Oh, you thought we were done with 30 Years of Music last week, did you? Why, no! Of course we need a bonus round. Because I started this column near the end of 2012, 30 years from that point would be 1982, so it’s only fitting to bring myself back for one more retro round. We’ve got a wealth of not-so-recent musical riches, so let’s get to it.
“I Know What Boys Like” – The Waitresses
This song is a bit funny the way it taunts men who presume that women want them:
I got my cat moves that so upset them
zippers and buttons
want to frustrate them
They get so angry, like pouty children
denied their candy
I laugh right at them
The video makes me realize that the clothing they’re wearing has come back in popularity again. Maybe not the full on bagginess of the bass player’s outfit, but I’m fairly certain I’ve seen dresses when I was in Target today that look like the singer’s.
This would make a great karaoke song, were a venue to have it.
“Town Called Malice” – The Jam
Oh my Godtopus, I love this song so much. The bassline, the tambourine and snaps, that rattling drum beat, and THE MODFATHER. Paul Weller is a living legend, and I might temporarily die of happiness were I able to see him play live.
To not sing and dance along to “Town Called Malice” is damn near impossible. I’m sitting in a coffee shop with headphones on, and it’s very hard to keep myself only tapping my toes. Even my children, who are normally indifferent to whatever music I have on, love this song.
“Should I Stay or Should I Go” – The Clash
Here’s another song that almost requires singing and dancing. I mean, what can I say about this song? You know how great it is, and if you don’t think it’s great “¦ Well, to each their own, but please note the major side-eye the rest of us are giving you.
“Always on My Mind” – Willie Nelson
This song is brilliant, no matter if it’s Elvis, Pet Shop Boys, or Brenda Lee. And here we have Willie Nelson’s 1982 version from his album of the same name. Is this one of the best apology songs of all time? Perhaps.
“More Than This” – Roxy Music
I am still slightly obsessed with this song. I already mentioned it in Alphabet Soup, so allow me to quote myself because all the same sentiments stand:
When I was younger, I went through a stage of disliking any music that sounded too ’80s. Just a whiff of synthesizer was all it took to make me roll my eyes. Luckily, I came to realize that every decade has shit tunes and great tunes, and no time is all that better or worse comparatively. Besides, how could I live a life without “More Than This?”
My obsession with this song started one November a couple years ago when I was working on a new (what will hopefully be a) novel. Headphones on, I had a selection of music set to shuffle and was lingering over a scene when “More Than This” came on.
Like a dream in the night
who can say where we’re going
And suddenly, I realized where I really wanted to take the story. A romantic relationship between two male characters provided the necessary stakes to my plot. I knew why one man would continue to involve himself professionally with the other, even when things start to go very wrong. I hesitate to give any specifics because it’s still in the very first draft stage, and saying plot points aloud at this time almost guarantees what won’t make it into the book later.
Still, “More Than This” helped me figure it out. I’m thrilled when a song provides an “A-ha!” moment. It is my very favorite thing when two of my loves overlap, so a music-writing connection is rather vital to my existence.
More than this ““ there is nothing
More than this ““ tell me one thing
More than this – there is nothing
I can’t quite make up my mind if this song is meant to be positive or negative, and I wonder if Bryan Ferry didn’t quite know either while writing it. What I lean towards is the feeling that, “This feels good now, and maybe it will even be great, but admitting that makes me nervous.”
It’s a shame that this video is so terrible, but one cannot have it all.
“Gypsy” – Fleetwood Mac
Mirage is a really underrated Fleetwood Mac album. Stevie, Lindsey and Christine all offered great tunes, and I’ve previously mentioned my appreciation for “That’s Alright” in Alphabet Soup. I love singing along to “Gypsy,” as Stevie’s voice is right in my range.
This video is yet another example of how much Stevie and Lindsey like to mine their complicated relationship for creative material, which, fair play to them. That relationship has produced a lot of great songs.
Once, I heard a bootlegged rehearsal version of this song that had Christine McVie singing because Stevie wasn’t there. I love Christine, but she didn’t quite do it justice.
“The Safety Dance” – Men Without Hats
I am mainly including this song so I can tell this story: When I was between my junior and senior year of high school, I was part of the publications staff that went to San Diego in order to attend a yearbook camp. Yes, my one and only summer camp in my life was yearbook camp. Good lord, it’s so delightfully nerdy, and apart from that being the summer where I had to quit eating dairy (which made traveling and eating more complicated), I had a lot of fun. Copy editors reprezent, maaaaan.
For whatever reason, this song became an ear worm with all of us. I think it was in an ’80s compilation commercial at the time, which is what made stick in our mind. Someone was constantly singing it, and it became conversational punctuation:
Student 1: “Hey do you know where I put my pen?”
Student 2: “No “¦ but you know what?”
Student 1: “What?”
Student 2: “YOU CAN DANCE IF YOU WANT TO…”
We were already considered weird by the other students because we were from Montana – which some people seem to find as remote as Russia or Neptune – so our singing was another way to just run with the “Strange Montana Kids” label because…
IF YOUR FRIENDS DON’T DANCE, THEN THEY’RE NO FRIENDS OF MINE!
“Talk Talk” – Talk Talk
What a gem that I discovered too late in my life! The synths! The drums!
If every sign that I see is complete
Then I’m a fool in your game
And all you want to do is tell me your lies
Won’t you show the other side, you’re just wasting my time
It’s a fantastic song about calling out another person on their romantic bullshit, and I don’t think people who primarily grew up in the ’90s appreciate Talk Talk as band as much as they could.
“Johnny 99” – Bruce Springsteen
In my first 30 Years of Music column, I mentioned Johnny Cash’s cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “Johnny 99,” so since this is the last in my series, it seems only appropriate to include the song again. Nebraska is of course one of the best Springsteen albums, and this song is compelling and dark and outstanding.
“1999” – Prince
The original version of that ubiquitous song! I imagine that 1999 seemed so very far away in 1982, and here we are now, 14 years past it.
Unfortunately, Prince is a bit of a jerk when it comes to YouTube videos, and the only thing I can give you is this 8 second clip of the song. -shakes fist-
Prince, why you gotta be like that?
Oh, because you can? Ugh. Fine. FINE.
“Don’t Change” – INXS
This is my All-Time Favorite INXS song, and because of that, I talked about it in Alphabet Soup: The Letter D.
Resolution of happiness
Things have been dark for too long
Don’t change for you
Don’t change a thing for me
Once again, I have to say it: Oh, Michael Hutchence. So hot, yet so dead.
“Sexual Healing” – Marvin Gaye
This song comes from Marvin Gaye’s last album released before his death, and ain’t it a stunner? Come on, you don’t need me to tell you why it’s great. Let’s just sit awash in its sexybusiness and give it our respect. G’wan, Marvin. Sing it.
And that’s all, ladies, poodles, and gents! Next week I’ll be back with a brand new music column called Record Machine. Until then, do peruse Wikipedia’s roundup of albums released in 1982 and tell me your favorites. Let us appreciate this outstanding year together.