Really? This is the big category after 29 days of moderately interesting categories? We’re really going to end on this note? Ah, well, I’ve been going along with it for 29 days, one more won’t kill me. I have to say that my favorite song this time last year is probably still my favorite song (at my age, my taste in music has gelled). But what I will talk about is a song that I listened to more this time last year than I have listened to recently. That song is:
Fix You by Coldplay.
Again, this really wasn’t my favorite song, but it was a song I listened to over and over and over again last year. In part that was because I had built a story around the song. I liked the way the song builds up to this climax and then ends in a virtual whisper, albeit a revealing whisper. In any event, I’d written a novelette called “In the Cloud” the penultimate scene of which follow the pattern of Coldplay’s song. It is one of the few times that I actually listened to music while writing. (Usually I listen to nothing but the silence produced by my noise-canceling headset.)
I was never able to sell the story, although I got some positive feedback on it. And I still really like that scene.
I’m not quite sure how I missed yesterday. I was doing so well and then I woke up this morning to realize that I never posted day 29 yesterday. Not much I can do about that now, other than post day 29 and day 30 today. So you get two for the price of one. First, day 29, which is “a song from your childhood”.
There are many songs from my childhood, but one in particular stands out if only for having a mildly amusing story to go along with it. That song is:
Rhinestone Cowboy by Glenn Campbell.
I’ve always had the ability to hear and song and pick up the tune and lyrics pretty quickly, even when I didn’t know what the lyrics meant. For some reason, when I was quite young, five or six years old I’m guessing, I heard this song and it stuck with me, and for a while, I’d sing it wherever I went. It got to the point where my parents would ask me to perform on queue for various extended family and friends and I would oblige them, all smiles and volubility. Looking back on it I’m terribly embarrassed, but so long as everyone else thought it was adorable I suppose I can live with it.
What I think is more amusing is what I thought the sound was about. I didn’t know what a “rhinestone” was, but I knew what a “stone” was and I also knew what a cowboy was. (What six year-old boy doesn’t?) When I would go around singing the song, I imagined I was singing about a cowboy made of some kind of stone. Perhaps even limestone (since that rhymes with rhinestone). I never quite understood the appeal of a limestone cowboy, but I also never questioned the veracity of song lyrics at that age. The world was the way the world was. Still, hearing that song always reminds me of my six year-old self, playing in the backyard of our house in Somerset, New Jersey, and that’s a pretty nice memory right there, limestone or not.
Whew, I almost didn’t get this one out today. This was a moderately tough one because I can’t really think of a song that makes me feel guilty? Guilty of what? So I’m going to cheat slightly this time around and tell you about a song that makes me feel, well, awkward. And that song is:
Take My Breath Away by Berlin
First of all, I cannot think of that song without thinking of that love scene in Top Gun. Perhaps because that scene was so voyeuristic at an age when my hormones were raging, I think of that voyeurism as guilt, but it isn’t really guilt, since I paid by money to see the movie. While it seems like guilt, I think what I really feel about it awkward. It was an awkward time, that weird age when all kinds of new feels are stirring and a generally sunny personality becomes momentarily stormy.
I still shudder at the thought of it.
Without a doubt, the song that I most wish I could play, had I even the slightest bit of musical talent, would be the piano part of:
Avalon by Harry Connick, Jr.
Yes, I know it is a cover of a jazz standard, but I am too tired to look up the original composer. Forgive me.
Aside from being able to carry a fairly decent tune, I have no musical ability whatsoever. I think there are just some things we don’t have the skills for, even with practice. In junior high school, I had to take a music class in which we learned to play the recorder. We also learned how to read music. I never had any trouble learning to read English, but in attempting to learn to read music, I knew what it must feel like to be functionally illiterate in some language. I say “attempting” because I failed. I never could get it. I knew what a C-note was but I could never translate that to the proper sound on the instrument in any reasonable fashion. And I could never figure out the tempo part. I was awful. In fact, for one test, we had to play some song that I’ve forgotten. The idea was we would read the music off of the sheet and play the song, but the truth is that I memorized the finger motions and did it that way. If the teacher had swapped out songs at the last minute, I would have been helpless.
