Image taken from the internet and likely copyrighted…
I miss tickets like the one pictured above… I have a scrapbook courtesy of the Rock Chick full of stubs like that one… but I’m already off topic here. Perhaps I’m just feeling reluctant to get into it…
As anybody whose read B&V for any amount of time knows, we’re very fond of our playlists around here. In the old days my playlists were carefully constructed cassettes that I would place in my “cassette briefcase” in the car so I’d have access to maximum jams and never be a prisoner to bad radio again. Of course back then we called them “mix tapes.” In the era of streaming and MP3’s my playlists got a lot longer and more mobile I suppose. As long as I have access to the internet I have access to music. Who’d have thought I’d be able to do that back in say…1982? And for the sake of honesty, I’ll have to admit my playlists are never as good as the ones the Rock Chick comes up with… but that’s just one of the myriad reasons I married her.
For purposes of B&V my playlists are usually thematic. Much like Bob Dylan’s ‘Theme Time Radio Hour.’ I tend to pick a topic – either sleeping or the surreal realm of dreams or maybe drinking or even heroin – and try to arrange tracks that fit the theme. Last year was the first time I’d done something around a historically themed playlist. It had been 50 years since 1971 so I did a playlist centered around albums from that landmark year of in rock n roll. I want to stress we’re about albums here at B&V so it wasn’t about singles. I picked hits but I also did some deep tracks. Our goal on all of our playlists here at B&V is to put a song you haven’t heard in a while back in your ear or better yet, turn you onto something you have never heard before. As Dr. Johnny Fever from the show WKRP once said, “Who else will teach the children about rock n roll?”
I had so much fun with the musical spelunking I did around the 1971 playlist, that I decided to go back 50 years again this year to 1972. I really dug that playlist. 1972 wasn’t as epic a year as 1971 but it was a fascinating year. Ironically the Black Crowes must have been paying attention as they put out an EP of six tracks (3 were on my playlist!) from that year as well, creatively entitled 1972. Going back 50 years is a fascinating prospect but while I am (obviously) extremely passionate about rock n roll, I can be somewhat dispassionate about songs from 1971 or 1972 because I was but a child during that time. I have no emotional connection to those tunes save for ones I’d developed later in life. There was no real-time moment in 1971 when I was playing in my parents backyard and Marvin Gaye’s tune “What’s Goin’ On?” came on the radio and I looked up at the sky and thought, “What is going on here? Why am I on this rickety swing set, it feels like a death trap… and why do I allow my sainted mother to dress me and my brother in coordinating outfits?” or “I can’t wait until 50 years from now when we all have flying cars and world peace…” That just didn’t happen.
The idea for a playlist centered around albums from 1982 popped into my head recently. Actually it’s been bouncing around my skull since January. My dearest and oldest pal Doug mentioned to me over beers that 1982 is a rather landmark year for he and I…At the risk of betraying my age, we graduated from high school that year. And, apparently there’s something called a “high school reunion” going on this year. l have never attended and will likely never attend a reunion. I wasn’t into high school and Doug is really the only person I’m in contact with so why would I attend a reunion? I was never a “joiner.” I was in the invisible middle in the social strata of my enormous high school. I grew up on the Kansas side of the KC border. As an adult I moved over to the Missouri side which bestowed upon me a sort of “invisibility cloak.” I don’t see people from high school, other than Doug, and thank god they can’t seem to find me.
Ah, but 1982 was quite a year. For me, it was like what Dickens wrote, “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” The first half of that year I was a high school senior, atop the food chain so to speak. I only had to get up and go to school half days, the first five “hours” and then I could leave for the day. I treated school like a halfway house that year. I showed up and did my bit, signed the papers and walked. I had a part time job so I had money in my pocket, beer in the cooler and vinyl on my turntable. Once I turned 18 my parents let go of the reigns… “Don’t kill anybody behind the wheel and don’t get anybody pregnant and you’re good to go.” They were ready for me to leave. That year I fell in love for the first time in that high school tragic fashion. I just remember it being a really fun time. I think I even got a sun tan that summer.
But then I went away to University and everything changed for me. I was suddenly a freshman, on the bottom of that food chain. I think the first two guys I roomed with were both in their early 30s… they were engineering students and taking the scenic route through college. I was certainly not comfortable. If I’m being honest in the clear light of day, in retrospect, I probably suffered what can only be described as a bit of a nervous breakdown that year. I wasn’t emotionally mature enough – or mature enough on any scale – to handle being away from home for the first time, the pressure that college exerted on my psyche (fail and it’s to the coal mine for you), or a long distance relationship (that I was foolish enough to attempt). I certainly wasn’t the same person anymore. I was suffering from anxiety and to be honest probably depression as well. It led to a really dark time for me. When the wheels finally came off Doug and Bacardi rum helped me get through a lot of that…I will always be eternally grateful for his friendship. In some ways though, that shadow didn’t lift for me for a long, long time. I carried it with me, like a scar.
