1. Careless Memories (live) :: Duran Duran
I could probably pick anything off of the first three Duran Duran albums to represent my high school years, but I decided to go towards one of my favorite live songs from those years. Careless Memories has always been one of my favorite songs to see/hear Duran Duran perform live. Not only did I see them play live multiple times, but my friends and I obsessively watched Sing Blue Silver, the Duran Duran documentary, enough that we had all the live ad-libs and Simon Le Bon-moves memorized.
2. Head Over Heels :: Tears For Fears
As the song starts, in those first opening notes, I am completely taken back to my teenage years. I can see myself as if looking in a mirrored reflection, or watching a video rewind from a specific time in my life. I wore a lot of pink and grey, this coming right before black and red became my “signature” (well black everything and red lips). I remember what posters were on my wall, what I wrote in hall-passed notes, and how I preferred being at school to being at home. I also very vividly remember who I was “head over heels” for.
3. Stand and Deliver :: Adam & The Ants
We used to write band names and logos and lyrics all over everything, the sides of sneakers, all across our Peechee folders, across the bottom of folded notes, and on the backs of each other’s hands. Adam Ant was one of our friends “true music love” and when I’d spend the night at her house there were posters of Adam on her walls, and closet doors, that she would kiss goodnight. I loved him, too, but my true devotion was already taken by a member of Duran Duran. That said, I had his albums with the “Ants“, and on his own. This one was a favorite of both of ours, and we would sing the chorus to each other in the halls, making the drum sounds with pencils on the metal lockers. We were our own “dandy highwaymen” in those hallways.
4. Love is Love :: Culture Club
There was this one boy, the boy, the first boy I ever fell in love with. We were close, as close as two people could be without being “in love” together. We talked on the phone every night, we shared each other’s stories and secrets (well, most of them), went to dances together, I even slept in his bed more nights than I can remember. But, we were never going to happen, and at the time I didn’t realize that it was an unchangeable sexuality thing that would make us a never. Even when I realized though, I still loved him, and this was that song, our song, even if it was never really “ours“.
5. Borderline :: Madonna
She introduced her self to me by questioning my overuse of make-up and though I could have taken it as an insult, I didn’t. Instead I was drawn to her bluntness and her daring, how she seemed to just say what she felt without worrying what anyone thought, and how to me she seemed fearless. We acted in scenes and plays together, we watched Mickey Rourke, Sean Penn and Richard Gere films (falling for each of them), dyed each other’s hair, and fell hard for Madonna’s music and style. She was the first person I ever got drunk with (off of Vodka and Dr. Pepper, yes, it was as disgusting as it sounds), and she was the person who always pushed me that much harder to be myself, stand up for myself, and go for what I wanted. She pushed me over the borderlines I’d set for myself, hid within, but wanted so much to get out of.
6. Love Somebody :: Rick Springfield
I fell for Rick Springfield in junior high, but my heart stayed attached for years after. This was the Hard to Hold era of Rick. It wasn’t a great movie – at all – but I think I saw it in the theater more than a dozen times. Even as my tastes veered off into the world of New Wave, and later Deathrock/Goth, I still kept a space in my heart for Rick, and yes, that space still exists.
7. True :: Spandau Ballet
Two memories come to mind with this song. The first was the setting of my first High School dance. Yes it is so Sixteen Candles, but it was the first song I heard as I walked in, and yes, I did see a boy I liked dancing with a popular, cheerleader girl. The second memory is of standing in line outside of Music Plus for hours and hours waiting to go inside and meet Spandau Ballet with my friends. I gave the drummer my necklace and actually saw him wear it the next day on an interview on Video One (a local music video TV show).
8. James :: The Bangles
Girl groups were my thing, and I would sing-a-long to this song while holding a hairbrush microphone, jumping up onto my bed/makeshift stage, picturing a future when my best friends and I started our own all-girl band. This was my favorite and though it wouldn’t be until I was in my twenties that I dated a “James” (and yes, he was trouble), I loved the “kiss off”/”get lost” attitude, and I loved that they said “shit” in the song, too.
9. Shake the Disease :: Depeche Mode
It was a casual dance in the new gym at the school and my best friend that year had a thing for this tall and lanky boy who was younger than we were. His best friend was there and though he was not my type, and I was terribly in love with someone else (see Love is Love above) I responded to his awkward advances. We spent two weeks trying to be something we were definitely not, and he was my first kiss that was pretty awful (braces hurt), but that night in that gym we did have fun dancing to songs like this one, and singing them to each other, making up movements that matched the lyrics.
10. Head Over Heels :: The Go-Go’s
I did mention my obsession with girl groups, right?
11. Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now) :: Phil Collins
I was not much of a Phil Collins fan, but this was my first slow dance with a boy song so it sticks with me. I was a freshman, shy and awkward and so introverted. Thing is, I always seemed to have that bold and brave friend who would push me out of my comfort level. That year my daring friend drug me to a school dance and made me ask a boy to dance. He was a senior, beautiful, into track and field and played guitar, and he was kind enough to say yes. I was clumsy in his arms and stepped on his toes, but he pretended not to notice. He smelled like Polo men’s cologne, and if I ever smell it now I’m brought right back there.
12. Dancing With Myself :: Billy Idol
Oh Billy, how I adored you. Same dance as above, the first dance, my first dance outside of my bedroom and a relative’s wedding, was to this song. Me and my friends dancing in a circle together, but by ourselves. I remember closing my eyes and spinning around thinking I’d never felt that free.
12. In Between Days :: The Cure
Was it falling for The Cure that did it? Was it dancing at Cloud Nine that did it? Or was it my love of vampires and horror and gothic romances from when I was a young girl that led me to being a little deathrock/goth girl? The black hair dye and kohl eyeliner and deathly pallor skin became my “uniform” around the time I couldn’t get enough of this song.
13. Christine :: Siouxsie & The Banshees
And this one.
14. Cruel Summer :: Bananarama
Girl groups, they ruled my heart.
15. Perfect Way :: Scritti Politti
That boy I mentioned, his best friend who I think carried the same torch I did, became one of my best friend’s, too. He was shy and aloof at school, but after school, and especially over the phone, we became close. We used to play songs to each other over the phone lines, songs we’d discovered and became obsessed with. This song was one of them, though I don’t recall who introduced it to who.
16. A Million Miles Away :: The Plimsouls
Valley Girl. Enough said.
17. If You Leave :: OMD
Pretty In Pink. Enough said.
18. Eaten by the Monster of Love :: Sparks
I loved Sparks. This song was one that I couldn’t help but dance around to, arms flailing and body jumping and spinning in complete reckless abandon. If I remember correctly, it is also played in a scene from Fast Times at Ridgemont High, one of my favorite films.
19. Don’t Change :: INXS
One of my first concerts gone to without parents or older siblings. I have such great memories of that show. This was my absolute favorite song of theirs then, and I as over the moon when they played it life. This song still remains in my list of my favorite all-time songs.
20. The Ghost In You :: Psychedelic Furs
Another song I fell hard for in high school that still remains one of my all-time favorite songs today.