My song today is ‘Dancing in the Dark’. This song was written and performed by American rock singer Bruce Springsteen. Adding up-tempo synthesizer riffs to his sound for the first time, the song spent four weeks at Number 2 on the ‘Billboard Hot 100’ and sold over one million singles in the U.S. It was the first single released from his 1984 album ‘Born in the U.S.A.’ it became his biggest hit and helped to propel the album to become the best-selling album of his career.
Springsteen wrote ‘Dancing in the Dark’ overnight after Jon Landau convinced him that the album needed a single. According to journalist Dave Marsh in the book ‘Glory Days’, Springsteen was not impressed with Landau's approach. "Look", he snarled, "I've written seventy songs. You want another one, you write it." Despite this reaction, Springsteen sat in his hotel room and wrote the song in a single night. It sums up his state of mind, his feeling of isolation after the success of his album ‘The River’, and his frustrations of trying to write a hit single. Six takes of ‘Dancing in the Dark’ were recorded on February 14, 1984, at ‘The Hit Factory’, and after 58 mixes work was completed on March 8, 1984.
The 12-inch single was released May 9, 1984, and was the highest-selling 12-inch single in the US that year.
In the UK, ‘Dancing in the Dark’ originally reached Number 28 in the ‘UK Singles Chart’ when released in May 1984. However, the song re-entered the chart in January 1985 and subsequently reached Number 4, becoming the 29th best-selling single of the year. The recording also won Springsteen his first ‘Grammy Award’ picking up the prize for ‘Best Rock Vocal Performance’ in 1985. In the 1984 ‘Rolling Stone’ reader’s poll, ‘Dancing in the Dark’ was voted ‘Single of the Year’. The track has since gone on to earn further recognition and is as such listed one of ‘The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll’.
I have only recently become acquainted with this song, but in truth, I find the beat infectious and its message illuminating.
There are so many healthy and able-bodied people in this world who feel sorry for themselves and have no get-up-and-go in them. In the words of a friend, ‘they need a good kick up the butt’ to get them out of the rut they’re in, to climb out of the ditch they’ve dug for themselves and escape the depressive cycle of life they’ve established and which is dragging them down.
There are so many of us who do not appreciate the immense wealth potential pleasure that surrounds them in the many forms we take for granted. They are ‘able-bodied’ but not ‘able-minded’ people. They have a job, they occupy their own accommodation and possess a family whom they could visit if they wanted to, and they have friends and neighbours close by whenever then needed company. If they were so inclined, they are fit enough to walk five miles in the fresh air of the countryside without needing to draw second breath. They could dig their gardens with gusto or climb a hillside to look down leisurely at the valley and moorlands below. Yet they don’t do any of these things because they see little value, beauty or pleasure in their pursuit.
Oh, what I wouldn’t give to be able to walk a country lane with ease again, stroll across the rough and wild moorland of Haworth without stumbling, or even run through a wheat field with childhood abandonment, as Teresa May as she is said to have done in her wicked days of youthfulness. Oh, what I wouldn’t give to be able to mix sociably in a crowd of people again and have a good long chat without fear of catching a cold today that could be the pneumatic death of me tomorrow? How I would love to attend a family gathering unmasked without the risk of catching any infection which might kill me off because of my absence of any effective immune system?
Ironically, I have always loved children, lived half of my life for children. Yet, today, they are the most dangerous type of person to have in my presence. It is a part of nature’s design that young children should build up and strengthen their immune systems by catching colds, bugs and other infections, and it is in the nature of my terminal blood cancer (that robs me of my immune system) that catching colds, bugs and infections does the very opposite to me, and could kill me off!
I would love to be able to stay close to children and involve myself with them but alas I cannot. Therefore, family gatherings, which I have always thoroughly enjoyed, are now ‘off-limit’ to me unless I wear a face mask or stay away from all children there. Even kissing, shaking hands or being able to share the same air space with my siblings and their children is too deadly a practice for me to engage in for too long. Hence my masked attendance at such family events is usually for half an hour maximum.
How nice it would be to have one half-hour daily, weekly, monthly or yearly to have no arthritic pain in either my hands or feet that didn’t make me thrash about in bed like a lamented lunatic on steroids or feel like cursing and screaming like an Irish banshee? ( a banshee is a female spirit in Irish mythology who heralds the death of a family member, usually by wailing, shrieking, or screaming).
I dedicate my song today to my nephew Carl whose birthday it is today. Carl is a man of happy disposition and positive attitude, even though he has been unable to walk now for many years. Like myself, he also incurred a horrific traffic accident, but unlike me, whereas I was able to regain my mobility after three years, Carl will never walk again. Yet he exhibits a degree of independence and autonomy that puts many people to shame. And as far as creative ability goes, he makes his body do things that most able-bodied people couldn’t do! Neither I, nor his parents or indeed himself would tell you that life has been a garden of roses for him since his bad accident, but all of us would testify to the simple fact that Carl's inability to walk will never be allowed to define him!
When Carl wants to smell a flower he will gladly pick it for himself. When he wants to go out somewhere specific, he will wheel himself to his own car and drive himself there and back personally. He will not ask or expect any other person to do that for him which he can do himself. He is a good man and is probably my favourite nephew (but for God’s sake, Carl, please don’t tell the others).
Have a nice birthday, Carl and have a drink for me also. Love Uncle Billy and Sheila xx
Love and peace Bill xxx