Much as I love the nerdy New Wave music genre, I’m often reminded, with wistfulness and nostalgia, that some of the greatest 80s songs didn’t quite fit the New Wave niche nor other obvious categories like classic rock and thus have not been remembered as vividly as they should be. For example:
•“Voices” by Russ Ballard: I wonder if the video helped inspire the song’s use in a pivotal Miami Vice episode — you know, the one where the speedboat’s headed off to get Calderone at the end of the first episode in the two-parter.
•“How Can I Refuse?” by Heart: I think this song best captures the good qualities of both their early classic-rock period and their later 80s-pop period but sometimes falls through the cracks of memory by belonging to neither category fully. It starts out as a mere performance video (though that’s pleasant enough, since Ann Wilson hadn’t yet undergone the climactic final expansion that would leave her looking forevermore like the fake-fat-lady suit from Total Recall), but then it has some delightfully stereotypical 80s surrealist/magic imagery toward the end, which is also true of the video for…
•“Back Where I Started” by Box of Frogs: Made up partly of ex-Yardbirds, I think this band was cool and should have been bigger — but may have hovered too oddly between art rock and hard rock, sort of like Rush, for most people’s tastes, and speaking of ex-Yardbirds…
•“Forever Man” by Eric Clapton: This may be my favorite Eric Clapton song (I mean solo, of course — Cream rules), though it isn’t the first one people think of. Perhaps liking this one means I inherited some of Dad’s Bob Seger-type tendencies after all.
•On more of a 90s note, but another reminder that the good stuff doesn’t always typify its genre, one of my favorite lyrics passages in alternative rock history (beloved by some of my college pals as well) is this thoroughly bluesy Social Distortion snippet from the maudlin “Ball and Chain”:
When I wake there in the morning
Or maybe in the county jail
I’ll know times are hard, gettin’ harder
Born to lose, destined to fail
•And since this is supposed to be the Month of the Nerd, after all, here’s a video of gay-seeming Star Trek clips set to Nine Inch Nails’ “Closer.”