80 (was you even born then)

Started by halthan, October 15, 2010, 09:54:02 PM

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Andrew McIntosh

The 80's where the proverbial best of times, worst of times. Best, because there was a strong, emerging undergound in all forms of music that later proved to last longer than the fairy floss that passed for pop music at the time. Worst, because of the fairy floss that passed for pop music at the time. At the time I hated everything mainstream; the music, the fashion, the politics, the lot. I have no nostalgia for that wretched period but have found that others my age (early fourties) seem to be getting all misty eyed over it.
Shikata ga nai.


The "Gen X" nostalgia machine -- selling idealized pop culture memories and "OMG -- I can't believe we dressed (danced/listened to music) like that!!!" cheap laughs to middle-agers whose peak is long-passed in their lives.  I had a facebook account for a while a couple of years ago, but eventually deleted it, in large part due to FB being used by so many members on my "friends" list as little more than a nostalgia device: posting 80s videos, pictures of themselves as teens, and "Hey!  We haven't talked, and I've made no effort to contact you in 20 years, until the convenience and ease of social media," friend requests.

My adolescence was in the U.S. during the 1980s, and among what I remember first and more viscerally are AIDS, the Cold War, Ronald Reagan, economic recession, resurgent political conservatism and christian fundamentalism, and the pre-internet world.  Then farther down the list of recollection are the music, fashions, and media of the decade.

When I speak to people my age who start indulging in nostalgia for their youth and the easily recalled pop culture of the 80s I sometimes will remind them that perhaps it was an "awesome" time for straight, caucasian, conservative christian males, but as with any era (particularly prior to the web), the farther out on the fringes of mainstream society and popular culture a person was, the less there is to look back fondly to.


One thing I really liked about the eighties was the derelict downtowns of many cities. My uncle in London looking at me with total horror when I mentioned I went to Nothing Hill to shop for records.  I guess I would look with a different kind of horrors if my kids would tell my the same thing today.
Arriving in Gothenburg in the mideighties was pretty grim and exciting time. Hookers, drunks and weirdos pretty much populated the now fashionable part of Haga smack in the middle of town. RJF could have been the soundtrack of both the city and the times if more people had heard them.


Some of us never left the 80s. I still listen to everything I did then and follow the bands that are still still kickin' it. The "nostalgia" and "revival" thing bothers me because I never really "let go" of any of that stuff. It never left me, I never left it. A lot of the politically charged bands' songs are as apropos now (if not more so) than when they were written.


Came across a review recently of the "Wax Trax Retrospectacle", a two day benefit/memorial concert featuring numerous nostalgia acts once signed to the defunct Wax Trax label in Chicago:


During the late 1980s thru mid 90s I had a fair number of Wax Trax releases, and I still have a few items that hold up well today, but there's no way I'd want to subject myself to the concerts now.