Rethinking ’80s Song Lyrics

March 31, 2013

tape-cassetteI listen to music pretty much all day while I work. And a lot of that is ’80s music. (The best decade for music, bar none!)

But now that I’m comfortably in my mid-40s, I find myself having this experience on a daily basis: I’ll hear a song that I used to love with lyrics that I thought were so profound and I’ll just laugh at how unbelievably bad the lyrics sound now and how silly I was for thinking otherwise.

Like just yesterday, I heard a song by The Fixx called “I Will.” Not one of their hits, but I remember playing it over and over for a time back in the ’80s. And I just thought these lyrics were amazing:

The pleasure of life is the pain of living
What we take out is replaced by giving
If you can contain your own emptiness
Then life is forward, no idle regrets

If the love doesn’t set you free
Then I will

Dude… the pleasure of life is the pain of living!

The teenaged Matt McGee was blown away by the depth in those words. The mid-40s Matt McGee chuckles every time he hears that line … and hundreds of other 80s songs with lyrics that don’t seem nearly as deep now as they did then.


(Stock image via Used under license.)


  • Reply Frank Reed April 1, 2013 at 5:38 am

    Matt- This is spot on. Now while we could have a long discussion on the 80’s being the best decade for music, there is no denying how time changes one’s perspective. I am more than a little embarrassed by what I used to deem ‘profound’.

    I would recommend that your hashtag change from #gettingold to just #gettingolder which thankfully almost always implies some level of getting wiser along with it (no guarantees and, in my case, my wife would attest to that quite readily) Since we can’t stop it, we might as well enjoy it!

    Thanks for the transparency and keep sharing!

  • Reply Anthony Pensabene April 10, 2013 at 4:32 pm

    ha. and yet wordsworth said, ‘the child is father of the man.’ i ripped jeans and tied bandanas around the the inside, corey haim/feldman style and moussed the hair as an eighties child shoulda. seems silly now, but necessary indeed to get me here. 🙂

  • Reply Matt McGee April 14, 2013 at 1:14 am

    +1000 for the multiple Coreys reference there, Anthony. Love it.

    Frank, sometimes I’m not so sure that I’m #gettingwiser, but in the case of lyrics and profundity … you’re right. 🙂

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