Reflections on the 2022 #AtoZ Challenge


Hey, it’s over! For two months each year, I blog every day. November is reserved for the annual “Book-a-Day Giveaway” event here, where I feature local authors and offer up books and gift cards, and April brings the annual “Blogging from A to Z Challenge,” in which I have participated for – I believe – 12 years now.

This year I had my theme picked out months ahead of time. That’s usually the case for me, as I am the ultimate planner. It just works better if I have the theme, if I know I can cover all the letters, and I have pre-written and pre-scheduled my posts. Because I had a new novel out (October 2021) that is set in 1981, I looked into the possibility of featuring songs from 1981 as my theme. And it worked! What a variety of music – from classic rock (The Stones, The Who, George Harrison, John Lennon) to country crossovers (Eddie Rabbit, Rosanne Cash, Juice Newton) to new wave and punk (Blondie, Adam Ant) to fading disco and folk (Air Supply, Olivia Newton-John), there was truly a wide range of songs. If you missed out, you can start here: https://wordpress.com/post/marthareynoldswrites.com/9561

March and April are always busy months for me. This year I traveled to Portugal and Spain with my sister in March, and I chair and edit the annual anthology produced by the Association of Rhode Island Authors. It didn’t leave me with much time to visit other blogs, but I tried to find a few new ones. And, as always, I’m very grateful for the folks who took the time to visit my posts and like/comment. But having participated in this challenge for so long now, I no longer worry about whether people stop by.

So. on we go. I’m back to posting book reviews on Tuesdays (focusing mainly on my fellow Rhode Island authors) and I’m back to working on a new book, with the hopes of publishing later in the year. So stay tuned for that! And congratulations to all the bloggers who completed the challenge this year!

#AtoZ 1981 Songs to Remember – “Z” is for “Zerox”


I chose 1981 music as my theme this year. My newest novel The Summer of Princess Diana is set in the summer of 1981, and oh! the music! Let’s take a look back at a pivotal time in the music industry.

Not much to choose from for the letter “Z,” but actually, this song by Adam & The Ants is pretty appropriate. Adam Ant is so symbolic of 1981, with his punk-rock look, his electronic/synthesized music. (By the way, Adam Ant was born Stuart Leslie Goddard, but that name certainly wouldn’t fly in 1981 punk-rock clubs, would it?)

The song title is spelled with a “Z,” but the lyrics do refer to a Xerox copier. According to Wikipedia, whereas Xerox machines are used to make paper copies of documents and other visual images, Xerox (Zerox) is used as a metaphor for plagiarism in the song’s lyrics:

Lock up your brain ‘Cos I’m here again
I’m never bored I’ll steal your chords
Ooh-ooh Zerox Machine Ooh-ooh Zerox Machine

Give me a line Or a middle eight
I’ve got the best So I want the rest
Ooh-ooh Zerox Machine Ooh-ooh Zerox Machine

Let’s get together Before its too late
Collect up the ideas And duplicate
Filling up the forms Send them off tonight
And you’ll be the owner Of the copyright
Of the copyright Of the copyright

Times of the essence Get your ears to the ground
However else Can the hits be found?

I may look happy, healthy and clean A dark brown voice and suit pristine
But behind the smile there is a Zerox Machine

Thanks for coming along on this journey with me! I hope you had fun revisiting some old songs. Many of these were a big part of my life in 1981, especially from April to September, when I was in Switzerland and, yes, working as an au pair for a family very much like the Brusadins.

#AtoZ 1981 Songs to Remember – “Y” is for “You Better You Bet”


I chose 1981 music as my theme this year. My newest novel The Summer of Princess Diana is set in the summer of 1981, and oh! the music! Let’s take a look back at a pivotal time in the music industry.

The Who had been around for more than 15 years when they released “You Better You Bet” in February 1981. Lead singer Roger Daltrey was a young 37 at the time, and is with his bandmates Pete Townshend and John Entwistle. It was The Who’s last single to reach the top 20 on Billboard’s Hot 100 (it got to #18).

According to Pete Townshend, the songwriter, it was written as a love song for his girlfriend at the time. He said, “I developed [it] over several weeks of clubbing and partying. I had gone through a lean period in my marriage and was seeing the daughter of a friend of mine. I wanted it to be a good song because the girl I wrote it for is one of the best people on the planet…It’s just a pop song.”

Roger Daltrey said it was one of his favorite songs of all.

