Yisel’s Top Five From: 1979

Yisel’s Top Five From: 1979

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Every week, one of our lovers of older music, Yisel, forays into a year from the past and shares with you her five favorite songs from that period. This week, she takes us back to the end of the seventies in what was a landmark year for music. Enjoy Yisel’s Top Five from 1979:

 

1. “Video Killed the Radio Star” by The Buggles from The Age of Plastic

Buggles - Video killed the radio star 1979

 

Though this might be a one-hit wonder band, I certainly need to put this song here because it’s part of the history of music. The music video for this song was the first one to be released on MTV, marking a new digital era.  A new-wave/ ynth-pop song composed of six chords and a catchy chorus, the song expresses both anxiety and nostalgia for the future of music. Predicting the future of music consumption via television, “Video Killed the Radio Star” acknowledges that songs now have become part of the visual world. The Buggles penned a tune that connects to our current technological landscape It’ chorus makes me wonder: what is the role of the musician now? What would the Buggles say about social media? Perhaps a sequel is in order for the 40 year anniversary.

 

2. “My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue) or Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)” by Neil Young from Rust Never Sleeps

Neil Young - My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue) - 11/26/1989 - Cow Palace (Official)

 

If you’ve heard this song before you might be a bit confused about the title; Is it “My My, Hey Hey” or “Hey Hey, My My?” Well, both are right.

The album Rust Never Sleeps contains “My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue)” on side one, while “Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)” on side two. The difference? Well, “My My, Hey Hey (Out of the Blue)” is an acoustic version while its counterpart, “Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)” is electric. In both its acoustic and electric forms, it is fully a depressing song. It has been viewed as a song about becoming irrelevant, about coming out of depression or even falling into depression to the extent of committing suicide. A lot has been said about the song and its relevance to Kurt Cobain’s death, since the last lines of his suicide note are the lyrics from this song: “It’s better to burn out than to fade away.” In any matter, I believe it’s a very powerful song about rock and roll staying alive.

 

3. “Dancing Barefoot” by Patti Smith from Waves

Patti Smith - Dancing Barefoot (1979) Germany

 

If you haven’t listened to the mother of punk, you must do it—now. Patti Smith is not only a great musician but also an amazing writer. Smith moved to New York in 1967 hoping to become a poet, and slowly made her way into the music scene. Waves is her fourth album, full of magical songs making it hard to choose a favorite one.  Dancing Barefoot is inspired and dedicated to Jeanne Hébuterne. The song is also a dedication to Patti’s husband, Fred (Sonic) Smith (guitarist of the band MC5). In the same album, she also dedicated the song Frederick to him. Jeanne Hébuterne was an artist and Modigliani’s lover. To make a long story short, Modigliani and Hébuterne became lovers and moved in together. In 1920 Modigliani died from tuberculous meningitis. Héburtene who was madly in love with him could not bear life and threw herself from the fifth floor of an apartment, two days after Modigliani’s death. This lead to her own death. The lyrics of Dancing Barefoot reflect a woman who has fallen madly in love. The song starts with the instruments and shortly after Patti Smith enters with her unique not conventional voice. The songs grows rapidly into the chorus where Patti Smith in a sedated mode offers the idea of being subjected to music, heroin and perhaps love.

 

4. “Comfortably Numb” by Pink Floyd from The Wall

Pink Floyd - Comfortably numb


Hello? Is there anybody in there? You recognize these lyrics. “Comfortably Numb” is part of the famous conceptual album The Wall. The Wall follows a narrative that is created through each song, inspired by the emotions of isolation attributed to a fictitious character named Pink. The album forms a storyline in which “Comfortably Numb” relates Pink’s experience of being medicated. The lyrics are supposed to be inspired by frontman Roger Waters’ personal experience being medicated before a show. Two guitar solos, distortion, delays, and a special tuning for the guitars in the chorus (lower e tuned two octaves higher) come together, creating a unique sound that reflects the perdition of the self on extreme medication.

 

5. “She’s Lost Control ” by Joy Division from Unknown Pleasures

Joy Division - She's Lost Control (Live At Something Else Show) [Remastered] [HD]

 

Based on a woman with epilepsy whom frontman Ian Curtis met, “She Lost Control” can be viewed as Curtis’ reflection on his personal experience being epileptic, filtered through a third person perspective.  Ian Curtis began experiencing epileptic attacks in 1978 and was diagnosed in early 1979. Considering this, one can only wonder how much seeing this woman could affect his view of himself. The song starts with Peter Hook playing very high up on the neck of his bass guitar, creating that famous bass line listeners often associate with the song. The bass guitar is accompanied by a repetitive drum beat that is normally played with an electric drum when it is performed live. The song forms the narrative around repeated elements, consistently presenting the events by starting lines with “and” to center the progression of events. “And she screamed out kicking on her side and said/I’ve lost control again/And seized up on the floor, I thought she’d die/She said I’ve lost control.” The intense repetition of “She’s lost control again” creates exactly that feeling of not being able to control your own actions. It’s a seminal song that shines a light on Curtis’ situation and that of all people who suffer from epilepsy.

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