Was 1983 really 30 years ago?

I had a surreal experience this morning as I struggled to wake up with some strong coffee. I turned on the TV and switched the channel to nuvoTV, a channel devoted to modern Latino entertainment. I’m not Latino, but I’d rather watch re-runs of the old television show, Fame, than any of the morning news shows. This morning, the episode of Fame that aired was a concert they did highlighting the hits of 1983. Songs like “Billie Jean”, “Beat It”, “Sweet Dreams are Made of This”, “Total Eclipse of the Heart”, “Take Me To Heart”, and “Electric Avenue” were performed in rapid succession, giving viewers a look at 1983. It was like the soundtrack of my youth was being badly covered right before my very eyes. Suddenly, I felt horribly old. The throbbing pain in my hip this morning doesn’t help matters.

The camera panned over the audience and I saw lots of adolescents in the crowd with feathered and winged hair. Up on the stage, actor Billy Hufsey wore a white Members Only jacket as he and actress Cynthia Gibb sang “We’ve Got Tonite”, a song originally made famous by Bob Seger in 1978 and turned into a duet by Kenny Rogers and Sheena Easton. He was soon joined by the late Gene Anthony Ray and Debbie Allen, who sang a duet of Lionel Richie’s “You Are”, while Carlo Imperato and Valerie Landsburg singing “Never Gonna Let You Go”, by Sergio Mendez. Then there was the show stopper! Irene Cara, who starred in the film version of Fame and was on my favorite children’s show, The Electric Company back in the day, came on stage in a sequined jump suit to sing the theme to Flashdance. It was followed by a totally overwrought cover rendition of “Up Where We Belong” originally sung by Joe Cocker and Jennifer Warnes. Of course, Irene Cara sang the last song, the theme song for both the movie and television show, Fame. It was a very glitzy, high speed show. It was very… 1983.

Valerie Landsburg sings “Total Eclipse of the Heart” and “Love Is A Battlefield”…

I mainly watch old episodes of Fame for fun. When I was young, I paid attention to the storylines and characters. I looked up to them. Thirty years later, I think the show is very cheesy. It’s still entertaining, but in a different way. Now I like to watch it because I enjoy snarking on it. Sometimes the show is so snarkworthy that I post clips on a friend’s Facebook page, knowing that she gets it! Then it occurs to me that in 1983, thirty years ago meant 1953, which back then seemed positively ancient. Even today, it seems like 1983 is not as different as 2013 was. Is that just because I’m so old?

Where did all the years go? It seems like yesterday I was a ten year old kid who loved all the new music on the radio. Nowadays, I find out about new music on the Internet, mostly. Sometimes I hear it on television, too. I also find a lot of good music on YouTube, if you can believe that. In fact, last night I was watching an adorable pet video from YouTube and noticed that I liked the music in the background. Using Shazam, I found out the name of the song and the musicians who performed it, The Ipanemas, a Brazilian band that has been around for over forty years. I downloaded the album.

This inspired me to buy music!

Last night was not the first time I’ve found music in that way, either. A few months ago, I was watching a gymnastics montage someone made and I liked the background music. The video had a link to YouTube, so I downloaded the album. Later, I reviewed it on Epinions.com, realizing that the piece that had led me to download was pretty much the only music on the album that I really liked a lot.

And this inspired me to buy music, too…

It occurs to me that thirty years ago, finding music in this fashion would have been unthinkable. Back then, I found music on the radio and sometimes television. The music I heard was usually popular stuff, which explains why I enjoy so much cheesy music from the past. Today’s young people have a vast array of places to find good music. I can go to any number of sources to find music I like and my choices can be tailored. In 1983, no one was thinking about Internet radio sites like Spotify or Pandora.com.

In a way, I think it’s kind of sad that traditional radio has sort of gone out of style. When I was in college, I was a disc jockey for the campus radio station. It was a lot of fun and a great way to be part of the community. Likewise, when I was growing up, listening to local radio stations was a great way to connect to the local community. I still remember a lot of the disc jockeys I used to listen to back in the day… and I listened not just because of the music, but because I liked the radio personalities, too. Today, I would be hard-pressed to tell you who any of the local disc jockeys are in my community. I don’t listen to the radio anymore, so I’ve lost that connection. In fact, the only time I listen to local radio is when there’s a weather emergency and the power is out.

Maybe I should commit to listening to the radio again. I could take it a step further and pull out some blank cassettes so I can tape the music. On the other hand, even local disc jockeys have kind of gone the way of the dodo bird. Nowadays, everything is syndicated, just like on television. *Sigh*… this makes me wonder how we’ll be finding music in 2043.