A Song A Day in May: 80s Nuclear War Anxiety

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.

The Ramones – “My Brain Is Hanging Upside Down (Bonzo Goes To Bitburg)” (1986)
More a piece of Cold War history than Cold War nuclear anxiety, this Ramones track was one of their best latter-day songs and a scathing commentary on Reagan’s controversial visit to Germany to mark the 40th anniversary since the end of WWII. During that visit, he made the gaffe of visiting a cemetery in Bitburg that had a bunch of SS soldiers buried there, which resulted in … some backlash. Anyway, the whole episode portrays the kind of politician stupidity that again feels so close to home today. “My brain is hanging upside down” is a refrain that describes how I’ve felt for the whole last year.

SOURCE: Stereogum 80s Songs About Nuclear Anxiety

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