But the good news – it did lift. I will say, if you’re at that critical time of life, coping with just becoming an adult, if you’re suffering, ask for help! Reach out to someone. And don’t do what I did, self-medicate with rum and coke. The support system is so much better now. I hate to think of anybody feeling what I felt that horrid fall. Better yet there was some great music in 1982. But, for me, unlike those 1971-1972 playlists I do have an emotional connection to a lot of these tunes. If not an emotional connection, I certainly have clear memories connected to many of these songs. Memories both good and bad but that’s life, isn’t it? Like the Chairman sang, “Regrets, I’ve had a few.” Some of the albums these songs came from are in my pantheon of the great ones. I have tried to share some of those memories below.
Typically when I do a playlist I suggest putting it on “shuffle” or “random.” But I actually put these tunes together as they came into my head. Oddly it sort of fits around the way 1982 unfolded for me and playing it straight through kind of works. I see ’82 as a bit of a transitional year for music. It was kind of the last gasp for that 70s great rock sound before the synths and drum machines took over and you hear that music on the front end of this playlist. There were a lot of guys emerging from the break up/demise of great bands from the 70s (Plant/Zeppelin, Henley/Eagles, Fagen/Steely Dan). It just feels like the tide was turning to something new. Doug will argue with me, but I see the 80s as the worst decade for rock n roll. The back half of this playlist reads like my time after I went to college. There’s more alternative rock and synth stuff on the back end. MTV was a huge influence on music by that point and that shows on the playlist. Songs I’d never hear on the radio had videos in high rotation (Peter Gabriel, Adam Ant). Even college radio put a few tunes in my ear, like R.E.M.’s stuff from their debut EP Chronic Town.
The first question that may come to mind – how can you do a 1982 playlist without anything from Micheal Jackson’s Thriller? Easy, this is a rock n roll blog. Despite the presence of Eddie Van Halen on “Beat It” there was no way MJ was gonna end up on one of my playlists… although it crossed my mind. As always you can find my playlist on the dreaded Spotify… Crank this one up loud, tease up your permed hair, get your leg warmers on and grab a wine cooler… it’s a rad 1982 playlist, man!
- Eddie Money, “Shakin'” – Eddie never had the “cool” cache of Springsteen or even Seger and Mellencamp but man we loved him. This was always a favorite. Eddie Money always delivered.
- Robert Plant, “Burning Down One Side” – Plant has always been oddly embarrassed by his early work but I’ve always loved it. With Zeppelin tragically ending I was really excited when this album came out. “How could I fall without a shove?”
- Asia, “Heat of the Moment” – Asia was everywhere in 1982. If you know, you know.
- Van Halen, “Dancin’ In The Streets” – Diver Down is such an iconic album to me now. It was one of my summer jams that year.
- Aerosmith, “Lightning Strikes” – We’d all wondered where Aerosmith had gone. They disappeared when I was in high school. This was the only song I liked on an otherwise weak “comeback” album.
- Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, “Change of Heart” – There certainly was a change of heart for me in ’82. “You Got Lucky” got the attention but this is one of my all time favorite Petty songs.
- Scorpions, “Can’t Live Without You” – I’d already seen them live once when this came out, but it was Blackout that made me a fan… I still love the Scorpions and their latest LP Rock Believer.
- Judas Priest, “You’ve Got Another Thing Coming” – It’s hard not to think of this iconic tune without thinking of the iconic video. MTV really was a big influence in music in those days.
- George Thoroughgood & The Destroyers, “Bad To The Bone” – I’m not a huge fan of Thoroughgood’s but you can’t do an ’82 playlist without “Bad to the Bone.” And let’s admit it, it’s a great tune.
- Aldo Nova, “Fantasy” – I’d forgotten all about this rocking track until I met the Rock Chick.
- Led Zeppelin, “Darlene” – From their LP of leftovers, Coda. I’m not sure any of us got over Zeppelin’s demise. They actually played this song on KY102 back when it came out.
- The Who, “Eminence Front” – I remember this more from the fall of ’82. Townshend always says he’s baffled by the popularity of this song but we loved it! And again, the cool video. “Come and join the party… dress to kill.”
