Sunday, September 8, 2013

80s Overload: 80s Week Starts Now

When I was a kid, my mom used to occasionally make us Braunschweiger sandwiches.  As gross as its Wikipedia description might sound, I actually think the Emge (our hometown slaughterhouse, long since shut down) brand of Braunschweiger was even worse:  it was a salty, flesh colored pâté made from spare pork parts.  My mom served it on Wonder bread with some mayonnaise and every once in awhile, a slice of onion. Braunscheiger sandwiches were cheap, easy to assemble and bland enough to be tolerated by those of us hungry enough to consume them - a no brainer for an ultra-busy mom like mine.  There was no real nutritional value to these sandwiches and in fact, it's probably more or less like serving cancerous cyst between two slices of bread.  Opening my lunch on the days mom packed these was always a bit of a let down; and yet, I almost always ate them.  They did fill my belly, and the alternative of not eating lunch did not even enter my head.

Over time, I came to love the lowly Braunschweiger sandwich.  The taste eventually grew on me and I got to the point where I requested them for lunches, picnics and other outings.  There was nothing sophisticated about these sandwiches - it was filler on top of a bland, doughy white bread.  And yet it's blandness somehow informed my tastes.

I feel similarly about most of the music of my formative years - the 1980s.  It was filler, it was artistically unsophisticated and unremarkable, mostly aimed at white bread suburban mall dwellers.  Synthesizers, drum machines, and samples were fed through a corporate grinder to form a busy yet somehow unobtrusive core to commercial radio.*  I hated most of it at the time, but as time has passed I have grown to love huge swaths of 80s commercial radio.  Sure, I could've shut off the music video shows (we didn't have cable until much later), but that thought never crossed my mind - I was hungry for music, even the crappy pap served up on local stations like KISS 99.  The sensations of my youth are brought vividly back to me through some of these tunes.  I've come to re-evaluate the "flimsiness" of these songs - most of them have aged poorly to be honest, but elements of these tunes are enjoying quite a renaissance today.  I don't see this ending anytime soon.  In that way, the 1980s will live on.

All this week I'll be linking to a shit load of 80s music.  My selection criteria was pretty fluid:  I've tried to avoid some of the more obvious choices ("She Blinded Me With Science", "Take On Me", "Come On Eileen" and other tunes played for their camp value at wedding receptions and the like) while openly embracing others. I post these to remember, to inform,  to preserve the sounds of a decade that probably doesn't deserve it.   I post them because hell, it's just fun - just like so many of my memories from an otherwise unforgettable decade.

* - Of course, 80s college radio is the massive exception this.  More on that soon.

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