News / Arts & Entertainment

Mad World: 80s New Wave Rock Acts in Their Own Words

Katherine Cole
Music fans have already seen songs of the 1960s get their due and the sounds of the 1970s have been endlessly analyzed as well. But what about the 1980s?  The authors of a new book are celebrating the music of the era.  

It doesn’t matter if you don’t know your Devo from your Ultravox -- "Mad World" is an oral history that will put those bands in context and tell the stories behind 35 hits from what author Lori Majewski calls “the last golden age of pop,” the years 1978 to 1985.
    
“[19]80s New Wave doesn’t get the props, it doesn’t get the respect that Grunge and Punk and Classic Rock gets," she said. "We thought about it as a time with men in makeup and MTV and, ’Oooh, they’re visual artists. They do videos, they’re not serious musicians.’ Well, on the contrary. They were. They just thought of things as a full package with the visuals included. Thirty-five years later, we’re still listening to these songs. So we thought, gosh, it’s really time that we give New Wave its due.”
 
Mad World: 80s New Wave Rock Acts in Their Own Words
Mad World: 80s New Wave Rock Acts in Their Own Wordsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X

The first band Majewski and co-author Jonathan Bernstein talked to was Duran Duran.

“They’re the Rolling Stones of this era," said Majewski. "To say you have them, pretty much everyone else fell into place after that.”

Was there one big “get” for her? A group or musician she really didn’t think would participate?
 
Morrissey, former singer for the 80’s alternative rock-band The Smiths, performs onstage at the House of Blues, Jan. 12, 2013, in Atlantic City, New Jersey.Morrissey, former singer for the 80’s alternative rock-band The Smiths, performs onstage at the House of Blues, Jan. 12, 2013, in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
x
Morrissey, former singer for the 80’s alternative rock-band The Smiths, performs onstage at the House of Blues, Jan. 12, 2013, in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
Morrissey, former singer for the 80’s alternative rock-band The Smiths, performs onstage at the House of Blues, Jan. 12, 2013, in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
“I was really thrilled when we got quotes from Morrissey," she said. "Not only does he do very few interviews, but he does very few interviews when it has to do with The Smiths.”

But it wasn’t just Morrissey who sat down to talk about the band he fronted, The Smiths. His co-writer and guitarist Johnny Marr took part, too -- along with drummer Andy Rourke. But, it seems the lead singer had a different memory of things.

“He said he felt the other Smiths were quote ‘embarrassed’ by his lyrics to 'How Soon is Now,' some of his most seminal lyrics. ‘I am human, and I need to be loved. Just like everybody else does," Majewski said.

Majewski says she had a hard time believing the other Smiths would be embarrassed by those lyrics, so she asked them. The answer?

“We were blown away by them, as we were blown away by all of them,” she said.  "So it’s interesting, 35 years may have passed, 30 in the case of this song in particular, but Morrissey still feels the same. He was an insecure wound of a teen then and he still is today.”
    
The book "Mad World" includes photos and biographical info about the artists, as well as commentary about the iconic songs from the era. Co-author Jonathan Bernstein says there are a few things today’s musicians could learn from their New Wave brethren about taking risks and experimenting. Many of the artists profiled in the book were self-taught, do-it-yourselfers driven by the need to be creative. Gary Numan, for example, had never even seen a synthesizer before he used one to write the song “Cars.”

“Gary Numan was in this punk band called Tubeway Army," Bernstein said.  "He went into the studio with his band to make a punk album. There was a synthesizer lying around, just waiting to be picked up and carried off. He’d never played a synthesizer before. He pressed the button and the sound that was already set in the synthesizer just started rumbling. And that completely changed his perspective on what his music was going to be.”

At their website, MadWorldBook.com, authors Majewski and Bernstein have put together New Wave mix-tape ideas, videos, photos and even a few extra stories that didn’t make it into the book.

You May Like

Photogallery Snowstorm Sweeps Northeastern US

'This is nothing like we feared it would be,' New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says; he had earlier warned storm could be one of worst the city has ever faced More

Millions of Displaced Nigerians Struggle With Daily Existence

Government acknowledges over a million people displaced in 2014 due to fight against Boko Haram insurgency More

Facebook: Internal Error to Blame for Outages

Temporary outage appeared to spill over and temporarily slow or block traffic to other major Internet sites More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visiti
X
Aru Pande
January 26, 2015 9:33 PM
U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video US, EU Threaten New Russia Sanctions Over Ukraine

U.S. President Barack Obama has blamed Russia for an attack by Ukrainian separatists that left dozens dead in the port of Mariupol and cast further doubt on the viability of last year’s cease-fire with the Kyiv government. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Kerry Warns Against Violence in Nigeria Election

US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Nigeria Sunday in a show of the level of concern within the U.S. and the international community over next month’s presidential election. Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Zoo Animals Show Their Artistic Sides

The pursuit of happiness is so important, America's founding fathers put it in the Declaration of Independence. Any zookeeper will tell you animals need enrichment, just like humans do. So painting, and even music, are part of the Smithsonian National Zoo's program to keep the animals happy. VOA’s June Soh met some animal artists at the zoo in Washington. Faith Lapidus narrates.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Saudi, Yemen Developments Are Sudden Complications for Obama

The death of Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah and the collapse of Yemen’s government have cast further uncertainty on U.S. efforts to fight militants in the Middle East and also contain Iran’s influence in the region. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports on the new complications facing the Obama administration and its Middle East policy.
Video

Video Progress, Some Areas of Disagreement in Cuba Talks

U.S. and Cuban officials are reporting progress from initial talks in Havana on re-establishing diplomatic ties. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State (for Western Hemisphere Affairs) Roberta Jacobson said while there was agreement on a broad range of issues, there also are some “profound disagreements” between Washington and Havana. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

 

 

 

 

 

Singer Leyla McCalla takes up not only the guitar, but the banjo and cello to perform songs from her new disc, “A Tribute to Langston Hughes,” music that mixes the Creole rhythms of Haiti with the French Quarter flavor of New Orleans on this edition of "The Hamilton Live."