To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before

1985 Julio and Willie

In June 1984 this song reached number two for a couple of weeks in New Zealand.

With my pop tastes in their first flowering this kind of song was very confusing (like when Maggie bestrode the number one slot in New Zealand for weeks on end).  In the year of Billy Idol, Cyndi Lauper, Thriller and Frankie there was also this completely non-80s kind of thing: an old man with hair braids, and some Latino dude in a tux.  It was hard for my 11 year old brain to imagine any woman finding the plaited one attractive, and confusingly it seemed that this duo might represent some sort of weird sexual double act (Willie must have been the wing man).  Maybe they hit the clubs together looking for “girls” (leave it) for a fun threesome?  When it comes to visualising this, as I am sadly doing now, the lyrics make we want to retch like a cat with a fur ball: “To all the girls I once caressed / And may I say I’ve held the best…” no, you may not say that, and I would prefer it if I had never ever read these lines either:  “To all the girls who cared for me / Who filled my nights with ecstasy”.

I think I can guess what happened when someone came up with the cover for this single.  Some marketing wunderkind thought they would bestow Willie’s lucky bandanna on Julio, and then dress them both in on point vinyl vests to capture that 80s vibe.  I think we can say that they failed to capture much of anything of either singer.  Even Willie’s beard is gone, and all typically bearded men without beards look naked, as if they are posing for a family photo but forgot their pants and are trying to act casual so no one will notice.

At the time that this song came out Julio Iglesias was 41, and Willie 51.  Being 42 now I realise how old I must look to my students.

This song was Julio’s breakthrough to the English language market and came from the album 1100 Bel Air Place.  Julio lived at this address near LA for awhile and when he moved out Quincy Jones moved in.  On Google maps 1100 Bel Air Place looks a vast place: acres of roof, grounds, a pool, tennis courts – all up a private, gated road.  Julio was already clearly a big star and a wealthy man when he broke America in 1984 thanks to his success in Spain and Europe.  His biography is as irritating as hell to read because aside from being easy on the eye, and a capable crooner, he was also a star footballer, a trained lawyer, and nobly overcame personal tragedy after a car crash.  1100 Bel Air Place also features another Julio classic, Moonlight Lady (“…sexy, sexy lady”).  Being 11 and without shame (I could still listen to Richard Clayderman in front of other people, and tap my foot without embarrassment) I remember liking Moonlight Lady, although I now wonder why the eponymous woman was, according to the lyrics, wearing satin and lace at the beach.  Presumably it was a warm night or she would have had very pointy nipples and goose bumps which isn’t that sexy.

As for all the girls I had loved by June of 1984 there were none.  Firstly, let me point out that I was 11.  Secondly, I went to a boys’ school.  Anyway, there was only one girl for me in 1984.


Just so we’re clear, we are focusing on the foreground of this photo not on the gastropod at rear.  Princess Leia’s metal bikini in Return of the Jedi touched a generation of straight men’s minds forever (or should that be genitals, either way you know what I mean).  The power of this image is why this Friends episode was so funny to its target market at the time it came out:


Being 11 I wasn’t sure exactly where the feelings that had been stirred in me led exactly, but presumably it was to a good place where we could ditch Jabba and do some heavy petting, because if there’s one thing a woman like Leia would find attractive it would be an 11 year old boy with brown plastic glasses and some bum fluff on his upper lip.  Not that I thought of myself this way in my personal fantasies; in my personal fantasies I was always Han Solo, or occasionally Chewbacca (although not, it has to be said, when I was imagining heavy petting with Leia).

Some will say the first three Star Wars movies had limited female characters, but I think we can all agree that Leia covered the full range of characters available to woman across that trilogy playing both the angel and the whore.  Perhaps it would have been pushing the barrow out too far, but whose to say Jabba was into female human dancers anyway, maybe we could have been given Han Solo in a g-string tastefully draped across the pedestal, or C3PO?  An opportunity wasted.

Looking at that image of Leia and Jabba now it’s hard not to see Jabba as a massive, flaccid statement on male sexuality.

Looking at that last sentence I think I need to go for a walk and punch myself in the face.

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I wrote a book called Kaitiaki o te Pō

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