Day 43. Your favorite song from the 80s
“The Heart Of The Matter” – Don Henley
As we continue the “Your favorite song of the XXs” series, you should know I’m technically breaking the rules with my dates. For an explanation, go here.
Oh… My… God…
No, I’m not talking about “Baby Got Back.” (That’s from the 90s.) I’m talking about the challenge of today’s post. There are so many things working against me.
- Like the 60s, the 80s can be broken up musically:
- The early part of the decade was New Wave-heavy. Keyboards ruled.
- There was a bit of a revolt and popular music moved away from the keyboards to focus more on guitars again. The synths didn’t disappear by any stretch, but they got toned down. Hair bands grew in popularity as hair got bigger. (Or vice-versa.)
- So, what was all the rage at the start of the decade would have gotten sneers by the end.
- I’m a keyboard junkie. I play them and that’s what my ear tends to go to first in a song. So I like 80s music, especially early in the decade.
- I’m a child of the 80s. I was ages 9-19 in that decade, and my music consumption was probably at its peak. I listened to the radio more in the 80s than in any other decade, and my collection of 80s music is massive.
Not familiar with a song I’ve mentioned?
Click above to hear samples.
The point? I started with over 80 possible candidates for today’s post. Eighty! But, unfortunately, it wasn’t the “Top 80 of the 80s” (although I like the sound of that; it might show up someday far down the road). So I’ve felt a bit overwhelmed trying to whittle it down to one. The fact that my head hasn’t exploded and I’m still alive to click the “Publish” button is a minor miracle. But enough complaining.
I picked Don Henley’s “The Heart Of The Matter.” You may be surprised by this. I know I’m surprised by this. It was definitely a dark horse candidate. Heck, until late in the process it wasn’t a candidate. The equivalent of a 660 to 1 bet in horse racing.
But at the end of the day (and we’re approaching it) my selection process came down to feel rather than a cognitive decision. I have a lot of songs from the 80s that I love, but as I went through them, none of them felt like “the one.” Even those from Genesis, The Cars, and some of my other favorites. A lot of people would have picked something by Michael Jackson or Madonna or Bruce Springsteen (Bruce was in the top 80), but none of those felt right for my personal favorite, either.
The more I thought about The End Of The Innocence the more it felt right that something from that album should be my pick, despite the fact that I don’t give it a lot of plays. It’s an amazing album that still sounds fresh over 25 years after it was released but yet somehow retains its (late-)80s identity. And “The Heart Of The Matter” is one of those songs that really evokes a feeling when you listen to it. I thought about picking the song “The End Of The Innocence,” especially since the use of Bruce Hornsby on the piano was another strong link to the 80s, but ultimately decided it didn’t have quite the right feel, either.
Now, I guarantee that I’ll wake up in the morning and come up with at least 5 songs I should have picked instead, but like Laura said to me, there’s no “correct” answer. So nyah.
I could list all the runners-up but I don’t feel like typing that much, and you probably don’t want to read them all, either. So here are some highlights, in no particular order:
- “Valerie”—The Greg Kihn Band. A virtually unknown song that I love. Pretty much sums up my love life in high school.
- “The Brazilian”—Genesis. My top-played 80s song on iTunes, and at one time, many years ago, my favorite Genesis song. I even had Woody leave “Mama” that I didn’t really like off a tape of the Genesis album to include “The Brazilian” instead. Amazingly, that didn’t end the friendship.
- “Mama”—Genesis. I finally came around.
- “Ah! Leah!”—Donnie Iris. A song that I always liked, but I never knew the name of the song or the artist until well into the 2000s.
- “Rio”—Duran Duran. These guys got a bum rap in the 80s because of their teen idol looks. They made some great music. Not just for teeny-boppers.
- “Sixty Second Interval”—The Vapors. Everyone knows “Turning Japanese.” This song is better.
- “Find A Way To My Heart”—Phil Collins. Best song on …But Seriously.
- “Superman”—R.E.M. An underrated song buried in among their indie-years hits.
- “Stone’s Throw From Hurtin'”—Elton John. Maybe one of the most soulful things he’s ever done. If you hear it, you probably wouldn’t guess it was Elton.
I could go on and on and on and on… but this isn’t “Don’t Stop Believin’.” (Which did not make the top 80.) But, I still have 322 days, so you’ll probably see some of those songs pop up somewhere.
I’m actually thankful this one is over. There was a fair amount of torture and angst here. Kind of like a 80s John Hughes movie. Where’s Molly Ringwald?