21 Songs Released in 1980 You Must Hear

My rules:

  • Only one song per artist/group
  • The song must be released that specific year
  • Songs from live albums not allowed
  • Restricted to only 20 songs

A lot of wonderful music was released in 1980, here are my 20 chosen songs.

  • Summertime in England – Van Morrison

    The longest & best song on Van Morrison’s 1980 album, Common One. Although the album on which the song appeared was not critically or commercially successful, the song would be performed by Morrison in concert for almost two and one-half decades, taking on new meaning when performed live. A truncated version of the song with an early fade-out was also released as the B-side of the 1983 single “Cry for Home”.

    Can you meet me in the country
    In the summertime in England
    Will you meet me?
    Will you meet me in the country
    In the summertime in England
    Will you meet me?
    We’ll go riding up to Kendal in the country
    In the summertime in England.
    Did you ever hear about
    Did you ever hear about
    Did you ever hear about
    Wordsworth and Coleridge, baby?
    Did you ever hear about Wordsworth and Coleridge?
    They were smokin’ up in Kendal
    By the lakeside


    Live 1981:

  • The River – Bruce Springsteen

    The title track of his fifth album, The River, and was a hit single in parts of Europe in 1981. It reached #25 in the Netherlands, and reached the top 10 in both Sweden and Norway. Its B-side was either “Independence Day” or “Ramrod”, depending on the country.

    I come from down in the valley
    where mister when you’re young
    They bring you up to do like your daddy done
    Me and Mary we met in high school
    when she was just seventeen
    We’d ride out of this valley down to where the fields were green

    We’d go down to the river
    And into the river we’d dive
    Oh down to the river we’d ride

  • Redemption Song – Bob Marley & the Wailers

    The final track on Bob Marley & the Wailers’ ninth album, Uprising, produced by Chris Blackwell and released by Island Records. The song is considered one of Marley’s greatest works. Some key lyrics derived from a speech given by the Pan-Africanist orator Marcus Garvey entitled “The Work That Has Been Done”.

    Old pirates, yes, they rob I,
    Sold I to the merchant ships,
    Minutes after they took I
    From the bottomless pit.

  • He Stopped Loving Her Today – George Jones

    The song has been named in several surveys as the greatest country song of all time. It was released in April 1980 as the lead single from the album I Am What I Am. The song was Jones’s first solo No. 1 single in six years. The melancholy song was written by Bobby Braddock and Curly Putman. The week after Jones’ death the song re-entered the Hot Country Songs chart at No. 21. As of November 13, 2013, the single has sold 521,000 copies in the United States. Since 2008 it has been preserved by the Library of Congress into the National Recording Registry.

    He said “I’ll love you till I die”, she told him “You’ll forget in time”
    As the years went slowly by, she still preyed upon his mind
    He kept her picture on his wall, went half-crazy now and then
    He still loved her through it all, hoping she’d come back again

  • Heartattack and Vine – Tom Waits

    From the album “Heartattack and Vine” (1980). The song takes its name from Hollywood and Vine in Hollywood. It refers to locations and details of Los Angeles (Cahuenga is a street and the local bus system was formerly known as the RTD).

    Liar, liar with your pants on fire
    White spades hangin’ on the telephone wire
    Gamblers reevaluate along the dotted line
    You’ll never recognize yourself on Heartattack and Vine

  • Pressing On – Bob Dylan

    From “Saved”, his twentieth studio album, released on June 23, 1980, by Columbia Records.

    Well I’m pressing on
    Yes, I’m pressing on
    Well I’m pressing on
    To the higher calling of my Lord.
    Many try to stop me, shake me up in my mind,
    Say, “Prove to me that He is Lord, show me a sign.”
    What kind of sign they need when it all come from within,
    When what’s lost has been found, what’s to come has already been?


    Live – Toronto 1980:

  • Ashes to Ashes – David Bowie

    Written and recorded by David Bowie. It was the lead single from the 1980 album Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps) and became Bowie’s second UK No. 1 single. It is also known for its innovative video, directed by Bowie and David Mallet, which at the time was the most expensive music video ever made.

    Do you remember a guy that’s been
    In such an early song?
    I’ve heard a rumor from Ground Control
    Oh no, don’t say it’s true

  • She´s So Cold – The Rolling Stones

    Released on 19 September 1980 as the second single from the album Emotional Rescue.

    I’m so hot for her, I’m so hot for her
    I’m so hot for her and she’s so cold
    I’m so hot for her, I’m on fire for her
    I’m so hot for her and she’s so cold
    I’m the burning bush, I’m the burning fire
    I’m the bleeding volcano

  • A Forest – The Cure

    Co-produced by Mike Hedges and The Cure’s Robert Smith, it was released as a single from the band’s second album Seventeen Seconds in 8 April 1980. It was their debut entry on the United Kingdom chart, where it reached number 31. The accompanying music video was first shown on BBC’s Top of the Pops programme on 24 April 1980.

    Come closer and see
    See into the trees
    Find the girl
    If you can
    Come closer and see
    See into the dark
    Just follow your eyes
    Just follow your eyes

  • Woman – John Lennon

    Written and performed by John Lennon from his 1980 album Double Fantasy. The track was chosen by Lennon to be the second single released from the Double Fantasy album, and it was the first Lennon single issued after his death on 8 December 1980.

    Woman, I can hardly express,
    My mixed emotion at my thoughtlessness,
    After all I’m forever in your debt,

    And woman, I will try to express,
    My inner feelings and thankfulness,
    For showing me the meaning of success

  • Ace of Spades – Motorhead

    Released in 1980 as a single and the title track to the album Ace of Spades.

