January 7, 1983: What About Me

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(Pictured: Stevie Wonder appears at an event promoting the Martin Luther King holiday with Gil Scott-Heron, Jesse Jackson, and Gladys Knight.)

January 7, 1983, was a Friday. The ongoing weakness of the US economy is all over the news. Retailers are disappointed with December sales figures, although analysts disagree about the likely impact of the slow holiday season. New forecasts indicate the economy may grow at a rate of only 1.4 percent this year, down from last fall’s forecast of 3.1 percent. The administration is considering spending freezes to offset record deficits, but ecomomists fear that even if the economy begins growing again, deficits will remain a persistent problem. Unemployment remains high; the administration hopes the unemployment rate, currently 10.8 percent, can be cut to nine percent by the end of 1984. Yesterday, President Reagan signed a bill increasing the federal gas tax for the first time in 23 years. A report issued today by the Centers for Disease Control reports evidence that AIDS can be transmitted between heterosexuals; new research involving infected prison inmates also indicates that it can be spread through exposure to blood or blood products.

Future pro golfer Natalie Gulbis and future major leaguer Edwin Encarnacion are born. Four games are played in the National Hockey League tonight. The Edmonton Oilers get a hat trick from Glenn Anderson and two goals from Wayne Gretzky to beat Pittsburgh 7-2. Eight games are played in the NBA. The Philadelphia 76ers run their league-best record to 26-and-5 with a 106-89 win over the Washington Bullets. It’s the sixth straight win for the Sixers, who are led by Andrew Toney with 28 points. Julius Erving adds 23 and Moses Malone scores 22. The NFL playoffs begin this weekend with a special 16-team format necessitated by the players’ strike that reduced the regular season to nine games. Four games will be played tomorrow and four more on Sunday. The two top-seeded teams in what’s been dubbed the Super Bowl Tournament are the Los Angeles Raiders and Washington Redskins. Other top teams playing include Miami, Cincinnati, Dallas, Green Bay, Pittsburgh, and Minnesota.

Popular options for weekend moviegoers include Tootsie, 48 Hours, and The Verdict. On TV tonight, CBS wins the ratings race with its Friday-night lineup of The Dukes of Hazzard, Dallas, and Falcon Crest. ABC’s lineup includes Benson, The New Odd Couple (which stars Ron Glass of Barney Miller as Felix and Demond Wilson of Sanford and Son as Oscar), and an ABC News Closeup special about the massacre of Palestinians and Lebanese in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in Lebanon last September. NBC presents a two-hour episode of Knight Rider followed by Remington Steele. Later, Johnny Carson welcomes Jack Lemmon and Tanya Tucker, and Andy Kaufman brings his parents to an appearance on Late Night With David Letterman.

Yesterday, Stevie Wonder appeared at a Capitol Hill press conference to discuss ongoing efforts to make Martin Luther King’s birthday a national holiday. Tonight, Aerosmith continues its “Right in the Nuts” tour at the Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum, and KISS plays Saginaw, Michigan. One of two competing editions of Badfinger, led by Tom Evans, plays Atlanta. (The other Badfinger is led by Evans’ former bandmate Joey Molland.) Ron Wood of the Rolling Stones plays and speaks at an educational event held at the Town Hall Theater in New York City.

At WLOL in Minneapolis, “You Can’t Hurry Love” by Phil Collins is the new #1 song, dropping “What About Me” by Moving Pictures to #3. “You Got Lucky” by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers is up to #2. “Baby Come to Me” by Patti Austin and James Ingram, “On the Loose” by Saga, and “Heart to Heart” by Kenny Loggins are new in the Top 10, replacing Men at Work’s “Down Under,” “Southern Cross” by Crosby Stills and Nash, and Toto’s “Africa.” Songs moving up outside the Top 10 include “Back on the Chain Gang” by the Pretenders, “Do You Really Want to Hurt Me” by Culture Club, “Beat It” by Michael Jackson, and “Hungry Like the Wolf” by Duran Duran.

Perspective From the Present: “What About Me,” which sounds as 80s as 80s can be, was an enormous hit in Australia during 1982, and would make #29 on the American Hot 100 in February 1983. The very same version would hit in America for a second time in 1989, peaking at #46. You don’t hear it on the radio anymore, but several other popular songs of the moment have never been off the air since.

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