Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Music Madness: What the 80's Taught me About Love

I'm an extreme music fan. I know that's probably obvious, and the people who know me are rolling their eyes about now, but it's the plain and simple truth. I love music; every kind and every decade has something in it that I LOVE. If you asked me for a "favorite", there's no way I'd be able to narrow it down, and even if I could, it would be different depending on the day of the week or the particular mood I'm in at that very moment. Music is just so amazing. I was listening to my 80's pop/rock playlist called "Take On Me" and was just lost, as I am on occasion, in the lyrics and sounds of that decade. 

SO MANY GOOD THINGS happened in music during that time and as I listened to bands and songs that I've heard a million times, it made me realize how much I learned from those songs. I started getting into "the 80's" when I was a sophomore in High School. Yes, I was born in the 80's and so it was "past my time", but I fell in love with it anyways, around the time that life really changes as a teenager. Thinking back to that and listening to these music legends made me realize how influential they were, and not just for other musicians, but for us as listeners. 

So I decided to compile a list of some of my favorite songs and everything they taught me and still teach me about love, loss and really really good melodies.  

1. Lovesong, The Cure (1989)

"Whenever I'm alone with you, you make me feel like I am home again. Whenever I'm alone with you, you make me feel like I am whole again…However far away, I will always love you. However long I stay, I will always love you. Whatever words I say, I will always love you. I will always love you."

My absolute favorite love song. Cure front man, lyric sorcerer, and brooder-extraordinaire Robert Smith wrote this song for his fiance before they got married, and I swear it will be at my wedding. But it doesn't even have to be about 'romantic love', this is just LOVE to me; it's not perfect and sometimes things or distance get in the way, but it doesn't matter because that person is home to you. They make you whole again like nothing else could. And nothing else matters

2. I'll Melt with you, Modern English (1982)

"I saw the world crashing all around your face...I'll stop the world and melt with you. You've seen the difference and it's getting better all the time. There's nothing you and I won't do. I'll stop the world and melt with you."

This was a very nontraditional sound of Modern English, who were in fact a Punk band from the UK, and in true 80's fashion, it's not as happy of a song as it sounds. Lead singer Robbie Grey said that it's actually more of an apocalyptic-style love song, with the lovers dying in their last embrace together. The song for me is very moving. In a not-so-literal way, love can be epic. In fact, it should be. The world should be able to explode around you when you're together and not notice. That may sound naive or unrealistic but I hope to have that some day.

3. Separate Ways, Journey (1983)

"Here we stand, worlds apart, hearts broken in two. Sleepless nights, losing ground I'm reaching for you. Feelin' that it's gone, can't change your mind. If we can't go on to survive the tide, love divides. Some day love will find you, break those chains that bind you... you know I still love you." 

This is my *favorite* Journey song. Losing someone you love is really, really tough. I think one of the hard things about relationships is that you don't have control over the whole situation. You can't make someone stay, no matter how much you love them. At some point, everyone goes through this and it's one of the more beautiful "break up" songs out there. It's not vindictive or laced with poisonous insults; it's broken and sad and desperate, but in a really good way. I hope you understand what I mean when I say that. I love the line towards the end when Steve Perry sings "If you must go, I wish you love." It's like a surrender, he's waiving the white flag, acknowledging that he can't stop her from leaving even though he wants to but he still wishes her the best anyway. That's love.

4. Alone, Heart (1987)

"You don't know how long I have waited to touch your lips and hold you tight. You don't know how long I have waited and I was going to tell you tonight. But the secret is still my own and my love for you is still unknown. Till now, I always got by on my own. I never really cared until I met you. But now it chills me to the bone. How do I get you alone?"

This is the greatest power ballad of all time, and inspires some serious drama-induced interpretative dance moments and fist pumping whilst singing along. (That's not just me, right?!) Its Shakespearean theme of unrequited love is heart breaking yet moving, because who at one point in their life hasn't been here? It sucks. Like no other. The Wilson sisters prove for one, that girls CAN rock and for two, that sometimes love is the worst. Along with anything worth while, you have to put yourself out there and that takes a lot of courage. Just make sure you don't lose out on your chance. Be brave!

5. Don't You (Forget About Me), Simple Minds (1985)

"Look my way, never love me. Rain keeps falling down. Will you recognize me? Call my name or walk on by? Rain keeps falling down. Don't you forget about me."

