Friday, November 05, 2010

Friday 80s Flashback for November 5, 2010

[Politics Schmolotics] -- Here in the US, we recently endured a mid-term election season. Across the pond, Great Britain is observing Guy Fawkes Day. So this seems like a good time to have a politically minded set of Flashbacks. Now, I have heard arguments that the best protest songs were written and recorded in the 60s and 70s. That might be true, but the 80s did not lack for politically charged passion or activist rhetoric.

Read and hear more after the jump.

Flashback #1: "Take your instinct by the reins | Your better best to rearrange | What we want and what we need Has been confused, been confused."  What is one political topic of the 80s that is still a hot button issue today? No, the correct answer is not parachute pants. But "Jobs" or "the economy" are just two of many responses I would have accepted. In 1987, R.E.M. opened their fifth release, Document, with a call to not blindly follow the teeming, mindless throngs. It was, specifically, a protest against vapid consumerism -- you know, American-style consumerism that falsely drove this nation's economy while leading everyone and their twins into greater debt. It was also, a great song to hear in concert (I saw R.E.M. perform live at Penn State's Recreation Hall). We may be far from our finest hour, but this is still the "Finest Worksong."

Flashback #2
: "I'm mad as hell and I'm not gonna take it anymore!" There are big and timeless issues that affect each generation in its own way. Most rock bands, however, simply don't deal with hunger, poverty, the environment, overseas wars, or who is sits in the White House. No, most rock bands prefer to tap the rebellious zeitgeist of their audience and give voice to their feelings of being down-trodden, cast aside, or put upon. And what do most teenagers want? They want personal freedom, they want to be heard, and they don't want all your damn rules. The times may change, but those teenage feelings of anger and angst are timeless. You may say the next Flashback of the day is cartoony, and the video certainly is, but I think it might just be the most accurate, most rousing protest song ever recorded. And before you disagree, think about this: In 1985, just one year after this song was released, Dee Snider went to Washington, DC, to speak up against censorship in rock music. You could say he was just wasn't gonna take it.

Flashback #3
: I'll bet your heart -- or your fist -- is pumping after that last Flashback. So lets cool things down a bit with our next one. In 1984, Elvis Costello sang wistfully of a future in which "we can thank God that we've finally got peace in our time." Every generation has asked if they will see peace in their time, and more than a quarter century after Costello sang this next Flashback, we appear to be no closer to achieving that goal. However, as long as there are people willing to at least ask the question, I believe there remains hope that the Sun will rise on a more peaceful tomorrow.

I did receive a request to include a bonus Flashback in honor of Daylight Savings Time ending, but that would be two weeks in a row with a bonus. I'm not opposed to doing a bonus, but I also do not want to spoil you, dear 80s-philes, so I must invoke the rule of three and bid you a good weekend!

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