I Miss Them Blind: My Culture Club Top 20

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All things equal, I have to admit that I went to college during a pretty good era. We didn’t have the Vietnam War to worry about, although the Cold War could be stressful at times. And, although the stain of Watergate was stilling casting a pall over the country, we were coming out from under that cloud. Oh sure, we lived through the Reagan era, as we still are, but that is simply the ebb and flow of a country’s political cycle. But, let’s face it that when you were actually coming of age with the rise of punk rock, new wave, hip hop and MTV, it was pretty sweet to have all of that as the soundtrack to your life. Now, not everything that was popular was cool, but much cool stuff was happening in the underground or, even better, just under the surface. My age group’s comedy came from Late Night with David Letterman, SCTV and Fridays. And cynicism rained supreme as we watched many of our Boomer friends and our peers sell out to yuppie-dom.

But, man, were we ever living through an excellent time for music! And, boy, in the early-Eighties, artists from the UK had it all over most of their American counterparts. Here, we were bombarded with bands who paid little attention to image while watering down much of the early-Seventies hard rock sound. Don’t get me wrong, I still love me some Styx and Journey, but those bands all started to sound the same. Then, seemingly out of nowhere came the Ramones, Talking Heads, Blondie, Sex Pistols, The Clash, The Jam, Sugarhill Gang, Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five, Kurtis Blow, Elvis Costello, Prince and so many other artists who were taking old sounds and putting a new generational twist on them. And, then, MTV came on cable and put many of those artists on TV and everything changed for us.

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Over night, clothing stores in Central Indiana were selling outfits that the guys in Duran Duran were wearing. Oh sure, they were cheap knock-offs of the stuff sold on the coasts, but finally Hoosiers could get a hold of clothing besides jeans and concert T-shirts (though they still tend to be my outfit of choice, along with athletic wear). Everywhere you went, you could hear the latest by Adam Ant, Billy Idol and the Thompson Twins. All of this pop/rock music known as new wave set the stage for much of the Eighties’ fashion, even with Hair metal.

Back in 1982, I remember being at a friend’s house and we were watching MTV when this new band’s video came on. The both of us were staring at the screen perplexed by what we were seeing. The sound was a soothing update on the Motown sound with a pleasing touch of reggae with the voice of an angel rising over it. Yet, it was the visual that had us transfixed, until my friend just blurted out, “Is that a man or a woman?” Honestly, I had no idea.


That was my introduction to Boy George and the video for “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?” I cannot emphasize just how subversive it really was at the time. By the end of the video, I was certain that I had just seen my first drag queen performance. I know my friend and I argued about it for another couple of minutes, but we both agreed that the song was a potential hit. And, that the band’s image was definitely a salute to David Bowie’s androgynous glam days.

When I got home later that evening, I flipped on MTV when that same video came on. Immediately, I yelled for Mom to come in to see this. I figured that Mom could help me put an end to the earlier discussion since she was an art teacher and former drama teacher. You see, I was exposed to gay culture when I was younger while Mom was working on her art master’s degree. And, although she was taking classes at Ball State, there were many gay and lesbian classmates who I enjoyed talking to. Well, when Mom, bless her heart, saw Boy George strut across the screen, she immediately screamed with delight and laughter, “That’s a drag queen, and he’s lovely!” She went on and on about him and how she loved the musical Cabaret, but that’s Mom in a nutshell: everything related back to a musical.

With Culture Club, what we got was a man with the falsetto voice of a Smokey Robinson or Eddie Kendrick, a crack band able to blend some light reggae popularized by Men at Work or The Police with the classic Motown sound from the Sixties, and a popping visual image of stylized musicians backing a nearly openly gay man proudly parading in front. It was a striking image to say the least, but they never would have been successful if they didn’t write some very timeless songs, played the hell out of them and created some very cinematic videos to promote them.

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I will go to my grave arguing about the brilliance of their sophomore album Colour by Numbers. That album is absolutely an Eighties milestone and totally lost in the hype and controversy over Boy George’s image and subsequent fall from grace. Before a drug addiction brought an early end to the band’s meteoric rise, George was an excellent interview. I loved how he could play coy with his sexuality buy saying things like, “Gay?!?! I’m bisexual! If I want sex, I have to buy it.” Or, as he said when the band won the Grammy for Best New Artist, “America knows a good queen when it sees one.” The man was a master of playing with the conservative media.

