Replacements – The Ledge

This song was one of the most pivotal songs in their career. MTV’s refusal to play it hurt the chances of the album Please To Meet Me… which The Replacements released in 1987. The album was critically praised as were most of their other albums. With no MTV or radio support, the single didn’t go anywhere.

This song had radio potential and their record company Sire was gearing up a campaign but the song is about suicide and MTV would not touch it. A month before the album was released, the Bergenfield Suicide Pact (4 New Jersey teens took part in a suicide pact) happened. It understandably got a lot of press. Paul Westerberg was not happy with the decision. “MTV feels the lyrics are detrimental to the youth of America,” said Westerberg  “But for them to play Mötley Crüe and not play our video … if it had a bunch of sexist bullshit, they would’ve played it. But if it’s something deeper, if it’s emotions, it’s taboo.”        

The song hinted at Paul Westerberg’s own teenage overdose attempt and the suicide of his high school friend John Zika. Sitting home in the fall of 1986, he wrote The Ledge in forty-five minutes, from the perspective of a jumper looking down at a gathering crowd below.

It was recorded in Memphis with Jim Dickinson producing. The band worked as a trio as Bob Stinson was let go by this time. After the album was finished they would get Bob “Slim” Dunlap on lead guitar.

Paul Westerberg:  It’s written not necessarily out of personal experience because I’m still here. It’s an observation. And if anyone wants to read anything into it other than that, then that’s their problem. And the lyrics, they just came. I didn’t have to sit, I didn’t have to think. It was just wham wham wham, I turned on the little tape recorder, I had it on an ironing board. And it was partially out of the way I had felt at certain times in my life. I figure if you’re gonna kill yourself, you kill yourself, but I had tried to commit suicide once I think when I was younger and I can still feel how I felt then. I mean not like now that I’m totally a-ok and the happiest guy in the world, I’m doing fine, but I can feel for people that feel totally lost and have no one to turn to. So it was written sort of half of my own experience and half of maybe me trying to feel how it is to be up there on the ledge. And it’s not written in any way to condone that kind of stuff. Obviously it’s bullshit, it’s wrong, but to someone who does it…

The Ledge

All eyes look up to me
High above the filthy streets
Heed no bullhorn when it calls
Watch me fly and die, watch me fall

I’m the boy they can’t ignore,
For the first time in my life, I’m sure
All the love sent up high to pledge
Won’t reach the ledge

Wind blows cold from the west
I smell coffee, I smell doughnuts for the press (on their breath?)
A girl that I knew once years ago
Is tryin’ to be reached on the phone

I’m the boy she can’t ignore,
For the first time in my life, I’m sure
All the love sent up high to pledge…

(Repeat)

Priest kneels silent, all is still
Policeman reaches from the sill
Watch him, watch him try his best
There’ll be no medal pinned to his chest

I’m the boy they couldn’t ignore,
For the first time in my life, I’m sure

(Repeat)

I’m the boy for the last time in my life

All the love that they pledge
For the last time will not reach the ledge…

Billy Squier – Christmas Is The Time To Say I Love You

If there ever was ever a year I was looking forward to Christmas…this is the one…This Christmas song that doesn’t get played a bunch here. I’ve always liked it since is was released. It was written by Billy Squier and was the B side to the single “My Kinda Lover.”

In 1981 MTV made it’s debut and Billy Squier’s career was going strong with the 1981 release of the Don’t Say No album. MTV at the beginning had a more family atmosphere. The crowd in this sing-a-long included technicians, the secretaries, the executives, the production assistants.

The video was filmed at the Teletronics MTV studio.

 VJ Nina Blackwood: “It was taped at our original Teletronics Studio on West 33rd Street and featured our original studio crew, who we all loved and were very close to, along with all the people from the MTV offices,” “Everybody traipsed down to the studio from 44th Street & 6th Ave for the taping. Billy Squier’s career was on fire at this time, and since he lived in NYC, he was a frequent guest at the studio, so it was appropriate that he was chosen for the video.”

“Pretty much what you see on camera is an accurate representation of the celebratory and fun feeling that was happening,” Blackwood said. “It was like one big happy family, which sums up the entire vibe of the early days of MTV. One of a kind experience. When I watch all of these early MTV Christmas videos, the overwhelming sensation I come away with is that of joyous love.”

