Friday, January 07, 2011

Friday 80s Flashback for January 7, 2011

[Ring in the New] -- Welcome to 2011!  A brand new year always seems so full of potential, does it not? In honor of the potential that comes with a new year, the theme for this week's flashback is songs that in some way celebrate some aspect of ... well, the new. Those of you who have been following along for any stretch of time know that I tend to avoid the obvious choices, so don't hold your breath for U2's 1983 single, "New Years Day." And although Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" would be a great message for the new year, it has been all over pop culture the last few years (The Sopranos, Glee, Family Guy, San Francisco Giants / World Series Anthem, American Idol, etc.) so I stayed away from it as well. Even so, I think I've managed to make some rather choice selections. So, by all means, read and hear more after the jump.

Flashback #1
"This is the day your life will surely change."  Every day you have the opportunity to introduce a change in your life, no matter how small. If you think about it, even waking up into a new day is a change. From 1981 to 1982, The The went through a minor lineup change and recorded a debut album, a debut that was never officially released. But the very next year, they released the synth-noir classic Soul Mining. Appropriately named, this album contained several songs that plunged into the very depths of one's soul. But none more so than today's first flashback. Now, just as one could pronounce The The's name in either one of two ways (is it "Thee Thuh" or "Thuh Thee"?), the lyrics of this flashback could be interpreted as either very positive, or exceedingly sad. I suppose it depends upon one's demeanor in the given moment. Given that we are still in that precious initial stages of 2011, I chose to take references to a blue skies and assurances that things will fall into place as positive signs. Warm up with "This is the Day."

Flashback #2"Throw off your mental chains." Our next Friday Flashback comes from the very first compact disc I ever purchased -- purchased, in fact, before I even owned a CD player. I was saving up for the player and I just wanted to ensure that I had something on hand when I finally connected it to my stereo system. Howard Jones' first album, Human's Lib (1983), was full of 80s pop goodness. Every track is a true gem. However, there is only one song that could be selected for today's theme: the bouncy, practically effervescent, "New Song."  Note the dancer/mime featured in the video for "New Song." If memory serves, this guy was seen at some early HoJo concerts, dancing of his own volition and greatly entertaining the audience. So Jones took the logical step and invited the man to join him on tour. See what can happen when you follow your heart? Perhaps you'll follow his example in 2011.

Flashback #3"It's a beautiful world we live in  |  A sweet romantic place  |  Beautiful people everywhere  |  The way they show they care  |  Makes me want to say  |  It's a beautiful world." Devo is typically known for being fairly silly or at least very tongue-in-cheek with their musc. But I have to say that their 1981 album, New Traditionalists, contains at least one song with a fairly simple message. And it's a message I whole-heartedly embrace: It's a Beautiful World. (Hopefully, that message is not lost in their fairly silly video).

Flashback #4"Home, don't it seem so far away  |  Oh, we're travelling light today  |  In the eye of the storm  |  In the eye of the storm."  What's this? A fourth flashback? Well, there was no flashback post on New Years Eve, so I figure I owe the 80s-philes out there more than three songsIn 1980, singer-songwriter Neil Diamond starred in a remake of the classic 1927 film, The Jazz Singer. A financial if not necessarily a critical success, The Jazz Singer spawned a hugely successful soundtrack. Our fourth flashback today is very much a part of that soundtrack's popularity. A positive take on the history of immigration to the United States, "America" is a rousing crowd-pleaser both at home and abroad. How can you not be stirred by a song praising the bravery and ingenuity of our immigrant ancestors as well as upholding all who help in keeping "Freedom's light burning warm"? 

Flashback #5"Sun is shinin' in the sky | There ain't a cloud in sight | It's stopped rainin' ev'rybody's in a play | And don't you know | It's a beautiful new day; hey, hey, hey."  Oh, and the surprises continue with an unprecedented fifth flashback! Only, it's not an 80s flashback.  But I could not help myself. Although we had snow this morning, all I see are blue skies and a smiling sun. I guess that's the power of Friday. And very few songs speak to the feeling of Friday, or the positivity in this week's theme, better than ELO's 1977 hit, "Mr. Blue Sky"! 

An that's it for this week! Oh, come on. I may have violated the rule of three, but I'm not about to give you a double helping of flashbacks. Five will have to suffice as you move into the weekend. Take care of each other and we'll reconvene next Friday for more 80s music marvels.

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