Dancing In The Dark (and in the Club)

On June 4, 1984 (otherwise notable for being first birthday), Bruce Springsteen released his chart-topping album Born in the U.S.A. With it, he secured his biggest hit ever, “Dancing In The Dark.” Nobody didn’t like that song!

However, many modern-day Bruce puritans say that “Dancing In The Dark” is anti-Bruce, his one screw-up in a career otherwise loaded with integrity and artistic vision. To these people I say, get over yourselves! A great pop song is nothing to sneer at. It takes genius to craft something so catchy, even if nobody knows what you’re singing about. (This is a song about soul-crushing isolation, of course; in this regard, it’s like “I’m On Fire’s” little brother who’s everybody’s favorite when they’re little kids, but while big bro goes on to be covered by every artist from Tori Amos to Johnny Cash, little bro isn’t really taken seriously as an adult.)

As the story goes, in an effort to appeal to a younger and more diversified set than his standard 35-45 year-old, whitebread audience, Bruce released a “Dancing In The Dark” remix–otherwise known as the 12″ Extended Dance Remix–fully equipped with glockenspiel, backup singers (not Patti Scialfa, which maybe hurt her feelings?), a doubled-up Bruce reverb effect and what sounds like a drum machine. The end result is way more “Always Something There To Remind Me” than Nebraska.

There are several things I love about this remix and its accompanying video. (None of them are Courtney Cox.)

1) The kick-off to the remix. “Phil Collins Drum Fills” is what Rawle calls them (he loves drum fills). I keep thinking it’s going to be “Some Like It Hot” by Power Station.

2) Bruce does some dancing. Now, Bruce can play a mean guitar, he can slide across an entire stage, and he’s jumped off every piano in America. But can he dance? The better question is, should he dance? Oh, but it’s cute to see him try.

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Favorite 80’s song…GO.

In happier times: the 1980's.

In happier times: the 1980's.

Yesterday’s celebrity news inevitably led to today’s 80’s overload.

Which got me to thinking: What are my favorite 80’s songs ever, ever, ever? Being an 80’s kid, this is my bread and butter. And so,


– Star to Fall, Boy Meets Girl
– Break My Stride, Matthew Wilder
– Everyday I Write the Book, Elvis Costello
– How Will I Know, Whitney Houston (edging out “I Wanna Dance With Somebody”)
– Your Love, The Outfield
– Gypsy, Fleetwood Mac (so good it shouldn’t even count.)
– Hungry Eyes, Eric Carmen
– Eternal Flame, The Bangles
– Our Lips are Sealed, The Go-Gos
– Everlasting Love, Howard Jones
– No One is to Blame, Howard Jones (couldn’t choose!)
– I’m Alright, Kenny Loggins
– Human Nature, Michael Jackson
– Dancing in the Dark, Bruce (the only 80’s song by Bruce that I consider an actual 80’s song)
– Borderline, Madonna (doubles as my favorite Madonna song, edging out “Live To Tell”)
– Little Red Corvette, Prince (“You must be a limousine!!!”)
– We’ve Got Tonight, as sung by Kenny Rogers and Sheena Easton
– Against All Odds, Phil Collins
– Don’t Lose My Number, Phil Collins
– Easy Lover, Phil Collins and Phillip Bailey
– Phil Collins catalog
– If Ever You’re In My Arms Again, Peabo
– King of Wishful Thinking, Go West
– Africa, Toto
– Private Eyes, Hall and Oates
– The Stroke, Billy Squier (which I don’t love that much but damn if it don’t make me dance!)
– Goonies Theme Song, Cyndi Lauper
– Sister Christian, Night Ranger (emotional!)

Maybe I should stop. A friend just said, “Who creates a “favorite 80s song list”? Are you crazy?” Well to quote Dan Akroyd in my favorite movie, Ghostbusters II, “I guess so, Pete!”

Oh sheez, how could I forget:

– On Our Own, Bobby Brown (Ghostbusters II Theme Song)
– Every Little Step, Bobby Brown

But anyway. What am I missing?!?

Metric – Help, I’m A Fan

Twitter usually leads me astray. Typically, when I scroll through it — which, as habit would have it, I do throughout the day — I’m watching my friends battle over friend-ly things, or I’m reading headlines of articles I’ve already read, or I’m alerted to emotional crises plaguing people I don’t know that well.


Metric plays Philly. Thanks to Twitter, we were in on the surprise.

But today, I got some genuine news when scrolling through those 140-character accounts of boredom: According to Philly’s CityPaper, Metric (lead by the incomparable [and Canadian!] Emily Haines) was playing at World CafĂ© Live at 8.

“Rawle!” I typed to the guy who’s been raving about Ms. Haines’ live show at the First Unitarian Church for as long as I’ve known him, “Metric’s playing tonight! At 8! We have to go!”

So, we went.

A few words first. This was a super-secret show. Wasn’t mentioned on Metric’s Web site, wasn’t leaked on bulletin boards (that I know of). Just popped up on CityPaper today.

Secondly: I’m kind of jealous of Emily Haines. First of all, she’s super hot. Nobody doesn’t want to bone her. And she’s crazy great at writing pop songs, not to mention an ivory-tickler of Nina Simone caliber. So. Piano-playing- and leather pants-wearing-wise, I want to be her.

Canadians in our midst: Emily Haines and James Shaw.

Canadians in our midst: Emily Haines and James Shaw.

Disclaimers disclaimed, here’s the show:

Emily Haines and Jimmy Shaw (Metric’s two Canadian members) strode onto the stage. They played the majority of their upcoming album, Fantasies, on electric piano and acoustic guitar — that is to say, not with the crash-bam-boom rock soundsystem that is Metric’s trademark. These were very stripped-down, “campfire” songs, as they called them; and the audience, seated at tables and lining the walls, was in awed silence throughout. Here in Philly, I’d never seen anything like it.

They started with “Gold Guns Girls,” presumably the first track off Fantasies:

Then they played “Help, I’m Alive,” which laid the groundwork for this awesome vignette about the album’s creation.

I especially loved the fourth and fifth tunes. Guess I’ll have to wait for the album to drop in April to catch their names.

In the center of the show, each took a stab at a solo at piano. Shaw played a lovely tune in the unrequited love realm (something about his own redeeming qualities getting nullified by an unanswered phone call); Haines played a Buffalo Springfield cover (“Expecting to Fly,” to be specific, which has slayed me many a time…Neil Young’s seen me through my own unrequited loves).

The pair’s penultimate (what! that’s the word!) offering was called “Give Me Sympathy” (which asks, “Who would you rather be: The Beatles or The Rolling Stones?” Depends on the hour of night, for me. And if whiskey’s in the cards.). Couldn’t quite get it on camera, but here’s a great video. I’ve been listening to it the whole time I’ve been writing this thing.

They finished with “Live It Out,” harmonizing til the end:

The encore was “Monster Hospital.” Everybody freaked out! And then the house lights went up, and it was The End of the Show.

We hung out for a while, breaking down the show, guzzling down our beers, sucking out the last bits of freedom before a new work day began.

But what do you know. We emerged onto Walnut Street and there’s the band. And then there’s Rawle doing his “You see, kids…” bit and making friends. And then there’s this picture:


Between this and having Bruce Springsteen point at me in October, I’m well on my way to being the next Band-Aid. Tryin’.

Fantasies will be released on April 14, 2009.