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The Sappiest 80s Songs You Still Kinda Like
Confessions of a boyhood romantic.
As I think has been thoroughly established in this weekly newsletter, my music preferences lean mostly toward 70s and 90s rock, but there was a phase, known as my preadolescence and high school years, when I was pulled toward some hopelessly romantic soft-rock ballads that would today be considered fairly… let’s say, sappy. Okay, maybe even wimpy, and in some cases downright embarrassing.
It was in the 80s (and a wee bit of the 90s), and it’s when I was first really discovering and internalizing music. Like everyone else, I had school crushes, and my pop-culture-shaped views on romanticism mostly involved a lot of yearning for well out-of-my-league girls who wouldn’t give me the time of day (if they even knew who I was).
Feel free to respond to that last sentence with a sympathetic “awww.” Or just laugh at me; either is fine. (Like you all haven’t been there. 😉)
Now, to be clear, there are plenty of love songs from back in the day that I’m perfectly happy to acknowledge not only that I cherished, but that I still dig all these years later, and would passionately defend at a moment’s notice.
This would include several songs by Bryan Adams, like “Heaven”, “Straight from the Heart”, “Do I Have to Say the Words?”, and “Please Forgive Me”.
Honestly, the only love songs by Adams that I really don’t like are the ones he did for feature films, including “(Everything I Do) I Do It for You,” which everyone else loves, but I want to punch in the face every time I hear it.
I’ve also got no problem expressing my continued affection for songs by love-and-yearning masters, Rod Stewart, Lionel Richie, Phil Collins, Heart, REO Speedwagon, and a few other artists.
Other songs from the era, however, I have a much harder time copping to — at least outside of my home, car, and immediate family. They’re of a more mushy, transitory nature. But today, I’m just going to lay them on out there. I’ve proven in the past that I’m willing to sacrifice some dignity for ‘Daly Grind’ readers, so this exclusive piece — let’s call it a love song — goes out to you.
“Was it Nothing at All” by Michael Damian
Okay, I realize I went straight for the shock and awe with that one, so I apologize. Or more likely, you’ve never even heard of the song, let alone its pretty-boy singer. Damian was actually a soap-opera actor from The Young and the Restless (something I don’t think I knew at the time) who found music notoriety in 1989 with a cover of the David Essex tune, "Rock On." It was actually a pretty big hit.
“Was it Nothing at All” was the second release off that same album, and though not nearly as popular as Rock On, its swaying tale of lost love snagged me in.
No more hope of holding your body in the moonlight
Did I fall in love for nothing?
No more hope of touching you feeling you by my side
Did I fall in love for nothing?
Is that a nine on the yearning scale, or what?
Anyway, it’s not like I have this song on any playlists or anything like that, but for whatever reason, it still pops into my head from time to time, and I’ll pull it up for a single-shot listen on Spotify.
“(Can't Live Without Your) Love And Affection” by Nelson
Listen, I made fun of Nelson and their Goldilocks hair like everyone else did back then, but I initially came across the duo under different circumstances than most. You see, I heard their music before I ever knew what they looked like. This is because my parents didn’t spring for cable television until long after I left for college, therefore, I didn’t have MTV.
Imagine for a moment hearing this song for the first (and second and third and fourth) time, completely detached from its famous glam-rock imagery, and tell me what your impression might be. For me, it was some sharp acoustic work followed by snappy, super-catchy, melodic-rock harmonizing that doesn’t sound any less cool than that of far more socially acceptable songs like “I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)” by The Proclaimers or “Closer to Free” by The BoDeans.
Anyway, that’s my defense, and quite frankly, I think I like the song more today than I did in 1990.
“You Come to My Senses” by Chicago
Liking the band Chicago isn’t terribly embarrassing, since they’ve been around for decades, have an extensive library spanning multiple genres, and are fairly well respected. And just like many people my age, I have a special place in my heart for the Peter Cetera years… though I’ve rarely found myself revisiting them.
