#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:

#AtoZ 1981 Songs to Remember – “P” is for “Physical”


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.

Are you ready for this? “Physical,” by Olivia Newton-John, was the lead single on her eleventh album, released in September 1981. The song was originally offered to Tina Turner, who declined it (but Tina had plenty of big hits). “Physical” was a huge success and spent ten weeks at #1 on the charts. The suggestive lyrics even caused it to be banned in some areas, but check out the video.

#AtoZ 1981 Songs to Remember – “O” is for “One of Us”


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 1981 on ABBA’s eighth album, The Visitors, “One of Us” would be ABBA’s last #1 single of their career.

ABBA, if you didn’t already know, took the names of the two women in the group (Agnetha and Anni-Frid) and the names of the two men in the group (Björn and Benny) to form the group’s name.

Fans of the musical Mamma Mia will recall this number in Act II, sung by Donna.

#AtoZ 1981 Songs to Remember – “N” is for “(The) Night Owls”


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.

Little River Band was an Australian group originally formed in 1975. Probably best known in the US for their hit “Reminiscing” (1978), this song, “The Night Owls,” was released in September 1981 as the lead single from their album Time Exposure.

Little River Band is considered to be one of Australia’s most significant bands. As of 2004 they had sold more than 30 million records and had 13 US Top 40 hits.

#AtoZ 1981 Songs to Remember “M” is for “Message of 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.

Written by the most fabulous Chrissie Hynde, “Message of Love” was originally released as a single in early 1981, then included on The Pretenders’ album Pretenders II in late 1981. It reached #20 in the UK and got as high as #5 in the US on the Mainstream Rock chart and #44 on the Dance Club chart.

It might not be as well known as some of The Pretenders’ other hits (“Brass in Pocket,” “Back on the Chain Gang”), but it’s really a great song. Everybody stand up!

#AtoZ 1981 Songs to Remember – “K” is for “Kiss on My List”


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.

Daryl Hall and John Oates, together the duo Hall & Oates, were one of the biggest hitmakers from the mid-1970s to the late 1980s. “Kiss on my List” was released in January 1981 and spent three weeks at #1.

A little interesting trivia about the duo (thanks, Wikipedia) says that Daryl Hohl (his birth name) and John Oates first met in Philadelphia in 1967 at a band competition. When gunfire rang out between two rival gangs, they escaped and ended up in the same service elevator. On further discovering that they were interested in the same music and that both were attending Temple University, they started hanging out together and eventually shared an apartment in the city. One of the apartments they shared had “Hall & Oates” on the mailbox, which became the duo’s nickname. 

#AtoZ 1981 Songs to Remember – “J” is for “Jessie’s Girl”


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.

“Jessie’s Girl,” by Australian singer Rick Springfield, was the #1 song in America when MTV launched in August 1981. Billboard ranked it #5 for the year.

The song was featured in the films Boogie Nights, 13 Going on 30, and Suicide Squad.

Back to the early days of MTV – here’s the very pretty Rick Springfield:

#AtoZ 1981 Songs to Remember – “I” is for “I Love a Rainy Night”


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.

Country music often crossed over to the pop charts, and here is a prime example. Eddie Rabbitt was a country singer and songwriter (he composed “Kentucky Rain” for Elvis Presley and “Pure Love” for Ronnie Milsap), and had hits with Juice Newton and Crystal Gayle.

“I Love a Rainy Night” was released late in 1980 but charted in early 1981, succeeding another country music star, Dolly Parton, whose “9 to 5” had hit #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 pop songs.

Here is Eddie Rabbitt, and his band, on the show “Solid Gold.” Yes, it’s all lip-synched.

#AtoZ 1981 Songs to Remember – “H” is for “Here I Am”


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 the fall of 1981, “Here I Am (Just When I Thought I Was Over You)” peaked at number 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, but also hit the Adult Contemporary chart, which is where it belonged. Air Supply also released a song called “The One That You Love,” that contains the line “Here I am,” so the first song had to have an additional eight words in its title, to avoid confusion <sigh>.

Air Supply was a duo made up of British singer/songwriter and guitarist Graham Russell and Australian vocalist Russell Hitchcock. They had a slew of hits in the 1980s, even if viewing this video is cringeworthy today. But they’re still touring! So they must have a loyal following, right? A little Manilow-esque.

If listening to this song makes you feel young, more power to you. Here they are:

#AtoZ 1981 Songs to Remember – “D” is for “Don’t Stop Believin'”


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 October of 1981, this is Journey’s biggest hit, and recognizable instantly from its keyboard intro. It was a Top 10 worldwide hit in 1981, and became the best-selling digital track of the 20th century, with over seven million downloads.

The song has endured for decades, even making it onto the hit TV show “Glee” as its own anthem. And fans of “The Sopranos” will remember it being played during that iconic final scene. It’s frequently played during Detroit Red Wings hockey games and other Detroit-based sporting events. You’ll hear “Don’t Stop Believin'” played during the eighth inning of every San Francisco Giants home game, because Steve Perry is a season ticket holder. And it was used as a closing number in the musical Rock of Ages.

Trivia: There is no actual “South Detroit,” at least no actual place known as South Detroit, but co-songwriter Steve Perry liked the way it sounded, and it stuck.