“Don’t Talk To Strangers” by Rick Springfield (1982)

Have you folks checked out the Beyond Yacht Rock podcast? It’s awesome. Actually, before that, you might want to check out the Yacht Rock web series, and then jump over to the podcast. One of my favorite elements of the podcast is that there’s a recurring series of mini-sodes called “Yacht Or Nyacht”, in which the four people on the BYR panel try to decide whether a listener-submitted song is “yacht rock” or not…er, nyacht. I listened to a recent episode in which “Don’t Talk To Strangers” was featured. I think that they determined that it wasn’t yacht rock, which I’ll agree with. It rocks a little too hard. “Strangers” does, however, contain a smoothness that gave it a little more play on easy listening radio than its predecessors “Jessie’s Girl” and “I’ve Done Everything For You”. That smoothness is also one of the main reasons I like “Don’t Talk To Strangers” than most other Rick Springfield songs.

I distinctly remember hearing it for the first time on an episode of America’s Top 10. It was the summer of 1982. I was a couple of months away from discovering the full-length AT40 radio show, and I also wasn’t listening to pop radio yet. I was definitely familiar with Rick Springfield, thanks to the ubiquity of “Jessie’s Girl” (which got play even in the hood) and the fact that my “cousin” Sharon (she was a boarder who very likely wasn’t related to us at all), was infatuated with him. “Don’t Talk To Strangers” has so much ear candy. I thought it then (I fell in love with the song right away) and I think it now. I love the fact that the music stops right before jumping into the pre-chorus. I love the singing in French just before the final chorus. I love that Rick thinks his lady has left him for some “slick Continental dude”. The top 40 was kinda shitty and old and white in those months right before MTV and Thriller revitalized the format, and “Don’t Talk To Strangers” was a shining light in those dark days.

Also, I was six. “Don’t Talk To Strangers” (in a completely different context) had some resonance with me, yanno?

NOT QUITE FIVE STARS…

“Don’t Talk Dirty To Me” (Jermaine Stewart feat. Jody Watley, 1988): In which Jermaine revives the theme of “We Don’t Have To Take Our Clothes Off…” with an able assist from his BFF Jody Watley. Not only does he not want to have sex, he doesn’t even want a lady to talk dirty to him! I think we know why this is, though…

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