Soundtrack of My Life – The Kinks – “Come Dancing”

You either get it or you don’t. There are songs that, when you hear, will instantly bring up memories. One of those songs for me is The Kinks’ 1983 single “Come Dancing.” As a pre-teen, I don’t know that I had any idea who The Kinks were although I suspect that I may have known that at some point in that general era that Van Halen covered “Where Have All The Good Times Gone” on ‘Diver Down’. And, as I write this, I’m sure I was familiar with “Lola” and “Destroyer” (listening to this song now, memories come flooding back of thinking that this had to have been performed by a heavy metal band).

But, back to “Come Dancing.” We didn’t have cable in 1983 which meant no MTV. I imagine that I probably heard “Come Dancing” on the radio – my parents certainly weren’t fans of The Kinks, I had no older siblings to turn me onto music, and I don’t remember listening to The Kinks with my best friend who was definitely into music (thanks, in part, to having a sister in college and access to her albums) but I can’t imagine The Kinks slipped in among the many listens to Van Halen, Rush, Ozzy, and REO Speedwagon.

I heard “Come Dancing” this morning on iHeart Radio’s “I Love the 80s” channel and … bam … transported to a little league bench, after practice, talking to a teammate named Garrett. I remember two Garretts from my childhood and I think I played on teams with both of them at some point – when this memory strikes, I don’t remember which Garrett it was. Where we talking about the song? Was somebody singing it? Was I thinking about it after practice? Those are memories I can’t dial up but sitting on the bench, in my little league uniform, that’s as clear as day (it was a sunny day).

Photo by Ben Hershey on Unsplash

Back in those days, when shopping at a big box department store like Caldors or Bradlees, I’m sure I convinced my mom to buy me The Kinks ‘State of Confusion’ cassette just so I could listen to “Come Dancing” over and over and over again. As I look at the tracklist now, it’s safe to say that I likely never flipped the cassette over to side B and, honestly, none of the songs on side A other than “Come Dancing” even sound familiar so safe to say that my mom bought me the cassette for the sole purpose of listening to one song.

I love 1983. I think I might love St. Lucia.

Years ago, my wife made me a I Love 1983┬át-shirt for my birthday. I think that particular year was a good one in terms of nostalgia however when I really think about it, 1983 was probably one of the more difficult years of my childhood as it’s the year that we moved from my childhood home – a place where I had grown up, made lots of friends, started to form a personality – and uprooted to a new state due to divorce. And it was my last year of being a kid … I turned 13 in 1984 and began that awkward stage of life.

But in terms of pop culture, 1983 was an amazing year. Mental Floss identified 30 great pop culture things about 1983, some of my favorite being the introduction of Chicken McNuggets at McDonald’s, Swatch watches, Michael Jackson’s debut of the Moonwalk, movies (Return of the Jedi, War Games, Risky Business, A Christmas Story), the first episode of A-Team (which I distinctly remember watching in my mom’s bedroom following the Super Bowl) and the music … oh sweet lord … the music that was released in 1983.

There are so many albums released 30 years ago that are still in my collection (although the cassettes were replaced with CD versions which were then converted to MP3s which now either sit on a hard drive or on my iPod). Def Leppard’s Pyromania, Journey’s Frontiers, Styx’s Kilroy Was Here, U2’s War, Thin Lizzy’s Thunder and Lightning, Quiet Riot’s Metal Health, ZZ Top’s Eliminator, Men at Work’s Cargo, Weird Al’s self-titled debut, Iron Maiden’s Piece of Mind, Dio’s Holy Diver, The Kinks’ State of Confusion, Metallica’s Kill ‘Em All, Madonna’s self-titled debut, Billy Joel’s An Innocent Man, Huey Lewis and The News’ Sports, Kiss’s Lick it Up, Motley Crue’s Shout at the Devil, Lionel Richie’s Can’t Slow Down, Cyndi Lauper’s She’s So Unusual, Culture Club’s Colour by Numbers, Billy Idol’s Rebel Yell, Yes’s 90125, Duran Duran’s Seven and the Ragged Tiger, Night Ranger’s Midnight Madness, Ozzy Osbourne’s Bark at the Moon and, maybe my favorite album of all time, The Police’s Synchronicity. Seriously, if you run a DNA test on my musical interests, you’ll find all of these releases.

So, I’m on an email list and receive regular press release updates about St. Lucia but, as the name is unfamiliar to me, I haven’t spent much time (okay, I haven’t spent ANY time) investigating this band that has apparently sold out shows in January 2014. Last night, my friend Lisa posted a video on Facebook of St. Lucia performing on Jimmy Kimmel’s show with the comment “So many 80’s noises reincarnated!”. Naturally, I was intrigued and what I discovered is that St. Lucia sounds like 1983. Synth-and-keyboard-driven danceable pop, the kind that we would have roller skated to or heard when playing Ms. Pac Man at the local arcade. It’s insanely catchy, it makes me feel like I’m 12 years old again and don’t have a care in the world other than making sure that the VCR is set up to record Friday Night Videos on NBC because, in 1983, cable television had not reached the town that I grew up in and therefore I only read about MTV in magazines.

I’ll have to play this for my kids who are all right around the same age that I was in 1983 to see how it stacks up against current music. It would be pretty funny (and cool) if they are as into it as I am, the influences of 1983 still being relevant in 2013.