Sunday, September 9, 2012

'80s Summer Songs: 60s Flashbacks

Don Henley - Boys Of Summer by jpdc11

Well, technically, Summer is now giving way to Fall... so perhaps its a good time to take a listen to two '80s summer-related songs that deal with remembering summers past. Specifically, the long past summers of two decades earlier, during the decade of the 1960s.

The '80s came at a time when '60s nostalgia was often in the air. The youth of the '60s, the baby boomers, were getting to be in their 30s, and had all reached the age when they were often reminiscing about their youth in the momentous era of the Sixties. Radio stations with oldies from that era abounded, and every public broadcasting station had plenty of documentaries about the Woodstock era.

Don Henley's 1984 song "The Boys of Summer" was a wistful boomer-esque reminiscence of the 60s era. The longing for that past era, and a biting critique of alleged '80s materialism, could be seen in the line about:

 "On the road today, I saw a deadhead sticker on a Cadillac,
a little voice inside my head said don't look back
you can never look back."

But, as one who was an '80s youth, who loved '80s culture, but who also was attracted to the exiting era of the '60s (or at least some of it), I always felt that one could love both eras. That you could appreciate the good, the optimism of the vibrant '80s, while at the same time also appreciate the positive aspects of the era of change that was the '60s.

I was not alone. The trend toward nostalgia for the '60s spread to quite a few members of younger generations. The Bryan Adam's song released in 1985 had a similar tale of reminiscine about long gone '60s memories. It had sometimes been noted that Adams was far to young to have actually experienced the events he sings about in his song, as he would have been around 9 years old during the real summer of '69.  I myself see the song as one which filled a nostalgic gap for many of us who grew up in the '80s, but who always have a curiosity and attraction for that bygone era that all the boomers were talking about, that era that occurred 20 years before, when so much change happened, and so many memories were built.


  1. I remember reading that part of the success of the movie "Dirty Dancing" was due to the fact that it took place during the 60s, and 50s and 60s nostalgia was big during the 80s. When you think about it, I remember a resurgence of James Dean, Marilyn Monroe and Betty Page during the 80s.

    1. Pam--- I remember back in the '80s, some were commenting that if the '70s were the "me decade" then maybe the 80s was the "re-decade" because so many comebacks were occurring... everything from the Monkees to Good Humor Ice Cream. It was a great time to be nostalgia minded. I remember fondly the oldies shows on the radio... of course, today '80s music constitutes "oldies"!