I love how cinematic these lyrics are. True, it was created for the Breakfast Club, the best movie of the 80's, and blares at probably the most famous freeze-frame moment in movie history with Judd Nelson's fist pump, but the song's got cred of it's own. Again, with the unrequited or perhaps unknown love like the ones before, this IS the 80's to me. I feel like this is the song that plays in the moment of your life when you're sitting in the cafeteria eating lunch with your friends and your secret crush walks by in slow motion (obviously) and makes eye contact with you and heart implodes in your chest cavity with the thought that he might talk to you. 

6. Love is a Battlefield, Pat Benatar (1983)

"You're begging me to go, then making me stay. Why do you hurt me so bad?...Believe me, I can't tell you why, but I'm trapped by your love and I'm chained to your side."

Love and feelings are complicated. I know that's probably the most painfully obvious statement ever made, but there's a certain point in your life that you learn this. I mean, really learn this. As we grow up, relationships get complicated and sometimes difficult and painful, so we have to know what we want. And we have to learn when to fight tooth and nail and when to walk away. Because LOVE IS A BATTLEFIELD YOU GUYS. 

7. Enjoy the Silence, Depeche Mode (Okay, this released in 1990 but RECORDED in 1989...so I get a pass)

"Pleasures remain, so does their pain. Words are meaningless and forgettable."

This is one of my favorite DM songs, but this lyric has always stood out to me amongst their slew of amazing lyrics. Some things/people that can make us temporarily happy or feel really good also bring us pain and heartache. Sometimes, the pleasure isn't worth the pain that directly follows it. I'm sure their are people who've been in toxic relationships that understand this sentiment exactly. The next line, I love. Because in the beginning of the song he's talking about how words are "like violence" and pierce through him and then in the middle he sings that "words are very unnecessary, they can only do harm". And then this. To me, it's talking about broken promises; at first when someone you love goes back on their word or says hurtful things, it's really painful. But if it happens repeatedly from the same person, you become almost numb to it, their words cease to mean anything, even the good ones, because they've broken your trust. Like the old adage says; actions speak louder than words.   

8. Take On Me, A-ha (1984)

"So needless to say of odds and ends, but I'll be stumbling away, slowly learning that life is okay. Say after me, 'it's no better to be safe than sorry.'"

I love this song, and the music video is one of the greatest of all time. Life is about trial and error, it's about learning and figuring things out for yourself. And taking chances, being vulnerable and putting yourself out there. We heard growing up that it's 'better to be safe than sorry' and I love how they flip it around and instead show that playing it safe can be just as bad. The hard truth is that sometimes throughout our lives, we have to take risks and let down our walls. If we don't, what are we living for? Or are we even living?

9. The Tide is High, Blondie (1980)

"Every girl wants you to be her man, but I'll wait, my dear, 'til it's my turn. I'm not the kind of girl who gives up just like that. The tide is high but I'm holding on, I'm gonna be your number one."

Oh Blondie. How are you so awesome? While the song was not originally written by Blondie, it's made popular by them, so it counts. Debbie Harry is so cool. I was going to try and say something more poignant than that, but it just seemed to sum it up. Some people are worth waiting for. I feel like this is self explanatory, but it's something I learned as I got a little older. When you're younger, your quick to just move on to the next. But when you're older, you realize people come with baggage or sometimes the timing isn't right and you have to decide if they mean enough to you to wait for them. And sometimes they are. (Ross & Rachel anyone?! Okay, that was a 90's reference, but I had to!)

10. Keep on Loving You, REO Speedwagon (1980) 

"And I meant every word that I said, when I said that I love you I meant that I love you forever. And I'm gonna keep on loving you, cause it's the only thing I wanna do. I don't wanna sleep, I just wanna keep on loving you."

I had to end on a power ballad. And this one is phenomenal. Though the story behind the song is sad (singer Kevin Cronin's wife was cheating on him and this was his response), the sentiment is beautiful. It's a song about unconditional love and that's few and far between nowadays. Isn't that what real love is? Unrelenting and unyielding? Despite everything else, loving someone so wholly is the most amazing thing. And if you don't sing this song in your car at the top of your lungs with the windows down using your fist as a mic, there's something wrong with you. 


  1. I LOVE every single one of these songs and they are perfect (who knew the 80's was the goldmine for love songs?)! My favorite Journey song is Open Arms, how heartbreaking but uplifting is that one. I love your blog, thank you for sharing!

  2. Thank you so much! I'm sorry I didn't see your comment until now. I absolutely love that Journey song! :)