A Song From Your Preteen Years

30-Day Song Challenge, Day 12: A Song From Your Preteen Years

As much as it pains some of my friends to admit this, country music is woven deeply into the DNA of rock and roll — when rock first emerged as a distinct genre in the early 1950s, it was essentially a fusion of rhythm and blues with country, along with a sprinkling of gospel — and that country gene has often expressed itself in the body of rock over the years. One such moment was the so-called “crossover” phenomenon of the early ’80s, when a number of country artists were regularly posting hits on the pop charts. The late Kenny Rogers was the king of the crossover period, but you can make a good case that Juice Newton (real name Judy) was the queen, at least for the brief two-year moment from 1981-82, during which she scored seven top-40 hits on the Billboard Hot 100. The video for the first of these hits, her cover of a 1968 tune called “Angel of the Morning,” was the first country-music clip to be played on MTV, on the very first day that the music network launched. (Juice herself was the third female solo artist to be played on MTV behind Pat Benatar and Carly Simon.)

Her next pop hit — and her biggest — was “Queen of Hearts,” released in June of 1981. I was eleven years old that summer. I’d be twelve by the time “Queen of Hearts” reached Billboard’s number-two spot in September, and I loved this song almost as much as “Jessie’s Girl,” which was out around the same time. Hearing it these days instantly conjures memories of riding my red Schwinn with the banana seat on a hot summer afternoon, the sky impossibly high overhead and shining like polished aluminum, and a little black AM/FM transistor radio dangling from the handlebars, expanding my universe one awesome tune at a time as I pedaled my way past the tired old brick buildings and hay fields that were my home town. All of those things, from the Schwinn to the fields, are gone now. But “Queen of Hearts” is still a cool song.

Kind of a silly video, though.

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One comment on “A Song From Your Preteen Years

  1. Melissa

    Chuck E’s In Love

    I remember being in the car and when this song came on my sister and I would sing it to tease my brother. We used to call him Chuckie. I have no idea why, his name is Mike. And this was years before the Child’s Play movies came out. Anyway, he hated it and as big sisters that is all we needed.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V-0dfuChZw8

    Bonus:
    Us and Them

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GKiLEgAzFDQ

    My sister (who is 3 years older than me) and I shared a room. She loved Pink Floyd and, for whatever reason, I was a little freaked out by them. Especially “Comfortably Numb” — I would cry whenever that song came on. But I liked this one.

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