Saturday, May 23, 1987

Suzanne Vega “Luka” charted

Luka

Suzanne Vega

Writer(s): -- (see lyrics here)


First Charted: May 23, 1987


Peak: 3 US, 4 CB, 3 RR, 3 AC, 15 AR, 1 CO, 23 UK, 5 CN, 21 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): --


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 59.8 video, 59.8 streaming

Awards:

Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

The ‘80s and ‘90s saw the rise of female singers rooted in folk and alternative rock such as Tracy Chapman, Melissa Etheridge, the Indigo Girls, Sheryl Crow, and Sarah McLachlan. They were all preceded, however, by Suzanne Vega who gained a following first at college radio, but eventually on the pop charts.

She released her self-titled debut in 1985. It didn’t gain a lot of attention in the United States, although it reached #11 in the UK and generated a #21 hit with the song “Marlene on the Wall.” She gained more attention with the track “Left of Center” from the Pretty in Pink soundtrack the next year.

Her follow-up album found much more success, reaching #2 in the UK and #11 in the United States, largely on the strength of her top-5 hit “Luka.” The song, which was actually written before her debut album, SF was nominated for Grammys for Record and Song of the Year. It featured backing vocals by Shawn Colvin, another folk/alternative rock female singer who would rise to acclaim and commercial success in the ‘80s and ‘90s.

The song is about a boy who is abused and forbidden to talk about it. Vega based the song on a real boy named Luka who she would see playing with other children in front of her building. He really did live upstairs from her and she met him one day in the elevator. SF She said, “I didn’t know much about him, but he just seemed set apart from these other children…In the song, the boy Luka is an abused child – in real life I don’t think he was. I think he was just different.” WK


Resources:


First posted 8/8/2022; last updated 9/22/2022.

Saturday, May 16, 1987

U2 hit #1 with “With Or Without You”

With Or Without You

U2

Writer(s): Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton, Larry Mullen Jr. (see lyrics here)


Released: March 16, 1987


First Charted: March 20, 1987


Peak: 13 US, 13 CB, 13 RR, 23 AC, 15 AR, 1 CO, 4 UK, 11 CN, 9 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): -- US, 1.2 UK, 2.0 world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 406.79 video, 755.93 streaming

Awards:

Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

In the early ‘80s, U2 became one of the bands at the forefront of college rock and the alternative scene. Videos for “New Year’s Day” and “Sunday Bloody Sunday” caught the attention of MTV viewers and “Pride (In the Name of Love)” gave the group their first taste of U.S. mainstream success when the song went top 40.

There were bigger things ahead, though. After growing their audience with their first four albums, they exploded in 1987 as the biggest grossing concert act of the year MTV on the strength of #1 album The Joshua Tree and its chart-topping lead single “With Or Without You.”

As seems to be a pattern with songs that go on to be iconic, U2 wasn’t sold on the song originally. Not only were they unsure about releasing it as a single, but questioned putting it on the album. MTV While the group agreed it had a strong melody, they considered their initial efforts too sentimental. They experimented with more bass and a drum kit, MTV eventually crafting “a slow burner, with The Edge’s understated guitar and Bono’s subdued vocals building gradually towards a towering climax.” BBC

Lyrically, the song showcased an ambiguity that allowed for multiple interpretations. For a group considered “the world’s most earnest Christian rock band” TB there was an obvious spiritual interpretation, but there were other possible meanings as well. The Edge, the band’s guitarist, said the lyrics “were sparked by civil-rights heroes and the ‘new journalism’ of the 1960s.” RS500 Meanwhile the band’s lead singer, Bono, has offered different takes on it. He told Billboard’s Timothy White “there’s nothing more revolutionary than two people loving each other” TC but has also shared that lines like “you give yourself away” delve into how he felt baring his soul via lyrics and interviews; BBC as he said, it is “about how I feel in U2 at times: exposed.” RS500


Resources:

  • DMDB encyclopedia entry for U2
  • BBC BBC Radio 2 (2004). “Sold on Song Top 100
  • MTV Rolling Stone (December 7, 2000; Issue 855). “MTV Top 100 Pop Songs.” New York, NY; Straight Arrow Publishing Company. Page 69.
  • RS500 Rolling Stone (12/11/2003). “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time
  • TC Toby Creswell (2005). 1001 Songs: The Great Songs of All Time. Thunder’s Mouth Press: New York, NY. Page 560.
  • TB Thunder Bay Press (2006). Singles: Six Decades of Hot Hits & Classic Cuts. Outline Press Ltd.: San Diego, CA. Page 228.