Yet, behind those campy quotes, his lyrics spoke to a man deeply hurt by his sexuality. As a scientist, I have always felt there was a genetic reason behind every disease or affliction or psychological issue or sexuality. Now, in the early Eighties, that was a unique stance. But, I believed it. Seriously, who really wants to get against everything that society believes unless there is some genetically telling you to be a certain way. I cannot turn on and off my ADHD or depression when it would benefit society, how can we possibly tell an individual to turn off their sexuality? And, guess what people, scientists are beginning to discover a scientific reason for sexuality!

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But, back to his lyrics, George was depressed and repressed and discriminated against and hurt, and it’s all there in his lyrics. Who knows why anyone tries to self-medicate their mental illnesses other than convenience? But, that has thwarted many a great artist, and that’s what caused Culture Club’s downfall. And while their first album was good and their second album is a bonafide classic, their third and fourth albums were spotty, mainly due to George’s addictions getting the better of him.

Maybe that’s all the rock gods were willing for George to give us. Regardless, it is an excellent catalog of terrific music that continues to grow in stature to those of us who lived through that period of music. Culture Club were our Miracles. For that, I would like to honor them with a Top 20 list. Here’s to Culture Club, one cutting edge band that made everything else that came in their wake possible. Frank Ocean, Right Said Fred and so many others should be thankful for this band’s ability to make their careers so passe.

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20. “Life” (Life, 2018)

19. “Your Kisses Are Charity” (Don’t Mind If I Do, 1999)

18. “I’ll Tumble 4 Ya” (Kissing to Be Clever, 1982). Quick college story: Some drunk freshman once fell about five stories from the fourth floor down to basement in our dorm. Fortunately, since he was so very intoxicated, he only need stitches in his head but was badly beat up with bruises. When he was released from the hospital, he was going through the cafeteria when his buddies started his this song to him in front of everyone. Although I felt sorry for it, it was pretty hilarious all thing considered. Once again, i have a very dark sense of humor.

17. “White Boy” (Kissing to Be Clever, 1982).

16. “Love Is Love” (Waking Up with the House on Fire, 1984)

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15. “I Just Wanna Be Loved” (Don’t Mind If I Do, 1999)

14. “I’m Afraid of Me” (Kissing to Be Clever, 1982)

13. “Black Money” (Colour by Numbers, 1983)

12. “Everything I Own” – Boy George (Non-album single, 1987)

11. “The Crying Game” – Boy George (The Crying Game OST, 1992)

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10. “Miss Me Blind” (Colour by Numbers, 1983). Pop music with a searing guitar solo? Yep! And it was all the rage back in the day.

9. “It’s a Miracle” (Colour by Numbers, 1983). A pleasant little tune with up-beat lyrics, which was quite a departure for George.

8. “Move Away” (From Luxury to Heartache, 1986). An unjustly forgotten gem from a troubled time for the band. I really hoped at the time that George was getting his demons under control.

7. “The War Song” (Waking Up with the House on Fire, 1984). At the time, this song was written off because of its child-like lyrics. Yet, to me, that’s what makes it such a compelling protest song in that you could have elementary kids singing this song while making a subtle political point. Not everything needs to be Bob Dylan-esque to be brilliant.

6. “Mistake No. 3” (Waking Up with the House on Fire, 1984). Here’s yet another long overlooked song. Please, tell me why this wasn’t a hit here in the States? Boy, this just might be George’s second most personal song the band ever released.

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5. “Church of the Poison Mind” (Colour by Numbers, 1983). I remember while working in Wisconsin during the summer of 1983, there were some people from the UK working there as well. I got to befriend one of them, and he told me if I liked Culture Club that I was going to love this song. He was not wrong. George’s lyrics had grown so much in such a short time. He was making a subtle stab at bigotry here.

4. “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me?” (Kissing to Be Clever, 1982). The song that broke the Club nearly broke it apart, as this was a paean to George’s lost lover, drummer Jon Moss.

3. “Karma Chameleon” (Colour by Numbers, 1983). THE biggest hit and most well-known Culture Club song IS brilliant in its simplicity. This is a worthy landmark song.

2. “Victims” (Colour by Numbers, 1983). Here is the emotional centerpiece of this brilliant album. Unfortunately, it was never a hit over here, so it’s always been more of a deep cut to Americans. But, this remains the band’s most vulnerable performance. Plus, singer Helen Terry soulfully pushes George to greater emotional heights than he ever went. This song is like a duet between Aretha Franklin and Smokey Robinson. I am blown away every time I hear it.

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1. “Time (Clock of My Heart)” (Kissing to Be Clever, 1982). The band’s second hit in the States is a perfect little Motown ditty that has more emotional ties to me than artistic reasons. Nevertheless, what can you say about a song when it makes a whole bar of twenty-somethings sing it in unity? That alone tells you about the power of the song.

