American Top 40 PastBlast, 2/20/82: Air Supply, “Sweet Dreams”

Maybe this is a little odd, but there are several pop songs from years past that conjure images of springtime thunderstorms. Many of these were hits in the spring, and I suppose it’s possible there were some moments back then when they played on the radio during a storm. But most have something else in common: strings have a prominent role.

I think the best exemplar of this phenomenon is “With You I’m Born Again,” from Billy Preston and Syreeta Wright. Others with this association include the Moodies’ “Nights in White Satin” and Peter Murphy’s “Cuts You Up” (haunting electric violin on that one). I get a similar vibe from Lionel Richie’s “Hello,” even though it seems to lack string action. In thinking about this, though, I half-wonder if the source of this sensation is a misunderstanding: another song that makes me feel this way is “Love, Reign O’er Me,” from the Who’s Quadrophenia. For quite some time, I substituted in a homonym for the second word of the title; that song’s swirling strings sure seemed like rain coming down o’er me.

And so it is as well with Air Supply’s “Sweet Dreams.” It came on the chart a little early in the year to be a true spring storm song, but the swell in the chorus makes me see dark clouds in the sky, rain and thunder on the way. It’s #8 here, and would spend the last two weeks of March at #5. I am strongly tempted to say this is my favorite of theirs.

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