Thursday, November 17, 2011

Songs from the Fall/ Winter of 1986

In the fall of 1986, I was the anti-Bill Buckner.

In Game 6 of the 1986 World Series, Bill Buckner let a routine Mookie Wilson dribbler roll between his legs, costing the Red Sox the game. The Sox eventually lost the Series, and the fans and the media pinned the loss, rightfully or not, on poor Bill. His life would never be the same.

Well, my life would also never be the same after the fall of 1986... but in a good way. That's the moment in time when I started becoming more social, when I started hanging out with other folks on Saturday nights besides Julie McCoy, Isaac the Bartender, and the rest of the crew from The Love Boat.

Here's something you have to understand: I went to an all-boys high school located about thirty minutes from my house. Thus, my school friends were scattered across various towns, which made it tricky to see them outside of school. And even when I did see people outside of school, I only saw other boys. For my first two years of high school, I knew NO girls. Forget about having a girlfriend; I didn't even have girl friends.

That all changed thanks to a little thing called a license—and no, not a License to Ill, but a driver’s license. At the beginning of my junior year, five or six of my guy friends got their licenses. Now, eventually, this ability to drive brought the realization that there is no place to drive to, that there really is nothing for teenagers to do in this world. But that came later. Now, the possibilities seemed endless.

So, even though I didn't get my license for another ten months, it didn't matter: I had no problem sponging off my friends. In fact, that's also how I started meeting girls: a friend met a girl from an all-girls school, and our circles of friends meshed.

As a result, in the fall of my junior year, my social life went from zero to... well, a little bit more than zero, to be honest. But hey, it was a transformation, nonetheless, a "coming into my own" (whatever that means). So even though I don't see my guy friends as often as I'd like, and I never see the girls I knew way back when, I always look back fondly on the Fall of 1986, as that moment in history which belongs particularly to me. (A Separate Peace shout-out there.)

I tend to equate epochs in my life with the music on the radio at the time. So, while thinking about the fact that twenty-five years have past since that fateful fall, I decided to do a follow-up to my wildly-successful post, "Rating the Songs of Summer 1986." (No, no one read the darn thing, but I liked it.)

As with the previous posting, I'm going to rate the staying power of twenty-five songs from the Fall of 1986, to determine whether or not they still hold up a quarter-century later. As before, I'm judging the songs according to three criteria:

(a) whether or not I still hear this song on the radio in 2011
(b) whether or not I cringe if I do hear this song in 2011
(c) whether or not I actually like the song

As always, some caveats before we begin:

(1) Since I was going with the whole "25 songs from 25 years go" angle, plenty of songs just plain ol' didn't make the cut. So, sorry in advance to Glass Tiger and Stacy Q, but as your fellow 80s casualty Robbie Nevil once said, “C’est La Vie.”

(2) I tried not to repeat some of the artists that appeared in the "Summer of 1986" posting. So that's why Stevie Winwood ("Freedom Overspill"), Madonna ("True Blue"), Huey Lewis ("Hip to Be Square"), Genesis ("Land of Confusion"), and Janet Jackson ("When I Think of You") don't appear here.

(3) Other songs that should have made this list (and would have if I thought of something witty to say about them) include the following: "Wild, Wild Life," Talking Heads; "Notorious," Duran Duran; "Sleeping Bag"/ "Velcro Fly"/ "Stages," ZZ Top (in my mind, they're the same song); "What About Love," 'Til Tuesday; and "Dancing on the Ceiling," Lionel Richie. (So sorry, Lionel.)

(4) I planned on doing this much earlier-- I mean, three-months ago earlier. I originally conceived this as a just "Fall 1986" piece, but as December dawned, I figured I better throw in Winter 1986 songs as well. And here I am, on the last day of 2011, putting the finishing touches on this stupid thing. Oh, well. I mean, what's time anyway but a human construct?

And now, Songs from the Fall (and Winter) of 1986—the era of The Fly, ALF, and Crocodile Dundee (not to mention the worldwide premier of The Oprah Winfrey Show).

"Take Me Home Tonight," Eddie Money: To borrow a catchphrase from Swingers, Eddie was money back in the 80s. How good was he? In the era of glitz and image that was the 80s, Eddie was able to sell records on the strength of his music. Which I guess is a nice way of saying he was none too attractive. Just check out the video, in which Eddie does the impossible: making Ronnie Spector look somewhat good by comparison.

