Greasing the day’s writing gears by writing a few words about whatever tune pops up on shuffle. Today: Bowling for Soup’s “1985.”
“She hates time/Make it stop/When did Motley Crue become classic rock?”
Growing old sucks. Shakespeare said that, in those exact words, which was a rare departure from his usual mellifluous turns of phrase. But he was right, and now he’s dead. So there you go.
Every generation, once it hits a certain age, stops looking forward and starts strip-mining its own past; this generally happens about the time that you have kids, and whatever time you might have had to consume new media gets smothered beneath an avalanche of safe-for-kids pablum. (Sing it with me: “Let it go, let it goooooo….”)
Which brings us to today’s song. It’s a sad irony that the people who most need to hear it might never have, because “1985″ was written by a bouncy little pop-punk outfit named Bowling for Soup who don’t look old enough to have meaningful memories of 1985.
Still, the song hits all the marks, name-checking everything from Springsteen and Madonna to “The Breakfast Club” and “Pretty in Pink.” Sure, there are nerdy quibbles. (Nobody listened to Blondie in 1985, trust me. And “who’s the other guy who’s singing in Van Halen?” Sammy Hagar JOINED in 1985, he said in Comic Book Guy voice. Unless the reference was to Gary Cherone, in which case Gary Cherone thanks you for remembering him.) Still, it’s a sweet little bop-your-head-in-the-minivan ditty, which is all you want out of music after you hit a certain age, anyway. Plus, never ever EVER underestimate the power of a woman writhing on the hood of a Jaguar to summon up memories for an entire generation of now-fortysomething men.
Other things that happened in 1985: “We Are The World,” the first Wrestlemania, New Coke, “Back to the Future,” Pete Rose gets the hits record. Feel old yet?
Anyway, whatever Bowling for Soup is up to these days, there’s nothing they could do that would be more profitable than resuscitating this song and doing a different version for every single year. Shoot, make it micro-focused: charge ten grand and crank out a version specifically geared to someone’s own life in 1985, or 1995, or whenever. On-demand songwriting! It’s the future, I tell ya! And we gotta go back … to the future!