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Friday, November 07, 2014

Listen To Your Heart

Hello, everyone!

We are continuing on with our special "YOU NEVER NOVEMBER WHAT YOU'RE GONNA GET" month where we purposely mix up the theme days that you have gotten used to, and instead we'll be talking about whatever subject comes into my mind at the moment.

I am hoping that you are all in a musical mood today because I have decided that for this week, we will be turning this Friday into a music day!  Typically reserved for Sundays, the music feature takes a look at a song and we have a discussion about it.

(Just for the record, even though the music days will be switched around a little bit, I will still hold true to my promise that every song featured this month will be a #1 hit.)

You know, I find it quite interesting that I am doing the music entry on a Friday this week, because for some reason, I am reminded of a television show that used to air on cable back in the 1980s and early 1990s.  And, it was a show that I only managed to watch a handful of times because on our cable dial, TBS (Turner Broadcasting System) was almost always scrambled.  Apparently you needed to pay an additional twenty-five bucks on your cable bill to make it go unscrambled, which was highway robbery back in 1990, if you ask me.  Alas, that was the case with our local cable company.  You could hear TBS, but when you tried to tune in, it would look like this.

Kind of looks like someone folded a freshly painted portrait in half while the paint was still wet, doesn't it?

The only time it was ever unscrambled was during special preview weeks that our cable company launched at least twice a year.  If memory serves me, it was always in April and December - I know December is one for sure because they would always do a preview week the week before Christmas.  And it was on those rare moments where TBS was unscrambled that I got my first look at "Night Tracks".

Now, I know what you are thinking.  Night Tracks was a show that aired late at night/early in the morning.  What kind of parents would let their child stay up late at night?

Well, the kind of parents that didn't mind if I stayed up late on a weekend.  "Night Tracks" almost always aired on either Friday or Saturday between June 1983 and May 1992.  I was eleven when the show went off the air for good, so I was barely old enough to be able to stay up late on weekend nights.  I mean, I was eleven.  Where was I going to go, right?

Now, "Night Tracks" was an interesting program.  It was a show that like MTV aired non-stop music videos.  Unlike MTV, the show only lasted for three hours at the most (usually airing between 12:05 and 3:05 EST).  And, what made "Night Tracks" a little bit different was the fact that the show would change its format every year or every other year to keep things fresh.  For instance, during the 1980s, there was an emphasis on Top 40 music, while in later years, they focused on more alternative and rap videos.

So, I thought that in slight celebration of "Night Tracks", I would post a video that aired during the show's run.  I wouldn't be surprised if the following video actually aired on the show itself.

This song was the #1 song twenty-five years ago this week.  It is a song that I would easily call one of my favourite songs from the 1980s, and it is a song whose title is one that I really need to incorporate into my own life.

ARTIST:  Roxette
SONG:  Listen To Your Heart
ALBUM:  Look Sharp
DATE RELEASED:  September 17, 1988

Now, I know what you're thinking.  How the heck does it take a whole year for a song to reach the #1 spot on the charts.  Well, September 1988 was the release date in Roxette's home country of Sweden.  It would not be released until the summer of 1989 in North America.  Either way, it still became one of Roxette's biggest hits.

Roxette's invasion into American territory came almost by accident.  Made up of pop/rock singers Per Gessle and Marie Fredriksson, Roxette broke into the music scene in 1986 with their debut album "Pearls of Passion".  It did extremely well in parts of Europe, but was virtually unheard of in North America.  And when the band released their 1988 album "Look Sharp", it seemed poised to do the same.

That is until college student Dean Cushman - on an exchange program where he studied in Sweden - heard Roxette's song "The Look" on the radio.  He bought a copy of the album on cassette, went home for Christmas that year, and submitted the album to a radio station in Minneapolis (the city where Cushman lived).  The radio station played "The Look", other radio stations soon followed, and by April 1989, "The Look" became a surprise #1 smash for Roxette!  I suppose you could say that Cushman listened to his heart, believed that the song could become a hit in American markets, and before you knew it, Roxette had arrived in America, becoming one of the most celebrated rock/pop duos for the next half decade.

Now, in Sweden, "The Look" was the group's third single released from "Look Sharp".  The first track was "Dressed for Success" (which would become a minor hit in North America in the summer of 1989).  The second was "Listen To Your Heart".

And what a powerful song it is at that.

I think that part of the reason why this song was such a success was because of the music video.  It is absolutely spectacular in its simplicity.  The setting takes place in the band's home country of Sweden - specifically in the ruins of Borgholm Castle, a castle that burned down over two hundred years ago.  Since the mid-twentieth century, the inner courtyard of the ruins have served as a venue for concerts, theatre performances, and various other events.

Certainly Roxette took full advantage of this set up.  They not only shot this video at this location, but if memory serves me, "Dangerous" was filmed at this very location as well.  The screaming fans waving signs in the crowd certainly added to the brilliance of this video clip.

But you want to know what I love more than the video itself?  The lyrics of the song.

The song is one of those "should I break up with him, or should I not" kind of songs.  I presume that the song is told from the point of view of someone who is in a dark place in a relationship and how they are feeling really confused about it.  It doesn't really reveal what has happened to make our narrator feel this way, but whatever it is, it is enough for her to really think about things and wonder if staying with her lover is really worth it.

That is where the line "listen to your heart, before you tell him goodbye" comes into play.  If you were in the same position that the narrator of the song is in, what would you do?  I know that depending on the situation and depending on the severity of the fight or argument that has apparently taken place before the song, some of you may feel that one chance is all that one gets and that you would want to flee as quickly as possible. 

But what if your gut tells you one thing, and your heart tells you something else?  Sure, it might seem like an easy way out to leave the relationship and call it a day.  But if you have a deep bond with them, and you are head over heels in love with them, and your heart tells you that you should stay...would you?

I can honestly say that in past decision making, I have done a really poor job.  I tend to go with what is easier rather than go with what I may think is right.  And sometimes that has worked out...while in other cases, it has not.  And while nobody should ever have to dwell on past decisions (something that I really should tell myself to stop doing), it is our past that shapes us, whether we like it or not.

As much as I want to listen to my heart when it tells me that certain situations and environments are not good for me, sometimes I turn a deaf ear to it.

I have to stop doing that.   

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