The Music I listened to and loved in the 80s had an influence on me, it’s undeniable. Along with the books I read, the television shows and movies I watched, the people I met, they all helped shape create the foundation of who I am today. Would I be me today if I hadn’t seen “The Day After” at a young age and had a near-obsession level of paranoia over my skin getting peeled off in a nuclear blast? Who’s to say? Did the artists of the music I listen to and their speaking out on political and social matters shape me? Absolutely.
I stumbled across Stereogum‘s list of 80s songs about nuclear war and it was nostalgia on full volume for me. Their list included songs I may not have realized at the time were as political as they were, but now with adult eyes and 30+ years of hindsight, I am grateful that they are. I hope you enjoy some of them as much as I do.
Peter Gabriel – “Games Without Frontiers” (1980)
Though not explicitly about the Cold War exactly, “Games Without Frontiers” often registers as one of the iconic songs influenced by the politics of the era, and it features the pairing of two iconic artists: Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush. Inspired by a European game show where teams from different nations competed in ridiculous competitions, Gabriel’s lyrics feature a few references to the series all in service of comparing international diplomacy to children’s games. It’s a classic for that reason, using a metaphor to illustrate the often infantile, reckless behavior of world leaders that so often threatens to bring us to the brink of disaster. It was accompanied by a video that juxtaposed imagery of Olympics and little war dioramas with bombs going off.