I was a child of the ’80s. Well, actually, I was born in the ’70s, but most of my formative years took place between 1980 and 1989, so just about every song I listened to during that time goes hand-in-hand with a memory. (Click on the titles for the YouTube link if you don’t recognize the song.)
“The Tide is High” by Blondie (1980)
Summer. Toronto. I’m in the backseat of my mother’s powder blue Mercury Monarch (a beast of a car) eating my Happy Meal while she sings along to Debbie Harry. I spill orange pop everywhere. She’s not mad. The seats are vinyl.
“Celebration” by Kool & the Gang (1981)
I’m at a party with my parents, who are dressed up and looking very glamorous. My uncle, wearing bell bottoms, puts the 12-inch extended version of this song on the record player. All the grown-ups dance.
“She Blinded Me With Science” by Thomas Dolby (1982)
Hanging out in my big brother’s room, thrilled just to be there since he’s eight years older than me and I’m usually a nuisance. He’s playing this song over and over. I ask him what it means. He doesn’t know, but informs me that it’s a really good song and that Thomas Dolby is a genius.
“Mr. Roboto” by Styx (1983)
Somebody’s birthday party. My cousins and I are stuffing our faces with birthday cake and pizza, shrieking “Domo arigato, Mr. Roboto! Domo! Domo!” until our parents tell us to tone it down.
“Like a Virgin” by Madonna (1984)
Madonna’s album of the same name was the first album I ever bought with my allowance. I’m rifling through my mother’s drawers looking for her fake pearls and some lace to make a headband.
“Wake Me Up Before You Go Go” by Wham! (1985)
Hanging out at my house with my best friend Annabella (Annie). It’s after school, and we dance to George Michael until we drop.
|June 1985. Me on the left, Annie on the right.|
|25 years later, we’re still best friends.|
“Say You Say Me” by Lionel Richie (1986)
Valentine’s Day Dance. The gymnasium of my middle school is decorated with red and pink balloons. I’m wearing a yellow jumpsuit my mother picked out. Curtis asks me to dance. I give Annie a look that she completely understands. Curtis and I place our hands on each others’ shoulders and start swaying, careful to avoid eye contact. I’m in heaven.
“Livin’ on a Prayer” by Bon Jovi (1987)
Class trip to the Toronto Zoo. I have a crush on Joe, the 14-year-old who’s somehow still in seventh grade. He has a crush on my friend Micheleen. Micheleen has a crush on Kenrick. Kenrick has a crush on me. It’s all very angsty. We sit at the back of the big yellow school bus ’cause we’re cool like that, and blast the song all the way to the zoo and back.
“Just Like Heaven” by The Cure (1988)
Sprawled on my bed wishing my hair would grow faster and that my parents would let me wear contact lenses. Back to crushing on Curtis and feeling totally sorry for myself.
“Bust a Move” by Young MC (1989)
High school cafeteria. Somebody brought their ghetto blaster and I’m watching my friends practice their dance moves. Making fun of them while wolfing down a carton of fries with ketchup (which cost $1.10 – and I always had to bum a dime off Annie because I never remembered to bring the ten cents) and calling it lunch.
What songs are on the soundtrack of YOUR life?