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Archive for the ‘1980s’ Category

Howard Zinn


Howard Zinn (1922-2010) was an American professor and historian, best known for his book “A People’s History of the United States” (1980). It is not a story of presidents and generals but instead “a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people’s movements of resistance.” He was to the left of Mao and proud of it.

He did not just teach history, he took part in it, like marching at Selma and hiding the Pentagon Papers. He was brave, doing what was right even though it meant that Spelman fired him and the Boston police beat him.

He grew up in the poor parts of Brooklyn. When the Second World War came he joined the Air Force to fight the good war against Hitler and fascism. He bombed towns in France and Germany. From his plane, six miles up in the sky, he could not hear the screams or see the blood.

TheThere is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people.He came home and went to university on the G.I. Bill. There he read John Hersey’s “Hiroshima” (1946) and began to think about the people he killed, many of them children. He began to see that America was an empire no different from all the other empires in history.

In 1956 he became a history professor at Spelman College. He found himself teaching American history to black women from books that said little about blacks. He began to question the way American history was taught.

Then came the civil rights movement, the fight for equal rights for blacks. He joined SNCC and the sit-ins. He urged his students to protest too. Spelman fired him. Writer Alice Walker, one of his students, puts it this way:

Well, he was thrown out because he loved us, and he showed that love by just being with us. He loved his students. He didn’t see why we should be second-class citizens. He didn’t see why we shouldn’t be able to eat where we wanted to and sleep where we wanted to and be with the people we wanted to be with. And so, he was with us. He didn’t stay back, you know, in his tower there at the school. And so, he was a subversive in that situation.

In 1964 he went to Boston University where he taught till he retired in 1988. There he took part in the protests against the Vietnam War and became friends with Noam Chomsky.

In 1971 Daniel Ellsberg gave him one of his copies of the Pentagon Papers, which held the government’s secrets about the Vietnam War. The big secret was that it knew the war was hopeless but lied to the people about it. Zinn found out that the war was not about freedom and democracy but about tin, rubber and oil. America in the 1960s, it turned out, was no different than Japan in the 1940s.

In 1980 he came out with “A People’s History of the United States”. The first printing was only 4,000 copies, but in 2003 the millionth copy was sold! The latest, and now last, revision comes out in July 2010.

See also:

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Remarks:

Classic Sade. Always good. This song charted in 1986 at only #49 in Britain and  #55 on the American R&B charts. It did not even make the American pop charts.

Lyrics:

This may come, This may come as some surprise
but I miss you
I can see through all of your lies
but still I miss you
he takes her love, but it doesn’t feel like mine
he tastes her kiss, her kisses are not wine, they’re not mine

he takes, but surely she can’t give what I’m feeling now
she takes, but surely she doesn’t know how

Is it a crime
Is it a crime
that I still want you
and I want you to want me too

My love is wider, wider than Victoria Lake
My love is taller, taller than the empire state

It dives and it jumps and it ripples like the deepest ocean
I can’t give you more than that, surely you want me back

Is it a crime
Is it a crime
that I still want you
and I want you to want me too

My love is wider than Victoria Lake
Taller than the empire state

It dives and it jumps
I can’t give you more than that, surely you want me back

Is it a crime
Is it a crime
that I still want you
and that I want you to want me too

It dives and it jumps and it ripples like the deepest ocean
I can’t give you more than that, surely you want it back.

Tell me, is it a crime?

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Nezua the Unapologetic Mexican (1969- ) grew up in Bethesda, Maryland and other places all across America, half Mexican and half white by blood. On his blog he writes beautifully about the not-so-beautiful experience. What follows is merely my overview. Links to his blog follow.

He looks white but not quite. Like in the summer he was afraid to go outside because he would turn dark in no time.  But most times only other Mexicans could tell what he was – and try to speak to him in Spanish!

White people told him he could pass for white – as if he never tried that, as if it were that easy. He did try it, from age 8 to 19. His name was even changed to an Anglo one everyone could say when his white, Irish American stepfather signed all the papers to make him his son in the eyes of the law: he went from Joaquín to Jack. For a while he even lightened his skin, shaved off all his hair and changed his eye colour with contact lenses. His English was perfect, better than most. He tried to be “universal”.

