Still more lazy thoughts from this one…

The Soundtrack of My Life – The 80s


My local colleague Arlee Bird from Tossing It Out broached a meme a few years back that certainly intrigued:

The Soundtrack of My Life

As Arlee put it, “A few weeks ago a piece was posted by Jessica, the Modern Day Drifter, on her  Country Girl blog about The Soundtrack To Your Life.  She proposed the following”:

What would be the soundtrack to your life? What songs would be included that can sum up past events as well as things in the present?

Made an impression. So, I decided to follow suit with one of my own. Copying the idea, I know. But then again, I have no shame. 😉 So I will accept the Modern Day Drifter’s challenge from awhile back, care of Arlee and with thanks, and see where it takes me. The high points for sure, but many will be skipped. With one caveat. I’ll break it into decades. So, let’s trickle down with Reaganomics. In other words, The 1980s.


Label: MCA Records ‎– MCA 3094
Format: Vinyl, Single, 45 RPM, LP, Album
Released: 1979
Genre: Jazz, Funk
Charted: #7 US

In a way, the lead songs in this series are abstracts of the previous decade (and experiences with) as a new begins. Remnants of the former once more changing as the 80s arrived. The relationship deepening with She-who-must-not-be-mentioned as she pursued her BS degree in Nursing, at the medical center that brought us together. The Crusaders’ Street Life echoing what came before for both of us via Randy Crawford’s stirring vocal.

McCartney - Coming Up

Label: Columbia – AE7 1204
Format: Vinyl, Single, 45 RPM
Released: 1980
Genre: Pop, Rock
Charted: #1 (US)

Lot to be said when the person you’re involved with enjoys the same music as you. Similar experiences, perhaps, though she was older than moi. I guess my high school passion became an inclination of mine. At least she was well versed with The Lads. Still keeping an ear out to whatever he did, Paul McCartney’s Coming Up (especially the live version recorded in Glasgow) helped shake off some of the previous decade’s lethargy.


Label: Arista – AS 0459
Format: Vinyl, Single, 45 RPM
Released: 1980
Genre: Pop
Charted: #15 (US)

One aspect that pressed upon me, after losing my mother in ’78, was the fact my “other” mom (my grandmother) was growing older and more frail. Wasn’t about to fail in expressing the love I felt for one who raised me like before. Bounced in-between the two women left to me. A balancing act I still wish I’d done better. Dionne Warwick’s haunting Deja Vu evoking I’d been here before, knowing where it was going.


Label: Geffen Records ‎– GEF 49644
Format: Vinyl, Single, 45 RPM
Released: 1980
Genre: Rock
Charted: #2 (US)

One of those you remember where you were when. On my girlfriend’s bed (she working an evening shift), watching Monday Night Football when Howard Cosell broke in to announce John Lennon’s murder. Woman released after his death. Still on the airwaves by March (the same month mom died) 1981 when “ma” suffered a stroke. Stayed by her side through the ordeal, till the mortuary claimed her, and have hated the month ever since.

time out of mind

Label: MCA Records ‎– MCA-51082
Format: Vinyl, Single, 45 RPM
Released: 1981
Genre: Rock, Jazz
Charted: #19 (US)

Felt pretty much adrift after the loss of two most influential people in my life in three short years. “Who was next?”, I wondered. And nature abhors a vacuum. Filled it with the woman I was now in cohabitation. Along with work, cycling, and of course music. Knee-deep with Steely Dan’s mix of rock and Jazz Fusion since Ajá, and I latched on to Gaucho’s Time Out of Mind.

Son you better be ready for love
On this glory day 
This is your chance to believe
What I've got to say


Label: Capitol ‎– B-4953
Format: Vinyl, Single, 45 RPM
Released: 1981
Genre: Pop, Soul
Charted: #3 (US), #1 (Soul)

A Taste of Honey’s cover song of Kyu Sakamoto’s Sukiyaki hit from ’61 pretty much emblemized the loss felt this year.

Untouchable memories seem to keep haunting me Of love so true that once turned all my gray skies blue But you've disappeared, now my eyes are filled with tears I'm wishin' you were here with me


Label: Capitol Records ‎– B-5114
Format: Vinyl, Single, 45 RPM
Released: 1982
Genre: Rock
Charted: #9 (US)

Sometimes, you run into an infectious song that immediately clicks with you and your ear. You play it, and play it. Over and over again till you’re absolutely and thoroughly sick of the track. Abandon it, find another. Rinse and repeat. Then, there are those you tune in and enjoy whenever you catch them playing (be they on radio or wherever). Not so much “in to it”, but enjoying either the melody or the lyrics, nonetheless. How I felt toward The Motels’ Only The Lonely.


