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new gold dream [Oct. 31st, 2006|10:55 pm]
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Courtesy my iPod serving up some lovely Mr. Mister, a meditation on—or maybe just a question about—80s pop music.

I don't know whether it's because that's when I was growing up, or if it was an intrinsic part of the music, but I always felt there was an individual innocence to the music of that decade. (At least the music I listened to, which could be broadly painted as New Wave, John Hughes, pop-goth, or dozens of other labels.)

Thinking a bit longer about it, I think that '50s music had a societal innocence; '60s music was about the conflict that tore that open, exposed it to the world, and tried (sometimes) to heal it; and '70s music exploited it.

'80s music seemed to have the air of individual people fighting to find themselves in that world of exploitation, and of all the struggles it takes to find yourself (sometimes successfully, sometimes not).

For all the cheese that the '80s produced, there seemed to be some real gems. Was it just because I was impressionable at the time, or is there something more to it?
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Comments:
[User Picture]From: lordsauron
2006-11-01 06:38 am (UTC)

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No they had some gems to them much like the 70s (Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin, etc).

I will gladly take 80s over today's style.
[User Picture]From: tkil
2006-11-02 08:02 am (UTC)

time warp!

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Funny that you -- the youngest person to comment on this thread by at least a decade or so -- would be pointing out music from an earlier decade.

I will agree somewhat, but even in the heyday of Prog Rock in the '70s, it was still somewhat marginalized. Not overwhelmed and crammed into corners the way that good music (meaning, non hip-hop crap) is these days, but still not mainstream.

What you might be seeing is that the mainstream stuff back in the '70s was utterly forgettable, and it was the music at the borders that really had the staying power. (And some of it was that those fans, feeling marginalized, made cult hits out of some of that music.)

Led Zeppelin, for me, was always a little too nuanced and distant from its subject matter, compared to the personal experience and POV of the '80s stuff that I was talking about. Pink Floyd got personal, but it was inside a persona (at least on The Wall and later works), not really directly from the person singing.

But I'm with you on enjoying '80s style vastly over the mainstream today. I remember the early '80s, when "Top 40" included things like Blondie, Asia, REO Speedwagon, and even into the Michael Jackson and Prince era. I don't know when it all went to hell in a handbasket...
[User Picture]From: lordsauron
2006-11-02 08:43 am (UTC)

Re: time warp!

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"Funny that you -- the youngest person to comment on this thread by at least a decade or so -- would be pointing out music from an earlier decade."
Haha yeah. But like I said, I avidly avoid the crap that is produced today.

My dad is a big fan of PF and LZ so naturally I heard quite a few during my years growing up (still do sometimes present day). I remember it being not that bad to listen to.

"don't know when it all went to hell in a handbasket..."
I think it was a Thursday in March back in 1996. That or it was discovered that teenagers will glomp on the chance for stardom all in the name of lining the RIAA's pockets. All they need is a synthesized beat.
[User Picture]From: skyroom80
2006-11-01 08:08 am (UTC)

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When I think of the 80's in terms of music, I don't usually think of innocence but our ages and experiences are different. It was a time of awakening for me. Dancing at clubs in Long Beach and Orange County. Listening to Billy Preston at a local piano bar as he played incognito, teaching kids at an inner city middle school about math, and using "Another One Bites the Dust" to teach math to the kids who had hit the lowest possible percentile of California students in English and Math.

But then I also think of dancing with my gay men friends in the early eighties at clubs with the dirty sock smell of amyl nitrate poppers. The days before AIDS put an end to the gay sexual revolution.

No. I can't say eighties music was innocent for me. I wasn't into punk or grunge, though. And music has always been an evocative anecdote to what I experience.
[User Picture]From: tkil
2006-11-02 08:06 am (UTC)

return to innocence

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I can't say eighties music was innocent for me.

With the background you gave, I can see that. (Although, it's innocence at a different level -- what was the death of the "gay sexual revolution" but an end of a different type of innocence? A ghastly and horrible end, but...)

And music has always been an evocative anecdote to what I experience.

Not sure I quite parse this. I find music evocative -- or, at least, I vastly prefer music that is evocative, over music that is expicitly wordy (hence I prefer chillout over folk, for instance). And I find that music can sometimes remind me of people, places, events, feelings -- which is evoking in a different sense.

Either way, it sounds like I'm more channelling "music as an aspect of growing up in an era" than having those feelings / evocations being properties of the music itself. Which is what I half figured, but when the two dissenters are not near my age, and the two people who agree *are*... :)

Take care!
[User Picture]From: stop_no_dont
2006-11-01 05:07 pm (UTC)

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No, there's definitely something more. I first realized this listening to "Pop Goes The World," by Men Without Hats. There's a wistful tinge to the synth solo, just before the "Every time I wonder ..." stanza begins.

