Monday, January 6, 2020

Musical Monday - Chariots of Fire by Vangelis


#1 on the Billboard Hot 100: The Week of May 8, 1982.
#1 on the Cash Box Top 100: May 1, 1982 through May 8, 1982.
#1 on the U.K. Chart: Never.

Chariots of Fire was a formative piece of music for me, in large part because it was associated with a formative movie for me. I always knew I wanted to be a runner. It was the only sport I was ever really good at. I was an okay soccer player, and a pretty good ultimate Frisbee player, but my aptitude for those sports was the direct result of my affinity for running. Simply put, I would wear down my opponents by remaining in constant motion throughout games. With cross-country and track and field, I simply cut out the part where you chased a ball or a Frisbee.

The movie, a very loose retelling of the story of runners Harold Abrams and Eric Liddell and their pursuit of athletic glory in the 1924 Summer Olympics, was exactly what I needed to inspire me. It didn't matter that they were sprinters and I was a distance runner. It didn't matter that they were aristocratic British college students from the 1920s and I was an American teenager in the 1980s. It didn't even matter that the movie mangled the actual history in a myriad of odd ways, both great and small. The story in the movie spoke to me in a way that no movie about athletics had before. I could (and probably should) write an extended piece about the movie, but this post is supposed to be about the song, so I won't do that here.

That said, it is impossible for me to think of the music associated with the movie without thinking of the movie as well. To me, this song is what running sounds like. I can't hear the soundtrack to Chariots of Fire without seeing images in my head of barefoot runners on a beach. Or images of men on a cinder track getting up after falling on the infield to come back and win their race. Or images of a man running while holding a crumpled up piece of paper bearing a Bible verse in his hand. Or a man running with an anger and intensity in his eyes that simply will not accept defeat. The fact that many of the events in the movie are simply fabricated is of no consequence. This song is running.

Previous Musical Monday: Ebony and Ivory by Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder
Subsequent Musical Monday: A Little Peace by Nicole

Previous #1 on the Billboard Hot 100: I Love Rock 'n Roll by Joan Jett and the Blackhearts
Subsequent #1 on the Billboard Hot 100: Ebony and Ivory by Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder

Previous #1 on the Cash Box Top 100: That Girl by Stevie Wonder
Subsequent #1 on the Cash Box Top 100: Ebony and Ivory by Paul McCartney and Stevie Wonder

List of #1 Singles from the Billboard Hot 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles from the Cash Box Top 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles on the U.K. Chart for 1980-1989

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