[Bully for You] -- I was chatting with an old friend this week. I could almost go so far as to say this was an old school friend -- we've known each other since our elementary years. We naturally lost touch after high school graduation, but have been able to reconnect through the FaceTube ... er, MyFace ... um ... oh, yes, Facebook! Anyway, during our conversation, we each learned that the other had been bullied back in our dear old school days. And, of course, neither of us knew about the other's situation. Now, bullying wasn't a new ordeal for my generation. There is a fairly long history of bullying both in and out of school, with the first use of bullying in a literary work occurring in 1838 [xtimeline.com, "History of Bullying"]. However, instances of bullying are increasing rather than increasing. Perhaps that is due to the addition of the new category of cyberbullying. And, even worse, we have cases of students are taking their own lives because of being bullied. So, this week, the Flashback features 80s songs that, in some way, reflect the realities and angst of a bullied victim. At the end of this Flashback, I'll share info about organizations dedicated to stopping bullying and helping victims.
Read and hear more after the break.
Flashback #1: "They'll hurt me bad but I won't mind | They'll hurt me bad they do it all the time."
The 80s saw a number of developments in popular music: jangly rock guitar, synthpop, and glam metal to name but a few. Most of these developments, though potentially jarring at the time, can be seen as natural progressions of musicians pushing boundaries and wedding their ambitions to new technologies. One of the decade's true surprises, in my opinion, was the energy and emotion of a stripped down, acoustic trio known as the Violent Femmes. Now, post 1990s, we are quite comfortable with folk rock, alt-folk, punk, and post-punk. But a post-punk band simply using acoustic guitar, bass, and a sparse drum kit with an all-balls-out urgency was unheard of when the Femmes debuted in 1983 -- and it has rarely (if ever) been duplicated since. The second track from their self-titled debut album provides probably the best example of their angsty and anthemic style. "Kiss Off" -- with its famous line of "I hope you know... that this will go down on your permanent record" -- is definitely a song that anyone can enjoy, but can only be deeply appreciated and understood by those of us who were alienated from and suffered at the hands -- or words -- of our peers.
Flashback #2: "I am human and I need to be loved | Just like everybody else does."
If there was one band that truly wrote the soundtrack for ostracized outsider, it was The Smiths. Our second Flashback of the day was originally the B-side of the 1984 single "William, It Was Really Nothing." It was later released included on the compilation album, Hatful of Hollow (1984), as well as the US, Canadian, Australian and Warner UK editions of the group's second album Meat Is Murder (1985). "How Soon Is Now" did not chart as well as other Smiths' compositions, but it is clearly considered a fan favorite, something of an anthem for the alienated and socially isolated -- you know, the folks who are often targeted for bullying. The original track is about seven minutes long, but the 7" single was edited down to just under 4 minutes (that is the version embedded in this post).
A cover of the song by Love Spit Love was used on the soundtrack for the 1996 flick, The Craft, and it was also used as the opening theme for the TV show Charmed.
Flashback #3: "You might think I'm crazy, but I don't even care."
So, our final Flashback of the day is "Hip to be Square," the fifth single released from from Huey Lewis and the News' fourth studio album, Fore! (1986). A relatively popular song, it reached #3, #20, and #1 on the US Billboard Hot 100, Adult Contemporary Tracks, and Album Rock Tracks charts respectively. It also peaked at #41 on the UK Singles Chart. However, "Hip to be Square" is not directly related to bullying or even the alienation of a geek. In fact, this song is more about a free spirit willingly changing his life to embrace a more subdued, or conformist, lifestyle. I, however, cannot help but hear a rallying cry in the chorus, a call that exhorts the listener to be cool with who you are. We are all "square" in one way or another. And we are all very, very hip.
Plus ... I wanted to end the Flashback with something a tad upbeat. Enjoy!
Once again, I remind you that the rule of three applies when doing Flashbacks. As I've made my three offerings, that's all till next week. Dedicated 80s-philes can find more flashbacks in the archives. As always, your comments are welcome on today's, or any other, flashback post.
This week focused on a very serious topic: Bullying. It can start very early, and, unfortunately, it does not necessarily end after high school. And, as I mentioned previously, it can have deadly consequences. Learn more about bullying and efforts to eliminate it at the following sites:
- History of Bullying in Schools
- National Statistics on Bullying in Schools
- Stomp Out Bullying
- Stop Bullying Now
- Adult Bullying
Please remember that if you like what I'm doing here, share the link with your friends. If, however, you don't like the flashback, feel free to share it with your enemies (but don't bully them into visiting my pages). And if you are on Twitter, and feel so inclined, please +K my influence in Music on @klout.
I'll see you in seven!