The Music of My College Years, 1981-1985

Beneficence, the symbol of Ball State and commonly called “Benny,” is surrounded by what legend says are the urns of the five Ball brothers. Also, the same legend states that if you kiss a girl by Benny at midnight and the wings flap, the girl is a virgin.

On the Sunday before Labor Day 1981, I arrived on the Ball State campus knowing that I was not going to be running anymore, as I discovered on my first practice a few weeks earlier that 15-mile runs were not my cup of tea. So, for the first time in my life, I was no longer training for a sport, specifically running track or cross country for the first time in about seven years. Instead, I told my parents I was dedicating my life to my then-pre-med studies. They had to know that I was joking. No, I was about to embrace every aspect of the college experience that I could. Sure, there are a few regrets from those years mostly based upon what I did not do as opposed to what I did.

In retrospect, I could have gone to a smaller college than Ball State, but I was tired of everyone knowing who I was during the previous 12 years of schooling. Plus, like I said, I was done with sports at the time. And, on the other hand, I could have chosen to go to some bigger, more prestigious school for my education. But, the big school experience was not for me either. And, believe it or not, I had Marquette University and West Point sniffing around my athletic events a bit, but I was not mature enough to move to Milwaukee at the time while I was never the potential military man that my brother was. It’s just a shame that he did not inherit my analytical mind for math and sciences because he would have been a perfect fit there. Needless to say, I was breaking many family members hearts when I decided to attend the university that was good enough for my parents and my uncle, Ball State.

Campus in the Eighties. Reality is this is only part of the campus, but the building in the forefront was my dorm, specifically the upper back part of the “X.”

But when Mom was working on her Masters Degree in Art Education, my brother and I would travel to Muncie to run around campus while she was in class. Needless to say, I became very comfortable there. Throughout those early years, I would go to Ball State for various events like the nerd’s dream of the Regional Science Fair (I am not kidding! I placed in the Top 3 every year between fourth and seventh grades.). I went up there for the occasional basketball and football games or to do research for some high school classes in Ball State’s fantastic library. So, it was in my blood to go to what David Letterman, arguably our most famous alum, once said, “the Harvard of Muncie.”

Campus today. Actually, this is only half of the campus.

Sure, Ball State, within the state of Indiana, tends as an afterthought as a university. Notre Dame, Indiana and Purdue are the three with the big reputations. Butler, Wabash, DePauw and Hanover are the small universities with prestige. Ball State, along with Indiana State, tend to have developed a reputation over the years as the universities geared for kids coming from poor families in order to become the first people to earn college degrees, much like my parents and uncle.

But, when it came to science at the time, Ball State was vastly underrated. Through my Science Fair appearances, I had met a couple of professors whom I had the privilege of studying under. I was quite impressed with their mixture of research and classroom teaching abilities. Plus, my dentist, who along with his first wife was a college friend of my parents, convinced me to go to Ball State because they are teaching the same stuff as IU but at a cheaper price. So, I became a second generation Ball State grad. Plus, I met my wife there. And, we are the parents of a son, our younger one, who became a BSU alum, as well as his wife (Our older son and his wife are Butler grads, but we don’t hold it against them. He got an excellent financial aid package that Ball State could not beat.).


So, from the Fall of 1981 through the Spring of 1985, I studied at Ball State and graduated on time. During that time I met and befriended many amazing people who remain my friends to this day. College is a weird time in your life. You are not a child, but you are not really an adult. And, in those places, you really don’t have to grow up too quickly. You can get away with the party scene while still maintaining good grades. At least, I could balance it all. Ball State was big enough to afford me some anonymity while keeping me away from people from my high school, but small enough for me to have some interesting experiences.

Last weekend was Homecoming at Ball State. Unfortunately, we missed it. A few years ago, we celebrated with some of my fraternity brothers, which was crazy. Many of us had not seen each other since we were last on campus as undergrads. As I get older, I appreciate what I got from Ball State. Crazy thing is I could have experienced more there if I had stuck with sports, and that is sometimes a regret.

Since my college years seem to represent the final years of my musical wheelhouse which probably begins in earnest during my fifth grade year in 1974. So, from 1974 through 1985, rock music was an important part of my life. The love for the music was intense during these years. And, while I truly enjoy music to this day, none of it compares to the emotional response elicited by songs from my era, much like anyone else who survives their developmental years with the help of music.

So, today, I am paying homage to my college years to 100 of the most important songs.


