time I heard the song was the switch in the outro from modern instruments to the “Big Band” sound using horns. It was, of course, a reference to the kind of music played at the now-defunct Palais of the lyrics, where, Davies flat-out states “the Big Bands used to play.” But I’m not sure how many kids of my age would have known what a Big Band was, or what that musical change was meant to imply. But I was pretty impressed with myself that I knew. (Although this, again, did nothing to help my coolness factor.)

I knew it, once again, thanks(?) to my parents.

At the time, Springfield, MA didn’t have a country music station, so what my parents tuned into in the mornings was AM 1450, WMAS, playing “The music of your life.” Not my life. Theirs. And honestly, barely theirs, as well. WMAS specialized in music from the 40s and early 50s, with a strong focus on the Big Band/Swing era. And that’s how I was exposed to artists like The Glenn Miller Orchestra, Tommy Dorsey, and Rosemary Clooney (who, before that, I’d known only as the Coronet paper towel lady). I hated it then, but in retrospect, it made me a much more rounded music aficionado in the long run. In fact, Glenn Miller’s “In The Mood” is one of my favorite songs to this day.

And, as a side benefit, it meant I understood the meaning of the musical change in “Come Dancing.” Wait, what? It wasn’t a side benefit? Damn!

Taco’s cover of “Puttin’ On The Ritz” was also popular that summer. A song that originally hailed from the same “Music of your life” era. I suspect I was also one of the few people of my generation who knew that the song was pushing 50 even then. So I didn’t have MTV, but I had the lock on knowledge of 40-year-old songs. Take that, cool kids!

The Kinks never really did much after that. The following Christmas I received their album Word Of Mouth (not to confused with the Mike + The Mechanics album I talked about here of the same name). While “Do It Again” got some airplay, it didn’t do much otherwise. Which is a shame, as it’s a really good album. (I’ve actually heard that most Kinks fans rate it very highly.)

So here’s the sad part: If WMAS still played “the music of your life,” you know what would be included? “You Really Got Me.” Fifty years old this August.

I have no witty quip for that. It just makes me sad…