That said, I think there is quality music in this day and age, just as in all the others. It's harder to see up-front, because of the way mainstream media is presented, but it's actually easier to find, thanks to the good ol' Internet.
[User Picture]From: tkil
2006-11-02 08:28 am (UTC)

music qualities, quality music

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I would have to go back and listen to that track again, but it's one of my perennial favorites. (I actually have a shockingly strong memory of hearing O Sole Mio off that album, from an otherwise depressingly mundane evening back in college, likely 1990 or a bit earlier.)

Music that's a bit heavy-handed with the minor chord progressions, evocative (but not storytelling) lyrics, and good textures seems to get me hooked.

Not sure that describes a lot of the '80s cheese, but I think that most of the '80s music that I liked exhibited a certain punkish attitude ("we don't care what you think!"), regardless of whether it was 2-chord punk or not.

That said, I think there is quality music in this day and age

I agree, but the amount of time/energy I have left to go find new music and really internalize it anymore is sadly limited. Most of the good stuff I've picked up lately has been through friends' suggestions, and occasionally through live shows. Discovering Xavier Rudd because he opened for Melissa Ferrick is a classic example -- now he draws 5x her crowds, but seeing him open for her on his first North American visit was mind-bending. (But I've got a weakness for the didgeridoo...)

Anyway. I know that there's good stuff out there, I just wish I had more time -- and the fact that the mainstream crap is everywhere I look (not to mention blasting out of all the ghetto boom sleds) doesn't help.

Oh well, my list of music to buy just to complete collections and to get the newest releases from old favorites is plenty long. I think I might finally be [mostly] throwing in the towel on finding new music. If it comes my way, that's great, but if not... *shrug*
[User Picture]From: shinankoku
2006-11-01 06:30 pm (UTC)

You sentimental git ...

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The title of my post pretty much says it all ;)

I have two observations about arising from your post.

The first is that, growing up in rural Santa Fe, I didn't even notice the music going on around me. With no service cable where house our house was(parents probably wouldn't have gotten it even if available), no MTV. I never thought to buy a radio. About the only thing that I listened to was Suzanne Vega (I went through three tapes of solitude standing) and the Rodney Danerfield tape my dad played all the time in the truck.

My point is this: Tony, you busted my musical cherry.

Second point: The 80's gave us, what? Punk and New Wave come to mind. Big-hair-bands like Whitesnake. There was also proto-Goth and Goth, but they were hardly big musical movements. The 90's gave us - well, all I can think of is Grunge, other strains of post-punk, and Indie. The 00's haven't really given us anything. Not to say there isn't music I don't like, quite contrare: Projekt is a huge contributor; there is a lot of small label stuff I adore. As far as huge sweeping movements go, however, not a lot, other than "New Rock", which is simply corporate Indie.

Hey, how are things going with you?
[User Picture]From: tkil
2006-11-02 07:56 am (UTC)

Re: You sentimental git ...

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My point is this: Tony, you busted my musical cherry.

Suzanne Vega's not bad. But man, after the 20th listen of Pocketful of Kryptonite, you either got new music, or someone was gonna die. :)

Which reminds me -- I still need to get a copy of that TMC Original Versions CD. I've ended up with a few of them off larger recordings (Chris Bell re-released on Rhino, oh yeah) but the rest would be just as shocking, I hope.

Second point: The 80's gave us, what?

Well, punk was huge in its influence (and even more so in the message behind the movement -- you didn't need classical musical training or gigantic studio budget to make good music.)

A few other things that come to mind: techno-industrial (one could argue that the Pacific Northwest scene was going by mid-1980s, but I think that NIN's Pretty Hate Machine is what sold it to the masses); photogenic music stars (hand in hand with MTV) (and some cute VJs -- Marth Quinn! Kennedy!).

The '90s? I was in a weird place; for the first half of the decade, I was discovering and revelling in bands that were mostly from the '80s, but I'd just then discovered them -- most of the 4AD family, also all the other branches of Goth, and some crannies of '80s Cheese.

The second half of the '90s, lots of "world music with dance beats". Delerium's Karma came out in 1997, and I'd gotten hooked on Semantic Spheres a few years earlier (and those two, and their later works, are entirely different from their earlier catalogue). My interest in Enya goes back to 1988, but some of the similar hybrids were '90s products -- Enigma, Deep Forest.

And lots of those bands from the '80s had members still producing good work; Peter Murphy is the obvious one here. Cascade (1995) is tied with Deep (1990) as my favorites, and both of them are (IMHO) superior to any single Bauhaus LP.

I'm glad I got you hooked on 4AD and Projekt in the early '90s; 4AD had the great back-catalogue, and Projekt did some amazing stuff that decade.

Currently? The new stuff is out there, but I don't know if I have the energy to find it and assimilate it. I think I'll write more about that later, though.