Top Rod Stewart Songs From the 80's
Rod Stewart has proved time and time again over the last 5 decades that he is 100% rock star!
In the 80s, he reinvented himself after punk rock had seemingly brushed him off as a has been an 'old fart' (a direct quote) and came back stronger than ever.
His early 80s foray into 'disco' music (a punk backlash?) was shortlived and saw him re-emerge as a musical force to be reckoned with; not only were his 80s songs some of his top sellers but his 80s live tours remain some of the best gigs ever seen.
I hope you enjoy this glimpse at what it takes to be a rock legend.
Young Turks - 1981 (from the Tonight I'm Yours album)
I remember first seeing Rod Stewart singing 'Young Turks' in the official video on Top of the Pops. I was at my local youth club and it stopped me in my tracks.
The song is often called 'Young Hearts' because of those words being repeated in the chorus but Young Turks it was and it had a strong beat and a distinctly urban dance oriented video.
1981 was the year MTV launched and Rod Stewart was probably cajoled into making a video which was a cinematic spectacle and was firmly aimed at young viewers.
It worked - its video featuring a West Side Story style dancing in the streets plot was colourful and energetic with Rod Stewart not appearing until the chorus, cool and colourful as ever on a rooftop.
Rod Stewart wrote the lyrics for this song and it remains one of his most popular live songs.
Baby Jane - 1983 (from the Body Wishes album)
Baby Jane would have to feature in my choices for Top Rod Stewart 80s songs songs because it was like Rod Stewart was on the comeback trail at last.
Don't get me wrong, Rod had never really gone away and had enjoyed successful tours in the early 80s but Baby Jane went to #1 in the UK and Rod Stewart had not had a number one for 3 years.
Baby Jane was another song on which Rod was a co-writer and still enjoys lots of radio play today.
It is great to watch this video and see Rod Stewart in his full primary colour gaudy splendour in the chorus - Rod never did care what people thought of his clothes! Just as well I think.
Downtown Train - 1989 (from the Vagabond Heart album)
Even Rod Stewart knows a great song when he hears one, even if it is being sung by its writer, Tom Waits in his usual bluesy caterwaul.
Of all of Rod Stewart's top 80s songs, this is a personal favourite of mine because I have a soft spot for Tom Waits lyrics. How about the lyrics from the second verse :-
You wave your hand and they scatter like crows
They have nothing that'll ever capture your heart
They're just thorns without the rose
Be careful of them in the dark.
Rod really gave this his best effort, a ballad that is as sad as the blues can make it and his gorgeous, husky voice is just perfect for it. I am sure Tom Waits would feel he had done him proud.
Every Beat of My Heart - 1986 (from the Every Beat of My Heart album)
Rod Stewart wrote the lyrics of this single though there was a song of the same name written in the early 60s sung by Gladys Knight and The Pips.
Rod Stewart is a master of ballads. Give Rod a good ballad to sing and he'll bring tears to your eyes.
The lyrics of Every Beat of My Heart are a wee bit unusual though. Rod Stewart describes himself as a 'jacobite'; Jacobites were a political force in the seventeenth century and mainly of Scottish descent - this is a clear reference to where his own heart lies I think.
It seems to be a song of longing for his home and family and maybe Rod Stewart was missing Britain having by that time been as U.S. resident for over a decade. Who knows - I love the lyrics anyway and I think this is one of Rod's best ever vocal performances.
Forever Young - 1988 (from the Out of Order album)
"May the good Lord be with you,
Down every road you roam,
And may sunshine and happiness,
Surround you when you're far from home"
Rod Stewart's opening lyric of Forever Young are a keen reminder of his ability to write a good lyric. Rod does not seem to ever acknowledge his talents at writing good songs.
In interviews he tends to concentrate on his great, abiding love of great songwriters like Sam Cooke and Bon Dylan but he should maybe read some of his own lyrics every once in a while and say to himself "Yup, I did good there!"
I think the lyrics for Forever Young compare with anything hymnal that's been written in the folk music world over the last few decades and it only surprises me that more people do not attempt a cover of Forever Young, surely one of Rod Stewart's lyrical jewels!
Rod Stewart's 1980s Adventure
Rod Stewart turned his back on living in England in 1974 because the tax laws were crippling anyone making any decent money.
He moved to the west coast of the USA and started making music, by and large, with American musicians.
His top songs of the 80s were those that allowed him to spread his creative wings and have a lot of 'say' over his own song choices.
He was no longer a member of The Faces or having to please anyone else but himself and his solo work from the 70s and 80s is pretty good and has stood the test of time.
His music in the 1990s does not stand up next to the top 80s songs. Rod Stewart had lost that edge and it was not until his Unplugged and Unseated gig on MTV with Ronnie Wood that we saw him back at his best - at home with his old favourites and his continued devotion to R&B, Motown and early 60s folk music. The rest of the decade though was experimental for Rod and not as successful as the 80s songs.
The top Rod Stewart songs of the 80s are very much 'of their time' - synth inspired pop with great lyrics and colourful, cinematic videos. Rod Stewart was also a master of the live gig during the 80s, a showman and a dandy.
What does Rod Stewart have in store for the next ten years? Watch this space!
Many thanks for reading.
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