80s books entertainment reading

The Complete Discography of THE PURSUIT OF COOL

The I Ching says it best: Music eases tension from the heart, releases thoughts from the mind, and inspires us to greatness. For many people, music is a fundamental way they cope with the world. Lance Rally, the main character of The Pursuit of Cool, is one such person. Like most young people, he is looking for answers and is a sponge of everything he sees and hears in his pursuit of the elusive “cool.”


Music points us in one direction or another. After listening to the music of an era we are changed, because the lyrics and attitude and energy all convey things that seep into our consciousness. It works both ways. The taste of young people, what speaks to them, influences what music becomes popular and makes that music also a statement about them. MTV, college radio, alternative music and Top 40 all combined to make music from the 1980s into an unforgettable mix.  

The songs in the Discography follow the flow of the novel with Prince’s “Take Me With U” from page 4, to The Replacements “Sixteen Blue” from page 334.  Many of the songs are mentioned specifically, such as  “Just What I Needed” and “I Wanna Be Sedated” and “O Superman.” Other songs are from bands mentioned, like Joy Division, but with no song specifically in the narrative, so I had to chose between several songs (“Leaders of Men” or “Love Will Tear Us Apart”?). In these situations I have chosen an appropriate song, or songs, from that era, channeling the novel and its characters, and perhaps throwing in my own personal musical taste as well.


In the novel, music serves many dramatic purposes. Lance Rally is introduced to the world of punk/alternative music by his punk rock actor friend Ian LaCoss and it seals their friendship. Lance‘s dance floor dance palace moves are tested to the sounds of Wang Chung. He explores the bounds of free will by going on a road trip to Athens to hear R.E.M. A Bauhaus mix tape delivered by Walkman serves to channel Lance’s feeling of betrayal and confusion in his relationship with Lynn Van Oster. The Langford Amazons, a secret clique of college women, cover Lance’s college campus with leaflets defending Sinead O’Connor’s hairstyle. The Replacement’s album Let It Be serves as a salve to Lance and LaCoss’s heavy hearts (and will forever remind me of my failed 2011 Twitter campaign to get Paul Westerberg to approve a copyright license of lyrics for “Sixteen Blue.” Where were you Paul?)

The list of 40 songs can be listened to on Spotify. The first 30 are on The Complete Discography of The Pursuit of Cool PART 1  and the last 10 are on The Complete Discography of The Pursuit of Cool PART 2.     Happy Listening!

“Take Me With U” – Prince

“She Blinded Me With Science” — Thomas Dolby

“Europa and the Pirate Twins” – Thomas Dolby

“Drop Dead Legs” — Van Halen

“Really Saying Something” — Bananarama & Fun Boy 3

“Just What I Needed” – The Cars

“Rise” – Public Image Limited

“I Wanna Be Sedated” – Ramones

“Sheena is a Punk Rocker” — Ramones

“Love Will Tear Us Apart”– Joy Division

“She’s Lost Control” – Joy Division

“God Save The Queen” — Sex Pistols

“Car Jamming” — The Clash

“Tainted Love/ Where Did Our Love Go” –Soft Cell

“Freedom of Choice” – Devo

“You Gotta Another Thing Coming” – Judas Priest

“Everybody Have Fun Tonight” — Wang Chung

“7 Chinese Brothers” – REM

“Superman” — REM

“How Soon Is Now?” — The Smiths

“Bad” — U2

“Pride (In the Name of Love)” — U2

“Heart of Glass” — Blondie

“Lips Like Sugar” — Echo & The Bunnymen

“O Superman” — Laurie Anderson

“Never Let Me Down” — Depeche Mode

“Jane Says” — Janes Addiction

“Bela Lugosi’s Dead”– Bauhaus

“Let’s Go”– The Cars

“Lorelei” – Cocteau Twins

“So Alive” — Love & Rockets

“Ceremony” — New Order

“Temptation” – New Order

“(Keep Feeling) Fascination” – Human League

“The Caterpillar” — The Cure

“Gigantic” – Pixies

“I Want Your Hands on Me” — Sinead O’Connor

“Just Call Me Joe” – Sinead O’Connor

“Sixteen Blue” – The Replacements

“I Will Dare” — The Replacements


By robbskidmore

Robb Skidmore writes upmarket literary fiction. He is the author of “The Pursuit of Cool”, a critically acclaimed coming-of-age novel about love, music, and the 80s, and the novella “The Surfer.” His short stories have appeared in many publications.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s