Label: Geffen Records ‎– 7-29895
Format: Vinyl, Single, 45 RPM
Released: 1982
Genre: Pop
Charted: #41 (US)

Never charted well here in the U.S., State of Independence sung by Donna Summer (composed by Vangelis and Jon Anderson) had resonance with this listener. Its, “Yes, I do know how I survive, Yes, I do know why I’m alive”, lyrics kicked me back in gear. Whatever doldrums and cynicism the decade of Watergate left behind, music of that subsequent period seemed to relish (and happily succeed in a semi-profane manner) in jolting that out of folk.


Label: CBS ‎– A-2855
Format: Vinyl, Single, 45 RPM
Released: 1982
Genre: Pop, Soul
Charted: #3 (US), #1 R&B

Would have had Prince’s “Little Red Corvette” in this spot, but the famed singer-songwriter is notorious about sharing his work on the web (so there would be no music or video for this). Too bad, as it captured 1983 so well. What a year it was, too. I mean besides the introduction of Reagan’s “Star Wars”, the official beginning of this thing known as “the Internet”, and the first “cellular” telephone. Luckily, Marvin Gaye’s Sexual Healing was still around1.


Label: Epic ‎– 34-04026
Format: Vinyl, Single, 45 RPM
Released: 1983
Genre: Pop, R&B
Charted: #7 (US), #3 R&B

I’m sure by dropping Michael Jackson’s Human Nature (or any others tied to this time) into this soundtrack a large number of folk will be thrown into a time warp. Plunging back to the era of big hair, leg warmers, and fashionably large shoulder pads. Comes with the territory of this distinctive era. No doubt, a few of you will instantly recall this, so tied with the artist’s most notable album of the decade, Thriller, among other things.


Label: Planet Records ‎– YB-13857
Format: Vinyl, Single, 45 RPM
Released: 1982, 1984 re-release
Genre: Pop, Soul
Charted: #9 (US), #1 (Soul)

1984 the Olympic year in Los Angeles. You had to have been there. Gridlock was forecast and we had the best traffic (and weather) ever. Opening Day (while she-who-must-not-be-mentioned slept in) I left our Fox Hills apartment to catch the Olympic Torch’s trek up the La Brea Avenue grade (O.J. Simpson the bearer). Unbeknowst to me, my future bride would be nearby on the same hillside. I’m So Excited by Pointer Sisters captured it all.


Label: Motown ‎– 1698 MF
Format: Vinyl, Single, 45 RPM
Released: 1984
Genre: Pop, R&B
Charted: #1 (US), #1 R&B

What a year it was, even with the The Olympics in town. Took some vacation days to enjoy it. Since the closing ceremony landed on Sunday, August 12th (day before my birthday), and you-know-who working the next day, she took me that night to the Magic Castle to celebrate. Dinner and show, along with watching the Olympic festivities on television. Lionel Richie and All Night Long (All Night) headlining it and our last good year together.

Tell Me Tomorrow

Label: Arista ‎– AL8-8396
Format: CD, album
Released: 1985
Genre: Funk, Jazz Fusion
Charted: Single played on R&B, Jazz stations

The title track and my favorite cut from her Tell Me Tomorrow album, Still in Love, retained all of the characteristic qualities Angela Bofill always enchanted me with. The slow soulful jams others attributed to the Quiet Storm (c/o Smokey Robinson). Something was stalking my relationship with She-who-must-not-be-mentioned. The unease palpable in our domestic life, but at least the music kept things going. For now.

silent running - mike and the mechanics

Label: Atlantic ‎– 7-89488
Format: CD, Single, 45 RPM
Released: 1985
Genre: Pop
Charted: #6 (US)

By the midpoint of Ronald Reagan’s presidency and the decade, the final fallout of my parents’ broken marriage and family landed. My father’s last set of sons (his first would have nothing to do with him) took on the responsibility of dad and his failing health. We’d tag-team the doctor and hospital visits between us. What mom would have done, which always ran counter to our old man. Mike + The Mechanics Silent Running somehow reminding of that.

kyrie - mr mister

Label: RCA ‎– PB-14258
Format: CD, Single, 45 RPM
Released: 1985
Genre: Rock
Charted: #1 (US)

When Mr. Mister’s song Kyrie debuted (by the way, only a month after the above Silent Running was released) in December of 1985, my world to that point was undergoing its own seismic shift. Trouble in paradise as the seeds that would break up my penultimate girlfriend of the time were by then well planted. Blooming, in fact, though it didn’t seem like it at the time. Ultimately, a good thing. Why mess up a fun, infectious tune.


Label: Elektra ‎– 9 60444-1
Format: CD, Single, 45 RPM
Released: 1986
Genre: R&B
Charted: #23 (US),

Philandering lovers can, and do, upset the apple cart of love. This ditty made that known, with a certain rapture, no less. Carried a been there, done that resonance. No matter how you slice it, Watch Your Step from Anita Baker’s Rapture CD maintained an infectious melody and sentiment throughout its musical complaint. She-who-must-not-be-mentioned turned me on to Anita Baker. Even favored her in looks, and in lyric.


Label: Island Records ‎– 7-99570
Format: CD, Single, 45 RPM
Released: 1986
Genre: Rock
Charted: #1 (US)

Not only did Robert Palmer’s Addicted to Love2 nail the situation I found myself in (moving out, and on, breaking up the longest relationship I ever had to that point), but it’s aftermath. We weren’t married, but it felt like divorce (something I had knowledge only from children’s side of it before this). Well, those 70s survival skills would come in handy after all. Even attempted dating afterwards, with mixed results3.

"The lights are on, but you're not home. Your mind is not your own."


Label: A&M Records ‎– AM 2937
Format: CD, Single, 45 RPM
Released: 1987
Genre: Pop, Rock
Charted: #3 (US)

Changes came fast and furious from this point on as the 80s stomped the gas pedal. Having moved back into my grandmother’s old house (now my uncle’s) in the interim, I’d relocate to Santa Monica for my last “single” abode. Only to be hit with health scares for me (minor, comparatively) and my father (major). Terminal cancer quells a lot of hurt, as well as delivering it. Why Suzanne Vega’s Luka registers all these years later.

one night love affair

Label: A&M Records ‎– AM-2770
Format: CD, Single, 45 RPM
Released: 1985 (discovered in ’87)
Genre: Rock
Charted: #13 (my lucky number) (US)

Would play many a CD in the converted garage…err, bachelor single…located in that beach community when it became home. Got my hands on Bryan Adams’ Reckless album among them. One Night Love Affair became it’s most played anthem. Helped usher out whatever bad feelings left post-breakup. Now, no longer a couple, she-who-must-not-be-mentioned and I had distilled back down to what we once were. Simply friends.


Label: Arista ‎– AS1-9588
Format: CD, Single, 45 RPM
Released: 1987
Genre: Pop, Smooth Jazz
Charted: #4 (US)

If you’re lucky (and sometimes I am), you see things, or people, in a different light. That “I hadn’t noticed before.” moment. The woman I’d seen passing the hallway, or at our copier machine, for two years at work caught my eye. Unawares, yes. Sparked something I couldn’t surmise, or ignore. Became important in a way I was at a loss to explain. She too enjoyed the instrumental, Kenny G’s Songbird, that had been on the radio. Go figure.

deacon blues

Label: ABC Records ‎– UA-LA848-H
Format: Vinyl, Single, 45 RPM
Released: 1977 (rediscovered in ’88)
Genre: Jazz Fusion
Charted: #19 (US)

January 1988 shifted my world, though I hadn’t realized it. Began to seriously date (way before I’d discover that it was “courting”) the love of my life. Whatever had come before, mere preparation, I’d learn. Movie dates, lunches and a dinner or two would have to pass before I was invited over for a meal at her place. And what did she have playing as I walked in? Steely Dan’s Ajá. Discovered Deacon Blues her favorite cut. Had to love this woman.

sleeping gypsy

Label: Warner Bros. Records ‎– BS 3004
Format: CD, Album
Released: 1977
Genre: Jazz
Charted: album cut played on Jazz stations

How the Hell did I get back into the 70s musically?!? Falling for the woman who suddenly changed my life…my taste in music. She-who-must-be-obeyed into the works of jazz singer-songwriter Michael Franks. With his Sleeping Gypsy CD (and soon others) sprouting in my collection, and Lady Wants to Know coupled to this time care of her. I swear, something is happening to me. “Got to know the reason why…and there really is no reason why”.


Label: Dark Horse ‎Records – 7-28178
Format: CD, Album
Released: 1987
Genre: Pop
Charted: #1 (US)

Funny how all of a sudden, songs you’d once enjoyed, came back to new life. Case in point, George Harrison’s last #1 single, released the year before, returned for an encore. His cover of Rudy Clark’s, Got My Mind Set on You, now with new meaning and vigor. And the one causing all this didn’t even like The Beatles (at their height or in their later careers)4, which strangely bothered me none. We’d be engaged by Thanksgiving.


Label: MCA Records – MCA-53181
Format: CD, Single, 45 RPM
Released: 1987
Genre: Pop
Charted: #1 (US)

Seven weeks before I’d marry in ’89, got the time-out-of-mind call. Dad had a rough time while I’d been on the upswing. Many hospital visits later, diabetes, which took his foot mid-shin, had him laid up at White Memorial that Saturday night. Saw him earlier same day, in fact. Felt good, he said. Heart disease had already gifted him a bypass, and mercifully erased whatever terminal cancer had in store. Belinda Carlisle’s Heaven Is A Place On Earth came to mind when burying my father.

Michael Franks The Camera Never Lies

Label: Warner Bros. Records ‎– 9 25570-2
Format: CD, Album
Released: 1987
Genre: Jazz
Charted: album cut

Know why Michael Franks’ Now You’re In My Dreams ends the period’s soundtrack? Moving from Pop to Rock, Classical to R&B, Funk to Jazz (with a little Latin thrown in), and on to Jazz Fusion built connections. Turned out one of those was with the woman I’d meet, and later marry before the decade ended. On this exact date twenty-six years ago, as a matter of fact. Any listener who doesn’t want to learn the music of the one he/she is attracted to will surely miss the boat with the person sought.

Happy Anniversary, my love.

“Lovers stay in love by learnin’ how to leave the world at the door and live, live inside their dreams.”

Soundtrack of My Life series

  1. Should be said, my daughter absolutely hates this classic Marvin Gaye number. 
  2.  One of the most famous, and iconic, music videos of the 80s, as noted by Marc Tyler Nobleman on the girl in the video post. The beauty who looked too pissed and bored to care. Patty Elias (aka Patty Kelly) the one who mesmerized me — she the guitarist backing Robert Palmer by his right shoulder in the video. 
  3. Actually took my future bride (who I’d met at work) on a lunch date. She deemed me not ready. 
  4. She-who-must-be-obeyed wasn’t allowed to enjoy the music her older siblings claimed, The Lads being one. 

25 Responses to “The Soundtrack of My Life – The 80s”

  1. Arlee Bird

    Some great memories for me too with these songs as well as the bittersweet. You’ve done another great job of putting your life of that decade to music. You lost your father about a year before I lost mine. That Robert Palmer video was a real eye-catcher–having those sultry model-looking women in the back-up was a stroke of genius.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Tossing It Out

    Liked by 1 person

  2. jackdeth72


    Lots of well executed, old school grist for the very early MTV mills!

    Lots of early icons Michael.

    Curious to know what happened to Annie Lennox and the Eurythmics. And Z.Z. Top’s ‘Manic Mechanic’?

    Liked by 1 person

    • le0pard13

      I’m sure not including Annie Lennox here will get me in trouble with my wife. She loves her. And that’s the hardest part of all this. The great songs and groups like Z.Z. Top left off. Thanks so much for chiming in, Kevin. Much appreciated, my friend.


  3. ruth

    Woo hoo! Happy Anniversary to you and your wifey, Michael! The 80s rules!! Sooo many great songs from this decade that I still love to listen to. Addicted to Love, Heaven Is A Place On Earth, etc are my personal faves. Btw, no Rick Astley? Mwahahaha!


    • le0pard13

      Hehe… you trying to Rick Roll me, Ruth? 😉

      I remember him and that song well. Glad to hear about some of your favorites of this distinct time. Many thanks for the share, your thoughts, and kind wishes. Much appreciated! 😀


      • ruth

        Ahah, well Rick is one of those guilty pleasure variety and he’s soooo 80s! I also have a soft spot for Bryan Adams and his cheesy love songs ahah. Back in Jakarta, I always enjoy the music videos that’s played on TV, that’s why 80s music will always have a place on my playlist 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Victor De Leon

    Mr Mister, Mike and the Mechanics, Anita Baker and even MJ. Whats NOT to love from this decade? Great work!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Debbie D.

    Happy Belated Anniversary to you and your wife!

    It must have been so difficult to lose your mother, then your grandmother and finally your father, not to mention a nasty breakup.
    Hopefully, meeting the love of your life helped to ease those bad memories.

    This is a great series, although I only knew a few of the songs. The 80s were my corporate workaholic period and I didn’t pay much attention to the music of the day. (Even then, I preferred music from the 60s and 70s).

    Liked by 1 person

    • le0pard13

      You are so kind, and generous, Debbie much appreciated. Quite a time it was. I can imagine what corporate work-life must have been like for you during that era. You and I have held on to the music of the ’60s and ’70s. They were indeed formative. Hope you have a great weekend. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person


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