I remember a conversation with an old girlfriend back in the late 1990s. We were talking about the sounds of the times, I guess you’d say, and I commented that the decade had been dominated by a lot of pretty rebellious music. Grunge, Punk, Industrial – everybody was well and truly pissed off, it seemed. The music of my youth hadn’t been terribly revolutionary by comparison, I thought.
This particular girlfriend turned out to be wrong about quite a lot before all was said and done, but she made a very good point that I’ve never forgotten. She reminded about the music we grew up with. Hell, the soundtrack of the late ’70s, when I was in high school, was dominated by Disco (may the Bee Gees rot in Hell) and even the Rock you heard on the radio was tame as a retriever in a warm milk coma. Come on, Little River Band? Bitch, please.
She said that when you dropped New Wave, for instance, into that context, it actually was pretty damned earth-shattering (to say nothing of Punk). Squeeze and Elvis Costello and Graham Parker didn’t rage by Nine Inch Nails standards, but have a look at the Billboard charts for 1978. The edgiest thing in the top ten was “Baby Come Back” by Player.
Sit down and subject yourself to the top hits of 1978 for a couple of hours, then drop the needle on The Romantics or The Cars or The Records or The Knack or The Ramones – it’ll feel like somebody is removing your scalp with a jackhammer.
Unless something spectacular happens before I die, I will always remember 1978 and 1979 and the two best years for breakout music in my lifetime (Top 40 radio notwithstanding) because of those bands. And because of this one, which just changed my whole damned world.
So here are The Police playing the national anthem….