It’s Time for Some Summer in February: My Top 25 Donna Summer Songs

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Fifty-seven years ago today, my parents traveled through a snow storm to get Mom to the hospital because she was in labor. Around 6:30 am, I was unleashed on this world. Since my dad was a rising high school basketball coach at the time, my birth announcement made the sports page in a local newspaper, marking the first time my name was on a sports page. Unfortunately, today also marks the first anniversary of Mom’s passing, so today is now a mixed bag. But, let’s stick with the good stuff, and Mom’s life was pretty good too.

It may come as a surprise to my friends, but my birthdays are not really that exciting to me. To be perfectly honest, I have preferred to playing or coaching basketball or track on my birthdays. When I was born, my birthday marked the beginning of Sectional week in Indiana, which was when every schools’ teams played in a week-long single-elimination tournament to determine which school had the best team in the area. Now, that week is two weeks later, but you are getting ready for the championship week. Also, in Indiana, President’s Day always marked the opening day of the track & field season, so I always had something going on during the athletic and coaching days.

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In fact, I had a grand total of two birthday parties in grade school. The first was when I was in first grade, and the second was in third grade when I had three guys spend the night, and we went to a high school basketball game. Then, my junior year, my mom held a “surprise” birthday party for me in which my basketball teammates, cheerleaders, friends and some coaches attended. That happened to be the last non-alcoholic party I had, though this party did devolve into a bunch of teen guys singing “Crazy Little Thing Called Love” to a bunch of girls. Thank God we did not have smartphones back then.

Of course, in college, we partied on my birthday since it was always the weekend before Finals Week of Winter Quarter. Those last weekends were always blowouts right before Finals, no matter the quarter, but since it was my birthday weekend, the parties were hearty, especially my 21st, which I hear was a great time. However, I have little recall of the event after my roommate and I met up with a lab partner who was this crazy man from Canada. After he brought over five shots of Canadian Mist over for each of us, I lost track of things. You have to remember that I started drinking that day before an afternoon Ball State basketball game, so when the Mist hit me, I was done. Still, it must have been a stellar night as I came home from the bar crawl with a bandanna wrapped around my head, singing Donna Summer’s “Dim All the Lights” as we got back. At least, that’s what I’ve been told.

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Of course, there was my 30th birthday which was another surprise, in which a bunch of college friends met up with us at a restaurant and ended the night at a comedy club. I can’t remember who the comedians were, but I do remember the female emcee being impressed with my deep voice. Fortunately, she couldn’t see me and just had to use her imagination. But, she kept asking me to talk. Then, during one of the comedians, we were laughing so hard, that my old college roommate literally fell out of his chair onto the floor laughing, which caused me to follow suit. Of course, the comedian just starting ripping on these two thirty-year-old “men” who were rolling on the floor in laughter. Of course, the booze was flowing that night.

Don’t get me wrong! I just prefer my birthdays to be more subdued. I am not sure why, but I just like to spend the time with my family. So, today, I will be spending my time with the family. I guess I’m just getting too old for that crap.

So, instead of going down the usual musical path today with one of my ten favorite artists, I thought I would dip into a birthday memory with the music of Donna Summer. Now, you might ask why I was singing Donna Summer at the end of my 21st birthday night, especially in 1984? Well, first, my mind is warped, meaning the years of Monty Python and SNL had taken a toll. Apparently, while at a nightclub, the DJ was playing Summer’s “She Works Hard for the Money,” and I took offense. So, I marched my beer/whiskey/rum-and-Coke soaked body up to the DJ booth and demanded “classic” Donna Summer, to which the DJ immediately played “Hot Stuff,” “I Feel Love” and “Dim All the Lights” in succession for me. According to reports, I led the crowd in a rousing throwback of disco dancing in the club, along with getting the crowd to sing the first and last songs. Of course, upon the conclusion of that outburst, my friends quickly got me out of the club and back to my room, safe and sound. Oh, and did I mention that the night supposedly ended before 1:00 am? By ending at that moment, I had had a strong 12 hours of partying under my belt without any sickness or smart-ass comments to people. So, my friends cut their losses and got me home before my mouth started going.

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Therefore, in honor of my 21st birthday and that night that supposedly happened (once again, there is no concrete evidence, only stories from my bar crawling posse so can they really be trusted?), let’s take a look at one of music’s most grossly overlooked singers, Donna Summer. Summer is remembered as the Queen of Disco, but that title is extremely limiting to what she truly was. Yes, Summer casts a HUGE shadow on the disco floors of the day, but she created, along with Chic, the whole dance/rock genre of the Eighties that Prince, Michael Jackson, Madonna, Duran Duran and INXS all delved into. Think about this: Summer not only created the erotic sounds of “Love to Love You Baby,” gave us perhaps the disco anthem of “Last Dance,” the 80s dance/rock template with “Hot Stuff,” covered Bruce Springsteen on “Protection,” did Eurodisco in the late-Eighties with “This Time It’s for Real,” modernized the Gospel sound on “He’s a Rebel” AND brought techno to the dance floors with “I Feel Love.” So, please tell me why the woman does NOT belong in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. This woman’s voice was versatile enough to be both a diva, a Broadway vocalist AND a pop star at the same time. Please!

