By Brian Nixon, Special to ASSIST News Service
ALBUQUERQUE, NEW MEXICO (ANS – November 17, 2016) — My youngest son, Cailan, has recently been downloading 1980’s songs from various online streaming sites. He’s asked me a couple of times for various groups that influenced me, or more obscure groups not normally associated with mainstream music.
I had to stop, scratch my head and smile. Not because I couldn’t remember the groups. Music made an impressionable mark on me in my teenage years so most of the music I can easily recall. Rather, I scratched my head because I did something similar when I was his age. But instead of 1980’s music, I was looking for music from the 1960’s.
Why are youth fascinated by culture from previous generations? Maybe it’s curiosity. Maybe it’s to know that they’re not alone; that others have tread this thing called life before them. It’s like the old adage: don’t throw anything away — particularly clothes — because they’ll come back in style. Or what comedian and actor, David Brenner, said, “You know you’re getting old when kids start to dress like you used to an movies are made about your teen life.” The cycle continues.
What I decided to do was type up a list of influential albums for Cailan, something he can peruse for insight. As it turns out, he has most of the groups on the list. He’s way ahead of me. But as I looked at the list myself, I saw a pattern of growth within my tastes. In the early 1980’s the groups and albums that influenced me the most were post-punk and modern rock — things popular during the era. And then after high school graduation (in 1987) my tastes began to change to genres outside of my normal listening category, moving towards singer-songwriter and even some rap. I sort of attribute this change to Tom Waits. But that’s another story. I also learned that there were a handful of groups and artists that helped shape the decade for me, finding multiple spots on the list.
But as a way to help with research for Cailan — and to thank the musicians that provided the soundtrack of my teenage years, here’s the list. I hope other middle-aged men will do something similar with their kids, using it as a talking tool — of what’s good and not so great, using the Apostle Paul’s paradigm in Philippians 4: 8-9 as a guide.
And though I discovered the below mentioned albums at various junctures throughout the 1980’s, I’ve listed them chronically for ease of classification.
My Most Influential Albums of the 1980’s
1980 — Unknown Pleasures, Joy Division; Quiet Life, Japan; London Calling, The Clash (All three of these albums were released in 1979 in the UK, but 1980 in the US).
1981 — October, U2; Movement, New Order
1982 — Rio, Duran Duran; Avalon, Roxy Music; New Gold Dream, Simple Minds
1983 — War, U2; The Hurting, Tears For Fears; Violent Femmes, Violent Femmes; Synchronicity, Police; Swoardfishtrombones, Tom Waits; Power, Corruption & Lies, New Order
1984 — Ocean Rain, Echo and the Bunnymen; Brilliant Trees, David Sylvian; Mirror Moves, Psychedelic Furs; Unforgettable Fire, U2; Treasure, Cocteau Twins; Sparkle in the Rain, Simple Minds; It’ll End in Tears, This Mortal Coil; Café Bleu, Style Council
1985 — Low-Life, New Order; Night Time, Killing Joke; Head on the Door, The Cure; Rain Dogs, Tom Waits; Love, The Cult; Psychocandy, Jesus and the Mary Chain; Little Creatures, Talking Heads; The Dream Academy, The Dream Academy; Immigrant, Gene Loves Jezebel
1986 — Brotherhood, New Order; Life’s Rich Pageant, REM; The Queen is Dead, The Smiths; Graceland, Paul Simon
1987 — Joshua Tree, U2; Frank’s Wild Years, Tom Waits; Document, REM; Tunnel of Love, Bruce Springsteen; Secrets of the Beehive, David Sylvian; Helleborine, Shelleyan Orphan, Louder Than Bombs, The Smiths
1988 — It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, Public Enemy; People, Hot House Flowers; Buenos Noches from a Lonely Room, Dwight Yokam; Tracy Chapman, Tracy Chapman; Traveling Wilbury’s, Traveling Wilbury’s; Pontiac, Lyle Lovett
1989 — Oh Mercy, Bob Dylan; 3 Feet High and Rising, De La Soul; Let Love Rule, Lenny Kravitz; Disintegration, The Cure
Let me conclude by saying that I’m not endorsing all of these albums, nor would I listen to all of them today — but there are some I still turn to. Rather, I hope parents will take time to sit down and listen to the music their kids listen to, finding a common language through the arts, using it as a point of connection and communication.
Photo captions: 1) Unknown Pleasures, Joy Division. 2) Brilliant Trees, David Sylvian. 3) Ocean Rain, Echo and the Bunnymen. 4) Low-Life, New Order. 5) Joshua Tree, U2. 6) Brian Nixon.
About the writer: Brian Nixon is a writer, musician, and minister. He’s a graduate of California State University, Stanislaus (BA) and is a Fellow at Oxford Graduate School (D.Phil.). To learn more, click here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brian_Nixon.
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