Artistic & Literary Inspirations for 1980s New Wave Songs

Eighties new wave wasn’t all peppy synthesizer fluff. Quite the contrary, the genre brought a welcome thoughtfulness and appreciation of art and literature that was missing from most mainstream pop. Let’s have a look at some examples… PALE SHELTER – TEARS FOR FEARS The song’s title at least refers to a series of drawings and paintings depicting Londoners sheltering from the Blitz during the Second World War by sculptor Henry Moore. One drawing in particular is titled “Pale Shelter Scene”; others in the series: “Grey Tube Shelter”, “A Tilbury Shelter Scene”, and “Shelterers in the Tube”. The song itself is about a teenage girl in love, but the twist is that it is either from her parents’ perspective or a plea to her parents. Nothing beyond that is really known. DOWN IN THE PARK – TUBEWAY ARMY/GARY NUMAN Like a lot of Numan’s works, it was inspired by dystopian future science fiction, in particular Philip K. Dick, William Burroughs, and J.G. Ballard. This song, in particular, is extremely dark – describing in first-person sitting at a cafe passively watching the rape machines do their thing. The names and imagery likely came from a book Numan was writing called “Replicas” […]

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