Related Links:


Last updated 9/29/2022.

Monday, May 11, 1987

Marillion “Incommunicado” released

Incommunicado

Marillion

Writer(s): Fish (lyrics), Mark Kelly, Ian Mosley, Steve Rothery, Pete Trewavas (music) (see lyrics here)


Released: May 11, 1987


First Charted: May 23, 1987


Peak: 6 UK, 24 AR, 15 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): -- US, -- UK, -- world (includes US + UK)


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 0.81 video, -- streaming

Awards:

Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

I doubt I’ve anticipated an album more than Marillion’s Clutching at Straws. It followed the British progressive-rock group’s third release, Misplaced Childhood, a #1 album in the UK. That was the album that introduced me to the band. After I bought it, I spent the next year gobbling up everything they had done. By the time Clutching was released in June 1987, I was primed for new product.

The lead single, “Incommunicado,” debuted at #1 on my personal charts and stayed there for five weeks. To prove the album’s hold on me, it spawned two more #1 songs for me in quick succession – “Warm Wet Circles” for 4 weeks and “Sugar Mice” for three weeks. In retrospect, with its nauseatingly fast pace, “Incommunicado” is the weakest song on the album although it was the logical choice for the first single. Music writer Paul Stenning took a very different stance, calling it “the most original commercial composition of all time.” WK

In the context of the album, which explores a narrator named Torch as he struggles with alcoholism, the “fast, anthemic rock song” WK “is a necessary mood-lifter…[which] reveals Torch imagining himself as a ‘winner in the fame game.’” JC Chris Wilkinson, the band’s longtime artist for album covers and singles, depicted a “character standing at the door apart from the crowd…alluding to the song’s main topic, alienating artists from their fans and reality in general.” WK

The band thought the song sounded too much like the Who and considered leaving it off the album, but producer Chris Kimsey insisted on keeping the “bouncy, up-tempo number.” JC Adam Wakeman, the son of Yes keyboardist Rick Wakeman and a keyboardist in his own right with Ozzy Osbourne and Black Sabbath, has cited Mark Kelly’s keyboard solo in the song as an inspiration. WK


Resources:

  • DMDB Encyclopedia entry for Marillion
  • DMDB Encyclopedia entry for Fish
  • JC Jon Collins (2003). Separated Out. Helter Skelter Publishing: London, England. Page 74.
  • WK Wikipedia


Related Links:


First posted 7/3/2022.

Marillion “Going Under” released as B-side

Going Under

Marillion

Writer(s): Fish (lyrics), Mark Kelly, Ian Mosley, Steve Rothery, Pete Trewavas (music) (see lyrics here)


Released: May 11, 1987


First Charted: --


Peak: 1 DF (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales (in millions): --


Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 0.23 video, -- streaming

Awards:

Click on award for more details.

About the Song:

At the time of the release of Marillion’s fourth album, Clutching at Straws, it wasn’t uncommon to add a bonus track to the compact disc release to entice more CD buyers. In this case, the song “Going Under” was added to the album after the third cut, “That Time of the Night.” The song was also released as the B-side of “Incommunicado,” the album’s first single.

I was still a cassette guy at the time. Of course I bought the tape as soon as possible, but it didn’t make much sense to get the CD when I didn’t own a CD player. However, the prospect of yet another Marillion song was too inviting. I was at college in the time and living in the dorm. My friend Steve, who lived across the hall, did have a CD player. I broke down and bought the CD more than six months after the album had been released and, whenever Steve would put up with it, invited myself into his room to put on the song.

In the context of the album’s themes of a narrator struggling to deal with alcoholism and unemployment and being away from his family, the song finds Torch, the narrator, “languishing in the depths of his depression, close to giving up and taking the final way out.” JC

The lyric was “written on the spur of the moment over a [Steve] Rothery guitar motif.” JC Keyboardist Mark Kelly said, it was “very much a snapshot of what was going on at the time.” JC


Resources:

  • DMDB Encyclopedia entry for Marillion
  • DMDB Encyclopedia entry for Fish
  • DMDB page for “Incommunicado
  • JC Jon Collins (2003). Separated Out. Helter Skelter Publishing: London, England. Page 73.
  • WK Wikipedia


Related Links:


First posted 7/3/2022.