“We want to be the band to dance to when the bomb drops.”Simon LeBon
One of my recent Lost 80s albums featured here at Daily Duranie was the brilliant Sleep Convention by Trees. You can read more about the album and the haunting ode to nuclear war “Red Car” here. After a few more listens to the album, I started to compile a playlist of songs I would be dancing to when they dropped the bomb. As a kid watching MTV in 1983, nothing was more certain than that impending bomb dropping. Nuclear war seemed inevitable.
If you asked me which book I read the most as a kid, the answer would probably be Life After Doomsday by Bruce Clayton. Maybe my father bought it as I don’t think I would have at that age but it fascinated me. The handbook covered all possible scenarios for life after the nuclear war. I remember taking it very seriously and thinking about how we would find food in suburban South Florida. I wanted to be prepared.
Around the same time, I was discovering music and a lot of the songs in rotation seemed to be about nuclear way. I remember hearing that “99 Luft Balloons” definitely was though I haven’t figured out what the balloons represent. Until recently, and much to the amusement of the chef where I work, I was singing “red skies are nice” instead of “red skies at night” whenever The Fixx came on. Turns out, the song is about nuclear war and the red skies are certainly not nice.
Popular culture was inundated with nuclear annihilation and The Day After on television felt like a major event in 1983 (it’s available to stream for free here!). From television, to films, to music, the threat of nuclear war was everywhere – until it wasn’t. By the late 80s, I don’t remember ever thinking about nuclear bombs as we turned our collective attention to more conventional wars in far away places.
So, while the bomb never dropped, we did keep dancing to Duran Duran as well as many of the songs on this playlist. Am I the only one who was caught up in the nuclear fear? Perhaps. Let me know.