    If you like to gamble, I tell you I’m your man,
    You win some, lose some, it’s all the same to me,
    The pleasure is to play, makes no difference what you say,
    I don’t share your greed, the only card I need is
    The Ace Of Spades

  • Refugee – Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers

    It was released in January 1980 as the second single from their album Damn the Torpedoes. It peaked at #15 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart in 1980

    We did somethin’ we both know it
    We don’t talk too much about it
    Ain’t no real big secret all the same
    Somehow we get around it
    Listen it don’t really matter to me baby
    You believe what you want to believe
    You see you don’t have to live like a refugee (don’t have to live like a refugee)

  • Love Will Tear Us Apart – Joy Division

    It was written in August 1979, and debuted when the band supported Buzzcocks on their UK tour from September to November of that same year. It is one of the few songs in which singer Ian Curtis played guitar (albeit somewhat minimally) on live versions. His lyrics ostensibly reflect the problems in his marriage to Deborah Curtis, as well as his general frame of mind in the time leading up to his suicide in May 1980. The Single was released in June 1980.

    When the routine bites hard
    And ambitions are low
    And the resentment rides high
    But emotions wont grow
    And were changing our ways,
    Taking different roads
    Then love, love will tear us apart again

  • When You Were Mine – Prince

    Written and released by Prince on his 1980 album, Dirty Mind.

    When you were mine
    I gave you all of my money
    Time after time
    You done me wrong
    It was just like a dream
    You let all my friends come over and meet
    And you were so strange
    You didn’t have the decency to change the sheets


  • Once in a Lifetime – Talking Heads

    From their fourth studio album, 1980’s Remain in Light. The song was written by David Byrne, Brian Eno, Chris Frantz, Jerry Harrison, and Tina Weymouth, and produced by Brian Eno. It was named one of the 100 most important American musical works of the 20th century by National Public Radio and is also included in The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.

    And you may find yourself
    Living in a shotgun shack
    And you may find yourself
    In another part of the world
    And you may find yourself
    Behind the wheel of a large automobile
    And you may find yourself in a beautiful house
    With a beautiful wife
    And you may ask yourself, well
    How did I get here?

  • Back in Black – AC/DC

    Appearing as the first track on side two of their 1980 album of the same name. Known for its opening guitar riff, the song was AC/DC’s tribute to their former singer Bon Scott. His replacement Brian Johnson recalled to Mojo magazine in 2009 that when the band asked him to write a lyric for this song, “they said, ‘it can’t be morbid – it has to be for Bon and it has to be a celebration

    Back in black
    I hit the sack
    I’ve been too long I’m glad to be back
    Yes, I’m let loose
    From the noose
    That’s kept me hanging about
    I’ve been looking at the sky
    ‘Cause it’s gettin’ me high
    Forget the hearse ’cause I never die
    I got nine lives
    Cat’s eyes
    Abusin’ every one of them and running wild

  • Police On My Back – The Clash

    From “Sandinista!”, the fourth studio album by the English band the Clash. It was released on 12 December 1980 as a triple album containing 36 tracks, with 6 songs on each side

    Well, I’m running
    Police on my back
    I’ve been hiding
    Police on my back
    There was a shooting
    Police on my back
    And the victim
    Well, he won’t come back

  • Kid – Pretenders

    Written by Chrissie Hynde that was released on the Pretenders 1980 debut album Pretenders. It was also released as a single and reached #33 in the UK.

    Kid what changed your mood
    You’ve gone all sad so I feel sad too
    I think I know some things we never outgrow
    You think it’s wrong
    I can tell you do
    How can I explain
    When you don’t want me to

  • Start! – The Jam

    The eleventh UK single release by the band The Jam and their second number-one, following “Going Underground”/”Dreams of Children”. Upon its release on 15 August 1980, it debuted at number three, and two weeks later reached number one for one week. Written by Paul Weller and produced by Vic Coppersmith-Heaven and The Jam, “Start!” was the lead single from the band’s fifth album Sound Affects. The single’s B-side is “Liza Radley”.

    It’s not important for you to know my name –
    Nor I to know yours
    If we communicate for two minutes only
    It will be enough
    For knowing that someone in this world
    Feels as desperate as me –
    And what you give is what you get.

  • The Tide is High – Blondie

    “The Tide Is High” was covered by the American new wave band Blondie in 1980, in a reggae style that included horns and strings. It was released as the lead single from the band’s fifth studio album, Autoamerican (1980). It was Blondie’s third number one smash on the Billboard Hot 100 and their fifth in the UK.

    The tide is high but I’m holding on
    I’m gonna be your number one
    I’m not the kind of girl who gives up just like that
    Oh, no

  • Kill The Poor – Dead Kennedys

    The third single by the Dead Kennedys. The record was released in October 1980 on Cherry Red Records with “In-sight” as the b-side. The title track was re-recorded for the band’s first album, Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables (1980), although the single and album versions show little difference in comparison.

    Efficiency and progress is ours once more
    Now that we have the Neutron bomb
    It’s nice and quick and clean and gets things done
    Away with excess enemy
    But no less value to property
    No sense in war but perfect sense at home

These came close:

  • Geno – Dexys Midnight Runners
  • I Lost it – Lucinda Williams
  • Storm Windows – John Prine
  • Big Chief – Professor Longhair
  • Let My Love Open the Door – Pete Townshend
  • Los Angeles – X
  • Vienna – Ultravox
  • My Perfect Cousin – The Undertones
  • De doo doo,do da da da – The Police
  • While You See A Chance – Steve Winwood
  • They’ll Never Keep Us Down – Hazel Dickens
  • I Got You – Split Eno

Spotify Playlist:



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