We hosted a dinner party last night, and as we often have for gatherings of our contemporaries, we chose music from the 1980s as the soundtrack – peppy, yet nostalgic. I think Google Play picked a list it called “80s to sing along with” or some such. None of us were singers, but at multiple points the music altered the course of the conversation.
I brought up, for example, that many of the artists – Prince, Michael Jackson, David Bowie, George Michael, and Whitney Houston – to name a few, are gone. Obviously, 1988 was 30 years ago; 30 years is a long time. People do move on from this life, and I’ve written before about being able to mourn the passing of many artists in a simple way – they made so many people happy.
Bowie made it to almost 70, but let’s face it, rock/pop musicians are not known for their longevity. For their friends and loved ones, their passing is almost certainly not as simple as making so many people happy. Those who knew Whitney Houston best were undoubtedly traumatized by the final few years of her life. George Michael died too young, as did Prince.
And, of course, the memory of some is stained so much that’s it’s a challenge for me to appreciate their music, however great and legendary. Michael Jackson’s perpetual childhood seems likely to have ended the childhood of some children too soon. What part of the music is made of the character of its creator?
In retrospect, the 80s have been judged as an era of excess by our loudest cultural commentators, a time when cocaine came of age, greed was good, and even the hair was big. As a child of the 80s, it’s hard for me to step back enough to put it all into perspective. Don’t all decades have their over-indulgences? And many of them – Madonna, Elton John, Billy Joel, Bon Jovi, Sting – are still going strong.
We also took a moment to watch a great video – the Literal Total Eclipse of the Heart:
Apologies to Bonnie Tyler, one of those magnificent 80s wonders who’s still out there making so many people happy! She’s currently on tour in Germany.
Thanks for reading.