American Top 40 PastBlast, 6/18/83: A Flock of Seagulls, “Wishing (If I Had a Photograph of You)”

Martha and I spent Thursday through Sunday this past week at a choral workshop at a retreat center near Asheville, NC. It’s a drop-dead gorgeous area of the country, and the weather was absolutely stunning for this time of year: sunny, a bit cool at night, and low humidity. Outside of one subpar dining experience in Black Mountain, it was a good trip. This was the first time we’d left our son to his own devices for so long, and overall he was pretty responsible.

We spent the ride home listening to this past weekend’s Premiere AT40 78 and 83 rebroadcasts; the 83 show started just about the time we crossed back in to KY. Some notes about what we heard on that one:

–There’s a very strong set of five debut tunes here: top 5 hits from Eurythmics, Stevie Nicks, Donna Summer, and Duran Duran, plus “1999,” which somehow only made it to #12. With “Every Breath You Take” and “Electric Avenue” already steaming up the chart, much of the entire soundtrack for the heart of Summer 83 was now on the show.

–Crazy story about Bryan Adams’s 79 disco hit “Let Me Take You Dancing,” where a producer sped up a demo tape a 19-year-old Adams had submitted and released it without his knowledge. I’d not heard anything about this before (and it appears that Adams is trying to keep people from learning about it even today—that link, to a purported extended remix, may well be dead before too long).

–Casey notes sixteen British acts on the show, (then?) an all-time high. The Second British Invasion was upon us.

–Irene Cara is at #1 for the fourth of six weeks with “Flashdance…What a Feeling.” The song wound up with an odd (pun intended) distinction as far as chart runs go—it spent twenty weeks in the Top 40, and its position for all but the first (#38) and last (#22) of those was an odd number, mostly #1 or #3.  (I’m not the one who noticed this; I believe I first saw it in a thread on the AT40 Fun and Games site.) Naturally, it wound up as #2 for the year.

Sitting at #30 is a song from one of those many British acts, A Flock of Seagulls. “Wishing (If I Had a Photograph of You),” the first release from their second LP, was the third and final U.S. Top 40 hit for them; despite a strong 40-30 move this week, it reached only #26.

The Seagulls’ first and biggest hit, “I Ran,” came on the Top 40 the weekend I moved to college the previous September. My first roommate had bought their eponymous debut album right before he and I started at Transy. That’s how I first heard “Space Age Love Song,” months before it was a hit; I’ve never been able to shake the phrase “receiving messages” (from “Messages,” the last song on side one) out of my head, either.

My roommate had supplied the stereo system for our room, and I would use it occasionally to play a 45 or one of the twelve or so albums I owned at the time. But I wasn’t entirely responsible—I made the mistake of leaving it running a couple of times when I left the room. The first was the more egregious, as I’m pretty sure I left the dorm with it on; in the second, I’d gone down the hall to brush my teeth, and roomie happened to come back (and turn it off and leave again) while I was in the bathroom.

I was aware I hadn’t been respectful of his property—and knew he was aware of it, too—but we didn’t discuss the matter. A week or two after that second incident, my roommate went home for the weekend. When I put on a record to play that Friday night, his stereo wouldn’t turn on. I looked behind the unit, to check on the power cord. Not only was it unplugged, but I also found that the speakers had been disconnected, with an index card taped over where you’d plug them in. In all caps, the card had a pretty straightforward message, something like  “DON”T F*** WITH MY STEREO, A**HOLE” (actually, it was exactly that, without the asterisks of course). I elected to honor the request.

My recollection is that when he got back, we did have a brief conversation about things. I imagine I apologized—not sure whether I addressed the passive-aggressive nature of how he’d handled the issue, though (to be honest, it wouldn’t surprise me if a friend of his with whom I didn’t especially get along had the idea for/wrote the note). This wasn’t the only point of conflict between us (I wasn’t blameless on other fronts, I can see looking back); we never really argued—perhaps an important issue is that we didn’t communicate enough!— and eventually he began making noises about moving elsewhere in the dorm. When an opening next door with James arose as Thanksgiving approached (James and I had at least two classes together that first fall), it wasn’t hard to elect to make the move.

Anyway, back to A Flock of Seagulls. It seems somehow entirely fitting that vocalist/keyboard player Mike Score was a hairdresser in a previous life. I liked “Wishing” quite a bit back in the day—and still do—but the video performance strikes me now as listless. It’d been a busy year, though, so I can imagine they might have been running on fumes.

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