- Queen & David Bowie, “Under Pressure” – Hot Space largely made most of us get off the Queen bandwagon but this track was a winner. Queen with Bowie, how can you lose?
- Bad Company, “Electricland” – The last gasp from a once great band… a vaguely Hendrix-y title… The last great Bad Co song with Paul Rodgers.
- Steve Miller Band, “Abracadabra” – The SMB had been huge when we were in junior high school then nothing for years until this gem appeared in 1982. Still a favorite of mine. “I’m gonna reach out and grab ya.” Silly rhyme.
- Warren Zevon, “The Envoy” – There’s so much great Zevon out there that nobody talks about. If you’ve got any pull, please help get this guy get into the Rock Hall of Fame.
- Rainbow, “Stone Cold” – I’ve always loved this song. Great riff, great vocal. Lately I’ve been waking up with this song in my head…
- David Bowie, “Cat People (Putting Out Fire)” – This version, from the soundtrack to the movie, is different and far superior to the version on 1983’s Let’s Dance. I remember watching Cat People on HBO only so I could hear this song over the closing credits… Somehow I ended up with the soundtrack LP in my record crate but I can’t find it now.
- John Mellencamp, “Hurts So Good” – His breakthrough track… certainly stirs up a few ghosts for me…
- Van Morrison, “Dweller On The Threshold” – A song I may have them play at my funeral. About feeling like you’re on the outside, standing in the doorway, looking in but not quite invited. I felt this way from those early 80s days until I met the Rock Chick…
- Crosby, Stills, Nash, “Southern Cross” – Great, acoustic track from CSN. Critics are always meh, but this was a great song from a very solid LP, Daylight Again. Classic rockers find their footing.
- Bruce Springsteen, “Atlantic City” – The River was where I got on the bandwagon for Bruce. I got home for Christmas in ’82 and discovered this LP and was so utterly disappointed by it’s stark, grim acoustic tracks. I wanted The River 2.0. I had to wait until Born In The U.S.A. for that. This was a great song that I attached to almost immediately.
- Steve Winwood, “Talking Back To The Night” – Sadly he sold this for a beer commercial a few years later… still a great tune. I seem to be drawn to tracks about being alone in the night…
- Elvis Costello & the Attractions, “Man Out of Time” – This one is for my old buddy Drew.
- Dave Edmunds, “From Small Things (Big Things Someday Come)” – Dave is such a solid rock guy. This is a Springsteen cover that I didn’t know was a Springsteen cover in ’82.
- The Clash, “Rock The Casbah” – I could have gone with “Should I Stay Or Should I Go,” but for sentimental reasons that track bothers me still… The Clash didn’t get a lot of airplay where I was from so – again because of MTV – this was the first track by them that I really got into. I bought the LP (on cassette no less), radical for a Midwest boy back then.
- Cheap Trick, “She’s Tight” – Cheap Trick have just always been so great. I love when he screams, “So I got off the phoooone.” I would have too…
- Billy Idol, “White Wedding, Pt 1” – I’ve always wondered when we’ll hear “Pt 2”? I was this close to choosing “Hot In the City,” but this is a bigger track. We didn’t like Billy Idol because to our unsophisticated eyes he looked weird. If you turned off the video and just listened he was great. This was one case, for me, where the videos were working against the artist.
- Joe Jackson, “Steppin’ Out” – We all knew “Is She Really Going Out With Him?” so we were a bit surprised by this brooding, piano-driven gem.
- Elton John, “Blue Eyes” – A simply beautiful ballad that is on here for sentimental reasons that I refuse to explain… for someone I knew a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.
- Fleetwood Mac, “Straight Back” – A bit of a deep track but I’ve always loved this hypnotic Stevie Nicks track. She was in such a purple patch back then between Fleetwood Mac and her solo career. She even made them put a country song on Mirage.
- Squeeze, “Black Coffee In Bed” – This to me represents the kind of music I was starting to hear when I got college. I had shifted from arena rock, barrel house tunes to more sophisticated tracks.
- Rush, “Subdivisions” – We were all a little disappointed by Signals. It’d be hard for any band to follow up Moving Pictures, but this track drew me back in.
- Flock of Seagulls, “I Ran (So Far Away)” – We thought these guys had landed from another planet with their synths and wild hair. When I’d wake up in the morning my roommates would point to my disheveled hair and say, “Look it’s the Flock of Seagulls guy.” This was a marker of where music was headed in the 80s, and perhaps not for the better.
