This list of songs is inspired by lists published by radio station KEXP-FM from Seattle in 2010, as well as the latest poll taken in 2021 by Rolling Stone Magazine. For the most part I will faithfully countdown from their lists, starting at Song #500 and going until I reach Song #1. When you see the song title listed as something like: Song #XXX (KEXP)….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. Song XXX (RS) means the song is coming from the Rolling Stone list. If I post the song title as being: Song #xxx (KTOM), it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In any case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, just so everyone is aware, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Here is the story behind today’s song. Enjoy.
KEXP: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.
Song #354: Dancing With Tears in my Eyes by Ultravox.
It wasn’t all that long ago……within my lifetime……that the world was threatened with extinction via nuclear war between the United States and Russia. All through my teen years and into my early twenties, much of the political talk out of the US revolved around things such as the Star Wars Nuclear Defence Plan. Being called a commie was the 80s version of being called a snowflake today, I suppose. The Arms Race was very real, with both countries stockpiling enough weapons to annihilate the planet several times over. There were even a few popular movies made (the kids movie War Games being one) in which the nuclear launch codes were activated and the bombs all took flight. It was a time of anxiety and tension; with the threat of imminent death always ticking away in the back of your mind.
Being young, I never really pondered too long nor hard on this issue. But I imagine that if I had been a family man then, as I am now, I might have worried more about how I would protect the lives of those I loved. In 1984, the British band “Ultravox”, lead by singer/songwriter Midge Ure, expertly captured the mood of the times with a song called “Dancing With Tears in My Eyes”. This song came from an album called Lament. In this song, a husband/father is driving home from work when he hears on the radio that the bombs have been launched and that the death of everyone is a certainty. The song then takes him through his final minutes/hours of life. If you only had a short time to live, how would you spend your time? “Dancing With Tears in my Eyes” gives a version of that which I think would be the choice of many. The video is very good at paring this man’s world down to its essential components in those final minutes. Singer Midge Ure has a rich timbre quality to his voice and does a terrific job of conveying the love and the resignation that fills the man as he makes his way home to his family as nuclear destruction dawns.
In the 1980s, Midge Ure was one of the most influential musicians in the UK. Originally, Ure was a member of a band called “Visage” which had a hit or two in the late 1970s. He left that group and helped launch “Ultravox” which ended up being one of the biggest New Wave/Alternative bands at the time with a string of hits such as “The Voice”, “Vienna”, “Reap the Wild Wind”, “Lament” and “One Small Day”. Because of his position at the forefront of UK popular music, Midge Ure was one of the people tasked with helping write, produce and organize the singing of the charity Christmas song “Do They Know Its Christmas?” for the collective supergroup Bandaid. He was also was instrumental in getting the Live Aid Festival organized and off the ground.
Even though, Midge Ure and “Ultravox” have stopped releasing new hits, he still tours today and is quite in demand when it comes to giving greatest hits-type concerts for those fans for whom “Ultravox” touched their hearts and minds. If you knew that the world was coming to an end in a hour or so and there was nothing you could do to stop it, how would you spend that time? Let’s see if you would do what happened in the video “Dancing With Tears in my Eyes”? Let me know in the comments below. Here is “Ultravox” with one of their greatest and most thought-provoking hits. Enjoy.
The link to the official website for Ultravox can be found here.
Thanks to KEXP for helping to inspire the writing of this post. A link to their website can be found here.
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