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Sunday, July 13, 2014

Holding Back the Years

I don't know whether it's been the unseasonably warm temperatures outside, or the fact that we're doing renovations at my workplace, or the fact that I've had migraine headaches every other day or what have you.  This week has been a week that I would absolutely love to wish never happened. 

We all have them.  I just choose not to talk about it on this blog because I want to try and build all of you up, not bring you down.

All I have to say is...Thank Goodness for the Sunday Jukebox.

I think one of the few things that immediately boosts my mood is listening to some of my favourite songs on my iPod (or prior to 2012, on the radio).  Believe me, I think I've listened to almost five hundred songs over the course of this past week.  Some songs make me so happy they make me want to clap along because I feel like a room without a roof.  Some songs are sad songs that make me cry, because love songs often do.  And some songs make me want to open the door, get on the floor, and make everybody walk the dinosaur.

And for today's Sunday Jukebox, I want to take a look at a song I love by a band I love, from a year that I consider to have some of the best music ever.

When you think of the decade known as the 1980s, what would you consider to be the best year?  Was it 1981, when disco breathed its last breath and New Wave became the future?  Perhaps it was 1987, the year of the Rickroll and Tiffany's shopping mall tours?  Or maybe it was 1989, the year in which Madonna expressed herself and Janet Jackson started up her own rhythm nation?

Well, I have a favourite year in 1980s music.  And it happens to be 1986.

When I look back at my music collection, 1986 seems to be represented more than any other year.  And why not?  It was a really diverse year on the Billboard music charts with thirty singles reaching #1.  And, if you've been following along with the Sunday Jukebox feature over the past few months (since I started featuring #1 songs exclusively), 1986 is one of the years that is represented the most.  You have rhythm and blues, rock and roll, funk, electro-pop, love ballads, heavy metal, and even a couple of all-girl groups.  1986 had something for everybody.

And although today's song only represented itself on the top of the charts for one week only, it made enough of an impact to be considered a signature hit for this band.

These days, the lead singer of this band, Mick Hucknall, is going solo and touring all over the world crooning a selection of American soul classics.  But back in the 1980s, he was the man who fronted the band known as Simply Red.  I make no secret of announcing that Simply Red is one of my all-time favourite bands, and I have a hard time coming up with any song that they did that I don't like.  They were just that awesome.  From their cover of "If You Don't Know Me By Now" to "Stars" to "Fairground" to "Sunrise", I have to admit that there's just something about that band that causes me to go on a temporary high - even if the song itself is one that has depressing overtones.

And, as it so happens, twenty-eight years ago this week, Simply Red had the #1 song on the Billboard charts!  Have a listen.

ARTIST:  Simply Red
SONG:  Holding Back the Years
ALBUM:  Picture Book
DATE RELEASED:  November 16, 1985

NOTE:  The release date here was the UK release...and in that country, it peaked at #51.  It was re-released in May 1986, where it hit #1 in the United States the week of July 12, 1986 - one of two Simply Red songs to do so.  By the way, the re-released song managed to hit the #2 position in the UK.

This single wasn't the band's first release (that honour belongs to 1985's "Money's Too Tight (To Mention)".  But I would definitely say that "Holding Back the Years was the single that helped put Simply Red on the path to greatness.  It's a song that is not without a little bit of melancholy though.

Oh, what am I's very melancholic. 

But it's also a song that kind of describes a feeling that we've all experienced in our lives at some point.  We all get stuck in a rut sometimes and we all cling onto the hope that things will eventually get better.  At least, that's the interpretation that I get from the song.  I guess it could be a message about regret as well, as Mick sings about wasted time and years and other things like that.  But again, that's just my interpretation. 

Truth is that songs can be subjected to a lot of different interpretations, and I think that almost all of them have the possibility to be correct.  Well, okay, telling me that "Holding Back the Years" is all about a thief who stole all the calendars out of a Walmart might be a bit of a stretch.  But most other interpretations could be considered correct.

This was a song that was composed by Hucknall himself when he was just seventeen years old.  And the song was reportedly inspired by a real-life event that affected Mick quite significantly.  When Mick was just a tyke of three, his mother left the family, and it caused a lot of turmoil for the family that she left behind.

I wonder if that event set the tone for Mick's admitted promiscuity during the years that he fronted Simply Red.  I won't talk about it here, but if you Google his name, you'll likely come across an article or two that explains everything.

Anyway, most of the song's lyrics were written when Mick was 17.  But it wouldn't be until a few years later that he came up with the song's chorus.  Neil Moss, who at the time was a member of the Frantic Elevators is listed as a co-writer.

I already mentioned before that this song was released twice.  Once with little fanfare in 1985, and once with a huge outpouring of love in 1986.  But did you know that it was released a third time in 2005?  At that time, Simply Red had recorded an acoustic jazz album entitled "Simplified", which featured new recordings of some of their older classics.  This third version of "Holding Back the Years" below was featured on several smooth jazz radio stations that year.

The music video is also quite nicely done.  Look for cameos from the rest of the band during the scenes in which you see cricket players in the field.

And, well...that's all I have to say for today's Sunday Jukebox entry.  It's a short entry, but a sweet one.  And,'s hoping that better days are ahead.

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