Fifty Fades of Grey
I started this mixtape back in November or December. Once I landed on my title, I realized I should sit on it till closer to Valentine’s Day. I mean, if I’m going to reference Fifty Shades of Grey, it’s fitting, no?
Let me add that I’ve never read Fifty Shades of Grey nor seen more than a few minutes of any of the films. (I feel like accidentally stumbling upon one of them on E! doesn’t count if you don’t watch beyond 5 minutes.)
I do, however, hold Fifty Shades of Grey semi-responsible for the rapid demise of online dating etiquette. I noticed a difference online pre-and-post release of the book. My theory is that the book was so successful that guys assumed every woman was secretly longing for a dom.
Man, the doms loved me back in Austin! Fortunately, they ran very direct so I was able to avoid them. To their credit, they never got defensive when I declined. I’m not sure if I’ve aged out of their range or there just aren’t that many where I live, but I haven’t heard from a dom in ages. Which suits me just fine!
Without further adieu: today’s mixtape. Heavy on the fade. Light on the Mr. Grey!
I would speculate that there are three types of Alphaville fans: (1) those solely familiar with “Forever Young,” (2) those somewhat versed in their catalog beyond that hit, and (3) hardcore fans.
I’m soundly in camp #2. But I’m embarrassed to admit that I missed out on “She Fades Away” from their 1989 release, The Breathtaking Blue. It’s really fabulous and even now I can’t tell you why I didn’t listen to them more often back then.
I can only speculate that I tended to be drawn to the darker side of alt 80s (though not entirely of course). Alphaville was decidedly on the sweeter, prettier side of the alt 80s spectrum.
And, bloody hell, I adored the Railway Children, which were essentially the Backstreet Boys of alt 80s. I digress. In any case, chances are you missed this bluesy, sophisticated tune. Remedy that stat.
My handful of followers know that I adore Midnight Special and Old Grey Whistle Test, but I need to give a shoutout to the German Rockpalast, which is still running. Such a supportive outlet for some of the greatest alt 80s bands!
Though I was never a big Tears for Fears fan, they’re one of the poster children for alt 80s crossover bands who found enormous success largely due to mid-80s anthem, “Everybody Wants to Rule the World.”
I saw them perform at Moody Theater in Austin a few years ago. When they played that song, I realized I’d kind of been waiting my whole life to hear it live. It’s not even remotely my favorite song from the era but it’s iconic to every Gen-Xer.
Anyhoo, “Memories Fade” has that sparse, airy, spiky vibe specific to the early 80s. Think Modern English and young Duran Duran. There’s a sexy desolation to that sound that I’ve always liked.
Hmmm…was I talking about the darker side of new wave? Why, yes, I was.
“New Dawn Fades” has me from the first notes. The Beatles or the Stones? Nah, this girl wants reverb and bleakness with a pained Ian Curtis growling.
This live performance by Joy Division grinds and slinks.
This song was the catalyst for today’s mixtape, but I really like this updated interpretation from Midge Ure.
I wasn’t familiar with Midge Ure by name, but he is one of the most impressive figures from the entire alt 80s scene. His contributions include work with Ultravox and today’s inspiration, “Fade to Grey,” by Visage in 1980. He also co-wrote “Do They Know It’s Christmas?” with Bob Geldof and co-organized Band Aid and Live Aid.
The original circa 1980 video is whack-a-doodle-do (which means I’m obsessed with it), but I’m going with this livelier cut. The studio release leans into the synths while this version features the drums and guitars. Although I’m usually a synths chick, I actually prefer this version. Midge sounds fantastic — he’s still got it!
It’s an established fact that I’m a big Oasis fan. This live performance proves my point yet again. “Fade In-Out” wasn’t a big US hit… but take a listen! Even their more obscure songs are sooooo good!
Y’all know I prefer a live performance if I can find it and this one is deliciously raw. Britpop in all its rambling, sprawling glory. This harkens to jam sessions of the 70s through the lens of the Stone Roses.
A little pivot to the early 90s. The BoDeans were a part of what I’ll call twangy alt like contemporaries Lloyd Cole, the Judybats, REM, and the Indigo Girls.
These guys still sound every bit as fantastic on this 2015 live performance of “Fadeaway.” Sexy all these years later.
Until her 40’s, Bonnie’s worst nightmare included writing and sharing personal stories publicly. At her friends’ suggestion, she bemusedly started Bonnie’s Mixed Tape on Medium in 2017. She remains shocked that anyone reads her stories and that P.S. I Love You, Assemblage, the Writing Cooperative, and the Ascent have published her work.
Bonnie loves all types of music, but really, really, really loves the 80s.
Thank you for reading this story
I know you are busy and have lots of ways you could be spending your time. you using your time to read my work means the world to me — my sincerest thanks!