Since it’s my birthday, and this is my blog, I am presenting my 25 favorite Donna Summer songs. And, remember, a party ain’t a real party until Donna Summer is blasting out of the speakers! Not Snoop or Dre or Biggie or Ramones or The Boss! Okay, yes, Prince or Michael or Madonna, but ya gotta have some Donna Summer to making it perfect! Plus, I want to prove to all the Taylor Swift fans out there what true talent is.

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25. “I Love You” (Once Upon a Time, 1977)

24. “Who Do You Think You’re Foolin'” (The Wanderer, 1980)

23. “I Remember Yesterday” (I Remember Yesterday, 1977)

22. “Love Shock” (All Systems Go, 1987)

21. “He’s a Rebel” (She Works Hard for the Money, 1983)

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20. “Could It Be Magic” (A Love Trilogy, 1976)

19. “Winter Melody” (Four Seasons of Love, 1976)

18. “State of Independence” (Donna Summer, 1982)

17. “Cold Love” (The Wanderer, 1980)

16. “Walk Away” (Bad Girls, 1979)

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15. “Heaven Knows” – Donna Summer & Brooklyn Dreams (Live and More, 1978)

14. “No More Tears (Enough Is Enough)” – Donna Summer & Barbra Streisand (On the Radio: Greatest Hits Volumes 1 and 2, 1979)

13. “The Wanderer” (The Wanderer, 1980)

12. “On the Radio” (On the Radio: Greatest Hits Volumes 1 and 2, 1979)

11. “Bad Girls” (Bad Girls, 1979)

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10. “MacArthur Park” (Live and More, 1978). Donna Summer took this cheesy 60s song and made it into a disco anthem. Sure, no one can discern the lyrics, but in this version, no one cares.

9. “She Works Hard for the Money” (She Works Hard for the Money, 1983). Just four years after Summer created the female-empowering Bad Girls album, she comes back with an anthem for all working women. And, don’t call this a comeback!

8. “Dim All the Lights” (Bad Girls, 1979). Laugh all you want! I think this song is sexy.

7. “This Time It’s for Real” (Another Place and Time, 1989). Disco never really died in the UK and Europe. So, when Rick Astley hit big, his producers were ready to help bring the Disco Queen back to the dance floors around the world. And, together, they created a timeless comeback (And, yes, this WAS a comeback!).

6. “Protection” (I’m a Rainbow, 1981). This album was supposed to be the last collaboration between Summer and über producer Giorgio Moroder, but for some reason the album was shelved for a decade or so. Regardless of that mistake, we got Summer’s finest example of her dance/rock sound she was perfecting with this Bruce Springsteen-penned song that should have been a megahit back in the day. As great as Blondie’s “Call Me” is, this is the better song.

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5. “Hot Stuff” (Bad Girls, 1979). What?!?!?! A disco song with a guitar solo?!?! This song made it possible for Prince to dominate the Eighties.

4. “Love to Love You Baby” (Love to Love You Baby, 1976). Now, just imagine a thirteen-year-old boy hearing this song on the radio. Uh huh…

3. “Love Is in Control (Finger on the Trigger)” (Donna Summer, 1982). Everyone seems to want to forget this Quincy Jones-produced album, but how can you? This song alone previewed us to the magic Jones and Michael Jackson were making on Thriller. This hit song was a major dance hit at Ball State. Plus, I’ve got a great memory of dancing to this song at some campus dance. That’s where my memory will end.

2. “Last Dance” (Live and More, 1978). THE disco anthem…period.

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1. “I Feel Love” (I Remember Yesterday, 1977). One of the five most important songs of the 70s, “I Feel Love” dropped the whole synthesizer vibe on us and made us dance. We are still feeling the ripples of its innovations in music today. I cannot emphasize enough just how important a song this continues to be. Everything from synth pop to techno to industrial rock have their roots in this dance classic. It was the sound of the future in 1977.

