Our view of the romantic 80s ⏰
This post loosely accompanies Gab & Jam, 303. Our view of the Romantic 80s
This newer generation seems to be so enamored of everything 80s now. This episode is intended to help add some cultural and historical perspective from folks who actually lived through it.
Check out the episode for the full discussion.
Why idolize a time period gone by?
We do understand why people idolize the 80s; our generation romanticized the 60s as a cultural touchpoint. Part of the allure of the 60s was the social activism and freeing of societal norms. Folks were expanding their minds and their bodies. –At least, that’s how WE thought about the 60s as folks who had not experienced it first-hand. We’re sure people who look lovingly at the 80s—but we not there—might feel a similar way.
Here's how Bruce characterized it:
Bruce turned 15 in 1980 and by 1990, he was 25. So much of life had changed for him during that time. By 1989, we were married, had a house, were working full-time. Ostensibly, he went from being a child to living the life of a full-fledged adult. He started off with a boombox in his room, playing his original song on his K-bass in his bedroom and by 1989, we had our own Atari ST and an 8-track home studio with MIDI in our own house. So, as musical artists, so much changed about how we created and captured our art between the time the decade started and when it ended. This makes it a standout our period for us, but let’s look at some of the cultural highlights of the decade that make it important to not only the people who lived through it, but also to folks who look upon it with such reverence.
Highlights of the 80s:
1. New and exciting genres erupt
One of the most exciting musical developments of that time period was the fact that both new wave and rap genres of music were being explored and added to the milieu of choices for widespread public consumption. Therefore, the ways in which artists were experimenting with it were far and wide. Since they were SO new, quite a lot was acceptable, because neither of them had been neatly defined early in the decade. Even though new wave was in essence a type of watered down punk, but with an infusion of electronic spice. For instance, even though Gary Numan’s “Cars” was a holdover from 1979, it was coming into its own in 1980. Also, even Prince switched his sound to that of a new wave bent with his album, Dirty Mind, because he was channeling this brave new sound. Personally, this seemed confirmation that Bruce was on the right track, musically. And groups like Fishbone, The Bus Boys, and even early Janet Jackson’s “Come Give Your Love to Me” was harnessing the sound. –AND this was on the heels of the New English Invasion—with artists like Adam Ant and Bow Wow Wow. –There were just so many sounds happening at one time, which made it an exciting time to be creating.
Why creating a vision board matters: https://bit.ly/rockstarvision
2. Music production and promotion changed
Video as a marketing tool
MTV was launched in 1981. This was one of the first indicators that video content would be a major way of marketing music—FIRST, for major artists, but then, up until NOW—for everybody (at every level of success). Though, at first, it seemed to SEPARATE the major from the indies—because you had to be “video friendly” (in looks, persona, and performance)—but eventually, we would ALL make our peace with how to make this incredible format work for us. If it weren’t for this promotional move for music artists, we wouldn’t have the video craze of today, where EVERYBODY is trying to go viral on TikTok, Instagram Reels, YouTube Shorts, etc.
Internet/personal computer widely available
The 80s was also a time when the Internet/personal computer was made widely available. –According to the inspiration article—link is at the top of this post—the personal computer was introduced by IBM in 1980. –This advance made communicating with people throughout the world and on a larger scale easier for everyone—including D.I.Y. Rock Stars.
Along those same lines, the personal studio recording studio become more available and more commonplace after the advent of MIDI. MIDI allowed music artists to synchronize multiple instruments created by different companies. Being able to play multiple musical parts through different equipment at the same time enabled more songwriters to write complete songs by themselves. –In fact, Bruce knew first-hand what it was like to WANT a drummer to come through to a recording session, but not have him be available. Instead, Bruce discovered the joy of a drum machine, which allowed him to not have to wait in order to create.
Cell phones for everyone
And the ULTIMATE invention—that would change the way the world AND the D.I.Y. Rock Star operates was the personal cell phone, which was invented in1983 by Motorola, according to our inspiration article. –This early cell phone weighed two pounds and costed nearly $4,000. –As you probably ALREADY know, in THIS day and age, a music artist can run his/her ENTIRE creative empire off a cell phone, up to including the functions of writing the songs, mixing the songs, publishing, promoting (by means of email and social media), making the video, etc.). THIS revolutionary device got its start in the 80s.
3. Key cultural shifts
Sign up for draft
In 1980, after the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, President Jimmy Carter reinstated the draft back into law. Although, the Afghanistan War did not “officially” begin until after the horrific events of September 11, 2001, this re-installation of a draft was an indication of the necessity to be ready and signed the reality of modern war. Actually, the term “modern war,” includes all warfare since the "gunpowder revolution" that marks the start of early modern warfare. Since that time, Americans have been involved in war that utilizing advanced technology, like drone strikes and nuclear weapons. These wars include: Gulf War, 1990–1991, Bosnian War, 1992–1995, Kosovo War, 1998–1999, War in Afghanistan, 2001–2014, and the Iraq War, 2003–2011. Much of seeds of this began at this time.
Fall of Berlin Wall (1987)
This event was a seminal moment, because it meant the beginning of modern politics. Then-President Ronald Reagan petitioned Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev to have the Wall torn down between East and West Germany. In 1989, the wall was torn down. Following some of the aforementioned threats of modern war, some of our nuclear fears were put at bay by this gesture of peace, which is why it is a landmark in our 80s recap.
The bottom line is….
We say all this to say that there are generations of Americans today who are stressed out about the cultural and political landscape and the ramifications of artificial intelligence, but the kernel of all of that began in a time that so many people long to return to or overly sentimentalize; the 80s. Folks seem to over-romanticize the past—for ALL decades, really—but when if you look at history and culture, you will see that things were equally glorious and shitty in different periods in the past too. For us, it seems more important to figure out what is the new technology you can use to make your creative journey better and to find your peace with letting some of the old rules and traditions lie in the past. –THAT’S always our goal.
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Self-Care for the D.I.Y. Rock Star: https://bit.ly/7self-care
MPC One+ Unboxing: https://bit.ly/mpconeplusunboxingpost
File Management for the D.I.Y. Rock Star: https://bit.ly/229filemgmtblog
What about you?
What time period was pivotal to you as a D.I.Y. Rock Star?
Or what do YOU think is not to be missed from the 80s?
We’d love to hear about them.
Leave them in the comments below.
So, will we do it again? HELL, YEAH! 🙌🏾 In fact, our NEXT livestream is scheduled for Friday, September 1, where we will debut for Bourgeoisie Paper Jam’s next single “Lovely Mystic (Obtanium Flow)” We will also premiere the music video live and on-air—unless you are a member of our Patreon community. (If you’re in our Patreon, you will see the video one week earlier. Join here.)
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If you like this, you might enjoy:
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· What to do when real life interrupts your artistic process? https://bit.ly/241reallifeblog
· 7 Strategies for rebounding from creative burnout: https://bit.ly/239digoutofburnoutblog
· How to give better interviews (for D.I.Y. Rock Star): https://bit.ly/236betterinterviewsblog
· How to give better live performances: https://bit.ly/219betterliveblog
· How to collaborate better (for D.I.Y. Rock Star): https://bit.ly/Ep163collaborateblog
· How to write quicker, but better (for D.I.Y. Rock Star): https://bit.ly/228writebetterblogpost
· Should you ever play for free? https://bit.ly/214playfreeblog
· 17 Tips for taking better band photos—ESPECIALLY if you taking them yourself: http://bit.ly/betterbandphotos
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