Nazareth, North Dakota: The 1980s (and then some) Playlist

Taking a cue from Largehearted Boy, we recently asked author Tommy Zurhellen to create a 1980s playlist for his novel Nazareth, North Dakota. Some songs are surprising, some aren’t, and all of the (occasionally snarky) comments are our own.




“Down by the River” – Neil Young
Although Neil’s seen better days (aging hippee folk rockers aren’t a pretty sight), his instantly recognizable voice is what truly shapes this heartbreaking song.


“Bad Reputation” – Joan Jett and the Blackhearts
The original bad girl, Joan Jett knew how to make an impression long before Britney Spears.


“Blood and Roses” – The Smithereens
We especially love the trippy sight outside the windows of this high school.


“Fool for the City” – Foghat
“He could hear his brother’s Bronco coming down the road, Foghat growling out of the tape deck, the exhaust belching even louder.” – Nazareth, North Dakota
We agree: being the little brother is no fun at all.


“Badlands” – Bruce Springsteen
In this live clip, the Boss tells it like it is from the Badlands to the catfish farms of Arkansas. 


“Light of a Clear Blue Morning” – Dolly Parton
They certainly don’t make hair–or music videos–like this anymore! 


“Breaking the Law” – Judas Priest
Although Judas Priest’s robbery-by-music is the narrative of this video, the true hero is the security guard who rocks out with a cardboard guitar he pulls from under his desk.


“Let’s Fall to Pieces Together” – George Strait
We think some (okay, many) of the characters in Naz could relate to this single from the king of country, all about losing your grip and being proud of it.

“Sick of Myself” – Matthew Sweet
A classic 1980s music video. For extra fun, watch the video on You Tube to read the first user comment on the page.



“Bismarck” – Tom Schreck
Who better to sing about Bismarck than Bismarck native and singer/songwriter Tom Schreck?




“Never There” – Cake
Cake frontman John McCrea and author Tommy Zurhellen – twins, separated at birth?






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