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21 Inspiring Lyrics From '80s Songs

The neon, shoulder-padded glam, the synth-heavy dance music, the rise of hip-hop, and the steady popularity of rock 'n' roll: These are just a few of the reasons the 1980s are fondly remembered as one of the best decades in music. Famed songwriters such as Bruce Springsteen, Kate Bush, and John Mellencamp saw their popularity rise behind songs that touched on everything from love, to social change, to simply letting go and living in the moment. The boom of music videos, propelled by the launch of MTV in 1981, also helped launch careers for unfettered, revolutionary pop superstars including Madonna and Prince, while groundbreaking musical events like 1985's Live Aid concert imbued rock 'n' roll with a higher moral purpose.

Songs such as Bruce Hornsby's "The Way It Is" (1986) and Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start the Fire" (1989) called on listeners to treat others with fairness and live up to social responsibilities, while anthems like Bon Jovi's "Livin' on a Prayer" (1986) and Journey's "Don't Stop Believin'" (1981) reminded fans to hold tight to the love in their lives while they worked for a better tomorrow.

Legendary singer-songwriter Paul Simon, who wrote the 1986 hit "You Can Call Me Al," once said that "music is forever" — and if any decade has gone on to prove its lasting impact, it's the '80s. Read on for some of the most hopeful, romantic, and motivating lyrics from one of music's greatest eras.

Time isn't holding up, time isn't after us / Same as it ever was, same as it ever was
— Talking Heads, "Once in a Lifetime," 1980 (written by Jerry Harrison, Brian Eno, Chris Frantz, Tina Weymouth, and David Byrne)

Two hearts that beat as one / Our lives have just begun
— Lionel Richie ft. Diana Ross, "Endless Love," 1981 (written by Lionel Richie)

With music by our side to break the color lines / Let's work together to improve our way of life / Join voices in protest to social injustice / A generation full of courage, come forth with me
— Janet Jackson, "Rhythm Nation," 1989 (written by Janet Jackson, Terry Lewis, and Jimmy Jam)

Sometimes love don't feel like it should / You make it hurt so good
— John Mellencamp, "Hurts So Good," 1982 (written by John Mellencamp)

Life is just a party / And parties weren't meant to last
— Prince, "1999," 1982 (written by Prince)

I know you have a little life in you yet / I know you have a lot of strength left
— Kate Bush, "This Woman's Work," 1988 (written by Kate Bush)

These people round here / Were beaten down, eyes sunk in smoke-dried face / They're so resigned to what their fate is / But not us (No never) / But not us (Not ever) / We are far too young and clever
— Dexys Midnight Runners, "Come On Eileen," 1982 (written by Billy Adams, Jim Paterson, and Kevin Rowland)

Some boys take a beautiful girl / And hide her away from the rest of the world / I wanna be the one to walk in the sun / Oh, girls, they wanna have fun
— Cyndi Lauper, "Girls Just Want to Have Fun," 1983 (written by Robert Hazard)

You're all the things I've got to remember
— a-ha, "Take on Me," 1984 (written by Paul Waaktaar-Savoy, Morten Harket, and Magne Furuholmen)

We are strong / No one can tell us we're wrong / Searching our hearts for so long / Both of us knowing / Love is a battlefield
— Pat Benatar, "Love Is a Battlefield," 1983 (written by Holly Knight and Mike Chapman)

In your eyes, the light, the heat / In your eyes, I am complete / In your eyes, I see the doorway / In your eyes, to a thousand churches / In your eyes, the resolution / In your eyes, of all the fruitless searches
— Peter Gabriel, "In Your Eyes," 1986 (written by Peter Gabriel)

Take me as I am / Put your heart in mine, stay with me forever / Because I am just a man who never understood / I never had a thing to prove / There was you / You and me / Then it all came clear so suddenly / How close to you that I wanna be
— Chicago, "Will You Still Love Me?," 1986 (written by Tom Keane, Richard Baskin, and David Foster)

We've gotta hold on to what we've got / It doesn't make a difference if we make it or not / We've got each other and that's a lot for love
— Bon Jovi, "Livin' on a Prayer," 1986 (written by Desmond Child, Richie Sambora, and Jon Bon Jovi)

She works hard for the money / So hard for it, honey / She works hard for the money / So you better treat her right
— Donna Summer, "She Works Hard for the Money," 1983 (written by Donna Summer and Michael Omartian

For reasons I cannot explain / There's some part of me wants to see Graceland / And I may be obliged to defend / Every love, every ending / Or maybe there's no obligations now / Maybe I've a reason to believe / We all will be received in Graceland
— Paul Simon, "Graceland," 1986 (written by Paul Simon)

It ought to be easy, ought to be simple enough / Man meets a woman and they fall in love / But this house is haunted and the ride gets rough / You've got to learn to live with what you can't rise above / If you want to ride on down in through this tunnel of love
— Bruce Springsteen, "Tunnel of Love," 1987 (written by Bruce Springsteen)

She's got a smile that it seems to me / Reminds me of childhood memories / Where everything was as fresh as the bright blue sky
— Guns N' Roses, "Sweet Child O' Mine," 1987 (written by Steven Adler, Duff McKagan, Izzy Stradlin, Axl Rose, and Slash)

Doesn't matter what they say / In the jealous games people play / Our lips are sealed
— The Go-Go's, "Our Lips Are Sealed," 1981 (written by Terry Hall and Jane Wiedlin)

In every life we have some trouble / But when you worry you make it double / Don't worry, be happy
— Bobby McFerrin, "Don't Worry, Be Happy," 1988 (written by Bobby McFerrin)

We didn't start the fire / It was always burning / Since the world's been turning / We didn't start the fire / No, we didn't light it / But we tried to fight it
— Billy Joel, "We Didn't Start the Fire," 1989 (written by Billy Joel)

Let love shine / And we will find / A way to come together and make things better / We need a holiday
— Madonna, "Holiday," 1983 (written by Lisa Stevens and Curtis Hudson)

Photo credit: kelleth/ iStock

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About the Author
Sean Neumann
Sean Neumann is a writer and reporter based in Chicago, Illinois.
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