I have never been a nostalgic person; I certainly have never professed to have missed the eighties, the decade in which I grew up. The music, for the most part, was awful, for one thing. With very few exceptions, the electronic music revolution was full of stilted, cold, overblown but childish attempts at songwriting. (The bleeps and blips may have been enough for many, but not for me.) The era itself was colored cold; everything was candy-hued, from the leg-warmers to the Hawaiian shirts to the jewelry to the lip-gloss. None of it could have been farther from my younger (and current) preferences for an atmosphere of trees and woods and warm images and warm instrumental timbres. I was a wood-over-plastic guy in a plastic world.
I retreated from a lot of it. I listened to classical music (mostly impressionistic) and some jazz while my friends listened to The Pet Shop Boys and to Madonna's impossibly annoying hootings and watched her sexually pedestrian rollings-around-on-the-floor.
Still craving, as one must, the music of the young, though, I found the progressive and "art" rock of the era (or some from a decade before) of Rush, Genesis and Yes. In short, I created, as I tend to do, my own world into which to retreat. It's not that I didn't like some popular music -- it's just that the music had to be played by people and not be MIDI programmed and it had to have some level of compositional quality and some level of real musicianship. I liked Journey, for instance. (More about them in a minute.)
Looking back, though, I see some things through a different lens.
In fact, I found a documentary on YouTube, the other day, that I used to watch over and over: Frontiers and Beyond. I purposefully didn't call it a "rockumentary" because this early documentary about a rock band did and could not follow the since-established formula. It was a true documentary about a band on the road but, more precisely, about a road crew and a band on the road. The band was Journey, but, in truth, the film was more focused on the crew.
But that is all not the point of this. In watching Frontiers and Beyond, I found myself, maybe for the first time, ever, becoming nostalgic for the eighties. It had a lot to do with the girls in the audiences in the video. Maybe they reminded me a little of my first real girlfriend or of my innumerable crushes between fifth and eight grade. Maybe I was struck by a certain innocence in the puffy hair and the candy-colored lipstick. The whole crowd, however, girls and boys alike seemed lovable to me. There they were, young and hopeful -- hopeful for the world; hopeful for their future places in it. There they were, in the city of my birth, Philadelphia, at JFK stadium. Some of my high school friends certainly stood in that crowd, in the summer heat, and they were all in a similar place to the fifteen-year-old me, both developmentally and in the sense that, every day, they had to try to have fun growing up in a world chilled by the spectre of the Cold War and under the fear that someone, whether in America or Russia, would "push the button" and end the world in a nuclear holocaust.
There was also the voice or John Facenda, the familiar narrator of NFL Films, a company based near my New Jersey home; a voice I recognized from (and that was inextricably attached to) their dramatic, orchestra-backed movies about the Philadelphia Eagles and the rest of the NFL...
I suppose all decades had things that were special about them, no matter whether we noticed at the time or not. The eighties had their charm. In watching the movies or the era with my boys, I realize that there was a certain warmth to both the good and the bad films; that their un-hipness was a pretty sweet thing. Back then, we still "dated" and we still held on to some human traditions that have since gone dead.
And, really -- if you don't think "Faithfully" is a beautiful song; if Neil Schon's ending solo doesn't give you chills, I don't wanna know ya. This video's footage is take from the documentary I mentioned. [Neil Schon and Steve Perry at around 3:48 -- soul-wrenching]: