Looking back, my goodness! Was 1984 ever a whirlwind!?!?
I began the year still dating a young lady with whom the cracks in our relationship were beginning to show up to most of the world except for us. By March, we were drifting apart, until I finally ended the relationship in May, only for her to keep trying to get me back for a month longer before giving up. Yet, by the time she threw in the towel on us, I had met the love of my life and moving full steam ahead with her, the woman who ended up being my wife.
Before meeting my soon-to-be-bride, I was living the life of a carefree college junior man-in-training. That first half of the year, I was my fraternity’s president, co-captain of the fraternity bicycling team that qualified 13th in the field of 33 team in Ball State’s version of Indiana University’s “Little 500,” which was called by the uninspiring name of “Bike-a-Thon.,” and was voted 1st runner-up in the “Trike-a-Thon” (we have a way with names at Ball State) King Contest (I was supposed to dress up like Boy George for the photo session but chickened out at the last moment – thank goodness my friends used their coins collected throughout the year to vote for me, otherwise I would have never gotten a vote).
Additionally, I played on a dormitory basketball team that wasn’t too good but was moved up to the “A” team right before the tournament. Before my arrival, the “A” team had won only 5 games. But, for some reason, we jelled together quickly and won the whole thing. It helps when your frontline includes two guys who were drafted in the NFL draft back in 1986 or 1987 and were 6’8″ and 6’5″ respectively. The difference was that I was a consistent outside shooter who could keep the opponents from packing their defense in on them. I hit enough shots to open things up for our studs to win every game for us.
That summer, I took summer school classes only because I did not want to go home anymore. So, I took a single day each month to visit Mom and my brother that summer. Little did I realize that those visits were nearly my last as a single person. Now, if you really want to have fun college, then take summer school classes. The classes last longer and meet every day, but you are done with them in six weeks or so. Perfect for the person with ADHD, like me. Then, you spend your evening drinking beer on the front porch, with the TV pulled out there to watch the NBA Finals (Celtics vs. Lakers – Bird vs. Magic!) or baseball (game of the week or the All Star Game), music blaring to attract people to stop by to talk or hanging out with the girls who moved in next door that summer, one who ended up becoming my wife.
When the fall rolled around, I was busy getting ready for graduation (I did not participate – I hate those ceremonies!) and interviewing for my medical technology internship at an area hospital. The only class I really remember much about from college was my immunology class that year, which was the most challenging class but the most interesting at the same time, all because we learned about the immune system by studying a new virus that was causing a silent pandemic at the time, human immunodeficiency virus or HIV. Today, students probably have been studying the immune response to COVID-19, which only makes the course so much more pertinent to you at the time.
For the most part, the music of 1984 was impeccable. Let’s name drop a few of the artists whose careers exploded into the stratosphere that year with critically acclaimed albums: Prince, Bruce Springsteen, Tina Turner, Wham! and Van Halen. And while all of that was happening, these artists were debuting with outstanding music: The Smiths, Sade, Los Lobos (technically, their second release but their first full-length album), Sheila E. and Run-D.M.C., just to get the ball rolling.
Falling a year like 1983 is difficult, but the mega-selling album was the big story of the year. Purple Rain, Born in the U.S.A., Private Dancer, Can’t Slow Down and Make It Big were just a few of the titles that dominated the album chart. Plus, there were so many great singles in 1984 that it becomes difficult to narrow one’s list to 50 songs. Finally, I got to see some great artists live in concert like Genesis, Billy Idol, Stray Cats and The Cars.
As I said, I was living the dream in 1984. That means it’s time for the countdown!
50. Twisted Sister – Stay Hungry
49. Simple Minds – Sparkle in the Rain
48. Don Henley – Building the Perfect Beast
47. Ratt – Out of the Cellar
46. Julian Lennon – Valotte
45. Chicago – Chicago 17
44. The Art of Noise – Who’s Afraid of The Art of Noise
43. The Bronski Beat – The Age of Consent
42. Meat Puppets – Meat Puppets II
41. Glenn Frey – The Allnighter
40. INXS – The Swing
39. Joe Jackson – Body and Soul
38. Thompson Twins – Into the Gap
37. The Jacksons – Triumph
36. New Edition – New Edition
35. Frankie Goes to Hollywood – Welcome to the Pleasuredome
34. Whodini – Escape
33. Sheila E. – The Glamorous Life
32. Stevie Ray Vaughan – Couldn’t Stand the Rain
31. The Cocteau Twins – Treasure
30. Steve Perry – Street Talk
29. Bryan Adams – Reckless
28. Lindsey Buckingham – Go Insane
27. The Bangles – All Over the Place
26. Depeche Mode – Some Great Reward
25. Talking Heads – Stop Making Sense
24. The Time – Ice Cream Castles
23. Wham! – Make It Big
22. General Public – …All the Rage
21. The Replacements – Let It Be
20. Run-D.M.C. – Run-D.M.C.
19. Metallica – Ride the Lightning
18. Los Lobos – How Will the Wolf Survive?
17. The Cars – Heartbeat City
16. Minutemen – Double Nickels on the Dime
15. Chaka Khan – I Feel for You
14. Hüsker Dü – Zen Arcade
13. The Pretenders – Learning to Crawl
12. U2 – The Unforgettable Fire
11. Echo & the Bunnymen – Ocean Rain
10. Tina Turner – Private Dancer
9. Sade – Diamond Life
8. Van Halen – 1984
7. The Smiths – The Smiths
6. R.E.M. – Reckoning
5. Daryl Hall & John Oates – Big Bam Boom
4. Madonna – Like a Virgin
3. The Style Council – My Ever Changing Moods
2. Bruce Springsteen – Born in the U.S.A.
1. Prince & the Revolution – Purple Rain