  1. Joan Jett & the Blackhearts – “I Love Rock & Roll”
  2. Men at Work – “Who Can It Be Now?”
  3. Queen & Dave Bowie – “Under Pressure”
  4. Rick James – “Super Freak (Part 1)”
  5. Soft Cell – “Tainted Love”
  6. Squeeze – “Tempted”
  7. The Go-Go’s – “Our Lips Are Sealed”
  8. The Go-Go’s – “We Got the Beat”
  9. The Human League – “Don’t You Want Me”
  10. The J. Geils Band – “Centerfold”
  11. The Police – “Every Little Thing She Does Is Magic”
  12. The Rolling Stones – “Start Me Up”
  13. Tom Tom Club – “Genius of Love”


  1. ABC – “The Look of Love”
  2. Adam Ant – “Goody Two Shoes”
  3. Afrika Bambaataa & the Soul Sonic Force – “Planet Rock”
  4. Billy Idol – “White Wedding”
  5. Bow Wow Wow – “I Want Candy”
  6. Culture Club – “Time (Clock of My Heart)”
  7. Daryl Hall & John Oates – “Maneater”
  8. Dazz Band – “Let It Whip”
  9. Dexys Midnight Runners – “Come on Eileen”
  10. Duran Duran – “Hungry like the Wolf”
  11. George Clinton – “Atomic Dog”
  12. Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five – “The Message”
  13. Huey Lewis & the News – “Do You Believe in Love”
  14. Joe Jackson – “Steppin’ Out’
  15. John Cougar – “Jack and Diane”
  16. Kajagoogoo – “Too Shy”
  17. Marshall Crenshaw – “Someday Someway”
  18. Marvin Gaye – “Sexual Healing”
  19. Michael Jackson – “Beat It”
  20. Michael Jackson – “Billie Jean”
  21. Modern English – “I Melt with You”
  22. New Order – “Temptation”
  23. Peter Gabriel – “Shock the Monkey”
  24. Pretenders – “Back on the Chain Gang”
  25. Prince – “1999” / “Little Red Corvette” / “Delirious”
  26. Prince – “D.M.S.R.” / “Let’s Pretend We’re Married”
  27. Roxy Music – “More Than This”
  28. The Clash – “Rock the Casbah”
  29. The Gap Band – “You Dropped a Bomb on Me”
  30. The Jam – “Town Called Malice”
  31. The Psychedelic Furs – “Love My Way”
  32. The Time – “The Walk”
  33. Wall of Voodoo – “Mexican Radio”


  1. Cheap Trick – “I Can’t Take It”
  2. Cyndi Lauper – “Girls Just Want to Have Fun”
  3. David Bowie – “Let’s Dance”
  4. Def Leppard – “Photograph”
  5. Elton John – “I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues”
  6. Elvis Costello & the Attractions – “Everyday I Write the Book”
  7. Eurythmics – “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)”
  8. Frankie Goes to Hollywood – “Relax”
  9. John Cougar Mellencamp – “Authority Song”
  10. Lionel Richie – “All Night Long (All Night)”
  11. Madonna – “Borderline”
  12. Men Without Hats – “The Safety Dance”
  13. New Order – “Blue Monday”
  14. Quiet Riot – “Cum On Feel the Noize”
  15. R.E.M. – “Radio Free Europe”
  16. Talking Heads – “Burning Down the House”
  17. The Police – “Every Breath You Take”
  18. The Style Council – “Long Hot Summer”
  19. U2 – “Sunday Bloody Sunday”
  20. Van Halen – “Jump”


  1. Band Aid – “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”
  2. Bruce Springsteen – “Dancing in the Dark”
  3. Chaka Khan – “I Feel for You”
  4. Daryl Hall & John Oates – “Out of Touch”
  5. Echo & the Bunnymen – “The Killing Moon”
  6. Frankie Goes to Hollywood – “Two Tribes”
  7. Glenn Frey – “Sexy Girl”
  8. John Waite – “Missing You”
  9. Madonna – “Like a Virgin”
  10. Nik Kershaw – “Wouldn’t It Be Good”
  11. Phil Collins – “Against All Odds (Take a Look at Me Now)”
  12. Prince – “When Doves Cry”
  13. Prince & the Revolution – “Let’s Go Crazy”
  14. Queen – “Radio Ga-Ga”
  15. R.E.M. – “So. Central Rain (I’m Sorry)”
  16. Ratt – “Round and Round”
  17. Sheila E. – “The Glamorous Life”
  18. Steve Perry – “Oh Sherrie”
  19. Tears for Fears – “Everybody Wants to Rule the World”
  20. The Smiths – “How Soon Is Now?”
  21. The Style Council – “My Ever Changing Mood”
  22. The Time – “The Bird”
  23. Tina Turner – “What’s Love Got to Do with It”
  24. Twisted Sister – “We’re Not Gonna Take It”
  25. U2 – “Pride (In the Name of Love)”
  26. Van Halen – “Hot for Teacher”
  27. Wham! – “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go”


  1. Bruce Springsteen – “Trapped”
  2. Madonna – “Into the Groove”
  3. Phil Collins – “One More Night”
  4. Prince & the Revolution – “Raspberry Beret”
  5. Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers – “Don’t Come Around Here No More”
  6. USA for Africa – “We Are the World”
  7. Whitney Houston – “Saving All My Love for You”

Author: ifmyalbumscouldtalk

I am just a long-time music fan who used to be a high school science teacher and a varsity coach of several high school athletic teams. Before that, I worked as a medical technologist at three hospitals in their labs, mainly as a microbiologist. I am retired/disabled (Failed Back Surgery Syndrome), and this is my attempt to remain a human. Additionally, I am a serious vinyl aficionado, with a CD addiction and a love of reading about rock history. Finally, I am a fan of Prince, Cheap Trick, Tom Petty, R.E.M., Hall & Oates, Springsteen, Paul Weller & his bands and Power Pop music.

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