65 80s Songs - A Countdown

This was a countdown I started on December 26, 2012, and finished on March 1, 2013, marking the days until Cinnamon Toast and the End of the World was first published in Ireland. Relive the magic, if you dare. 

Song 1 Big Country

Big Country - Fields of Fire, 1983

I always knew it would be this one! No, it's not the best song of the decade. It's not the most iconic. It's not even the cheesiest. But I've developed a deep and irrational love for it - 'Fields of Fire' is the final song mentioned in Cinnamon Toast, and it's become part of my end-of-draft routine. (Type 'the end'. Dance around the apartment to 'Fields of Fire'. Post the video on Facebook.) And, yes, it runs over the imaginary ending credits of the imaginary movie. I should be more embarrassed by this than I am, but I'm past that point.

Two versions: In the original video, the lads battle a sinister kid who enjoys planting Scotsmen on railways tracks. Click here!

And a live performance on British TV. Right here!


fields of fire









And...that's it! Tomorrow, if all goes well, Cinnamon Toast and the End of the World will be available in a bookstore or on a website near you, if you live in Ireland or the UK. If you're so inclined, buy a copy and make me the happiest girl in the world. Happy trails, all!

Hmm. The Canadian release is in roughly 65 days. Should I start another countdown? Or make this a guest-post blog where you can send in song suggestions and a write-up? Anything's possible...

Song 2 Violent Femmes again

Violent Femmes - Hallowed Ground, 1984

'Everyone's trying to decide, where to go when there's no place to hide...' So why choose this forbidding tune with no video for the penultimate number? Well, once again, there's not much in the way of ranking going on here. And I kind of love this song - I even made it a chapter title, back in those dark days when I still had them. If you can guess which chapter it was for, you could win...a strawberry! Dream big, people. Like the Femmes' lengendary self-titled first album, this song and everything else on Hallowed Ground was written by devout Christian and beautiful weirdo Gordon Gano when he was still in high school. I wrote stuff in high school too. Eventually it might make a nice ornamental bowl, if I ever figure out how to mix papier maché. Another one for the imaginary soundtrack, of course.


Song 4 Peter Schilling

Peter Schilling - Major Tom (Coming Home), 1983

'Earth below us, drifting, falling...' Bowie references, science-fiction, early 80s, a huge sweeping chorus...I would have done just about anything to shoehorn a mention of this one into Cinnamon Toast and the End of the World, but couldn't make it happen. Too bad. It would have been one of my protagonist's favourites - the song speaks to the hidden wish in all nerdlings that somwhere a home exists for them where they'll be accepted and everything will make sense, even if this place might not be on Earth. And then there's the music video, which I'm pleased to report is utterly bonkers. The rocket ship I can get. But the tower of junkyard cars? The 50s diner? The couple embracing on an ironing board? Absolutely nutso, as it should be. The whole concept here is a bit mad to begin with - 'Major Tom' is a German song which only became a hit in English, and is a third-person retelling of Bowie's 'Space Oddity' (1969), a story narrated in dialogue between 'Ground Control' and this Major Tom we've heard so much about. Years later Peter Schilling's hit spawned some great covers of its own - this one's my favourite, and this is a close second. (Seven songs in one today. Play them all! And go mad!) Also, bountiful birthday wishes are hereby dedicated to Leigha Worth, the intrepid guest commentator who brought you 'How Soon Is Now?' Enjoy the day, Leigha!


Song 3 The Jesus and Mary Chain

The Jesus and Mary Chain - April Skies, 1987

'...And the world comes tumbling down...' You know that this countdown is not falling in any particular order, right? Or else why on earth would I have 'How Soon Is Now?' at 32 and Helix at 10? But I did want the last few to be somehow Cinnamon Toast-related, and this one delivers those goods in style. First of all, the book opens in April 1987, and the song is not only called 'April Skies' but was released in April 1987. The mood and attitude seem a perfect fit as well, and with all the references to the world tumbling down...let's say I could easily picture this playing over the imaginary credits to the imaginary movie, and it would definitely feature prominently on my imaginary soundtrack. So, there you go. An unofficial imaginary theme song. Plus I really love that hair. Hmm. We're down to song three. That must mean that the book will be on Irish bookshelves in three days. Ah. Interesting. (Head explodes.)


Song 5 Prince

Prince - I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man, 1987

You know what's weird? Whenever I'd ask friends for 80s song suggestions, nobody ever mentioned Prince, and didn't he pretty much own the decade? But say the name and immediately eyes start rolling - the cancelled concerts, the lawsuits, the temper fits about youtube, the stupid name changes. I feel the same. But when I hit 'play' and watch the man himself...good God, he's %&$ing adorable! Not to mention insanely talented, and yes, he actually does have a sense of humour. Why is this so easy to forget? There were many late 80s Prince songs I could have chosen for today, but I picked this one for several reasons. It's not as over-played as 'Kiss', I like the silly theatricality on display in this clip, that drummer is having a fantastic time, I almost used the song in Cinnamon Toast in the background of a party scene (for reasons which may become clear when you read it), but most of all, because I consider it the best 80s song ever to be covered by the Wellington International Ukelele Orchestra. Do yourself a favour and watch both versions.

Here's Prince: just click!

And here are those soulful ukeleles!

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