Is it the Middle that Matters? A Musical Time Machine Article by Alex Pole

(And, the top 10 80’s Songs that the main character from my someday, maybe, debut novel would be listening to.)

Hey everybody, it is time machine time. We are going back to the 80s (See my 90s trip at this very own website) and looking at what my some day, maybe, to be released debut novel’s main character, Max, would be listening to. So grab a beer or a coffee or your drink of choice, put your tray tables in the locked position, seats up, let’s take a ride!

You can dance if you want to!

Of course, not that most readers would know, but now you do, my some day, maybe, debut novel, You Can’t Get Jack Out of This or the Story of Language Whore, opens with the time machined into the future Max reminiscing and listening to Naked Eye’s haunting rendition of Always Something There to Remind Me. Max loves this song! It captures a person’s missteps and a lost love so well. And, most of us can relate to that. Most of us don’t have fairy tale lives without hiccups along the way; we don’t fall in love and just live happily ever after; there is always that story of the one that got away.  And, that is also the story of You Can’t Get Jack Out of This. The story of Max’s journey and thoughts on life as he goes from one world to another, from a lost love, to a new love, and its impact on his friends and family, as they separate in time and space. Take a drink and have a listen: 

Much more preferable than clothed ones.

And, now onward, so they say, with the top 10 80’s songs, and most importantly, it being the MTV era, the videos that Max would be watching and listening to:

10. Kajagoogoo, “Too Shy.” We have probably been here too, right? The object of your love or desire, is acting a little shy. It is okay, because sometimes the chase, or the journey, is as much fun as achieving the goal. Max totally gets this. He is on the long haul journey. Finding paradise is not that easy. And, it may all be an illusion. But, he knows he has to try. You don’t get anywhere in life without being able to try. Maybe, your love says no. But, that is okay, because at least now you know. But, maybe, your love says yes. And, oh what a feeling! And, the nostalgia of this video so captures the 80s and captures Max’s mood. The contents of the video are a time machine as well, as the waitress tries to imagine what this scene would look like for every generation, give or take twenty years. She imagines what it was like after WWII, during the 60s and then back to the 80s. Fashion changes but the people don’t. They are all looking for love and acceptance. Here is your next drink: 

9. Irene Cara, “Fame.” This song has such energy (yeah, I know it is a dance song, it supposed to) and such a sense of hope. And, that is totally the way Max is feeling, hopeful. Hopeful, this time he gets it right. This time he finds what it is he is looking for, even if he doesn’t really care if anyone remembers his name. He likes that despite the talents of the people in the school for arts, people don’t really know their names either. There is something comforting in the thought that despite their talent, we are the same in this way. And, despite that friendly anonymity, you can’t but be taken in by the everything is possible feeling. Cheers to this one: 

8. 38 Special, “Caught Up In You.” This video just rocks. And, it starts with having the hairiest musicians of the 80’s on the silver screen. And trust me that hair is worth at least half the price of admission, as it is a million tons of fun. Classic video games? Check. A black man and a white man arm wrestling? Check. A chance at a one night stand? Check. People carrying hotel keys to a bar? Check. Fumbling and being awkward and at first being unable to get the girl? Check. Get’s the girl? Watch. Max would have:

7. After the Fire, “Der Kommissar.” Watch out all you people wanting to have fun, Der Kommissar is in town and he is going to put you in jail for trying. It is such a classic theme we don’t even realize it. The main character wants to do something. Someone in power wants to stop the main character. Whole novels are written on this basic theme – whole human histories, too. Max certainly worries about this. But, Max also thinks we don’t always need to have real boogey men. Sometimes, the boogey man  is ourselves. Sometimes we are the one’s holding ourselves back. But, this is such a fun video. And, all those “cha’s” as they are driving around the bus – it is video magic!

6. Bob Marley, “Could You Be Loved?” Okay, no MTV video. But, such an intriguing song. From Max’s point of view, there are two important theme’s here:  1) The idea that the world or the nebulous powers that be want to change you – make you something that you are not. But, you can’t let that happen. You have to be true to yourself. 2) And, this is fascinating because instead of changing yourself to attract the one you love, Bob argues you have to accept yourself, love yourself, before you can love and be loved. How much of our problems are because we are trying to be something we are not, and the stress of that sours our perception? And, Marley also hints at turning it around. Maybe, the powers that be hang over us, because they themselves, haven’t learned to love themselves, either. Its power lies in its simplicity, yet captures so much of the world we live in. It is a master of poetry.

