I had an interesting - and somewhat enlightening - experience last weekend. I attended Neil's 40th birthday party - happy birthday, my friend! But as everyone who knows Neil knows, he's really big into music, particularly 80s music. That's one thing he and I have in common - we both love a lot of music from the 80s.
But getting back to the party - Neil invited a lot of fun people (and a couple of boring ones like me) and encouraged everyone to dress like the 80's. Sadly, my wife wasn't able to go but she helped me think of something that sorta resembled the 80s and I went with the preppie look. After all, that's what I remember from the 80s: Polo shirts with the collar up, skinny ties, a sweater tied loosely around your neck, Levis 501s or khaki pants or plaid shorts, loafers with no socks... yeah, it sounds weird thirty years later. So anyway, I pulled together something and I probably looked like a dork, but I had to do something (after all, I knew Ben and Melissa would be going all out!).
But I was a little surprised when I got there and not so many dressed preppie. Instead several went for the hard rock and hair band look (oh yeah, I forgot there were those people in the 80s, too). I didn't even recognize most of them at first (and was very surprised to realize who the guy dressed like Slash was!). And the women were all dressed like Madonna and Cyndi Lauper (oh yeah, I forgot about that style, too). And the music was very mainstream 80s pop. So, where am I going with all this? (Good question!)
I've thought about it in the back of my mind since then and I'm reminded of times when I've said to people how much I still like 80s music. They'd usually say something like, "Oh yeah, Michael Jackson, Madonna, Journey, Duran Duran..." What?!? No! Well, 'yes' to Duran Duran, but not those other guys! Geez, I'm talking good music... and then I'd name some bands and get a blank look in return, or maybe a delayed recognition: "Oh yeah, I think I know them, didn't they sing..." So I'm finally realizing that the music I listened to wasn't as common as I always thought.
New Wave must have been bigger in Salt Lake City than most places - not for everyone, of course, but enough that we always had at least one radio station that played only new wave, even well into the late 90s. So, when I think of the 80s I'm probably thinking of songs that were more "underground" than "hits." I'm not thinking just of Duran Duran and Thompson Twins and Howard Jones and Tears for Fears, I'm thinking of... (if you click on each one you can hear samples of some awesome music)...
... Simple Minds, Depeche Mode, Adam Ant, the B-52's, Bow Wow Wow, The Fixx, Modern English, Aztec Camera, Echo & the Bunnymen, A Flock of Seagulls, Big Country, Vitamin Z, Red Rockers, King, Haircut 100, General Public, Icicle Works, the Psychedelic Furs, the Mighty Lemon Drops, the Smiths, Stephen Tin Tin Duffy, Roxy Music, Ultravox, Yaz...
... and I'm thinking that maybe my 80s wasn't as mainstream as everyone else's 80s. Maybe mine was a lot better. (Then again - after mentioning this to my wife - maybe you'll agree with her when she said that I was just weird.)