Translated 80’s Songs

Young people, in order for you to understand this blog, you need to be aware of a dark time in human history.  There was a time, brace yourselves, when people did not have smart phones or even regular cell phones. No, not even flip phones. I know.  I know.  Imagine a time where you couldn’t check Facebook every 19 seconds, or Instagram your lobster mac and cheese before you even took a bite.  Dark times.  Brace yourselves again.  Not only were there no smart phones, but there was no internet.  So, humans had no email, or social media of any kind.  We, gulp, had to call each other on archaic devices called home phones.  They hooked into our walls with wires. WIRES!! We had to sit or stand near the phone, and we could only move as far as the telephone CORD would allow.

When I was your age, back in the 80’s, there was music on MTV. Odd, I know, but stay with me. A lot of the videos showed people getting emotional about phone calls. These songs also talked about people meeting in person rather than on Facebook as nature intended. There were even lyrics about people reading paper magazines. What a waste of trees! Why were there no iPads?

Even though there was a shocking lack of technology back in the day, there was some great music. I wanted to share some of my favorite songs with you, but I realized they would probably not make sense to anyone born after 1992. To make them more accessible to those younger than me, I have updated the lyrics so you can understand and appreciate them.


Huey Lewis and the News, “If This Is It”

Original: I’ve been phoning, night and morning. I heard you say,”Tell him I’m not home.”

Translation: I’ve been texting. It says you read them. You keep letting me go straight to voicemail.


Duran Duran, “Girls on Film”

Original: Wider baby smiling you just made a million. Fuses pumping live heat twisting out on a wire

Translation: You used the right filter and got a million likes. You went viral on Instagram and Facebook, too.


Wham, “Battle Stations”

Original: You don’t know how much I hate that answer phone. Are you standing there? But – you won’t pick up the ‘phone. Why lie to my face? When you can buy a tape machine to give me bullshit in your place

Translation: I hate when you reject my call. I know my picture still pops up on your iPhone. You don’t even have the balls to Facetime me.


Ratt, “Round and Round”

Original: Out on the streets; that’s where we’ll meet. You make the night. I always cross the line.

Translation: In a Facebook group, I will see you. You post the best cat videos. I post politically incorrect jokes about Republicans.


Midnight Star, “Operator” (Young people, there used to be a person called an “operator” who used to help you make phone calls. It’s kind of tough to explain, but just think of this person as Steve Jobs or Mark Zuckerberg.)

Original: “Operator, can I help you?”

“Yes, I’m trying to, uh, reach my baby, and I dialed 6-1-6”

Translation: “Hi. You sound lost. Do you need a new iPhone?”

“Yes, I’m trying to text this hot chick, and I dialed 567-443-8671.”

“You didn’t dial a 1 first, doofus.”


Tommy Tutone, “Jenny 867-5309”

Original: Jenny don’t change your number
I need to make you mine
Jenny I call your number — 867-5309

Translation: Jenny, I’ve been tweeting you. Please retweet or reply. Jenny, I follow your Twitter — at sign J-e-n-n-y


J. Geils Band, “Centerfold”

Original: Years go by I’m lookin’ through a girly magazine
And there’s my homeroom angel on the pages in-between. My angel is the centerfold.

Translation: A long time after school, I was flipping through Instagram, and there’s my ex in a bathing suit with lots of tats. My bae is a suicide girl.


The Clash, “Should I Stay or Should I Go?”

Original: One day is fine and next is black. So if you want me off your back. Well come on an’ let me know. Should I Stay or should I go?

Translation: Your Facebook statuses are funny but sometimes you vaguebook. Your relationship status says complicated. Should I comment or should I unfriend?


Prince and the Revolution, “When Doves Cry.”

Original: How can we scream at each other?

Translation: How can we all caps text each other?


Blondie, “Call Me.”

Original: Call me (call me) on the line. Call me, call me any, anytime

Translation: Snap chat me (or text) on the iPhone. I won’t turn it off at night.


Stevie Wonder, “I just called to say I love you.”

Original: I just called to say I love you.

Translation: I tagged you as my Woman Crush Wednesday on Instagram to kind of claim you.

What do you think, young people? Are you still thinking about the wired phone? I hope you don’t have nightmares about that. It was super frightening. Your mom could pick up at any time and tell you to get off the phone. Super embarrassing. Be glad you don’t have to go through that. Maybe you can translate your favorite songs for me now, or at least hand me the lyrics.  I can’t understand what the heck anyone is “singing” now with all of the yelling and growling.  Oh, shit.  I’m getting old.



12 thoughts on “Translated 80’s Songs

  1. I was hoping I wouldn’t be able to relate, but I remember every one of those songs. I’m hip to the translations though – that means I’m not too old, right??

    1. OMG!! I totally missed that one.
      Original: And when your looks are gone and you’re alone
      How many nights you sit beside the phone

      Translation: When your Instagram filters no longer work and everyone defriends you
      you keep your iPhone on your chest.

  2. Hilarious. I think my favorite is Girls on Film. But that might be because I used to sing the lyrics, “Girls aren’t firm. A can of tomatoes… Girls aren’t firm.” That one might still hold true today.

  3. And remember busy signals? And you just had to keep calling until it wasn’t busy, which might be all day if someone accidentally left the phone a little bit off the hook? Because phones had hooks! Oh yeah, and remember the only way you could find out who was calling you was to answer it? And if you were avoiding someone, it was a total gamble. You could pick up the phone, and they could just BE THERE. The horrors of it all!

    1. I used to HATE answering the phone! Ugh. I would be trapped by someone who didn’t take a damn breath between sentences. A nightmare for an introvert.

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