… nobody has tried harder than I to be “white.” Nobody knows as well as I that despite how many moments you think you pull it off, unless it’s what you really are, then in the end, being WHITE means erasing yourself until there’s nothing there.

Trying to be white, “the Bestest thing ya could be”, led to anger, confusion and self-hatred. He was denying his true self. It took him years to undo the damage. Telling his story is part of the undoing.

No matter how you make yourself look on the outside there is still your heart on the inside. The heart that, for example, has to listen to the racist jokes white people will tell with you sitting right there – because, ha ha, it is just a joke, so lighten up already.

His mother was a good mother, but she was white. She could not undersand what being Mexican meant. His Mexican father was out of the picture by age five. So all he knew about Mexico came from white people – from their racist jokes,  television shows, Hollywood films,  books and, most of all, from their faces:

… what did “Mexican” mean to me? It meant weird pauses. Wrinkled brows. Forced smiles. Awkward transitions that even as a child I was very aware of.

In high school he looked more and more like his father. The mirror laughed at his attempts to become white.

His mother searched for his birth father and found him at long last in Iowa. He spent a summer there with his father’s family when he was 19. They regarded him as Mexican and it felt good – right there in Iowa City in the middle of America.

… the acceptance I get from the brown world is always nourishing, always empowering. And the acceptance from the white world, when it thinks I am not brown, is always degrading, debasing. If you can understand that, then you understand a lot.

See also:

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Remarks:

I had completely forgotten about this song because it does not appear on any of my Janet Jackson albums. Lisa Keith is the lead singer. It “sounds” like a Janet Jackson song – like maybe something towards the end of “Rhythm Nation 1814” (1989) – because it was produced by Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis at about the same time.

This song reached #7 on the R&B charts in 1987. You may have heard it being sampled in other songs.

Lyrics:

Making love
in the rain,
I can’t believe the joy it brings me.

Making love all alone,
I hear the rain on my window.

It’s just a little thing,
but it means so much to me.

Our bodies together,
while the rain plays a melody.

Every raindrop makes think of you.
(Wishing you were close to me)

There is nothing that I’d rather do than…
Making love in the rain,
I can’t believe the joy it brings me.

When we’re done – all alone,
I hear the rain on my window.

When it’s stormy outside,
It’s warm in my heart,
with you in my arms.

And when your away from me,
I wish it would rain,
’cause its always the same

Every raindrop makes think of you.
(Wishing you were close to me)

There is nothing that I’d rather do than…
Making love in the rain,
I can’t believe the joy it brings me.
(I can’t believe)

When I’m here all alone,
I hear the rain on my window.
(On my window)

Making love in the rain,
I can’t believe the joy it brings me.

Making love all alone,
I hear the rain on my window.
(On my window, I hear the raindrops fall)

Every raindrop makes think of you.
(Wishing you were close to me)

There is nothing that I’d rather do than…
(Nothing that I’d rather do than)
Making love in the rain,
I can’t believe the joy it brings me.
(Making love. oohh making love)

When we’re here all alone,
I hear the rain on my window.
(On my window, I hear it rain)

Making love in the rain,
I can’t believe the joy it brings me
(ooohhhh, yeah)

All alone I hear the rain.
(I hear the rain)

My love here comes the rain.
My love here comes the rain.
My love here comes the rain.
My love here comes the rain.

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Remarks:

This is my favourite Anita Baker song.  Even when I first heard it it seemed like a song I had known for years. It only made it to #8 on the R&B chart.

At the very beginning of the video you can see Donnie Simpson, the host of “Video Soul” on BET in the 1980s and 1990s. The video shows scenes of Detroit.

Lyrics:

Flashbacks of the times we’ve had
Some made us laugh some made us sad
We used to break up to make up
All the fun that came from those love games
Oh well, I think I need someone new
Oh, it just won’t do, because I think about you baby

From beginning to end 365 days of the year
I want your same ole love
All I want to do is keep on loving you
I want your same ole love

There’s a reason I feel this way
All the things you do, well it might be the things that you say
Your love never changes
It’s like a picture in a frame, and it remains the same

Your undying love for me
Oh it keeps me strong, keeps me holding on

From beginning to end 365 days of the year
I want your same ole love
All I want to do is keep on loving you
I want your same ole love

Slowly, love me
All is forsaken, I love the love we’re making
Cause it’s truly lovely
I’ll never leave you, you’ll know I need you baby

From beginning to end 365 days of the year
I want your same ole love
All I want to do is keep on loving you
I want your same ole love

From beginning to end 365 days of the year
I want your same ole love
All I want to do is keep on loving you
I want your same ole love

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Prince: Scandalous

Remarks:

This is my favourite Prince song. Despite that for a long time I could not find it on YouTube because I forgot the name of it! Instead I found it through the YouTube channel of Mackaveli420, whose musical tastes are close to mine, at least when it comes to the 1980s.