User Beware! My 2020 Valentine’s Day Playlist

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When you finally clean a bunch of rooms in your home for the first time in nearly three decades, you discover many treasures, or what my wife calls crap. Of all the things hidden in various closets were a couple of my Eighties-era mixtapes, one marked Beta Sigma Psi Valentine’s Day Party 1983. Being the archivist that I am, I sat down to read through the playlist I had written on the label. Lo and behold, it was loaded with many gems of the era; I mean, what’s an early-Eighties party without the likes of Duran Duran, John Cougar Mellencamp and Prince. Yet, as I was wont to do, I recorded the tapes in my typical party mix order of three consecutive “fast” songs, followed by a slow song, then a mid-tempo, an “oldies” party anthem, a dance song, then two more slow songs. And I worked that 3-1-3-2 system throughout those college tapes, and it seemed to work well.

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The other tape was labeled “Make Out Music.” From the looks of the track listing, it seems to be from my pre-wifey days of 1984. The tape had many of the standards of the day, such as “A Girl like You” by Foreigner, Culture Club’s “Time (Clock of My Heart)” and Stevie Wonder’s “That Girl.” Something that I did notice was I attempted to string along songs that seemed to share something of a particular groove, as if I were attempting to set some sort of mood. Well, of course I was! Who in the hell labels a mixtape “Make Out Music” and is NOT trying to set a mood. Setting aside obvious influence of an overabundance of testosterone floating around my body and brain, I was discovering just how powerful R&B and soul songs could be in these situations. I immediately noticed how I strung together Motown and early-Seventies soul songs into some sort of potential hormone-secreting suite.

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So, that tape, along with the fact that it is Valentine’s Day tomorrow, I thought what kind of mixtape would the nearly 57-year-old me make today? Now, I have 40-plus years of musical experience, plus much more confidence in my ability to choose the correct songs for that special mood. So, the theme is do I still possess the ability, and wherewithal, to handle such an undertaking? Or, would my playlist, to use the current parlance, simply be an ode to an aging fart out of touch with his youthful idealism? Or, is it a little bit of both? Well, I will let you, my loyal reader, make the call.

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Of course Kiss has a card.

Now, without any further adieu, here is my 2020 Romantic Valentine’s Day Mixtape Playlist, including the order I would place them in. Use at your own risk.

  1. Adele – “Rolling in the Deep” (2011)
  2. The Beatles – “Something” (1969)
  3. Talking Heads – “This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)” (1983)
  4. U2 – “One” (1991)
  5. The Style Council – “Long Hot Summer” (1983)
  6. The Pretenders – “I’ll Stand by You” (1994)
  7. Sade – “Smooth Operator” (1984)
  8. D’Angelo – “Untitled (How Does It Feel)” (2000)
  9. Bruce Springsteen – “Secret Garden” (1995)
  10. The Jeff Healey Band – “Angel Eyes” (1989)
  11. Rufus featuring Chaka Khan – “Sweet Thing” (1975)
  12. Mayer Hawthorne – “Cosmic Love” (2016)
  13. Earth, Wind & Fire – “Reasons” (1975)
  14. Tina Turner – “Let’s Stay Together” (1984)
  15. Elvis Costello & the Attractions – “Everyday I Write the Book” (1983)
  16. Lady Gaga & Bradley Cooper – “Shallow” (2018)
  17. R.E.M. – “Nightswimming” (1992)
  18. Whitney Houston – “Saving All My Love for You” (1985)
  19. Elton John – “Your Song” (1970)
  20. Michael Jackson – “Rock with You” (1979)
  21. Marvin Gaye – “Let’s Get It On” (1973)
  22. Leon Bridges – “Beyond” (2018)
  23. Daryl Hall & John Oates – “One on One” (1982)
  24. The Cure – “Lovesong” (1989)
  25. Journey – “Faithfully” (1983)
  26. The Commodores – “Still” (1979)
  27. Spandau Ballet – “True” (1983)
  28. The Beach Boys – “God Only Knows” (1966)
  29. John Mayer – “Your Body Is a Wonderland” (2001)
  30. Paul McCartney & Wings – “Maybe I’m Amazed (live)” (1977)

The Genesis Family’s Top 50 Songs

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Fear not people for I am still alive. I have been facing a writer’s block lately. I’ve attempted to force my way through it like I would do when my body would not respond during training for sports, but my brain is refusing to respond.

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I have tried all kinds of things that my writer friends have suggested such as journaling (boring!), getting back to my screenplay (I suck!) or just scribbling down ideas (I don’t have any! That’s the issue!). So, I started going through my old playlists on my outdated iPod. Boy! That’s how desperate I’ve become. Anyway, I stumbled upon a playlist entitled “The Genesis Family.” It seems that I had grouped together music by Genesis (from all incarnations), solo Phil Collins, solo Peter Gabriel, solo Steve Hackett, solo Tony Banks and Mike + The Mechanics. It’s an interesting mix of songs and styles, shedding some light on the evolution of this eclectic group of musicians.

