In Defense of 80s Music

In Defense of 80s Music

Everyone’s got a guilty pleasure. Or two. At last count I had about 36 of them. But there’s only one that can turn my frown upside-down. 80s music.

A hard core Gen Xer, my love affair with 80s fare began in middle school. It was the pre-Walkman era, back when portable tape decks were about as big as an iPad. Boom boxes were en vogue, and I still remember a guy named Paul, blasting AC/DC from the back of the bus. “Back in Black” and REO Speedwagon’s “Keep On Lovin’ You” were de facto theme songs as our large yellow rocket cruised from street to street. My friends and I held an impromptu listening party for Duran Duran’s “Hungry Like the Wolf.” Segue into high school and I’m taken back every time I hear some old school Prince, when my friends decorated my locker for my birthday with that infamous poster of his Royal Badness rising out of the bathtub in a thong.

And then there’s college—where my some of my favorite memories are my dorm’s brother floor blasting “Welcome to the Jungle” out the windows, and dancing to Erasure, Yaz, INXS and Depeche Mode at the best dance bar ever, B’Zar. “Need You Tonight,” indeed. It was an innocent time—no cell phones to distract. No texting, no iPods. Music was a shared experience, and friendships bloomed and bonded over it.

Now? As a mom to two teens and a tween, a full-time job and a husband, life’s on fast-forward and the stress can be overwhelming at times. No, most of the time. Starting at 6 a.m. when I hit the highway and find traffic on the brakes. Already. At 6 damn a.m.! I reach for the radio, and music is always a calming influence. Still? It’s when an 80s tune comes on that the smile creeps across my face and I start singing out loud like a fool. And I’m taken back to my childhood, where there are no bills, no projects due, no homework to supervise, no dinner to make, no house to clean. For me, 80s music is my own little Wayback Machine, and I love where it takes me:

  • Def Leppard’s “Photograph?” I’m back at the camp talent show.
  • Phil Collins’ “Against All Odds?” I’m a freshman in high school pining over my first real boyfriend that just dumped me.
  • David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance?” My high school friend and I waiting for the bus to RKHS.
  • Janet Jackson’s “Nasty?” A trip to Cape Cod with a bestie. You know who you are, Miss Jackson.

80s music is my go-to guilty pleasure. My Calgon. An emotional salve that can make even the toughest day manageable. You can have your Artic Monkeys. Just don’t take away my Go Gos.

Books are pretty awesome, too. In fact, it’s usually what I write about. I even love books about 80s music. Want to know what I just read? Type your email address in the box and click the “create subscription” button. My list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time.

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