1987 was my year. I fondly refer to is as the best “F”-ing year of my life – “F” standing for fashion, friendship, fun and freedom. It encompassed two extremely transitional periods: the second half of senior year in high school and the first semester of freshman year in college. In the background of it all was the soundtrack of my life; the best and most memorable music ever.
Let’s step back and remember the time. Hair bands reigned supreme and Aqua Net was the one thing you never left home without. It was all about the hair – the higher the better. Tease it, hang upside down and spray, then spray, scrunch and spray again. Whether you were a boy or a girl, the guys in pop metal bands had the hair everyone wanted. Jon, Richie, Brett, CC, Tommy, Nikki. They were hot beyond belief. Dirty Dancing was my favorite movie. I wanted to be Baby, dancing around and having a forbidden romance with Johnny. As corny as the movie is now, back in 1987 is was a love story beyond compare. I’m compelled to watch it every time it’s on cable. On TV the Huxtables were everyone’s favorite family. Imagine, a wealthy, professional, married black couple raising respectable children? What next, an African American President? As for the economy, The stock market may have crashed that year but I could still put a few days worth of gas in my car with just the loose change I found on the car floor and in the seat cushions. In sport, Mets fans were still excited over their World Series win the previous fall. Life for an 18 year old was grand.
Fortunately, fashions and hair styles of the 80’s have not come full circle yet but I have my acid washed jeans and hair spray waiting in storage just in case. In the meantime, 80’s clothing trends have been relegated to the Halloween costumes for Millennials who want to look “go retro” and Gen Xers who want to relive their youth if only for one day a year. What has come back into favor, thanks to satellite radio, is 80’s music. Younger generations love the sound and my generation loves the memories.
Here are the Top 5 most memorable bands/artists that defined my life in 1987 and still do today.
Bon Jovi – Slippery When Wet was my number 1 album in 1987. That cassette went everywhere with me. In 1987 the most played Bon Jovi song was “Living on a Prayer” but I have a special place in my heart for “Never Say Goodbye” which was my Senior Prom theme song. (Brian Heller, if you’re out there, I had a blast. I hope you are well. This song will always remind me of you and partying in AC). Bon Jovi is just as good today as they were then. This band has evolved over time and remained one of my consistent favorites for over twenty years. My husband and I have an agreement that given the opportunity I can have Jon for a wild night. I think he’s pretty confident that that opportunity will not be knocking at my door in this lifetime. I can still dream.
Bruce Springsteen – The best storyteller of all time. Being a Jersey girl, everyone you knew had a personal “Bruce sighting” to tell about. “Brilliant Disguise” was the Bruce Springsteen song most played in 1987. It has amazing lyrics that dealt with his ending marriage. The words made you question your own relationships. The lyrics are better than the melody but it’s still a song I never get tired of hearing. Everything that Bruce wrote (and continues to write) makes you think, laugh, cry, dance and live.
Cyndi Lauper – “True Colors” and “Change of Heart” were on my favorite mixed tape in 1987. In my book she blows Madonna out of the water then and now. 100 times cooler, 100 times better, hands down, no arguments end of story. True Colors remains one of my top 3 favorite songs. It’s a gem and so it Cyndi Lauper. I feel like she writes her songs just for me. She makes a connection with her music. It is truly in her soul. Her style was her own. She made me proud to be unique and march to my own beat.
U2 – The Joshua Tree is an album I put in a class with only a few others that I consider to be nearly perfect masterpieces. Every song was great. You never got tired of hearing them. “With or Without You” was the first single released on this album followed by “Where the Streets Have No Name” and “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For.” I’ll remember the tape as the first cassette I put in my player on my first day in college.
REM – “The One I Love.” Michael Stipe has a very distinctive voice. It resonates with me. He could sing the alphabet and I would love it. This song was about the women he has used in the past (“a simple prop to occupy my time”). Listen to the lyrics and you will find it is not a love song. When he sang the word “Fire” in the chorus I could associate it with a painful event that led to the final break-up with my on again off again high school sweetheart. I learned so much about myself during that time. The song still has a profound impact on me today.
Who cares about the one hit wonders. These artists listed above have transcended time. 1987 was my special place in time. I have had many blessed years since but none that had the musical impact of 1987. Songs don’t really trigger specific memories for me now like they did back then. I don’t remember the first top 40 song I heard on the radio after my daughter was born. Nor can name a single top 10 song that defined any pivotal moment in my life since I danced at my wedding. That’s OK. My life is great. But, 1987 was the best f-ing year, ever.