Peter Gabriel

You see, Genesis began as a slightly second-rate English Prog band whose eccentric performance artist of a lead singer began to flex his creative muscles to make the band something a vehicle for his vision. Just as the band was gaining a rabid audience across the globe, the lead singer, Peter Gabriel, left the band for a solo career. Immediately, the quintet attempted to carry on as a quartet for one album with drummer Phil Collins becoming the lead singer. But, after that album, guitarist Steve Hackett left for a solo career as well.

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What was left was a trio of talented musicians, guitarist Mike Rutherford, keyboard whiz Tony Banks and Collins, who were free to streamline the prog tendencies of the original band and blend it with a pop/rock/soul sound that allowed the band to eventually capture the ears of a whole new generation in the Eighties. By the mid-Eighties, Genesis, along with the solo career of Phil Collins, had become a stadium-filling hit-making machine. This whole transformation was remarkable, though as the band, as well as Collins, reached greater heights, I honestly became less interested in the band. Additionally, Hackett’s solo career lacked any kind of pizzazz that had interested me during his Genesis tenure.

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Yet, the artist I was most interested in from the Genesis family was the solo Peter Gabriel. I was totally enamored with his minimalist prog rock vision that he was spearheading in the late-Seventies with the likes of David Bowie, Brian Eno and Robert Fripp. To me, these guys were taking on a punk ethos to their perfectionist tendencies to create some very compelling music. Solo Gabriel’s music was electric and vital even as he ascended to the top with 1986’s So album.

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But, the most striking thing about this playlist is that you really can appreciate how you can hear all the different paths the members had taken over the years in the band’s rudimentary sound at the beginning. And, now, nearly 50 years later, I can more fully appreciate this band and all the different paths these men had blazed.

Paul Natkin Archive

So, today, I am going to sum up this family’s hits with my own list of my 50 favorite songs by this very talented group of musicians. Honestly, this list should convince any music lover of Genesis’ deserving place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, as well as Peter Gabriel. And, I can now see me backing Phil Collins as a solo artist, though I am still partial to his first two solo albums.

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50. “Don’t Lose My Number” – Phil Collins (No Jacket Required, 1985). Everyone like this song better when it was a Steely Dan song. (I only put this song in my Top 50 so I could use this line.)

49. “Do You Know, Do You Care” – Phil Collins (Hello, I Must Be Going, 1982)

48. “Red Rain” – Peter Gabriel (So, 1986)

47. “Take Me Home” – Phil Collins (No Jacket Required, 1985)

46. “Steam” – Peter Gabriel (Us, 1993)

45. “Paperlate” – Genesis (Three Sides Live, 1982)

44. “I Have the Touch” – Peter Gabriel (Security, 1982)

43. “No Self Control” – Peter Gabriel (Peter Gabriel (III: Melting), 1980)

42. “All I Need Is a Miracle” – Mike + The Mechanics (Mike + The Mechanics, 1985)

41. “I Don’t Care Anymore” – Phil Collins (Hello, I Must Be Going, 1982)

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40. “Something Happened on the Way to Heaven” – Phil Collins (…But Seriously, 1989)

39. “Another Day in Paradise” – Phil Collins (…But Seriously, 1989)

38. “A Groovy Kind of Love” – Phil Collins (Buster OST, 1988)

37. “Sussidio” – Phil Collins (No Jacket Required, 1985)

36. “You Can’t Hurry Love” – Phil Collins (Hello, I Must Be Going, 1982)

35. “Separate Lives” – Phil Collins & Marilyn Martin (White Knights OST, 1985)

34. “Easy Lover” – Phillip Bailey with Phil Collins (Chinese Wall, 1984)

33. “We Can’t Dance” – Genesis (We Can’t Dance, 1991)

32. “Invisible Touch” – Genesis (Invisible Touch, 1986)

31. “Taking It All Too Hard” – Genesis (Genesis, 1983)

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30. “Illegal Alien” – Genesis (Genesis, 1983). A sad attempt at parody.