OK, that's mean, so I'll say something nice: this song is gold. From the eerie opening guitar, to the kickin', legally-required-to-sing-along chorus, the Money-man hit the jackpot with this one. Plus, by getting Ronnie Spector in there, he was able to cash in on the mash-up phenomenon a good twenty years before mashing-up became a pop music pre-requisite. Dollars to donuts, this song is timeless-- and priceless. (Say, did you happen to detect any "money" puns in here?)

"Living on a Prayer" and "You Give Love a Bad Name," Bon Jovi: Recently, I made a bold pronouncement at work: "Of all the acts that rose to fame in the 80s, Bon Jovi has had the longest, most productive career." Then I realized that maybe that pronouncement wasn't all that bold. Honestly, who's their competition? R.E.M.? Van Halen? Only U2 comes close... then again, how many singles has U2 released in the past five years?

Now, one of my co-workers bristled at this idea, on "quality over quantity" grounds. "Sure, Bon Jovi still puts out music," he argued, "but it's all crap." I disagreed: sure, recent offerings such as "We Weren't Born to Follow" or "What Do You Got" may not be the greatest songs ever, but they're hardly crap. Derivative, maybe, but not crap. Oh, he's basically singing the same song over and over, all right... but it's a good same song.

And no matter what you may think of the quality of the music... two stupefying facts remain about Mr. Bongiovi:

(1) He's still cranking out hit singles. Now. In the 2010s. A quarter-century after the band exploded into the "household-name" stratosphere with Slippery When Wet.

(2) Those old songs still get played. Like Jon himself, these 1986 songs have aged well. (Damn you, you 49-year-old rock ambassador, with your wrinkle-free face and full head of hair!)

You know, it's funny: Back in the Fall of 1986, the guy who drove me to high school played his Slippery When Wet tape every morning. Flash-forward twenty-five years, to December 2011: I'm driving to high school (I'm a teacher now), and I hear "Livin' on a Prayer" on the radio. Nothing's changed. Like I said, funny... or, as a reminder of the passage of time and my own mortality, utterly soul-crushing. Take your pick.

"True Colors," Cyndi Lauper: It's clear that this song, her follow-up to her hugely successful She's So Unusual debut album, was meant to show the softer side of Cyndi. Less clear is why she needed to do that, since she had already shown us that side with "Time After Time." No matter: whatever her motive, this song is simply beautiful. But don't take my word for it: ask the 3,000 artists who have recorded the song since 1986 (including Phil Collins, Eva Cassidy, the gang from Glee, and a bunch of other people I never heard of).

By the way, fans concerned that this softer Cyndi no longer wanted to have fun need not have worried: at one point in the "True Colors" video, she's wearing a skirt made out of shredded newspaper. Talk about showing your true colors...

"To Be a Lover," Billy Idol: Another example of an artist showing a softer side in late '86. Granted, "To be a Lover" wasn't Easy Listening Idol... but it wasn't the Rebelliously Yelling Idol, either. Instead, for his first single off Whiplash Smile (great title), Billy "remade" a 1968 R & B song, "I Forgot to Be Your Lover," by William Bell.

I put "remade" in quotations because Billy's version doesn't sound anything like the original... nor does it sound much like anything else he had ever done. And the innovation paid off, at least in the short term: the song peaked at #6 on the Billboard charts. Unfortunately, audiences quickly forgot to be lovers of this song, which slipped from the mainstream by early '87. You never hear this on the radio anymore... and I place the blame for that solely on the doorstep of Cameron Crowe.

Why Cameron Crowe, you ask? Apparently, when he was writing the script for Say Anything..., he initally had "To Be a Lover" in mind for the Lloyd Dobler/ boom box scene. He quickly changed his mind (Crowe has said he liked "To be a Lover" for exactly "one day, the day I wrote that scene"), but imagine if he actually went with Idol over Peter Gabriel? What kind of world would this be?

"Welcome to the Boomtown," David and David: Under-appreciated song, from a wildly, sinfully under-appreciated album, Boomtown . And I don't mean just under-appreciated now; even in 1986, this duo of Davids didn't get the love they deserved. You never hear this or any other David and David song on the radio, and that's a shame, because this album is really, really good. Just didn't take for whatever reason.

Strangely enough, the same can be said about the short-lived NBC cop show from 2002, also called Boomtown. Everyone seemed to praise the show, starring Neal "The-Guy-with-the-Intense-Blue-Eyes-Who-Appeared-Opposite-Tom-Cruise-in-Minority-Report" McDonough, but it barely squeaked out a year. The lesson, of course, to artists everywhere: never name your project "Boomtown."

