Karen’s 45 pick: ‘Turning Japanese’ by The Vapors (1980)

“Turning Japanese” by The Vapors

Karen says:

“My fav vintage single from the early 80’s was ‘Turning Japanese’ by The Vapors. What a fantastic old-timey band name for the 80’s!

I listened to it on 45 non-stop when I was 13-ish. You know….on our record player. I sang it loud and proud, having no idea at the time 1) it was about masturbation and 2) how unbelievably racist it was.

While I do cringe at the video these days, I try to enjoy the song itself guilt-free, like you would enjoy Mark Twain. You enjoy it while recognizing it is a product of its time, and reveling in how far we’ve come. Mostly. OK, we’re still racist shits, but we’re not usually quite this bad.

But I really can’t get past that video.

Also, these lyrics were like poetry, weren’t they?

No sex, no drugs, no wine, no women
No fun, no sin, no you, no wonder it’s dark.
Everyone around me is a total stranger.
Everyone avoids me like a cyclone ranger. Everyone.

Even when I was 13, I was like…cyclone ranger? Really? Do you really avoid them? Like if you avoid them, cyclones…won’t come? It just makes no sense. If that was the only thing you could rhyme with stranger, maybe you should have rethought the bridge.

I’m so surprised I didn’t pick something Duran. Weird.”

Vapors Turning japanese

Wondering what this is all about?

In September 2015, I asked readers of my inbox zine, Rusty’s Electric Dreams, to share their all-time favorite single from the 1960s, 1970s, or 1980s and tell me why they like it.

Years ago, a friend of mine had a “33 1/3” birthday party where she spun vinyl LPs. I thought that was a cool idea and imagined doing that for my 45th, but with everyone sharing their favorite 45 RPM singles.

So, here we are. It’s September 2015 and my birthday quickly approaches.

Instead of having a big bash, I have a SPECIAL REQUEST to ask of all of you. I want to take a musical trip down memory lane, because –seriously– where would we be without music??

Subscribe to my inbox zine here: http://www.electricdreaming.com