Thursday, March 15, 2012

Let's talk Music

I just wrote a rant for my TGForum Column, so I'm a little drained.  Figured I'd write about something a little lighter.

Everyone has passions.  Music is one of mine.  Specifically 80's music.  Why would i like that kind of music that's (for the most part) all style and no substance?  Good question.

Do I look like I have a clue?

If you listen to the music of the 1940s, specifically during the war, you'll hear slower music.  Soothing.  I've read and heard several veterans say that the reason people liked soothing music was because the War was exciting enough and they wanted something to calm them.  Makes sense.

The 1950s gave us Rock and Roll.  White musicians co-opted black music and it was a sensation.  Make no mistake; Rock and roll was about two things- Rebellion and Sex.  And during the conservative 1950s, people needed both!

The 1960s began with a corporate "take over" of rock and it became the era of Pat Boone and other soothing and safe teen idols.  After all, Elvis was now in the Army so things could be changed.  That wouldn't last, as there were these guys from Liverpool ready to change it all.  And they did.  War in Southeast Asia and a draft led to unrest among the new generation.  The Beatles changed the entire popular culture:  Music, clothes, attitude.  And they weren't alone.  Bob Dylan, Hendrix, The Rolling Stones, the Who, the Grateful Dead...

The 1970s brought, guess what?  More soothing corporate rock with the ascendency of the "Singer/Songwriter."  James Taylor, Carly Simon, Seals and Crofts.  By the middle of the decade, dance music came to the fore, as a movement named Disco.  The Bee Gees led this particular genre.

As a reaction to the soft rock of the 70s, a movement began in Detroit, New York and London.  Kids with little musical knowledge but plenty of attitude brought us Punk.  MC5, Ramones, Sex pistols, the Clash...

Punk combined with pop as the decade closed and the New Wave was born.  And that brings us to the 1980s.  Elvis Costello, the Police, Missing Persons...

I was 13 in 1980 and I knew nothing of pop music.  In 1981,  two things happened to change that.  MTV debuted and I was watching.  Also a show called "Rock Over London" debuted on the hot local radio station.  My ears were treated to new sounds like Haircut 100, Joe Jackson, and so many more. 

A movement in the New Wave was more about clothes and image and they were very video friendly.  These are who most people think of when they think 80s music.  Neon colors and bright whites.  Duran Duran, Adam and the Ants, Spandau Ballet, Wham...

It also helped that I grew up near Philly and that the city had a vibrant music scene.  The Hooters, John Eddie and the Front St Runners, Robert Hazard and the Heroes, the A's...

By mid-decade, the pendulum swung back a bit and corporations took back control, and the radios started featuring "Classic rock."  Once again, it was all the Beatles, Stones,Who and groups of the 60s.  MTV even sponsored a revival of the tv show "The Monkees."  But also, the rise of Rap as a popular form.  Public Enemy and Ice T told everyone the news of the inner city streets.

In 1985, I got a job with Wee Three Records.  There I learned even more about music.  I was introduced to Sinatra.  Doo Wop.  Country.  Blues. 

By the end of the 80s?  Corporate rock.  Milli Vanilli, Taylor Dayne, and corporate metal like Bon Jovi. 

90s?  The reaction to the corporate rock- Grunge.

So why do I like 80s music?  Is it because it was the music of my teen years?  Well, yes.  But lets go back to the music of the 40s.  They needed a distraction from war.  We in the 80s had the Cold War.  President Reagan talked tough about the Soviet union and it seemed we were on the brink of nuclear war.  Every day, the tension was always there.  There were portests against the Nukes, and against Reagan's policies.  (The people who worship him today selectively forget how unpopular he was while in office.)  The mindless pop we had allowed us an escape from the horrible news we heard and read daily.  Don't even get me started on yuppies and conspicuos consumption.

80s music is still popular today.  Many twenty somethings and teens know all the words to many of the 80s biggest songs.  And look in the clothing stores.  Neons are back... again!  So are skinny ties.

I'm in my 40s now and still listen to the music of my youth.  I listen to other music as well, but I always fall back on that.  My trivial mind has latched upon 80s music minutia.  I don't have any neon clothing really, just one pink dress that I wore once.  I think at my age I'd look kind of stupid wearing it.


So, like my look?

So there it is.  I am a child of the 1980s and that is my music.  I can imagine me as a grey haired old person in my old age home listening to my Police cds.

1 comment:

  1. Funny how some of the 80s fashions are coming back in too. Is it all part of a cycle of nostalgia?

    There are some good tunes from that era - and equally, some really bad ones. The end of the 80s in the UK seemed particularly 'packaged' and I wonder if that explained grunge and then rave?