Three more comments:

(a) A lot of double groups in the 80s, huh? David and David, Duran Duran, Mr. Mister, Lisa Lisa (see below), Talk Talk, and even The The...

(b) If you don't know David and David (and who can blame you, since they only put out this one album?), you owe it to yourself to check out these two other songs, which I feel are even better than "Welcome to the Boomtown": "Ain't So Easy" and (my favorite of theirs) "Swallowed by the Cracks."

(c) Seriously, what's up with Neal McDonough's eyes? I mean, his stare just drills a hole right into your soul...

"Don't Get Me Wrong," Pretenders: I can't pretend to love this song, but I still hear it on the radio, so I guess someone likes it. And at least it's better than the repugnant, unredeemable "Brass in Pocket." What a terrible song, with its chorus and the uber-hip verses all sprinkled with unintelligible British slang like "new skank" and "so reet." The song actually makes my skin crawl and ears bleed at the same time. Man, I hate this song... Where was I? Oh, yeah... "Don't Get Me Wrong"... not a fave, but catchy, harmless, enduring. Let's move on...

"A Matter of Trust," Billy Joel: When perusing through Billy's extensive discography, one may find it helpful to put the songs into categories. First, you have Piano Songs and Non-Piano Songs. Then, as subsets, you have Songs that Are Autobiographical ("Piano Man," "The Entertainer"); Songs that Aren't Autobiographical But Seem As If They Should Be ("Goodnight Saigon," "Downeaster Alexa"); Songs That Tell a Story ("Scenes from an Italian Restaurant," "Allentown," "Movin' Out"); Songs That Suggest Billy Joel is Bipolar ("Summer, Highland Falls," "I Go To Extremes"); Songs That Are Sweet ("She's Got a Way," "Just the Way You Are"); and Songs That Seem Like They're Sweet But Are Actually Kind of Insulting ("She's Always a Woman").

Which brings us to "A Matter of Trust," which I'd call his best Non-Piano Song That By All Rights Should be a Piano Song. Here's what I mean: "A Matter of Trust" is a straight-up ballad, a love song, filled with Billy's signature poetry. In other words, a quintessential Billy Joel piano song. But he doesn't use a piano. Instead, he breaks out an electric guitar and flirts with hard-rock. The result: a “traditional” Billy Joel song that’s also unlike anything else he’s ever done.

Now, some will disagree. Members of the BJC (Billy Joel Critics) have most certainly enjoyed some hearty, self-important snickers over the fact that he called this album The Bridge, since it indeed marks a transition, from the consistent, quality work of his earlier career to the inconsistent, not-quite-so-quality work of his later career. And, yeah, this album, along with the next two (Strom Front and River of Dreams) had more misses than hits. That’s what makes “A Matter of Trust” so noteworthy: it’s the last truly great song of his storied career.

At least so far. But he has more gas in the tank. The original "Piano Man" has one more great hit in him. Trust me.

"The Way It Is," Bruce Hornsby and the Range: Speaking of "piano men"... OK, I'll admit it: for years, I drove the Hornsby bandwagon. From 1986 to 2003, I saw him in concert eight times; for two of those shows, I waited by the bus afterwards and talked with the man himself. So, yeah, you could call me a fan.

And for this, I have suffered. The Hornsby-haters-- and they're out there-- have mocked me, dismissing his songs as repetitive, "Adult Contemporary" fare. But whenever I got discouraged, I remembered all the great artists-- from Don Henley to Bonnie Raitt to Huey Lewis to Grateful Dead-- who have collaborated with him over the years. In short: Hornsby's got game.

And it all starts here-- with a song that earned the band a Grammy for Best New Artist in 1987, that was later sampled by 2Pac, and that is still heard today, twenty-five years later. Face it, Hornsby-haters: Bruce wrote a classic. You may not like it... but that's just the way it is.

"At This Moment," Billy Vera and the Beaters: A song that was never supposed to be on this list-- or any other list of memorable songs, for that matter. Originally released in 1981, "At This Moment" only lasted but a moment on the charts, reaching #79 on the Billboards before falling into obscuirty. For the next five years, Billy and his unfortunately-named Beaters waited for their break.... which finally happened when a TV producer heard them perform and had the idea of using "At This Moment" for his show, the Michael J. Fox sitcom "Family Ties."

And so this going-nowhere-fast song eventually skyrocketed to #1. Moreover, just like Michael J. Fox's marriage to Tracy Pollan, "At This Moment" has staying power; "light rock" stations still play it twenty-five years later. The lesson to undiscovered bands everywhere: if you keep marching confidently in the directions of your dreams, you will find success... even if you try to sabotage your chances with an absolutely ridiculous band name. (I mean, the Beaters? Honestly...)

