Courtesy of my friend Joel, I learned today that Pat Benatar is turning 63.
It seems like just yesterday that she was leading an overchoreographed rendition of “Love is a Battlefield.” The female rocker, who came on the scene right as the 80s was about to shove New Wave and Hair Bands down our throats, put out a string of hits during that decade. And boy, could she rock.
Benatar still looks amazing at 63. And 60 is today’s 50, right? So I’m not lamenting her age at all, or saying she’s an old hag.
But this time warp in my mind has been bothering me for a while.
- When I was 14 and it was 1982, the Beatles had been apart for only 12 years, but it seemed like decades. Twelve years ago, Madonna kissed Britney Spears at the MTV Video Music Awards. That seemed like about two years ago.
- When I was 16 (1984), Elvis Presley had been dead for seven years and had released his first single 30 years before. That was ancient history, black and white TVs and all that. Now, it’s been 30 years since Prince & the Revolution released “Raspberry Beret.” Wait. They still play that song on the radio.
What’s going on?
I’m getting old, and so is Pat Benatar. And what happened 20 and 30 years ago now doesn’t seem as long ago as when I was 14 and events took place before I was born or conscious of the music scene. But the music 30 years ago seems more timeless. Buddy Holly, Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis all had a formula, and it was easy to identify a song written in the 50s.
As time went on and genres began to multiply (as well as the number of albums and singles released each year), it became more difficult to place a song in a particular decade. Sure, some were easy – disco, new wave, grunge – but with the New Wave reprisal in the 2000s, even Duran Duran is enjoying a rebirth, and some of their 80s hits sound right at home in today’s music.
Given the glut of comprehensive radio stations nowadays – radio stations that play the hits of the “70s, 80s and 90s,” for example – we’re exposed to that less older generation of music a lot more as well. You’re much more likely to hear “Come On Eileen” or “Hotel California” than you are “Heartbreak Hotel” on the radio.
All this is to say happy birthday, Pat, and you don’t seem old at all. At least to an old guy like me.