Have you ever been listening to a song on the radio that brought a smile to your face? You get a glazed look in your eyes as you’re transported back to another time and place. The time you held your first grandbaby, your first dance at your wedding, or a summer cookout on the beach with friends.
Music can so easily trigger feelings of nostalgia within us. We hear that one song, or even a strain of it that brings to mind a particular person, place, thing or life event. We remember where we were at that time, who we were dating, who the current president was, or even the type of clothing that was fashionable at the time.
Which decade is this for you? Which era stands out above all the rest and floods you with memories of a simpler time and place? Which songs made you laugh, cry or both?
The Groovy 60’s
The groovy 60’s was the decade of rock and roll. This was the era of peace and love, of flower power, Beatlemania and skateboarding enthusiasts. You lived through the Civil Rights Movement, remembered the Cuban Missile Crisis, watched the broadcast of the First Man on the Moon and mourned the loss of a president.
It was the decade of big hair, afros, the beehive haircut and bobs, to name a few. The styles of clothing worn were pill box hats, miniskirts, shift dresses, cigarette pants, baby doll dresses, culottes, tie-dyed shirts, go-go boots and bell bottom pants.
You grooved to the Monster Mash, the Twist and Mashed Potato and used phrases like“going steady”, “outta sight” “hang loose” and“gimme some skin.”
Popular bands of that era included the Beatles, Rolling Stones, the Supremes, Beach Boys and singers like Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Janis Joplin.
Some of the songs that made the pop charts for that decade were:
The Twist- Chubby Checker
Hey Jude- The Beatles
I’m a Believer-The Monkees
I Heard it Through the Grapevine- Marvin Gaye
Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay- Otis Redding
Big Girls Don’t Cry- The Four Seasons
Are You Lonesome Tonight?-Elvis Presley
I Can’t Stop Loving You- Ray Charles
It’s My Party- Lesley Gore
I’m Sorry- Brenda Le
The Funky 70’s
This was the era of the sooooooooouuul train! This decade was categorized as the Disco era. We remember John Travolta and Saturday Night Fever and at one point during that decade just about everybody was Kung Fu Fighting.
You probably used slang terms like, “far out,” “catch you on the flip side” and “can you dig it.”
You did the Hustle, Bump and Funky Chicken. You watched shows like The Brady Bunch, Three’s Company and Good Times.
The 70’s also saw the beginning of punk fashion. People had multiple piercings and tattoos. Safety pins held clothes together. Hairstyles ranged from cropped and shaved hair to the shag, wedge and Jheri curl.
Trendy fashion back then included polyester suits, platform shoes, dashikis, hot pants, psychedelic clothing and heavy makeup.
Your favorite performers of that decade would most likely have been bands like Sly & the Family Stone, Earth Wind & Fire, the Jackson Five, Bee Gees, the Isley Brothers, Chicago and artists like Elton John, David Bowie and Carly Simon.
Some songs that topped the charts in that decade included:
-Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Old Oak Tree- Tony Orlando and Dawn
-Stayin’ Alive- Bee Gees
-Hot Stuff- Donna Summer
-You’re So Vain- Carly Simon
-Killing me Softly with His Song- Roberta Flack
-Let’s Get it On- Marvin Gaye
-You Light Up My Life- Debbie Boone
-Play That Funky Music- Wild Cherry
-Shadow Dancing- Andy Gibb
-I Will Survive- Gloria Gaynor
The Totally Rad 80’s
This was the era of Michael Jackson, Diana Ross, Prince, Madonna and Whitney Houston. The Thriller Album also took the world by storm in that decade and young people everywhere were dancing and moonwalking on every available smooth surface.
The 80’s was also the decade of Dallas, Pac-Man and Cabbage Patch Dolls. We were all obsessed with the Rubik’s Cube and Donkey Kong. Girls, well they just wanted to have fun.
We wore neon colors, acid washed jeans, mini skirts, leggings, headbands and legwarmers and danced the Macarena, Robot, Cabbage Patch and Sprinkler.
