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Subject: Advice from '80s music

Written By: Matt Wixon on 05/22/06 at 4:23 pm

Hello --

My name is Matt Wixon and I write a weekly column called "Humor Me" for the Dallas Morning News web site. Here is a column about getting advice from '80s music that I thought you might enjoy. As a child of the '80s, I often write about the decade that has the best memories for me, so I end up with columns such as "Like, a Rad '80s letter," and "Red, White and Rubik."

Humor me: Advice from '80s music

06:51 PM CDT on Friday, May 19, 2006
By MATT WIXON / Staff Writer

Reggae star Sean Paul is extremely popular right now, and I'm guessing the same goes for his Web site. After all, Sean-paul.net is where fans can find out about his belief that "life is a gift and you must treasure it," as well as his thoughts on his album: "You done know we got to take care of the ladies, and I'm still giving you those party vibes."

But more importantly, the Web site provides Sean Paul's lyrics. That allows fans to decipher his word blitzes on songs such as "Temperature," a recent chart-topper:

Well woman the way the time cold I wanna be keepin' you warm
I got the right temperature to shelter you from the storm
Oh lord, gal I got the right tactics to turn you on, and girl I...
Wanna be the Papa...You can be the Mom....oh oh!

I think we all understand what's hip-hop-happenin' in that chorus. But back in the '80s, it was much easier to get the message from songs. For example, check out the opening lines of Whitney Houston's "Greatest Love of All," which on this day 20 years ago was top of the pops:

I believe that children are our future
Teach them well and let them lead the way
Show them all the beauty they possess inside

OK, I've got to be honest. I would rather hear a 60-minute loop of "Temperature" than even a snippet of "Greatest Love of All." But Houston's song about dignity and self-respect, which she sang coherently because she had not yet met Bobby Brown, provided a powerful message about life. It was like many other '80s songs, which offered advice for succeeding in life, dealing with problems, and of course, partying like it's 1999.

Here are some examples of important lessons learned from '80s music, but please note that I was dreaming when I wrote this, so forgive me if it goes astray.

Say a problem came along. Devo told us that we must whip it. Whip it good. Poison then cautioned us that every rose has its thorn, and The Buggles told us to watch out for video, because it killed the radio star. In a scarier lesson, Hall and Oates told us to avoid the maneater, a so-called "lean and hungry type" that would only come out at night.

Songs of the '80s also told us about the world. Madonna told us that we are living in a material world, Tears for Fears told us that everybody wants to rule the world, and R.E.M. said it was the end of the world as we know it. Dozens of people, including an old-fashioned human-looking version of Michael Jackson, told us that we are the world.

A lot of times an '80s singer told us to do something, like to wake him up before we go-go, because George Michael

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