Here it is:

#AtoZ 1981 Songs to Remember – “X” is for “JukeboX Babe”


I chose 1981 music as my theme this year. My newest novel The Summer of Princess Diana is set in the summer of 1981, and oh! the music! Let’s take a look back at a pivotal time in the music industry.

Oh boy. Well, you know that I usually have to get a little creative by the time I reach the letter X, and today is no exception. I found this song on a list of 1981 songs and found the video on YouTube. So, I’m thinking, let’s see how this goes.

“Jukebox Babe” (not “Jukebox Baby” as it is often sung) was released as a single in 1981. This singer? Alan Vega, born Alan Bermowitz in 1938 – so yep, he was 43 when this song was released (I read that he lied about his age often). He was primarily known as a vocalist with the electronic duo Suicide. “Jukebox Babe” was a hit single in France, but to be honest, I had never heard of it, and I listened to a lot of music in the early 80s.

Here is Alan Vega, looking like he’d rather be anywhere else but on that stage:

#AtoZ 1981 Songs to Remember – “W” is for “Woman”


I chose 1981 music as my theme this year. My newest novel The Summer of Princess Diana is set in the summer of 1981, and oh! the music! Let’s take a look back at a pivotal time in the music industry.

I started this series with George Harrison, singing about John Lennon. And here is John Lennon, who died so tragically and prematurely in December 1980. “Woman” was released in January 1981 from his 1980 album Double Fantasy, and was the first single to be released after his murder.

In an interview for Rolling Stone magazine on December 5, 1980, three days before his murder, Lennon said that the song “came about because…it suddenly hit me what women do for us. Not just what my Yoko does for me, although I was thinking in those personal terms… but any truth is universal. What dawned on me was everything I was taking for granted. Women really are the other half of the sky, as I whisper at the beginning of the song. It’s a ‘we’ or it ain’t anything.”

Yoko Ono created this poignant video.

#AtoZ 1981 Songs to Remember – “V” is for “Vienna”


I chose 1981 music as my theme this year. My newest novel The Summer of Princess Diana is set in the summer of 1981, and oh! the music! Let’s take a look back at a pivotal time in the music industry.

Released on January 9, 1981 by the British band Ultravox, “Vienna” is symbolic of the new wave music that defined the early 1980s. It was the most commercially successful song for Ultravox, but did much better in Europe than in the States.

The video, seen below, was shot on locations in London and Vienna.

#AtoZ 1981 Songs to Remember – “U” is for “Urgent”


I chose 1981 music as my theme this year. My newest novel The Summer of Princess Diana is set in the summer of 1981, and oh! the music! Let’s take a look back at a pivotal time in the music industry.

Released in June 1981, “Urgent” is the first single from Foreigner’s album 4. A mix of rock and soul, it has lead singer’s Lou Gramm’s distinctive vocals. Featured also are Thomas Dolby’s synthesizer and Junior Walker’s saxophone. Here it is:

#AtoZ 1981 BONUS SUNDAY!


It’s the last bonus Sunday of the month, and I wanted to feature a song that did make it big. Issued in January 1981 by the Dutch pop group Stars on 45, the song is called “Stars on 45 Medley” and was a medley of hits (you’ll see). It reached #1 in the Netherlands in February, #2 in the UK in April, and #1 in the US in June 1981.

The song kind of kicked off a craze of various medleys. Copyright issues? I have no idea.

#AtoZ 1981 Songs to Remember – “T” is for “Tainted Love”


I chose 1981 music as my theme this year. My newest novel The Summer of Princess Diana is set in the summer of 1981, and oh! the music! Let’s take a look back at a pivotal time in the music industry.

Did you know that “Tainted Love” was originally recorded by singer Gloria Jones in 1964? I did not know!! It really became famous after it was reworked by the British synthpop duo Soft Cell in 1981. Let’s watch and listen to the 1981 hit first:

And here’s the original 1964 version by Gloria Jones:

Which version do you like better?

#AtoZ 1981 Songs to Remember – “S” is for “Start Me Up”


I chose 1981 music as my theme this year. My newest novel The Summer of Princess Diana is set in the summer of 1981, and oh! the music! Let’s take a look back at a pivotal time in the music industry.

From their album Tattoo You, “Start Me Up” was the lead single released off the album, and reached #2 on Billboard’s Hot 100 in 1981. It was the biggest hit of the 80s for The Rolling Stones in the US.

Music critic Stewart Mason noted, “There were hits after ‘Start Me Up,’ but…it’s undeniable that this…was the last great Rolling Stones song.” Here are The Stones live in 2006: