Friday, December 30, 2011

From The Archives: 80s Songs Of Nuclear Holocaust

What many readers don't know about this blog is that it has actually been resurected after a three year layoff. Below is an entry from it's earlier form.

Whenever I taught about the Cold War era to my junior high social studies classes, it was very hard to convey The Fear. If you grew up during the Cold War (or as in my case, at the end of the Cold War), you know exactly what I'm talking about: this creeping, low-level, background phobia that anything or anyone you love, anything of meaning you have achieved in your life could be negated by a lethal combination of macho posturing and nuclear weapons. I became very cognizant of it during the Reagan years. In 1983, when the Soviets shot down a Korean jetliner, I was glued to the TV wondering if this was the first in a chain of events that would lead to the destruction of the world. I think the buddy I had over for the night was pretty miffed I didn't want to shoot bumper pool instead.

If the rhetoric got out of hand, there wasn't a damn thing I could do. This feeling of helplessness was very tangible for me. Granted, I was an overly serious kid; but I suspect I wasn't alone at all. Pop culture - especially music - visited nuclear doomsday themes quite often. Below are some selections for a compilation you can make to relive this time, which for me felt perpetually overcast. Hey - that's pretty catchy. Let's call this compilation "Perpetually Overcast: 80s Songs of Nuclear Holocaust".

"It's A Mistake" - Men at Work. Someone gave me this single for my birthday. As much as the song itself, the dust cover for the single (see picture that accompanies this article) vividly conveys The Fear I felt as an adolescent.

"99 Red Balloons" - Nena. Perhaps the most popular of the nuke songs.

"Russians" - Sting. Hey, I'm not claiming to like all the songs on this list.

"Ask" - The Smiths.

"Living Through Another Cuba" - XTC.

"Red Skies At Night" - The Fixx.

"World Destruction" - Zone Time. Features Africa Bambaata and Johnny Rotten (sorry, Lydon) if memory serves me correctly.

"The Final Countdown" - Europe. See #3. Bet that craptastic synth riff is now in your head though.

"Enola Gay" - OMD. I think released when they were still Orchestral Maneuvers in the Dark. Their name got KFC'd somewhere along the way.

"1999" - Prince.

"Der Komissar" - After The Fire. Not Falco, but Falco was indeed in this group.

"London Calling" - The Clash. A fine tune now used to sell cars.

As we now know, the jubilation we felt when the Soviet Union broke up and the Berlin Wall came down is long gone. The posturing, the militarism, the rhetoric - it's all back. The bomb isn't the omnipresent threat it once was, but give it time: it seems like we're heading that way again.

What songs would you add to this list?  Upon further reflection, "Ask" really doesn't have anything to do with nuclear holocaust.  I'm not sure "Enola Gay" does either.  But Imma leave them there anyway.

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