Playlist: The Top Twenty ’80s Songs About Time

Playlist: The Top Twenty ’80s Songs About Time

The 1980s were known for many things. Two-tone Rolex. Bad hair. And music, so much music.

We always love it when horology intersects with popular culture. So as part of our ’80s Week content bonanza, we asked our friend Matthew Schnipper – the omnivorous pop fan and delightfully droll writer who runs the Deep Voices newsletter – to make us a playlist of 1980s songs that grapple, in one way or another, with the concept of time.

It’s called Time After Time After Time After Time: HODINKEE Does the ’80s. And you can listen on Spotify right here.

Like any good mix, it’s a blend of old favorites and new discoveries. Schnipper’s tracklist and liner notes are below. Any songs you’d want to add? Leave ’em in the comments.

Sea Urchins, “A Morning Odyssey“: The only proper way to think about the beginning of the day. Time’s gonna pass, might as well take it on a journey. Plus jangly guitars!

Bruce Springsteen, “Open All Night“: Bruce’s tale of working the night shift. He’s driving into the early hours to get home to his baby. Recorded 35 years ago but sounds like yesterday.

Paul Simon, “Born at the Right Time“: The story of a lucky baby born at the moment church bells rang. A celebration of the power of clock towers.

Talking Heads, “Once in a Lifetime“: In one sense, every moment is a miracle. In another sense, they’re all the same. Puzzle that out with the quirkiest banger of the decade.

Byrne

Talking Heads’ David Byrne (Flickr: Alterna2, license)

Lionel Richie, “All Night Long (All Night)“: Not that anyone’s counting, but yes, all night would be a good amount of time to stay attuned to your partner’s needs.

The Blue Nile, “Seven A.M.“: A richly produced but sensitive and pensive song simultaneously pondering the power of love and the inverse power of longing, which, of course happens at the loneliest of hours.

Peter Ivers, “Conference Call at Four“: Making the least attractive calendar invite into a weird and groovy track.

Arthur Russell, “She’s The Star/I Take This Time“: Arguably the most romantic lyrics ever penned: “I’ll take this time and love you with it.” A hushed tribute to attention and devotion as articulated by days, months, years.

Meredith Monk, “Afternoon Melodies“: A lovely way to experience an afternoon. If you’re stuck in the waiting room between morning and evening, this gorgeous singing will help time pass.

Bill Evans, “Sometime Ago“: A sublime pianist’s late-career paen to memory. The song is only four minutes long, but you can feel the years he’s lived.

Brian Eno, “Silver Morning“: Red sky at night, sailor’s delight/Red sky in morning, sailors take warning/”Silver Morning” blasting out the speakers, you’ll feel no weakness.

Mr. Fingers, “Let’s Dance All Night“: No pathos here, just a reminder that the hours are counting down and you’d better take advantage.

EPMD, “It’s Time 2 Party“: An early rap track from the legendary New York duo commanding you to move. They’re not taking no for an answer.

Beastie Boys, “Time To Get Ill“: The closing track from their debut album is something of a directive of the listener. Music’s done, time to…you know…get ill. Define that how you please, but make haste.

Prince, “1999“: A musical reminder that time means more than just the minute and hour – and that the future, always so far away, always becomes the past. Good for dancing, too.

Prince

Prince (Flickr: Scott Penner, license)

Cyndi Lauper, “Time After Time“: In real life, “I’ll be waiting” maybe be what your Uber driver says when you take too long to come outside. But when Cyndi Lauper says it, it’s an affirmation of the devotion that goes into patience, and how unmeasured time is the greatest gift you can give someone you love.

Daryl Hall & John Oates, “Did It In A Minute“: Pop’s beloved duo making sure an intimate minute lasts as long as possible.

Cher, “If I Could Turn Back Time“: Likely the greatest song about regret and longing, aka bad time management.

Janet Jackson, “Let’s Wait Awhile“: Most of this early Janet ballad has her making her case for pumping the brakes. But it’s not until the song’s last line that we get her clearest reasoning: “I promise I’ll be worth the wait.”

Emmylou Harris, “Darkest Hour Is Just Before the Dawn“: A track for the lonely men and women of the world, as well as sleep-deprived new parents just realizing that, yes, 5:00 AM is now when they wake up.

Dolly Parton, “9 to 5“: The best clock-watching anthem in history. If you’ve never heard this song, don’t wait a second longer.

HODINKEE

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