Oversleeping For The SAT: Ugh, It's The High School Mix

One inescapable fact of life is that, for good or ill, there are certain songs that will always take us back to our high school years. Try as you might to put them behind you, those little fuckers dig their hooks in deep...

Here's a new playlist with about 4 and a half hours of music from my own high school days -- songs that were not just released while I was in school (fall 1980 to spring 1984), but which I actually listened to (voluntarily or otherwise) at the time. Which means a lot of my favorite music that came out during those years, but which I didn't discover until college, doesn't make the cut -- R.E.M., the Cure, New Order, the Fall, the Replacements, all those bands I got into as a college freshman and kicked myself for having completely missed in high school, won't be found here. (For a more thorough overview of my favorite songs from every year since 1966, you can check out my web page.)

While I had yet to jump into indie rock and all that great music just outside the mainstream, I was still in a period of discovery back in high school, excited about the punk-adjacent and new wave bands that somehow penetrated our suburban bubble (Clash, Jam, Go-Go's, Talking Heads, Violent Femmes), while still tuned in to the remaining vestiges of the classic rock bands that had been my passion at the onset of my teen years (the Who, Kinks, Stones). 

And, of course, this was when MTV first arrived, so my life was inundated with songs whose videos were inescapable, even though I had no interest in picking up these artists' albums (Michael Jackson, Cyndi Lauper, Madonna, Duran Duran). And, of course, there were the movies whose soundtracks were a big part of my life (i.e. Valley Girl and the late-night concert montage Urgh: A Music War), providing a supply of interesting emerging artists that weren't necessarily finding their way onto the local radio station (Psychedelic Furs, XTC).

Unless you're my age, this won't have the same emotional resonance for you, and some song inclusions will presumably be (or at least should be) inexplicable, but if I were to recreate some random mix tape I would've heard at a party after a Friday night football game in 1983, it would've sounded something like this.


  1. Humanfund here. I started HS just when you finished, but I think you captured the early 80s very well, that hazy straddle between top 40 and KROQ style new wave.

    Rewatched Valley Girl a few weeks ago. The last scene in the limo with I Melt With You is still pretty sweet.


Post a Comment