"Everybody Have Fun Tonight," Wang Chung: Then again, if you have a goofy name, you might as well embrace it: Wang Chung not only included its name in its most famous lyric from its most famous song, but they even turned it into a verb!

What does it mean to "wang chung," exactly? Twenty-five years have not shed any light on this mystery, although the Internet swirls with speculation. (Does it mean "Yellow Bell" in Chinese? Does it mean "perfect pitch"? Is it the sound a guitar makes?) Personally, I think it has to do with the ancient art of Product Placement-- the product, in this case, being the name of the band itself.

Think about it: you take a catchy, up-tempo beat and combine it with a non-sensical chorus that includes the name of your band. And though folks may mock the lyric, everyone's still saying it. And I mean everyone: just look at the "Appearances/ References in Other Media" section of the song's Wikipedia page. From "Cheers" to "Veronica Mars" to "How I Met Your Mother," tons of TV shows have alluded to the line "everybody wang chung tonight."

Hey, I know the Product Placement worked on me: even though I dismissed the song as a 16-year-old, as a 41-year-old, I remember it fondly, as one of the signature songts of the 80s. Man, how did I get wang chunged like that?

"Sweet Love," Anita Baker: Not my necessarily favorite song back in 1986, but I wanted to give Anita some soulful props. This song, her first single, went to #8 on the pop charts and #2 on the R&B charts; plus, "Sweet Love" earned her a Grammy for Best R&B Song and another for Best R&B Vocal Performance (Female). As I said, not my cup of tea, but I respect her for giving us the best that she's got.

"I'll be Over You," Toto: This band really should have hung it up after "Africa." After all, how can you top that? But since everyone somehow thought "Africa" was sung by Asia, Toto soldiered on with this sappy little ditty, which actually reached #11 on the Billboard chart. Alas, the song's title proved prophetic, as fans were quickly "over" this song and the group. In fact, only the inclusion of the irrepressible Michael McDonald saves this song from obscurity. (As an aside, did Toto and Kansas ever go on tour together? Seems like a no-brainer...)

"It's in the Way That You Use It," Eric Clapton: Fun fact, courtesy of the book Scorsese on Scorsese: Clapton's original lyric for this song was "He's getting ready to use you." But director Martin Scorsese (who wanted to use this for The Color of Money) didn't care for the line. So Clapton and singer Robbie Robertson tweaked it a little and came up with a line with the same number of syllables: "It's in the way that you use it." And so was born a great song that, twenty-five years later, is never played and is barely even remembered.

Of course, I personally will always hold this song dear because of its appearance in The Color of Money, which is a film I saw with the first girl I could legitimately call a girlfriend.... regardless of whether she knew I called her that or not. Ultimately, the song's popularity and my relationship with the girl shared the same fate-- i.e. they were both short-lived.

"Shake You Down," Gregory Abbott: My inclusion of this song should in no way suggest that I endorse it; rather, I loathe it. I consider the week this terrible song reached #1 (in January 1987) one of the darkest eras in Billboard history. But I am mentioning it because it taught me something about female/ male perspectives.

The first time I heard this song, I immediately recognized it as limp, sappy-pappy crap. But my new female friends liked it-- loved it, actually. And while they didn't turn me around on this song, they did teach me something valuable: if men are born with the chromosome that prevents them from asking for directions, then women are born with the chromosome that makes them like crappy Gregory Abbott tunes. Somehow, it all evens out.

"The Rain," Oran "Juice" Jones AND "The Future's So Bright, I Gotta Wear Shades," Timbuk-3: I am bundling these two songs together because I never really knew, even at the time, if they were meant to be "real" songs, or jokey/novelty songs-- a la "Pac-Man Fever" or "Homecoming Queen's Got a Gun." "The Rain" seems real enough, but the talking part at the end-- the best part, for sure-- is played for laughs.

Timbuk-3's song, on the other hand, is just goofy all around-- at least, that's what I always thought. Only recently did I discover it's not goofy at all; apparently, lead singer pat mAcdonald (yep, that's how he spells it) considers it a song about... wait for it... nuclear holocaust-- with the "dark glasses" being a metaphor for turning a blind eye to a potential future that's made "bright" by a giant nuclear blast.


Yeah, I sort of see it, especially since he does make reference to studying "nuclear science" in the very first line. And yet... I somehow liked the song better when I thought it was just goofy.