We listened to the music of bands like AC/DC, Journey, the O’Jays, Wham, Kool and the Gang and Run DMC, not to mention artists like Lionel Richie, Billy Joel, Mariah Carey and Whitney Houston.
Some Chart Toppers for that decade were:
-Billie Jean- Michael Jackson
-Physical- Olivia Newton John
-Endless Love- Diana Ross & Lionel Richie
-What a Feeling- Irene Cara
-Another One Bites The Dust
-Ebony and Ivory- Stevie Wonder & Paul McCartney
-Upside Down- Diana Ross
-Jessie’s Girl- Rick Springfield
-Lady- Kenny Rogers
The Awesome 90’s
The decade when we were cool when we owned a pager, talked to the hand, and settled everything with rock, paper scissors. We probably owned a Gameboy and taped music from our boom boxes. Dances included the Hammer, the Jiggy, the Butterfly, and the Humpty, to name a few.
Slang terms were endless. We heard expressions like Oh Snap, Wassup, My Bad, Dope, As If and Boo Ya. Let’s not forget the ever popular Whatever.
We sported hairstyles that included, but were not limited to, the Flattop, spiked or bleached hair, scrunchies on our pony tail as well as on our wrist, Janet Jackson braids and Rachel’s haircut from Friends.
Our choice of clothing included, backwards caps, ripped jeans, Air Jordans, neon windbreakers, Reeboks, baggy jeans, mood rings and slap bracelets.
Some of our favorite groups were Boyz II Men, Savage Garden, Tag Team, Pearl Jam and the New Kids on the Block. We liked the artists Eminem, Whitney Houston, Brandy & Monica, Sinead O’Connor and James Ingram.
Songs that topped the chart that decade:
– Ice Ice Baby- Vanilla Ice
-Escapade- Janet Jackson
-Love will Lead You Back- Taylor Dayne
-Nothing Compares 2 U- Sinead O’Connor
-Step By Step- New Kids on the Block
-Whoomp! There it is- Tag Team
-End of the Road- Boyz II Men
-Rush Rush- Paula Abdul
Enter the era of Pop, Rap, Gangsta-Rap and Hip Hop. This decade brought us artists like Beyoncé and Jay-z, Lady Gaga, Rihanna, Gwen Stefani, Destiny’s Child, Usher, Britney Spears. We enjoyed the bands Cold Play, Maroon 5, Kings of Leon, Plain White T’s and One Direction. This list goes on and on.
We went Gangnam Style for quite a while, did the Stanky Leg, the Superman, the Single Ladies and Whipped and Nae Naed to Silento’s Hip Hop dance song.
This decade more or less saw recycled fashion from the previous years or fusions of them such as tall tees, trucker hats, big face digital watches, throwback jerseys, colored skinny jeans, Ugg boots and Hi-tops. Older hairstyles came back too such as bangs, the bob and layered hair, and men sported buzz or emo cuts, Mohawks and bald heads.
Songs that made it on the charts during this decade include:
-We Belong Together- Mariah Carey
-I Gotta Feeling- The Black Eyed Peas
-No One- Alicia Keys
-Gold Digger- Kanye West featuring Jamie Fox
-Hey Ya!- Outkast
-Bleeding Love- Leona Lewis
-Say My Name- Destiny’s Child
-I Knew I Loved You- Savage Garden
-Poker Face- Lady Gaga
You may have read this and not seen your song on the list or your favorite jam. Believe me, if I could have included every great song and artist that I wanted to I would still be writing this post. The lists were innumerable, the talent endless, the volume of memories too vast to capture in just a single blog post, but I hope that it did give you a good feeling to remember some of the good times, to recapture a moment or two from a special decade, and cause you to search around your storage closet for an old album or two.
DCPL carries many of the Billboard top hits cds at their branches as well as the Now That’s What I Call Music and Entertainment Weekly.