Saturday, January 19, 2013

You can be my friend but only if you like this song

When I was in college I had two roommates junior and senior year, Heather and Kelly. All three of us were in the theater department and had one of the party houses (I really miss that house and not just because of the parties). Anyway, even though the three of us were very close friends we also had our own friends both in and out of the department. Heather was close with another group including a girl named Hillary. Hillary and I were not good friends during most of college. I would classify us as acquaintances - we worked shows together, went to the same parties, had classes together but I wasn't part of that group. During senior year, we all ended up going out in the French Quarter one night. We were going to see our friend perform at Oz in the drag show and then see where the night would take us. It took us to a bar called the Velvet Dog (used to be right next to Johnny White's) and to a jukebox moment that I remember to this day. So we're sitting in this bar and Stevie Ray Vaughn comes on and both Hillary and I know the words and start talking about the music we like. And discover that we have a lot of music in common including the same favorite Guns N Roses song ("Mr. Brownstone" which we also played that night). I can't listen to The Pixies without thinking about Hillary; she was the only person in college that I knew who even knew who they were. And she liked them too.

I promise this has a point. Music is one of those universals that helps connect people and places. I read a ton of books about music and musicians and that's the connecting thread in all of them: music is the way to bridge a distance and make a connection. I did a little informal research on the old Facebook this week about this and one of my friends said, "And I instantly like anyone who has heard of them." (The bands she was talking about are Carbon Leaf and Great Big Sea so i f you like them I have someone for you to meet.) One of my favorite books about music, Love Is A Mix Tape, is exactly about this. Rob Sheffield and his wife Renee fell in love to music and had this amazing (sad) story all to a specific soundtrack. Their favorite band: Pavement. 

I collect songs like some people collect baseball cards or Star Wars action figures. I often say "I would like to live in that song" and I'm being totally serious when I say it. I can remember hearing certain musicians for the first time and who it was that introduced me to them. Introducing a person to a band you like is sacred in some ways. You want that person to believe as much as you do in the music and to let that music become part of their life just like it did yours. When I make people a mix, I want them to spend time with "my friends" and hope in that time they get to know me better too. And honestly, it doesn't matter if it's New Kids on the Block (when I was 11) or David Bowie (when I was 14) or Michael Penn (when I was 16) or Neko Case (in my late 20s), I love what I love and don't believe in the concept of "guilty pleasures" when it comes to music. I'm not embarrassed by liking the soundtrack to Xanadu as much as I like Patti Smith's Easter; I like them for completely different reasons. Don't apologize for what you like - own it.

Over the years, I created what I refer to as "five songs" - a list of five songs that fit into very specific criteria:
  • If I couldn't listen to these five songs, I would be devastated and feel empty 
  • If any or all of these songs were sung to me by a guy that I liked (in a serious way), I would marry him
  • If I have a horrible day, listening to any of these songs (alone, together, in any order), instantly makes me feel better
  • If you like these songs, I instantly like you
Now this list has changed a bit over the years, but the current version of the list has been in place for about 2 years now. There are also honorable mentions; these are the songs that have been on the list at some point and may find their way back if something in my life changes. I can't predict when or why the list will change. It's just sort of a feeling I have. And of course, it would be a list wouldn't it?

So here they are:
  1. Thirteen by Big Star. I love this song move than any song I can think of (and that is saying a lot). Alex Chilton has the greatest voice and one of my favorite lyrics of all time is in this song (I'll let you figure out what it is on your own). 
  2. Don't You (Forget About Me) by Simple Minds. I know I remember the first time I saw The Breakfast Club and heard this song. I also know that as a teenager I danced around my room to this song all the time. You know the part in Pitch Perfect that involves this song? Yes, it made me cry.
  3. A Little Bit Me, A Little Bit You by The Monkees. I've talked about my love of Davy Jones before and this song is just the best. There's this part when he sings, "I say girl" that is just excellent. I can't describe it, just listen to it.
  4. Can't Hardly Wait by The Replacements. Maybe it's because this starts off with "I'll write you a letter tomorrow, Tonight I can't hold a pen" that this song made the list. Maybe it's Paul Westerberg's voice. Maybe it's the strings. I just can't say.
  5. Satellite of Love by Lou Reed. I have a distinct memory of skating to this song at my first boy/girl skate party with a boy named Peter. This is an insane song to play at a 4th grader's party but that's why roller rinks were invented (or something). 
Honorable Mentions: "Heroes' by David Bowie, Without You by Motley Crue, I Woke Up in Love This Morning by David Cassidy, Little Heaven by Toad the Wet Sprocket, No Myth by Michael Penn, Your Song by Elton John, Lovely Day by Bill Withers, Because the Night by Patti Smith, Africa by Toto and Inside Out by the Mighty Lemon Drops.

So what are your five songs? Is there a song you couldn't live without?

All links to songs from Photo by me.

PSA: This is totally unrelated to the above post but I said I would do this so here it goes. You only need one space at the end of a sentence. Two spaces is incorrect and has been for some time now. And people have a lot of feelings about it. Two of my co-workers found this out at a meeting this week and were shocked. Yes, everything you learned in school is a lie.

No comments:

Post a Comment