Glory of the Eighties


Something I wrote enroute...

Sitting in a Halifax bistro, the radio is playing a medley of eighties tunes. It's interesting how the music and the architecture of that decade is developing a distinct and decidedly retro look as the years go on. These were the contemporary songs of my youth; when did we cross this border? Like driving from Maine to Florida at the height of January, where is the boundary of winter?

The radio is just through playing a set of Milli Vanilli and Cindi Lauper. And I remember that Lauper and Madonna were once considered contemporaries. Madonna is sometimes pained in an unflattering light these days, but it speaks volumes of her musical genius that she is still producing, when Cindi Lauper was long ago consigned to the "Where are they Now?" crowd.

Consider the artists of the eighties that have survived to this day: Peter Gabriel, Annie Lennox, Sting. They were respected in their day, but they weren't their decade's superstars. They have, however, become the few stars of that decade to survive the transition to the present day. They could well come to define the music of the eighties in the same way that Pink Floyd emerged for the seventies, and the Beatles nailed the sixties. They will be the eighties singers we're proud to listen to, as opposed to the flashes of She Blinded Me With Science that forces us to say "good God, did I used to listen to that?!"

How does that happen? How will it happen today?

It's too early for the nineties to emerge as a distinct and decidedly retro decade. These trends appear to take twenty years to establish themselves. Who will be the musicians still playing and producing in 2013, and who will be reserved for clips on segments of That 90s Show?

By the way, the photo above is courtesy of this website, which is an internet resource that could take up a lot of your time, if you let it. Here's their entry on Wall Drug, South Dakota.

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