29. “Abacab” – Genesis (Abacab, 1981)

28. “The Living Years” – Mike + The Mechanics (The Living Years, 1988)

27. “One More Night” – Phil Collins (No Jacket Required, 1985)

26. “Man on the Corner” – Genesis (Abacab, 1981)

25. “Don’t Give Up” – Peter Gabriel & Kate Bush (So, 1986)

24. “No Reply at All” – Genesis (Abacab, 1981)

23. “No Son of Mine” – Genesis (We Can’t Dance, 1991)

22. “In Too Deep” – Genesis (Invisible Touch, 1986)

21. “Land of Confusion” – Genesis (Invisible Touch, 1986)

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20. “Throwing It All Away” – Genesis (Invisible Touch, 1986)

19. “Silent Running” – Mike + The Mechanics (Mike + The Mechanics, 1985)

18. “I Missed Again” – Phil Collins (Face Value, 1981)

17. “Mama” – Genesis (Genesis, 1983)

16. “Misunderstanding” – Genesis (Duke, 1980)

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15. “That’s All” – Genesis (Genesis, 1983). This is as country of a sound that Genesis could muster. Still, it fondly reminds me of a pretty great time in my life.

14. “Turn It On Again” – Genesis (Duke, 1980). A great concert opener.

13. “Big Time” – Peter Gabriel (So, 1986). This song just might be an example of Gabriel at his loosest.

12. “Follow You, Follow Me” – Genesis (…And Then There Were Three, 1978). Unfairly, the first release by the newly minted trio version of Genesis never caught on with the public, though you hear it more now than back in the day.

11. “Family Snapshot” – Peter Gabriel (Peter Gabriel (III: Melting), 1980). What we have here is the sound of Gabriel finding how to fully express his alienation in both audio and verbal manners.

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10. “Tonight, Tonight, Tonight” – Genesis (Invisible Touch, 1986). Sure, this one was used in a Michelob commercial, but it’s still a killer song. And, yes, it just might be the Son of “Mama,” which was the Son of “In the Air Tonight.” Is that really so bad?

9. “In Your Eyes” – Peter Gabriel (So, 1986). An iconic song used in an iconic scene from one of Cameron Crowe’s most underrated movies.

8. “Against All Odds” – Phil Collins (Against All Odds OST, 1984). I remember thinking that Collins truly had his heart ripped out when he wrote this monster hit. This is a case in which the song was bigger than the movie.

7. “Solsbury Hill” – Peter Gabriel (Peter Gabriel (I: Rain), 1977). It took Americans about 20 years or so before they caught onto this brilliant number, but better late than never. I guess!

6. “Shock the Monkey” – Peter Gabriel (Security, 1982). I’m showing my age, but the video was such a step forward for the medium at the time. Gabriel was the perfect MTV star. On a personal note, back in college, I was watching this video at a party when I got motion sickness and threw up. At least, that’s what I tell myself.

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5. “I Don’t Remember” – Peter Gabriel (Peter Gabriel (III: Melting), 1980). Gabriel’s third solo album remains my favorite album from this family to this day. And, this one has been a driving force behind my opinion.

4. “Biko” – Peter Gabriel (Peter Gabriel (III: Melting), 1980). It seems that I learned more about geopolitical issues from rock music and musicians back then than I did from most of my teachers and professors. If it weren’t for “Biko,” I doubt many people would have ever learned about the man.

3. “In the Air Tonight” – Phil Collins (Face Value, 1981). Peter Gabriel had Phil Collins play drums on his third album, which was known for its unique drum sound that included a lack of cymbals. When Collins released this song, Gabriel rightfully cried foul. But, you gotta admit that what Collins did with the sound was a HUGE step forward. Plus, it made for one iconic scene with Mike Tyson in The Hangover.

2. “Games Without Frontiers” – Peter Gabriel (Peter Gabriel (III: Melting), 1980). This is a beautiful allegory to the political climate at the time. Shoot, it still works today. Timeless, absolutely timeless!

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1. “Sledgehammer” – Peter Gabriel (So, 1986). The moment when the world finally caught up with Peter Gabriel, “Sledgehammer” is aptly named. The song has a slinky funk sound that is completely rooted in English art rock. This is a nearly perfect song. And, it still remains the landmark video of all videos.

Am I Naive?A Few Words from a Music Lover

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I am coming to you in the midst of a three-week home renovation that my wife and I are totally over. As repairs and changes are being made in our home, I have been banished with our two very nervous dogs to live in my music room that is crammed with crap from other rooms, so that is why I have not made a blog entry in a very long time. And, this entry could very well be the last in a couple of weeks as well.

Now, in preparation for this whole endeavor, I decided to “cut the fat” from my CD collection that had gotten completely out of hand lately. You know you have a problem when you remove over 400 CDs from your collection and still have twice that many left. The only thing that has come from this is that I am now only going to purchase vinyl just like in the old days.

