It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness ...”
Though used by Charles Dickens to describe late 18th century Paris and London, that now famous literary phrase also certainly applies to the year 1983.
It was 12 months of ups and downs.
Up: Astronauts Sally Ride and Guy Bluford become the first woman and the first black man in American history to fly to space, inspiring thousands of children to dream big and helping narrow the nation’s gender and racial divides.
Down: The first Hooters restaurant opens in Clearwater, Fla., providing a venue for thousands of awkward, giggly interactions between icky patrons and their utterly disinterested young waitresses. She’s heard it all before, dude. Order your chicken wings and shut up.
Up: Tokyo Disneyland opens, significantly decreasing the scores of friendly Japanese tourists last seen wandering American theme parks, indiscriminately snapping pictures of everything in sight. I’m sure that picture of a pigeon eating the melted remnants of a Mickey bar will become a family heirloom.
Down: The rock group Kiss appears without makeup for the first time on MTV, disappointing thousands of fans who thought Ace Frehley looked less like a spaceman and more like the creepy owner of a mall arcade who won’t stop leering at you and your friends while you play Street Fighter.
In the midst of all this triumph, tumult and makeup removal, a child was born in Jamestown, N.Y., to James and Emily Donohue.
This guy. With the thumbs.
You can’t see it but I’m pointing to myself with my thumbs and grinning like a fool. This is oddly satisfying. OK, I really should stop.
That’s right, yours truly sprung forth into this crazy world 28 years ago this week, and in honor of that anniversary, I’ve selected eight songs released in 1983.
I did not expect to encounter a difficult time selecting these eight songs but was surprised to find out how many iconic and lasting pop songs were released during that year.
It was as if these artists were celebrating the arrival of something ...
• Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble, “Pride and Joy” — A truly great song from one of the guitar world’s all-time greats.
• Violent Femmes, “Blister in the Sun” — One of the grosser song titles in pop music history. That it has remained so popular despite the title is a testament to the infectious rhythm of this song.
• Billy Joel, “Tell Her About It” — Trust me, it’s easy to make fun of Billy Joel (I do it all the time) but “Tell Her About It” is Billy Joel doing what he does best — ripping off Motown. Darnit, I did it again. A great song nonetheless.
• Elton John, “I Guess That’s Why They Call it the Blues” — A song I love with every fiber of my being. I literally wouldn’t change a note. Perfection.
• Bonnie Tyler, “Total Eclipse of the Heart” — Put this song on and even the most jaded and cynical of your friends will be singing along. Made all the more better by its use in the 2003 film, “Old School.”
• The Police, “Every Breath You Take” — The most popular song about stalking ever recorded.
• Michael Jackson, “Beat It” — Michael Jackson had a heck of a year in 1983. “Beat It,” “Billie Jean” and “Wanna Be Startin’ Something” were all released this year. Take your pick. All incredible.
• Eurythmics, “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)" — A great song that has a distinctly ’80s feel. That’s a lot of synth. A lot. Of. Synth.
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