First, Diamond Dave, let me explain that I was speaking of kicking your ass in the decidedly non-literal, online sense. I hope you understand that would never strike you. First, you’d probably hurt me. Second, I love you, man. Indeed, despite never having met in person, your kiss is on my list of the best things in life.
But Dave, you ignorant slut, please don’t come at me with this ‘80s as our collective Innocent Age crap. Sorry, but I can’t go for that (no can do). Try that line on all the crazy people Ronald Reagan horrifyingly dumped on our streets back in your kinder, gentler ‘80s. By the way, if you’re looking for these folks, Dave, they’re still on a nearby corner pissing themselves or somewhere dead and buried. You know, I was watching Wall Street last night on Bravo (subliminal plug: watch Musicians on Bravo), and it turns out that Gordon Gekko was wrong: Greed is not good, or at least it’s not good for everyone. The ‘80s were no brief shining moment in our history—in fact, the shiniest thing about the ‘80s was probably that scary fabric on those frightening Members Only jackets. In fact, perhaps we should call the ‘80s the Members Only Decade and just forget about it.
Perhaps that’s why I’m taking some crap here and in The Fray for defending Hall and Oates—because of their ‘80s commercial heyday, they remind us all of a Members Only past that we’d rather forget. I stand up for the dynamic duo here because I happen to believe a song like “She’s Gone” is a full-on masterpiece—the shifting sands of hipness be damned. And I do so despite the fact that the first people to ever blow me off for an interview were Hall and Oates when I was a college newspaper reporter. Instead, I had to interview their opening act Aldo Nova—then a shitty lite metal moron pushing his dopey new product. Amazingly, Aldo Nova is now writing ballads for Celine Dion—so maybe that’s what ultimately became of the music of the ‘80s. It’s grown up and become Celine Dion.
Dave, the ugly truth is that the end of the innocence likely came along before Don Henley sang so beautifully about it. Maybe it died in between Woodstocks, maybe long before that. The thing that strikes me as I turn through these ‘80s back pages is that there’s something a little depressing about visiting the past too often. The songs that truly matter—the songs that are worth revisiting beyond mere nostalgia—are the ones that speak to us in some more enduring way. Most pop is a passing fancy: For example, Wang Chung’s “Everybody Have Fun Tonight” perhaps offers us a window into some imaginary coked-out party world populated by ‘80s idiots. But as a song and a statement, it sucked then. In retrospect, it sucks even more. But then, just when you’re ready to write off an entire decade, you hear a song on Like Omigod like Crowded House’s “Don’t Dream It’s Over.” A song like that doesn’t die, doesn’t become camp. A song like that can make you feel something every time that you hear it, whatever decade that might be.
It’s been lovely sharing the ‘80s with you—but now it’s time for breakfast. As a wise man once said, I’m hungry like a wolf.