While both Oran "Juice" Jones and Timbuk-3 were one-hit wonders, 'Buk-3 may have more "juice" than "Juice" as far as longevity goes-- if only because people still say the "bright future/ sunglasses" line. (Then again, that expression may predate the song, I'm not sure.) But I still prefer "The Rain," mostly because of its great put-downs-- for examlpe, "You without me is like corn flakes without the milk! This is my world. You're just a squirrel trying to get a nut!"

Plus, "The Rain' is the only one on this list (as far as I know) that has a rebuttal: Miss Thang's "Thunder and Lightning," which features the woman from "The Rain" sassing back to the man. When your song has a Rebuttal Version, you know you've made it.

"Human," Human League AND "Next Time I Fall," Peter Cetera and Amy Grant AND "All Cried Out," Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam with Full Force: And I bundling these three together, not because they all do that "male/female duet" thing, but because they all fall into the category of "Songs That I Have Been and On Some Level Still Am Ashamed To Admit I Like."

When I asked my wife which of these three should embarrass me the most, she picked "Human"-- which I actually find the least shameful. So then I decided to do the iPod Test: I have both "Human" and "All Cried Out" in my music library, but no "Next Time I Fall." So I guess my appreciated for Peter and Amy is shoved so far back in the closet that I can't even admit it to my iPod.

The world seems to agree: as far as longevity goes, I feel I actually hear "Human" and, to a lesser extent, "All Cried Out" on the radio, but I never hear "Next Time I Fall." Of course, the next time I do hear "Next Time," you know I'll be singing along. (And now that I admitted that in print, this blog will self-destruct in five... four... three...)

"Will You Still Love Me?" Chicago: It's 1986, and gang warfare erupted on the Billboard charts. David Lee Roth and his ex-band Van Halen put out competing albums (Eat 'Em and Smile and 5150, respectively); Benjamin Orr and Ric Ocasek, both members of the Cars, released singles ("Stay the Night" and "Emotion in Motion," respectively) around the same time; and Peter Cetera and his former bandmates in Chicago slugged it out in an epic Battle of the Wusses.

Just how vicious was this Cetera-Chicago duel? Well, I'm reminded of Sean Connery's line from The Untouchables:

"He brings a knife, you bring a gun. He sends one of your guys to the hospital, you send one of theirs to the morgue. That's the Chicago way."

Only, in this case, instead of knives and guns, the Cetera and the Chiaco guys were armed with cheesy, David Foster-penned ballads.

Who won this battle for soft-rock supermacy? Well, I'd probably give the nod to Petey, since both of his songs from 1986, "Glory of Love" and the aforementioned "Next Time I Fall," went to #1, while "Will You Still Love Me?" peaked at #3. Still, #3 is not too shabby, and Chiacgo proved they could survive without the bizarrely falsettoed Cetera. They'd go their own way-- the Chicago way.

"Heartbeat," Don Johnson: At some point in the fall of 1986, Eddie Murphy let out a big ol' *Phew*. See, up until that point, Eddie was the reigning Celebrity Who Put Out the Most Embarrassing Pop Song, 1985's insipid "Party of the Time." Then, in the Fall of 1986, Don Johnson decided to cash in on his Miami Vice fame by putting out this piece of steaming, soulless, opportunistic crud, which actually has gained some fame over the years.

For example, in 2007, put "Heartbeat" at the top of its "Worst Songs of All Time" list (beating out "Party All The Time" at #8). And back in 1999, it earned the #1 spot on MTV's 25 Lame show, commemorating the top 25 videos of all time (which MTV swore it would never play again).

But here's something curious: while I know no one who admitted to liking either "Heartbeat" or "Party All the Time," somehow they both reached the top five on the Billboard charts (#5 for Don and #2 for Eddie). And even curiouser: supposedly, Willie Nelson, Bonnie Raitt, and even Barbra Streisand helped Don Johnson on this album... which begs the question: just how crappy would the project have been if these folks didn't assist?

"Word Up!," Cameo: Going out on a limb here: I think this song has enjoyed a longer shelf-life than any other song on this list, save for the two Bon Jovi songs. Not necessarily because you hear "Word Up!" on the radio all the time (even though you do hear it occasionally), but because of the various incarnations the song has enjoyed over the past twenty-five years.

