Monday, April 03, 2023

This Year: 1983

"This Year" is a series of weekly posts, each about one song from one year of my life. See the introduction for more. 

We're now getting into my teen years, when I can definitely say what I was listening to at the time. The next few posts might be filled with drama, because the favorite songs of any teenager will be highly dramatic.

I think this one is pretty high-drama, but I'm too close to it, even forty years later. It meant a lot to me: it was practically a mantra for several years.

My song for 1983 is Oingo Boingo's Good for Your Soul.

I know I'm not the only one who agreed with the opening lines:

Have you ever felt that somehow

You were not yourself

That your body was the same

But everything around you wasn't right

Good for Your Soul presents a series of moments like that - moments that I found intensely true, maybe things that are inherently teenager-y. But it's not a self-indulgent song. It's not there to tell the listener to wallow in those strong emotions, to insist on being special and sensitive and damaged.

Just once or twice is good for your soul

That's the refrain. For a song with such strong emotional hooks - feeling like another person, unrequited love, artistic creation - the answer is muted and almost dismissive. It's not saying not to let this happen. It's not saying to do more of it. It's saying that, yes, you will have moments like this - but don't let them overwhelm you.

And the music is bouncy and filled with hooks, energetic and pulsing, as always for Oingo Boingo. Nothing they ever did was quiet or understated - it all demanded attention, insisted on capturing your ears. 

I had this song running in the back of my head, off and on, for several years. It worked, for me, to keep that focus: to allow myself to feel things, in that demanding, indulgent way a teenager has to feel them, and then to step back and say to myself, Just once or twice is good for the soul; if you don't stop you'll lose control and move on.

Songs about moving on and mental balance are rare; they are to be treasured. This one will always be important to me for that.

No comments:

Post a Comment