Mixtape Musings: How the Pop Culture of the 80s and Music Scene of the 90s Shaped Our Lives

Sat, May 18, 2024
Greensboro History Museum

From the mixtape musings of PAUL CRENSHAW (Melt with Me: Coming of Age and Other ‘80’s Perils) and TOM MAXWELL (front man for the Squirrel Nut Zippers and author of A Really Strange and Wonderful Time), we take a journey from the pop culture of the 1980s—video games, pro wrestling, and Satanic panic—to the North Carolina-based indie rock boom of the 1990s. Each author explores how the shifting cultural phenomena of the times—from Bugs Bunny cartoons and Reagan-era politics to the witty, post-grunge appeal of bands like Ben Folds Five and Squirrel Nut Zippers—shaped their lives, and ours.


TOM MAXWELL is a writer and musician. A product of the fertile Chapel Hill music scene, he was a member of the Squirrel Nut Zippers from 1994-1999. Tom’s song “Hell” peaked at Number 13 on the Billboard Hot 100, propelling the band to multi-platinum status. His songs have appeared in dozens of movies and television shows, a Super Bowl commercial, an Academy Award-nominated documentary, and the Tony Award-winning Broadway soundtrack. As a writer, Tom has contributed to Al Jazeera America, The Oxford American, The Bitter Southerner, and the Library of Congress, among others. He is a member of the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame. LEARN MORE

PAUL CRENSHAW is the author of three essay collections: This One Will Hurt You, This We‘ll Defend, and Melt With Me, on the Cold War culture of the 1980s. Other work has appeared in Best American Essays, Best American Nonrequired Reading, The Pushcart Prize, and Oxford American. A graduate of the UNCG Master's in Creative Writing program, he now resides in Kansas.


GLENN PERKINS is the Community History Curator at the Greensboro History Museum and has written about arts, books, culture, and places for the News & Observer, Our State Magazine, and other publications. During 1991-1994 he frolicked around the edges of the Chapel Hill music scene as a DJ at WXYC radio.