First, in the 1990s, a Scottish rock band named Gun re-made the song, a version which was apparently featured on the soundtrack of the Pamela Anderson vehicle, Barb Wire. (I never actually saw the film, but I'm sure the seventeen people who did would say it was the better for the song's inclusion.) Then, in the 2000s, the song lived on again: Korn (of all groups) made a version; and a radio personality out of Los Angeles named DJ Zax mashed-up "Word Up!" with Gwen Stefani's "Hollaback Girl"-- and actually made "Hollaback Girl" somewhat bearable.

Why has the song enjoyed so many lives? Obviously, it has a great sound, but I wonder if people are also responding, on some level, to its paradoxical Deeper Meaning. See, when I actually looked at the lyrics, I realized the song is actually an indictment rappers and other "sucker DJs" for "putting on airs" and writing about "psychological romance" instead of just writing cool dance music. Hence the paradox: a song that seems to critique other songs for their Deeper Meanings actually has a Deeper Meaning. Ah, Cameo, you tricksters.

"Walk Like an Egyptian," The Bangles: On the one hand, the recording of the song caused some friction among the Bangle-gals (Ban-gals?): it seems the producer not only forbade bandmember Debbi Peterson from singing one of the verses (she was relegated to the whistling section, of all things), he also replaced her drumming with a drum machine. So, some trouble was a-brewing behind the scenes. (Three years later, the group broke up-- not necessarily because of the tensions involving "Walk Like an Egyptian," but it couldn't have helped.)

On the other hand, the good far outweigh the bad with this song: it reached #1 on the Billboard chart in December 1986 and stayed there into 1987; it was the very first song performed by an all-female group playing their own instruments to reach the top spot on the charts; it brought the concept of "cops hanging out in the donut shops" into the limelight; and it still lives on today, as proven by all the "Walk Like an Egyptian" puns that surfaced in conjunction with the Egyptian Revolution of 2011. Bottom line: when you think of great songs from the 80s, this one has to be near the top of the pyramid.

(Unless, of course, you're Toni Basil, the one-hit wonder responsible for 1981's "Mickey." Seems songwriter Liam Sternberg first took "Walk Like an Egyptian" to Toni-- who turned it down! And if you listen closely, you can still, more then twenty-five years later, hear Toni Basil crying.)

"Stand by Me," Ben E. King: Yeah, the movie Stand by Me came out in late-summer 1986, but you heard the song throughout the fall, so I figured I could include it on the list. Moreover, I wanted to end with this song (and, incidentally, *phew* for finishing this mere hours before 2012 rolls in!) for three reasons.

First, some temporal serendipity: on December 31st, 1986, I actually saw the movie Stand by Me in the theater for the first time. Now, twenty-five years later, to the day, I'm here writing about it. So weird.

Second, temporal serendipity, part 2: the song "Stand by Me" was originally released in 1961, so it was 25-years-old when the movie made it popular again. (As a pseudo-aside: I can think of only one other song that charted twice, after a quarter-century gap: the Righteous Brothers' version of "Unchained Melody," in 1965 and then in 1990.) So 2011 marked twenty-five years after that re-release. Fifty years of "Stand by Me"? Hard to believe...

Finally, and most importantly, I wanted to conclude my memory-lane jaunt with this song because of what the song means. The song is about the importance of enduring friendships. The friends I made twenty-five years ago, when all these songs were popular-- well, I don't see any of them regularly. But I do see five of them, at least once a year. We Facebook. We exchange Christmas cards. We are most definitely still friends.

These songs may have provided the soundtrack of this magical time in my life, but my friends were the characters who made the movie of my life fun and interesting and worthwhile. The songs were on the car radio, but they were ones in the car with me. They were the ones who made the memories. They were the ones standing by me.

Twenty-five years ago, I was a junior in high school. Now I teach high school juniors. And for them, I have this one wish: that twenty-five years from now, in the year 2036, you'll look back just as fondly on your friends... and your music.

Word up!


Steve C said...


I enjoyed your blog. Pretty funny. It actually made me think of BC High and getting booed off stage performing a lip sync to Wanted Dead Or Alive on senior talent show night. Oh the memories!!

Glad to see you still have your witty style and your skilled ability to communicate. Hope you are doing well. I have to admit liking some of the songs on your list that you list as embarrassing and I also am a big fan of Bruce Hornsby's The Way it is!

Have a happy and prosperous 2012!

Steve Comer

Ronan, Liam and Kara said...

If I close my eyes for a moment while listening to any of these songs I see visions of turned-up collar shirts and smell polo cologne. Wasn't it just yesterday? Those were some great times, Mark. I'm going to play some of these songs for my own kids now and see what they think. :-)