Saturday, August 16, 1986

David + David charted with “Welcome to the Boomtown”

First posted 11/18/2019.

Welcome to the Boomtown

David + David

Writer(s): David Baerwald, David Ricketts (see lyrics here)

First Charted: August 16, 1986

Peak: 37 US, 8 AR (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales *: -- US, -- UK, -- world (includes US + UK)

Radio Airplay *: --

Video Airplay *: 1.45

Streaming *: --

* in millions


Handsome Kevin got a little off track/
Took a year off from college and he never went back

There are some lines in songs that stick with you. For me, this was one of the biggest. This song hit the charts in the fall of 1986 just as I was headed into my sophomore year of college. It was arguably the low point of my life as I was discouraged by a lack of direction. I would eventually drop out of college, albeit after four and a half years and a mere semester away from graduating.

In the song, Kevin ends up dealing drugs. The song also offered a snapshot of Ms. Cristina, a rich but paranoid cocaine junky who the song implies dies of an overdose by the end of the song. I can happily say I never had a drug problem and, unlike Kevin, my respite from college was temporary; I finished my degree a few years later once I had some work experience under my belt and had a better vision of what I wanted out of life.

Nonetheless, those words stuck with me as a reminder of how people can lose focus in their lives and find themselves in despair. Ironically, though, the song also stuck with me because of its irrestible beat. There’s no song better to crank up on the road as one does an air drum solo on the steering wheel.

The song was the debut single for the duo of David Baerwald and David Ricketts, better known as David + David. As a David myself, I jokingly refer to them as the best-named band in the history of music. Rolling Stone called their album, Boomtown, one of the year’s most impressive debuts.” PP They were signed to a record contract in the fall of 1985 after meeting at a club in the in Southern California and hanging out and writing songs. PP It was the only album by the duo, but they continued to work together in different capacities, most notably as part of the Tuesday Night Music Club collective that created Sheryl Crow’s debut album.

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XTC released “Dear God”

First posted 11/18/2019.

Dear God


Writer(s): Andy Partridge (see lyrics here)

Released: August 16, 1986

First Charted: April 4, 1987

Peak: 37 AR, 99 UK (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales *: -- US, -- UK, -- world (includes US + UK)

Radio Airplay *: --

Video Airplay *: 2.6

Streaming *: --

* in millions


XTC’s “Dear God” was originally released as the B-side of “Grass,” the lead single for the new wave band’s ninth album, Skylarking. The album was a loose concept about cycles, such as the cycle of life or of the seasons. “Dear God” was initially left off the album because Virgin Records was concerned about the effect of its agnostic message. Andy Partridge, the songwriter and XTC’s lead singer, was also dissatisfied with the lyrics and didn’t think the song represented his views on religion. WK He eventually became an atheist, but was, as he said, “wrestling with the tail end of my belief” when he wrote this. SF

After college DJs started playing the song, listeners started contacting Geffen Records (the U.S. distributer) to ask how they could get the song. Geffen added it to the Skylarking album, bumping the song “Mermaid Smiles.” SF It was then also released as a single on its own.

The song was inspired by a series of books with the same title which Partridge considered exploitive of children. The song is built on the idea of an agnostic writing letters to God questioning his existence. Partridge saw it as a commentary on “the need for humans to believe the stuff they do…I’d struggled with the concept of God and Man…since I was a kid.” WK Producer Todd Rundgren had the idea to bring in eight-year-old Jasmine Veillette to sing the opening verse and closing line. WK

The anti-religious message provoked hostile reactions, including a bomb threat to a Florida radio station and a student who held a faculty member hostage at knife-point at Binghampton High School in New York and forced the school to play the song over its public address system. Partridge also received lots of hate mail because of the song. He said he felt sorry for the people he upset, but that “if you can’t have a different opinion without them wanting to firebomb your house, then that’s their problem.” WK

Sarah McLachlan covered the song on a 1995 XTC tribute album (A Testimonial Dinner: The Songs of XTC) and Rundgren recorded his version for his 2011 (re)Production album.

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Tuesday, August 12, 1986

Paul Simon released Graceland: August 12, 1986

Originally posted 8/12/12. Updated 3/1/13.

image from

Release date: 12 August 1986
Tracks: (Click for codes to singles charts.) The Boy in the Bubble (2/21/87, #86 US, #15 AR) / Graceland (11/15/86, #81 US, #38 AR) / I Know What I Know / Gumboots / Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes / You Can Call Me Al (8/9/86, #20a US, #42 AR) / Under African Skies / Homeless / Crazy Love, Vol. II / That Was Your Mother / All Around the World or the Myth of Fingerprints

Sales (in millions): 5.0 US, 2.2 UK, 15.6 world (includes US and UK)

Peak: 3 US, 18 UK


Review: On Graceland, Paul Simon introduced world music into a pop arena by “combining his always perceptive songwriting with the little-heard mbaqanga music of South Africa, creating a fascinating hybrid that re-enchanted his old audience and earned him a new one.” AMG He gave listeners with “that magical combination: something they’d never heard before that nevertheless sounded familiar.” AMG “The story goes that Simon heard a tape called Gumboots: Accordion Jive Hits, Volume II and immediately hopped a flight to Soweto to learn more about the township jive called mbaqanga.” TL In reality, it was a few months later, but it remains “the most spontaneous thing the world’s most rational songwriter is even rumored to have done, and that sense of liberation and adventure is all over Graceland.” TL

The “former folkie” UT threw “his ears open to a host of new players and singers” TL and created “exotically fanciful collaborations with such African talents as Ladysmith Black Mambazo,” UT “Boyoyo Boys, Tao Ea Matsekha and, back in the U.S., the Mexican-American group Los Lobos.” TL He also “incorporated a great number of musical styles, including zydeco, Tex-Mex and African vocal music.” NRR It also “delved into…conjunto-flavored rock & roll” AMG and tapped “accomplished musicians…[like] Linda Ronstadt, Adrian Belew, Los Lobos, the Everly Brothers and Youssou N’Dour.” NRR


Simon largely eschewed “a linear, narrative approach to his words,” AMG and evoked “striking images and turns of phrase torn from the headlines or overheard in contemporary speech.” AMG He experimented with exotic rhythms and chord structures, RV be it on the “highly poetic Diamonds on the Soles of Her ShoesAMG or the “satiric I Know What I Know.” AMG Ladysmith Black Mambazo served up “stirring harmonies” VH1 on songs like “Soles” and “the almost entirely a capella Homeless.” RV Both were “exquisitely melancholic evocation[s] of African beauty and desolation.” VH1 An element of humor shows up in the hit single, You Can Call Me Al VH1 and songs like The Boy in the Bubble showed Simon had “evolved as a lyricist on this album with lines that took on an almost Dylan-esque quality.” RV The song’s “pensive refrain…was as hopeful and socially conscious as any song he would ever write: ‘The way we look to a distant constellation / That’s dying in the corner of the sky / These are the days of miracle and wonder.’” RV

You Can Call Me Al

“The South African angle…was a powerful marketing tool,” AMG but it wasn’t without controversy. The United States had imposed economic sanctions on South Africa because of its apartheid government RV and the United Nations initially blacklisted Simon for violating the boycott. TL

“It is difficult now to recall the enormous impact of this trans-cultural album,” VH1 but Graceland “became the standard against which subsequent musical experiments by major artists were measured.” AMG With it, Simon created music “heard across the globe” AZ and it still reaches “generations of music enthusiasts…unaware of how pivotal that one album was” AZ in birthing “the idea of World Music.” AZ

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