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Tuesday, February 10, 2015

February 10, 1979

Welcome to another edition of the Tuesday Timeline!  And this week, I've decided that I would try to look at Valentine's Day with a smidgen bit more positivity than I have in past years. 

And when I say a smidgen, I mean just that.  A smidgen.  Let's put it this way.  I don't expect to be singing love songs at the top of my lungs, buying flowers for every single girl in the world, or filling my underwear drawer with silk boxer shorts with little red and pink hearts all over them.

However, I have been accused in the past of being almost as cranky as Grumpy Cat when it comes to Valentine's Day, and to be honest with you, being grumpy on a day about love isn't really worth it in the end.  So, that's why I'm trying - and believe me when I say it - to look at the day with a little more positivity.

And that's why for today's blog entry, I've chosen a subject that could very well fit in with the spirit of Valentine's Day.  It might be one that is incredibly cheesy in nature, but I imagine that for quite a few people, today's Tuesday Timeline topic played a role in their Valentine's Day celebrations of the past.

We do have some things to take care of first though as Valentine's Week continues.  Let's see what else happened on February 10...

1355 - Almost one hundred lose their lives in Oxford, England during the St. Scholastica's Day Riot

1840 - Queen Victoria marries Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha

1861 - Jefferson Davis is notified by telegram that he has been chosen as the President of the Confederate States of America

1870 - The YWCA is founded in New York City

1906 - The HMS Dreadnought is christened and launched by King Edward VII

1933 - Primo Carnera knocks out Ernie Schaff during a boxing match held at Madison Square Garden in the thirteenth round; Schaff would die of his injuries four days later

1942 - Glenn Miller becomes the first person to have a certified gold record for "Chattanooga Choo Choo"

1957 - "Little House on the Prairie" author Laura Ingalls Wilder dies at the age of 90

1971 - Carole King releases "Tapestry"

1978 - Van Halen releases their debut self-titled album

1981 - Eight die and another 198 are injured as fire breaks out at the Las Vegas Hilton Hotel and Casino

1996 - The IBM supercomputer "Deep Blue" defeats Garry Kasparov in chess for the first time

2000 - Actor Jim Varney dies of cancer at the age of 50

2001 - Actor Lewis Arquette dies at the age of 65

2014 - Actress/singer/ambassador Shirley Temple Black dies at the age of 85

And for celebrity birthdays, here are the famous faces turning one year older today; Leontyne Price, Robert Wagner, Roberta Flack, Adrienne Clarkson, Peter Purves, Harold Sylvester, Mark Spitz, Jim Cramer, Greg Norman, Alexander Payne, George Stephanopoulos, Lenny Dykstra, Glenn Beck, Laura Dern, Vince Gilligan, Elizabeth Banks, Scott Elrod, Keeley Hawes, Holly Willoughby, Jade Ramsey, Bunmi Mojekwu, Emma Roberts, Chloe Grace Moretz, and Tiffany Espensen.

So, what date are we going back in time to?  Well, how about the tail end of the decade that brought us discotheques, bell bottoms, and 8-track tapes?

Yeah.  How about February 10, 1979?  That sounds like a good date to visit.  Truth be told, I've been meaning to do a seventies style timeline entry for a while now.  For some reason, that decade seems to get serious neglect.

So, what do I remember about 1979?  Well, nothing.  I was minus two years old, after all.  But, judging by what I have heard about 1979, it seemed to be the year of disco music! 

Take a look at the #1 songs of 1979, if you will.  Now, towards the end of the year, we start seeing some rock songs appearing on the charts by The Knack, The Eagles, and Styx.  But get a load at the number of songs that are disco on the charts!  Of course, we all know that 1979 was the year in which people began to rebel against disco music and that may have lead to the sudden drop in disco fans.  I'd say that by 1981, disco was officially in the graveyard.

But 1979 could be considered the last hurrah of classic disco music.  After all, that year, it seemed as though almost everybody was taking their turn at releasing a disco album.

And believe me, I mean EVERYONE.

In fact, one singer - who previously was known for blues-oriented rock singles such as "Maggie May", "Tonight's The Night", and "Hot Legs", decided that he would jump on the disco bandwagon and release a single that was flavoured with a disco twist.

That gamble paid off, for it hit the #1 spot on the Billboard charts thirty-six years ago today.

ARTIST:  Rod Stewart
SONG:  Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?
ALBUM:  Blondes Have More Fun
DATE RELEASED:  November 10, 1978

Yes, Rod Stewart decided to do a disco album, simply because a lot of others were doing it too - and he became the subject of much backlash because of it.

I suppose that it didn't help much that people were beginning to tire of the disco scene in 1979, but many people saw Stewart's switch to disco as sacrilegious.  They couldn't believe that Stewart would "sell out" and they blasted him for it.  But, Rod Stewart was hardly the only one who tried recording disco music.  One could argue that Michael Jackson's 1979 album "Off The Wall" could be considered a disco album as well with singles like "Rock With You", and "Don't Stop Till You Get Enough".  Or, how about The Rolling Stones and their disco infused single "I Miss You"?  Certainly they made the disco theme work for them, and they ended up having huge hits. 

If anything, the song could actually be considered a parody of disco, as "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?" could easily be considered one of the cheesiest music videos ever made.  And, I've seen Right Said Fred's "I'm Too Sexy"!

And certainly this sultry and sexy single by Rod Stewart was a huge hit, not just in the United States, but also in the United Kingdom, Canada, and Australia.  I can only imagine many people over the years spinning this track during a night know.

But there's so much more to this song than just being an auditory aphrodisiac.  It's also a single that provided a benefit for children in third world countries!  All the royalties that this song has ever made were donated to the children's charity UNICEF!  Stewart himself performed this single at the January 1979 Music for UNICEF Concert.

I don't quite understand the link between raising money for children with a song asking someone else if they find them sexy, but whatever works, right?

Of course, this song did bring a lot of people onto the dance floor in their platform shoes and tube tops.  But it also brought about a little bit of controversy - not for the subject of the song, but for claims that Rod Stewart had committed copyright infringement while recording the single.  Brazilian musician Jorge Ben Jor made the claim that Stewart had used elements from his single "Taj Mahal" to create "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy" without asking permission to do so.  And although the lawsuit was settled amicably, Stewart later revealed in his 2012 autobiography that he unconsciously plagiarized some parts of "Taj Mahal".

You know what?  You be the judge.  Below is Ben Jor's single "Taj Mahal" released six years before "Da Ya Think I'm Sexy?".  Notice any similarities?

One final footnote to add before I close the book on another Tuesday Timeline entry.  In some countries, this single actually charted twice.  Once in 1979, of course.  But eighteen years later in 1997, British dance group N-Trance remixed the single and it charted once more in Australia and the UK.  It even topped the charts in New Zealand!  And we'll close off this look back with the remixed version by N-Trance.

A remixed version of a song that became a #1 hit thirty-six years ago today.

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