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Perhaps the biggest reason for this decision is that I simply feel more invested in the music when I listen to vinyl. First, the experience requires me to physically change sides more often than a CD. Next, the sound is warmer coming through my “Close-and-Play” speakers from vinyl than it is from the CD. And, finally, and perhaps most importantly, I can actually read the liner notes with my old eyes. It seems that I need a magnifying glass to read the lyrics on a CD. Hell, I’m even going to streaming instead of downloading (Yeah, I know! I am a holdout on that. I just prefer to hold control over my music since radio playlists and algorithms seem to totally ruin my listening experience these days. I long for the days of the DJ being a music expert AND entertainer. Am I old or what?).

So, what is about music that I love so much? I mean, I have a baseball and basketball card collection that is pretty cool but just takes up so much space that I really no longer appreciate it. Plus, all you can do is look at them, although when you are a kid you do figure out ways to play games with them. I actually had developed a basketball league in which I drafted players to teams, much like fantasy sports leagues these days, but use dice from board games and Dungeon and Dragons to determine points scored by players. I did that for my pre-music days, which meant I was doing this from ages 10 to 14. Now, I am holding onto those cards for my boys to show their kids. Of course, I have to store them here.

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But, the boys and I all agree that collecting music is so much more interactional. You can listen to it in addition to treating the covers as you would a baseball card. Then, there’s the whole emotional response elicited by the music, depending on when that piece entered your life. And, the younger you were, the more intense the response is. For some reason that scientists are just beginning to understand music and your emotions become entwined in a dance that is life-long.

Over the years I have noticed how certain songs actually transport me back to a specific time in my past. How when I hear KC & the Sunshine Band’s “Please Don’t Go,” I remember slow dancing with a girl at a Christmas dance in high school. Or, hearing “Saturday Night” by the Bay City Rollers, I remember my buddy Mike Bond and me doing a silly “radio” show in my bedroom on New Year’s Eve 1975. Or, the memory of watching my cheerleader neighbor Lori Dunwiddie doing a cheer routine to “Free Ride” by the Edgar Winter Group. Or how Adam Ant’s “Goody Two Shoes” reminds me of the dorm party that got so out of hand when 50 people were crammed in our dorm room and when that song came on my party tape, two Ball State football players spilled out into the hall doing Adam Ant video “dancing” down the hall that we all got busted. Or how I am reminded every time I hear “Pour Some Sugar on Me” that my older son would turn to me every time MTV would play that video and say, “Dad, they’re playing our song!” when he was just three years old.

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And, I know this happens to all of us, because I am constantly reading social media posts from people from my past putting songs on along with their memories those songs invoked. But, it’s not simply the memories.

As a former athlete, I used music to get ready for a game or a meet. Now, the control freaks that I had as coaches never understood how our age group could possibly need that in a pre-game ritual. So, I had to be sneaky about it. Initially, I thought listening to hard rock was the best way to get ready for a basketball game or a track/cross country meet. But, as I found out, that was like caffeine, just a short-term jolt. For basketball, I found that funk and early rap music really fit the flow of the game, which was completely out of step when you’re from a farming community in the late-Seventies. Additionally, disco and later dance and new wave music was best for running, since those are rhythmic races. But, if I had to run in the four-by-four hundred meter relay, I needed punk rock or metal, something full of aggression.

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I remember the night that I listened to “Rapper’s Delight” before a basketball game against a rival city school. All of a sudden I felt in sync with the game like never before. I seemed to be walking on air that night as I lit up a friend of mine from that school for 20 points. The best part of the night was he kept trying to get in my head by calling me “Caspar.” You see, he was an African-American and I am a translucent, blonde-haired white guy who was frustrating this guy so much that he turned to name-calling. After the game, we hugged and he asked me what got into me. I just told him “Rapper’s Delight.” And, he just cracked up and asked me what I was doing listening to HIS music. I told him I was tired of Willie Nelson. Every time I see him to this day, he asks me what rap music I listening to today, laughs and shakes his head. You see, I went to that city to play against his teammates more than I played with my own teammates because they were better players. The downside was I really didn’t build a good rapport with my teammates and coaches, which hurt me. I see that in retrospect.

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Of course, I have millions of stories which are entwined with songs, as we all do. I just wish people would take their music-listening experiences back to a communal level. Hell, even dances are beginning to be a solo event instead of a shared one. I believe that is diminishing the whole emotional aspect to music. While the whole Walkman craze of the Eighties was exciting, I distinctly pining for the communal experience of blasting music out of your dorm window while playing football in the bowl outside. Now, you stream your music for yourself and it’s a solitary experience. Perhaps, I am a romantic, but I want my music to breathe in the air. Sure, my listening habits may bother my neighbors, but it could lead to a conversation.

And, those conversations could lead to a mutual understanding. And, conversations could drown out those echo chambers that we tend to exist in. I know, romantic.