Christmas Is The Time To Say I Love You

Christmas is the time to say “I love you”
Share the joys of laughter and good cheer
Christmas is the time to say “I love you”
And a feeling that will last all through the year

On the corner carolers are singing
There’s a touch of magic in the air
From grownup to minor no one could be finer
Times are hard but no one seems to care
Christmas Eve and all the world is watching
Santa guides his reindeer through the dark
From rooftop to chimney, from Harlem to Bimini
They will find a way into your heart

Christmas is the time to say “I love you”
Share the joys of laughter and good cheer
Christmas is the time to say “I love you”
And a feeling that will last all through the year

Just outside the window snow is falling
But here beside the fire we share the glow
Of moonlight and brandy, sweet talk and candy
Sentiments that everyone should know
Memories of the year that lays behind us
Wishes for the year that’s yet to come
And it stands to reason that good friends in season
Make you feel that life has just begun

Christmas is the time to say “I love you”
Share the joys of laughter and good cheer
Christmas is the time to say “I love you”
And a feeling that will last all through the year

So when spirits grow lighter
And hopes are shinin’ brighter
Then you know that Christmas time is here

Madness – Our House

At the start of MTV my small town I lived in had yet to get cable…but it wouldn’t take too long. At that time I had to travel to relatives in Nashville before I got a chance to see it. I would spend the weekend and we would watch MTV for hours at a time. Binge watching before binge watching was a saying. We would wake up the next day bleary eyed and turn on more MTV.

I did find some music I never heard before. This band and song caught my attention. The song was released in 1982. It peaked at #7 in the Billboard 100, #1 in Canada, and #5 in the UK.

The song was on the The Rise & Fall album. They were different…they have been described as a British ska and pop band.

This was Madness only top 10 hit in the US. Much of the song’s success in America was helped out by the clever music video that was in heavy rotation early days of MTV.

The producers were Clive Langer and Alan Winstanley

Alan Winstanley:  “At the time of doing Madness we were kind of flying along together,” adds Langer. “Alan’s very precise and very particular, and I’m more slapdash and in a hurry and probably tend to like rougher-sounding records. That’s a generalization, because in the end we do like the same records, but sometimes the whole process with Alan can be laborious for me. He normally does the vocal comps whereas I’ll do a lot more work in the rehearsal room on the arrangements, deciding what instruments should play what where, how long the chorus should be and things like that. Still, we’ve got on fine considering how long we’ve worked together.”

Graham “Suggs” McPherson lead singer : “This was the first time we worked with the string arranger David Bedford. It was clear to him what our records needed and he did great things for us. It’s strange now to think we were so philosophical about such everyday things.”

From Songfacts

This won the Best Song award at the 1983 Ivor Novello Awards.

This was played in a 2007 TV commercial shown in the UK for Bird’s Eye Fish Fingers, which featured Suggs. In the advert the Madness frontman is sitting with a family at tea time. The daughter is studying for her school exams and asks Suggs where Omega 3 can be found. He offers the answer of Birds Eye Fish Fingers.

The song’s video featured the band as a cloth-cap wearing family squashed into a terraced house. Drummer Dan “Woody” Woodgate recalled to Q Magazine August 2008: “The knocking-on-the-door bit where somebody comes out, goes, ‘Where are they?’ and the others sneak in and close the door… That’s The Flintstones. We stole lots of ideas from the Keystone Kops and Benny Hill.”

Our House

Father wears his Sunday best
Mother’s tired, she needs a rest
The kids are playing up downstairs
Sister’s sighing in her sleep (ah)
Brother’s got a date to keep, he can’t hang around

Our house, in the middle of our street
Our house, in the middle of our

Our house, it has a crowd
There’s always something happening
And it’s usually quite loud
Our mum she’s so house-proud
Nothing ever slows her down and a mess is not allowed

Our house, in the middle of our street
Our house, in the middle of our
Our house, in the middle of our street
Our house, in the middle of our (something tells you that you’ve got to move away from it)

Father gets up late for work
Mother has to iron his shirt
Then she sends the kids to school
Sees them off with a small kiss (ah)
She’s the one they’re going to miss in lots of ways

Our house, in the middle of our street
Our house, in the middle of our

I remember way back then when everything was true and when
We would have such a very good time, such a fine time
Such a happy time
And I remember how we’d play, simply waste the day away
Then we’d say nothing would come between us
Two dreamers

Father wears his Sunday best
Mother’s tired, she needs a rest
The kids are playing up downstairs
Sister’s sighing in her sleep
Brother’s got a date to keep, he can’t hang around

Our house, in the middle of our street
Our house, in the middle of our street
Our house, in the middle of our street
Our house, in the middle of our

Our house, was our castle and our keep
Our house, in the middle of our street
Our house, that was where we used to sleep
Our house, in the middle of our street
Our house, in the middle of our street, our house