- INXS, “Don’t Change” – I think this is the first INXS track I remember hearing. I can still remember thinking that INXS was going to be a band to keep my eye on. There were some great bands who entered our consciousness in the 80s. U2 was lurking around somewhere in my mind too…
- Duran Duran, “Hungry Like the Wolf” – This one is for the Rock Chick.
- Modern English, “I Melt With You” – Still one of the greatest “alternative rock” songs ever.
- Donald Fagen, “I.G.Y.” – Another iconic 80s band Steely Dan had bit the dust and Fagen finally emerged as a solo artist.
- The Psychedelic Furs, “Love My Way” – I feel like this song may have been ahead of its time. Or was it a harbinger of music to come? Either way it reminds me of early college.
- Roxy Music, “Love My Way” – This was the only Roxy song I knew for like, decades.
- The Fixx, “Red Skies” – I think the lead singer was 7 feet tall.
- Genesis, “Paperlate” – Great song from the one studio side of a double, live album.
- Pete Townshend, “Slit Skirts” – I can still remember the video. I had this album but had overlooked this song. “We have to be so drunk to try a new dance…”
- Bob Seger, “Roll Me Away” – A personal favorite and a favorite of my friend “the Bat Cat.” “Took a look down a west bound road, right away I made my choice…”
- Alan Parsons Project, “Eye In The Sky” – This was a pretty mellow, keyboard thing but we always dug this trippy band.
- R.E.M., “Gardening At Night” – From their debut EP, Chronic Town. You had to be really cool to own this one… I was not that cool.
- Lou Reed, “The Gun” – One of my all time favorite Lou Reed songs from one of my all time favorite Lou Reed LPs, The Blue Mask.
- Missing Persons, “Walking In L.A.” – My roommate actually bought this LP at a time when his record collection consisted of heavy metal and Fleetwood Mac. I think he had a crush on Dale Bozzio but who amongst us didn’t?
- Billy Joel, “Pressure” – Joel navigated the transition to the 80s quite well on the oft overlooked gem Nylon Curtain. I certainly didn’t handle the pressure of adulthood as well…
- Don Henley, “Dirty Laundry” – Henley rose from the ashes of the Eagles and launched his solo career with this classic track that features his former band mate Joe Walsh on lead guitar. A very tasty solo indeed.
- Billy Squier, “Everybody Wants You” – The biggest track on the follow up to his classic Don’t Say No. Emotions In Motion wasn’t as strong an album but there were still some great tracks.
- Kenny Loggins, Steve Perry, “Don’t Fight It” – I’m in no way a Loggins fan but back in those days I really liked Steve Perry and Journey. This track kinda rocked and it was always on the radio.
- Kansas, “Play The Game” – A great song from the band from my home state at the time.
- Pat Benatar, “Little Too Late” – I’m not a huge Benatar fan but this track always jumped out at me.
- Adam Ant, “Goody Two Shoes” – I was first introduced to this track on MTV… clearly I spent too much time watching televison. “You don’t drink, don’t smoke, what do you do?”
- Peter Gabriel, “Shock The Monkey” – Another late night, MTV favorite. I couldn’t help but think, where did this guy come from? To me Genesis was Phil Collins… I didn’t even know that Gabriel had once been their lead singer. College was great for bringing me out of the little hard rock cocoon I was in.
- The Go-Go’s, “Vacation” – A great summer track. I actually met Belinda Carlisle a few years later…but that’s another story.
- Prince, “Little Red Corvette” – I was turned on to Prince and 1999 a little later but this has always been a favorite of mine. Not just a favorite from 1982, or a favorite by Prince, but an overall all time favorite. “I guess I should have known by the way you parked your car sideways that it wouldn’t last…”
- Jackson Browne, “Somebody’s Baby” – My playlists pegged to a specific year are always very album oriented. This track is the exception here… It’s from the Fast Times At Ridgemont High soundtrack and I believe it’s Browne’s biggest “hit.” It’s an exceptional song.
- Paul McCartney, “Tug Of War” – The title track of an album I purchased because it was playing in the record store I was hanging out in and I really liked it…
There it is! Hopefully through these songs I was able to take you back to a happy place in your story. I know there are tunes from other albums that didn’t make my list but if you have a favorite put it in the comments and I’ll add it to the Spotify playlist.
And again, if you’re out there and struggling, whatever age you are or place in life you are at, please reach out and get help. Dial 988 in the U.S. and someone will be there. Help is available. It’s not good to struggle alone. It gets better, I promise…