This particular song, however, is a bit different. It came after Cetera (and other big personnel changes), and just before the band kind of fell off the popular music scene all together.
“You Come to My Senses” was on the mostly overlooked “Twenty 1” album, and there’s just something about the tune (as hokey as it is) that’s compelled me to check back in on it from time to time.
I picture you on the beach
Lying in the sand
Out of reach from my trembling hands
I picture you in a car
Blond hair in the wind
I picture you in my arms
And the touch of your skin,
The smile on your face,
The way that you taste
Again, folks, the key word here is yearning.
“Just Take My Heart” by Mr. Big
(Man, look at that hair.)
Let me clarify right off the bat that — as is the case with Bryan Adams — I pretty much hate the one song that everyone else likes by Mr. Big: “To be With You.” It always struck me as something you’d hear a church group singing and clapping to around a campfire. However, “Just Take My Heart,” its follow-up single, was pretty great (and still is).
Just take my heart when you go
I don't have the need for it anymore
I'll always love you, but you're too hard to hold
Just take my heart when you go
I mean, come on. That’s deep.
“Miles Away” by Winger
Mike Judge’s Beavis and Butthead pretty much finished off the glam-metal group, Winger, but not before I took a liking to the band’s 1990 power ballad, “Miles Away.”
There was a rumor at the time that Kip Winger had written the song about international supermodel Rachel Hunter, who he’d been in a long-distance relationship with. I think that was originally part of the tune’s appeal to me, because I kind of crushed on Hunter back then. But as it turned out, Kip didn’t write the song and it wasn’t about her.
Regardless, what’s important was the sentiment.
No, you're never turnin' back,
I just can't wait anymore
Nothin' left of what we had,
Just when I needed you most
You were miles away
Tragic, but still good for an occasional listen.
A Bunch of Richard Marx songs
Let me just lay it all out there. Richard Marx’s music followed me through much of my high school experience. The heartfelt “Hold On to the Nights” closed out my first high school dance (don’t ask me how I remember that), and I actually spent time studying the lyrics to “Hazard” (which was less about love than Marx possibly killing someone) shortly after graduation.
In between, there was “Right Here Waiting,” which I imagined singing to at least three girls who would have been absolutely mortified to have known that I imagined singing anything to them.
I hear the laughter, I taste the tears
But I can't get near you now
Those were probably the most applicable lyrics of the bunch, really.
To this day, I still like a number of Marx songs, though I don’t really seek them out since I still hear them pretty regularly at the grocery store.
Well, I suppose that’s enough pop-culture confessions for today. I’ll bring the embarrassment to an end, and please be kind with your feedback.
Which songs from your past are you embarrassed to admit you still like? I realize that’s a trick question, since by telling me, you’d be admitting it. But I won’t tell anyone. I promise. 😇
Before I forget, I wanted to wish you all a very Merry Christmas from the Daly family. We hope it’s a joyous and safe holiday season.
“Restitution” received another early review the other day, this one from D. Donovan, the senior reviewer over at Midwest Book Review. The full review will be released in publications next month, but below is a sneak peek.
Obligatory Dog Shot
She finally found a use for him.
So, I’m not going to spend whole lot of time hyping how great Freddie Mercury and Queen were. Their greatness is pretty much a socially accepted fact.
There are plenty of debates out there about which Queen album was the band’s best, but I side-stepped all that and just picked up their 2-LP Greatest Hits album from 1981. The copy I have is actually a re-release that came out just a few years ago.
It of course contains their most well-known songs, including “Bohemian Rhapsody”, “Somebody to Love”, “We Are the Champions / We Will Rock You”, “Fat Bottomed Girls”, “Another One Bites the Dust”, and even “Flash” from the Flash Gordon soundtrack. It’s a great compilation.
Speaking of Queen and movies, another favorite from the band (that I don’t have on vinyl) is their “A Kind of Magic” album that features their music from, and inspired by, 1986’s Highlander. It’s great.
That’s all for now. Thanks for reading today’s Daly Grind.
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Take care. And I’ll talk to you soon!