Friday, May 17, 2013

Friday 80s Flashback for May 17, 2013

Earth from Mars by NASA Goddard Photo and Video

[Lost but Not Lost] -- I lost my father two weeks ago today (refer to the Friday 80s Flashback for May 3, 2013, and A Eulogy for My Father). As it is all still fairly fresh for me, I find I'm still trying to learn how to navigate in -- what I perceive to be -- a new world. My moorings feel slightly loose, and sometimes I'm not sure where I am. I mean, sure I know where I am physically from one moment to the next. It's just that on a different, more ephemeral level, I sometimes feel lost. So this week's songs have been selected because they reflect, either directly or implied, the aspects of confusion, loss, and fumbling to make my way forward. Fear not, there are some toe-tapping tunes if you care to follow me on my latest venture. Just read and hear more after the break.

Flashback #1"Can't you see this is the land of confusion?"

The mid-80s saw the progressive rock band Genesis reach new heights of popularity. From 1967 through 1975, the band had been guided by the vision of original vocalist and co-founder, Peter Gabriel. During that time, Genesis was artsy and experimental (refer to the 1976 collection, The Best ... Genesis). But, after Gabriel departed and drummer Phil Collins stepped up to the mic in 1975, the band progressively embraced more pop overtones while retaining at least a core sensibility of their prog rock roots. This evolution in sound reached its pinnacle with the release of the band's 13th studio album, Invisible Touch (1986). It remains their most commercially successful album -- certified 6x platinum in the US and 4x platinum in the UK, with five US Top 5 singles. Now, one of those singles is our first Flashback of the day: "Land of Confusion" was released in October of 1986; it reached #4 in the US and #14 in the UK. The song's success was no doubt buoyed by it's unusual music video which featured puppet caricatures of the band as well as other prominent musicians and more than a few politicians (hello Ronnie and Thatcher). The puppets were created by Peter Fluck and Roger Law of the UK sketch show Spitting Image. While the music video is loaded with references to 80s politics (cowboy diplomacy, anyone?), cold war fears, and the general sense of confusion felt by children of the 80s, you might understandably wonder how it ties in with today's theme. Well, for one thing, the post 9/11 world has many similarities with malaise and confusion that permeated the 80s. There are concerns about the role of the US in the world, heated arguments about corporate profits versus environmental sustainability, and worried eyes cast over job forecasts and retirement plans. The specific names of the companies, politicians, and countries may have changed, and there is a heightened sensitivity due to attacks occurring within our own borders, but the same themes are at work: fear, posturing, and, in some cases, the "I don't care as long as I get mine" attitude. On the other, much more personal, hand, I am now living in my own Land of Confusion. The loss of my father has significantly changed the landscape for me. I have a deep sense of being out of place, while also realizing that I am certainly in my place. That will continue for a while to come, I am sure. But while I work through it, I have the comfort of family, friends (both real and virtual), and great 80s music like "Land of Confusion."

Flashback #2"When you miss me, dilly dilly, I did miss you."

Marillion started as a prog-rock band called Silmarillion (after J.R.R. Tolkien's book The Silmarillion). They changed their name to Marillion in 1981, which was around the time they replaced their original vocalist with Derek William Dick, better known as Fish. Although the band has continued to work and perform up through 2008, for all intents and purposes (i.e., in my humble opinion), they ceased being Marillion after Fish departed in 1988. Although Marillion enjoyed commercial success -- three of their first five albums went platinum while the other two were certified gold -- their fanbase was slighted as consisting solely of senstive boys who played Dungeons & Dragons in their parents' basements, or something like that. When I read that in some music magazine, I responded, "Hey! We don't always play D&D in basements! In fact, except for Chris' house, we play in the dining room!" So, maybe the sensitive charge was kind of accurate after all. Anyway, our second Flashback of the day is "Lavender," the band's second top 5 hit in the UK and the second single off their third studio album, Misplaced Childhood (1985). "Lavender" is here because it recalls the innocence of childhood and, although I have not been a child for many years, the recent loss of my father has had me thinking very deeply about all phases of my relationship with him. And, as Fish sings, "I owe you for your love," I can say I do feel a great debt of gratitude and obligation for my father's love.

Flashback #3"Love will find a way for me and you."

I have previously written about Yes' comeback in the 80s with the hook-laden 90125 (1983). Largely, the same lineup that produced that massively successful album (and the subsequent tours) returned to the studio to craft a followup. Amid much creative tension, they were able to record and produce eight more tracks together and release Big Generator in 1987. Big Generator was successful, but not nearly as popular as 90125, and it produced two Top 40 hits: "Rhythm of Love" and "Love Will Find a Way" (also a #1 on the Mainstream Rock chart). The latter of the two is our final Flashback of the day. This song is, on face value, more than likely about romantic love. However, I tend to see a broader message in "Love Will Find a Way." Love will, indeed, find a way for me to remain connected with the energy and memory of my father. Love has already been instrumental in helping members of my immediate family heal during their grief. I myself have benefited from an outpouring of love from friends. Plus, I find the upbeat outlook and jaunty rhythm in "Love Will Find a Way" to be totally addictive. So it's not only perfect for today's theme, it is the perfect way to end today's Flashback post and play you out to your individual weekends. 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. And if you like what I'm doing here, please share the link with your friends. If, however, you don't like the flashback, feel free to share it with your enemies.

And if you are on Twitter, and feel so inclined, please +K my influence in Music on @klout.

I'll see you in seven!

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