White Lines (Don't Don't Do It) (Grandmaster Melle Mel). 40 Songs for 40 Years, 1984

Welcome to the awkward adolescence I promised earlier.

I entered seventh grade as a weird, nerdy, chubby kid. It sucked, and I remember this year as almost unbearable.

Of all the records that were released in 1984, the one that probably would have helped me the most was Zen Arcade by Hüsker Dü. Loud, alienated, and very angry, it would have been the perfect soundtrack. Sadly, I wouldn’t hear it until college.

Instead, what I really remember from this year were the songs I heard at dances, where my adolescent awkwardness attained a crystalline purity that makes this song ironically apt.

White Lines was a massive club hit with a cynical anti-drug veneer added to make it commercially viable in the heyday of Nancy Reagan’s Just Say No program. Given the unrelenting wholesomeness of my junior high social life, I’m surprised I heard it so often.

I was way too square to really get this song at the time. Instead, this song made me want to dance and gave me the fleeting illusion that I could be one of the cool, beautiful people. In seventh grade, I wished that feeling would last forever.