‘Philosophy Redux’ Visits the 80s

I don’t believe in reincarnation.

But if I did, I know how my previous life ended: buck naked in a limo during the summer of 1986.

“He would have wanted it that way”, as someone said during the funeral. Months later, I was born again.

Here at Philosophy Redux, I like to think on the ‘higher things’, namely the philosophical. But occasionally I like to do different things. Occasionally, I like to discuss history…chiefly 20th Century history.

It was the American Century.

After two World Wars, a couple of fraudulent wars, atomic bombs, political assassinations, Prohibition, The Great Depression, the Civil Rights Movement, and the 1970s, we arrived at perhaps the most American decade…the 1980s. We might’ve been too hungover to wake up on time, but it was Morning Again in America.

My quasi-socialist views notwithstanding, it was capitalism’s finest hour.

Culturally speaking, it’s popular to look back on the 80s and laugh. It was a time for sell-outs….when sex and drugs became more important than the rock n’ roll….when style overrode substance.

I don’t share that view. Like I said, I have a spiritual connection to the decade and I am prepared to defend it….to death if need be, so that I may rise again and tell the people of a time when America was about freedom, Ronald Reagan, and that sweet, sweet cherry pie.

You can’t hide the truth forever.

So for today, I am going to compile a list of music videos…otherwise known as the greatest cultural achievement of the 80s.

Prince- Controversy 

We all know Prince was a genius.

From the end of the 80s on up to his death, Prince’s cultural legacy might’ve taken a hit. He was unfairly compared to Michael Jackson. He was too reclusive, too eccentric, and too inaccessible during the Internet Age.

While Jackson’s posthumous popularity soared, Prince was often thought of as being a weirdo cutoff from society in his Minneapolis home.

Then Prince passed. But here’s where his genius continues to pay off…I was able to watch many of his music videos this morning on YouTube (which is what prompted me to write this) where this was previously impossible. While I’ve been a fan of Prince for awhile, in a way I was able to ‘re-discover’ him.

He managed to not become a cultural cliché.

Although many of his videos are over 30 years old, we are able to watch them with a new set of eyes.

Don Henley-Boys of Summer/Asia-Heat of the Moment

(As a side note, apparently Don Henley thinks he’s too good to have his music on YouTube. So you get the remake instead)

Like I said earlier, the 80’s have a reputation for being style over substance. But everyone has it all wrong: the 80s was a time when people were tired of pretensions. They wanted to fuck, do drugs, and….well that was pretty much it. But the music perfectly reflected that.

But it’s easy to listen to these songs today and overlook genuine artistic merit. Although most of these guys were certainly looking for the next set of panties to drop, occasionally they’d let slip a sense of nostalgia…of time forgotten…of lovers long gone.

Don Henley’s Boys of Summer and Asia’s Heat of the Moment share this theme.

I’ve gone to bat for Asia numerous times. Carl Palmer is one of the greatest drummers of all time. And although it’s a classic guitar riff, without Palmer, Heat of the Moment would probably be a forgettable song. And despite being a talented super group, Asia were subpar lyricists.

But then there’s Heat of the Moment…with this song, Asia becomes the George Lazanby of super groups: they knock one out of the park then walk away:

And now you find yourself in 82. The disco hot spots hold no charm for you.”

“And when your looks are gone and you’re alone. How many nights you sit beside the phone. What were the things you wanted for yourself. Teenage ambitions you’ll remember well.”

As for Don Henley’s Boys of Summer, what more is there to say? It perfectly sums up my summer of 09:

“Out on the road today, I saw a Deadhead sticker on a Cadillac. A little voice inside my head said “don’t look back, you can never look back.” I thought I knew what love was. What did I know? Those days are gone forever. I should just let ’em go but…”

Stevie Nicks (and Fleetwood Mac)- Seven Wonders, You Can Talk To Me

If there’s one woman in the history of the world that I’d take on a moonlit dinner down the French Riviera, propose to, give up my career for, and never be heard from again (which might’ve happened since I died of a drug overdose in 1986)…Stevie Nicks would be that woman.

But if there’s one reason why I love the 80s: they might’ve looked ridiculous, but damn it did they have conviction.

Mike Reno-Whenever There’s A Night

You can talk shit about Loverboy, but don’t talk shit about Mike Reno.

Not many know this song. And shame on you if you don’t. But this is one of the great lost gems of the 80s, and proof that Reno was one of the greatest vocalists of his time.

But what I like best about this song is the transition from guitar solo to saxophone solo. HO-LY SHIT!

Def Leppard- Photograph

And speaking of things that make the hairs on my neck stand up….that fucking solo from Photograph. 

You know the one: when Joe Elliot belts “you’ve gone straight to my heeeeaaaaaaa…” and into the Phil Collen guitar solo.

Like most hair bands, Def Leppard gets a bad rap. Perhaps some of it is deserved. I won’t judge. But Photograph was a turning point in music.

Joe Elliot even does a toe touch jump. Which would have put him ahead of David Lee Roth’s infamous jump in Jump. Right?

Def Leppard…Pioneers.

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