30 songs. 30 other things.

Let’s crack on then.  A song a day from the charts of December 1982, and something from Smash Hits, also from December of 1982.  Two things.

One: Song

Through the magic of Random.org and the NZ top fifty chart from 5 December, 1982 comes: Come on Eileen, by Dexy’s Midnight Runners.  It was number three on the NZ charts on 5 December, but had been number one the week before.

Strangely, Cathy doesn’t like this song.  I thought everyone on Earth liked this song.  The same way – in reverse – that no one hates Taylor Swift.  Even if you don’t like her you don’t hate her.  I find now that I look back on it that the Johnnie Ray that starts this song’s lyrics was an actual real life rock star in the 1950s (“Poor old Johnnie Ray…”) who unfortunately was gay. I say unfortunately because it must have been hard being a gay teen idol in the 1950s and it must have led to a lot of unhappiness.

My only other memory of Dexy’s Midnight Runners (other than liking this song when it was around) was that they were on The Young Ones singing Jackie Wilson Said.  Watching this episode again (Bomb is the episode) I am struck by a whole lot of things.  Mainly I am struck by how bizarre The Young Ones was.  It was a show, like Blackadder, that I used to have to video because it was (a) on after my bed time and (b) I wanted to enjoy without my mother around who would have undoubtedly not found Rik and Adrian very funny.  Rik and Adrian were very funny.  The enigma in the show was Mike.  Every single thing he says is not funny.  It’s extraordinary.

Never mind.  A few bars into Dexy’s version of Jackie Wilson in this episode of The Young Ones, we see this:


Fingerless gloves.

Such an odd piece of clothing to become popular.  In fact, if you analyse it, it is a slightly distasteful thing to become fashionable.  A bit like rich people dressing up like bums because it’s cool.  But let’s not dwell on that too much.  That fingerless clothes were cool and desirable in the 80s needs no other proof than the fact that even a daft looking pre-teen boy in Wellington called John-Paul coveted and then acquired a pair.  I suppose this is hardly surprising in a boy who also had velcro running shoes, leg warmers and a rodeo cat.

Even if you didn’t know that the nude fingers in the picture above were from Dexy I would say you could easily guess they were British.  Note the sturdy looking yarn, the dull colour and the fraying.  The American fingerless glove had more flash about them.  Girl ones were sexy.  Madonna had sexy fingerless gloves.

I was not Madonna.


These little puppies were so rock’n’roll they had little button back flaps.  If it was actually cold and you needed to stop being cool in order to be, well, warm… you could unbutton the flaps and have nice toastie mittens.

I might have been only eleven or twelve when I got these but even then I knew that they were not really cool.  I pity the poor person who gave them to me.  Probably my Mum.  I hope I wore them a bit to be polite.  How was she to know that a real rock star was so out on the wire that they didn’t care if their fingers got a little bit cold?

Two: Smash Hits


Never mind the word gay, the definition of the word transportable has definitely changed in the last 30 years.  Much as I want to laugh at the fashion here I am forced to admit that I could pass any one of these people on the street tomorrow and not notice them.  It’s the curtains that leap off the page.  Actually, the guy on the left is pushing the envelope.  Shorts and a jersey slung around your shoulders is a tough look to make work for a guy.  “Dust off your jazz slippers”?  Is this slang for “roll up your jean bottoms and bring out the lime socks”?

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I wrote a book called Kaitiaki o te Pō

4 thoughts on “30 songs. 30 other things.”

  1. I didn’t even get half the references at the time, but it was still a wild ride. I’ll have to go and Youtube “Bambi”.

  2. The Young Ones was awesome. “Bambi” was easily the best episode – every major contemporary “alternative” comedian was in it… and who can resist jokes about bottom burps?

  3. Ok, so two people. Geez. I listened to their follow up single the other day… not bad. I always assumed they were a proper band because of the fiddle and the apple crate bass.

    Next you’ll be telling me you hate Taylor Swift and have plotted her death.

  4. I also didn’t like “Come on Eileen” because from watching the video as a child, I felt that Eileen wasn’t really into Kevin and he and his merry band of minstrels were cajoling her, probably destined for a life of living in squats and not showering.

    As an adult, I realised that there is a very important comma missing from the song’s title and so have even more sympathy for Eileen.

    Other complaints with the music video: Eileen has no top on; Kevin’s big armpit exposure.

    Other pop fact: while “Come On Eileen” is considered a one-hit wonder in most countries, in the UK it was Dexy’s second big hit. Two years earlier they’d topped the charts with “Geno” and ode to Northern Soul singer Geno Washington. I like “Geno” more than “Eileen”.

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