Lyrics:

Come. Closer.
Feel what U’ve been dyin’ 4
Don’t be afraid, baby
Touch it and explode
Understand, understand that I love U
But more than that – I want U
Everybody always told me
“Good things come 2 those who wait”
But I’ve got so much on the menu
I just can’t wait, I just can’t, I can’t wait baby
I can’t wait baby
I can wrap my legs around U girl
Cuz sugar, U know U’re just the kind of lover
That I’ve been looking 4
2 night why don’t we skip all the 4 play, mamma
And just get down here on the floor

Scandalous
I’m talkin’ about U and me
Marvelous – baby, baby, can’t U see
Anything U’ve ever dreamed of
I’m willing 2 be
2 night it’s gonna be scandalous
Cuz 2 night I’m gonna be your fantasy

My dearest, my dearest

(Whisper) Whisper a question
With my body (body) I’ll scream a reply
Anything’s acceptable
Just ask me and I’ll try it
2 hell with hesitation
2 hell with the reasons why

Scandalous
I’m talkin’ about U and me
Marvelous – baby, baby, can’t U see
Anything U’ve ever dreamed of
I’m willing 2 be
2 night it’s gonna be scandalous
Cuz 2 night I’m gonna be your fantasy

Baby, baby, baby

Oh girl, the things U make me do!
Genius is the only way 2 describe U
Anything U’ve ever dreamed of baby
Just ask me – I’ll do, I’ll do,
I’ll do it 4 U baby

Anything at all
Spirits rise and spirits fall
Anything U ever dreamed off, I’m willing 2 be
2 night is gonna be scandalous
Cuz 2 night I’m, 2 night I’m gonna be your fantasy!

Scandalous
I’m talkin’ about U and me
Marvelous – baby, baby, can’t U see
Anything U’ve ever dreamed of
I’m willing 2 be
2 night it’s gonna be scandalous
Cuz 2 night I’m gonna be your fantasy

Scandalous, marvelous

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Remarks:

This song was later covered by Kelly Price in 2000, but I  like this version better. It is the original, going to #5 on the R&B charts in 1986. Zapp’s Roger Troutman hired Murdock as a backing singer. His brother Larry and Zapp guitarist Billy Beck wrote the song. Troutman appeared in this space last month with “I Want to be Your Man” (1987).

Lyrics:

It’s morning,
and we slept the night away~
It happened,
now we can’t turn back the hands of time
(oh no)

Yes we’ve stolen this moment,
We forgot to face, one simple fact
We both belong~ to someone else
As we slept, the night away

It’s morning,
sunlight shines across your sleeping face (uh huh)
A new~ day,
brings reality that we must go our
Se~parate way
What a lovely night, we had (yeah yeah)
As we shared each other’s love
We forgot about all the pain we’d cause
as we slept the night away

As we lay
We forgot about tomorrow as we lay (mmhmm, hey hey)
As we lay
We didn’t think about the price we’d have to pay( oh no, no no no no no no no)

It’s morning
And now it’s time for us to say goodbye
Goodbye baby
you’re lea~ving me,
I know you got to hurry home to face your wi~fe, whoa
I would never never want to hurt her no
She would never understand
You belonged to me for
just one night
as we slept the night away

(whoa) (mmmmm) (whoa)

I would never never want to hurt her no
She would never understand
You belonged to me for
just one night
as we slept the night away

As We Lay
We forgot about tomorrow
As we lay
We didn’t think about the price we’d have to pay…oh no hey

We should have counted up the cost
but instead we got lost
in the second, in the minute, in the hour
hey hey, hey as we lay
we forgot about tomorrow, as we lay
whoa~~~

It’s morning (it’s morning) (oo oo)
It’s morning (it’s morning) (whoa~~)
It’s morning (whoa~~)

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