5. Styx, “Haven’t We Been Here Before.” Isn’t it funny how we keep repeating the same old mistakes? Well, maybe not. But, it seems to be the state of humanity. Sometimes we need that daring young man who has finally learned to say, “No!” But, in the end, it is love that transcends our problems. Certainly, we know this, yet it continues to be our bugbear. History – and really everything – repeats until we finally get off that wheel. We have to take the road less traveled. And, that is the path that Max hopes he is on.

4. Twisted Sister, “We’re Not Going to Take it.” One of, if not the funniest videos of the MTV era. It has it all. Parents are mean. Kids are cool. Father says what are you going to do with your life? And, the kid is like, “I want to rock!” Throw in the father is the bad guy from Animal House and you have video meets comedy movies in all the best ways! And, the fact that the band has long hear and make up and look like scary clowns all the better! And, let’s face it we want to live our own lives, not the lives that others want for us. Max, too. Being able to do that is real independence, and real maturity. I think the questioning of conformity was strong in the 80s. And, it is also at the heart of my some day, maybe debut novel.

3. Cyndi Lauper, “Goonies ‘r’ Good Enough.” The freaks were in ascendance in the 80s and where couldn’t you see that better than Professional Wrestling. Classic Professional Wrestling too. These people would have been circus freaks in another time. And, it was wonderful. And Cyndi loved them and always made sure they were in her videos. Throw in this simple, classic tale. The bad guys were bad. The good guys were good. And, it was all funny, and even came with a pirate map and a nice little adventure! Max, whether he tried or not, the adventure seemed to find him.

It is a two part extraordinaire so you know it has to be good!

Part one: 

Part two:

2. Men At Work, “Be Good Johnny.” You sure are a funny kid, Johnny. What kind of boy are you? (No, I want to rock here.) I only like dreaming, all the day long, where no one is screaming, be good. Max was nothing if not a dreamer. He daydreamed a lot. He may never had his head out of the clouds. But, what happens to dreamers when they grow old? Hopefully, the dream (and the adventure) continues…

And, before we get to the #1 song, the main character Max, from my some day, maybe, debut novel, You Can’t Get Jack Out of the This or The Story of Language Whore, would be listening and viewing in the 1980s, a few honorable mentions:

Motely Crue, “Smoking in the Boy’s Room.” Hilarious video. Classic authority is bad and young people are misunderstood. It does not get any simpler, yet funnier, than this classic 80s video: 

Bonnie Tyler, “Total Eclipse of the Heart.” What DnDer didn’t like Jim Steinman lyrics? Who else could turn a song about a vampire into a love lost song? And, you gotta love the line, “We’re living in a powder keg, and we are giving off the sparks.” Explosive! 

Thomas Dolby, “She Blinded Me with Science.” It was the height of nerd music of the time. Pure pleasure.

1. And, now for the #1 song that Max would be listening to in the 1980s. It is the full album, “Time,” by ELO. Are you disappointed? Hold on  (to your dreams). And, hear me out. It is a masterpiece (and a time machine). It is a science fiction story put to music. It is also an extended metaphor that the distance between two people can be seen through time and not just space. The album is a letter from another time to the person’s love in the 1980s, expressing the writer’s sense of loss and desire. He is unhappy and unsatisfied, even though he is in the most fantastic world, because in the end, all that matters is love. But, the computers can’t understand. They keep asking, “Is that what you want?” I think we all do. But, to go back to the beginning, to Kajagoogoo. Sometimes, it is also about the chase. And, that is what makes a good story, right? All the parts in the middle. We recognize it as readers, even listeners. But, what about us? From beginning to end, what do you think? Is it the middle that matters?

Finish that drink and have a listen: 

Alex Pole is an aspiring author who has written several as of yet unpublished novels and is looking for just the right amount of motivation to finally release. A multitude of harassing comments in this article should do the trick.

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Published by Damien Lee Hanson

I am the founder of Damien Hanson Books. Come check out awesome authors right here at my website!

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