Towards the very end of the 80’s, the Soviet television started incorporating little bits of Western culture into its late-night programming. Among the teenage crowd, Saturday night MTV hit-parade quickly became a must-see event. I’m pretty sure that the charts were European, rather than American, but the difference mattered little to the generation that grew up mostly on an “underground” access to the Western acts.
Among the songs that occupied top spots in that hit-parade was I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight. UB40 was not at all known in the USSR before then, but it became somewhat popular in quick order.
One day, in a hallway of our university building, my friends and I held a discourse on popular music styles. Someone asked, “What style do you think UB40 is?”
My answer was immediate and categorical.
Because of my reputation as a well-rounded and knowledgeable person, there was no assertive counter-argument. One of my closest friends noncommittally suggested, “Maybe a touch of ‘new wave’?”
“A touch”, magnanimously agreed I.
In the years following my emigration to the States, I went through a period of listening to Garth Brooks, and learned what country music was like. Then I learned that this particular song had been authored by Bob Dylan and listened to his own original rendition of the song (you can try it here), which is a fairly typical country. My aforementioned silly verdict related to UB40’s body of work that was larger than one single song, of course, but if it was influenced by knowledge that I was yet to acquire in the then-future, we are talking about something supernatural here.
Nah!! I had no clue, is all.