So it is a little surprising to me that at one point, I did learn to play a song and pretty darn well too. That song was:
This is an easy one, no thought required. A song that is always guaranteed to make me laugh is:
Be Careful, It’s My Heart performed by Bing Crosby.
Obviously, there is a story behind this one. It goes something like this:
Back in the fall of 2000, my Grandpa was going in for a major heart surgery. Quadruple bipass and a valve replacement, the latter part of which sounds very automotive; apropos, since my Grandpa was an auto mechanic. Now, my Grandpa was almost always cheerful, always had a smile, and had an indescribable laugh that was utterly infectious. Upon hearing his laugh, it would no longer matter what it was you were laughing about: his laugh was like a fission reaction that built upon itself, feeding other laughs which in turn fed others until there wasn’t a dry eye in the room.
Hmm? A song that I want played at my funeral? When I first started considering this topic, a couple of songs came to mind: there was Celebration by Kool & the Gang, of course; and Dead Man’s Party by Oingo Boingo. There are a couple of problems with these songs, however. First, I doubt anyone would take me seriously and they’d end up playing something else. And second, Dead Man’s Party, at least, is probably a fairly common selection in this challenge and therefore completely unoriginal. So I pondered this during a meeting today, and I realized that there is a perfect song that is both obscure enough for people not to necessarily know it offhand (making it more difficult to object to) and quite apropos of the situation:
God’s Comic by Elvis Costello.
If you’ve never heard the song before, the opening verse is perfect for such a celebration, where many people are mourning, but how many people really knew you:
I wish you’d known me when I was alive
I was a funny fella
And of course it gets better from there.
I suspect if people actually listened to the song before they played it at my funeral they might object to it on some ground. But people get weird at funerals, and my uncharacteristically cynical guess is that most people would smirk, shake their heads, and say, “Yup, that was him all right…”
Being already married, I’ve already gone through the process of selecting songs for my wedding, fuzzy as that process is in my memory. There are lots of traditional “last songs” which are played at the end of a reception. “Last Dance” is probably a popular one, for instance, but the Puckish person inside me has always felt that the following song would be a lot of fun to play as the last song to close out a wedding reception:
Goodbye, Goodbye by Oingo Boingo
First, it is not a slow, sentimental song. Second, it is blunt and to the point. No one can miss the message in this one: time to go, last call, don’t let the door hit you on the way out, etc. etc.
That would be a fun wedding song.
Just like the song I listen to when I am angry, I don’t really feel the need to turn on music on those very rare instances when I am sad so this is a very difficult one to answer. The best I can do is refer folks back to day 4, a song that makes me sad. I don’t know of this constitutes cheating or not, but it is the truth. I can’t really ever think of a song that I’ve turned on deliberately when feeling sad. And if I have done so, I imagine that I’ve done what I would most likely do in such cases: pick a long playlist and put it into “random” play.
Let the fates and pseudo random algorithms control what song I listen to when I am sad.
Unlike the previous day, this one is easy. A song that I like to listen to when I am happy is:
Photograph by Def Leppard
I used to have the Pyromania album–the actual album, not cassette or CD. And I would listen to it endlessly. Nowadays, whenever I hear the song, I am happy. I don’t know if that is because I listen to the song when I am happy, or hearing the song makes me happy, but in either case, the result is abundant happiness, so I can’t complain.
This is probably the most difficult category so far. The problem is that it is not very often that I am angry. And on those rare occasions when I am angry, I am generally not in the mood to listen to any music. So trying to come up with a song that I listen to when I am angry is tricky mainly because I can’t think of a time that I was angry and then deliberately selected a song to listen to.
On the other hand, I could try to imagine what song I might choose to listen to when I was angry, if I could push the angry mood aside long enough to consider putting on song. Hmm? Nothing’s coming, but I suppose if I had to pick something I thought I might listen to it would be:
We’re Not Gonna Take It by Twisted Sister.
It just seems like an angry, rebellious kind of song. I don’t know that it would help me feel any better, but I don’t know that is the point, either.
Picking a favorite album is a lot like picking a favorite song. It’s difficult to choose just one across all the varieties and genres. When I started thinking about this topic I thought that Pink Floyd’s Meddle might be my favorite album. But after giving it a lot of thought, I decided that Def Leppard’s Hysteria album is my favorite. I’ve like it longer than I’ve liked Meddle and while I listen to Meddle a few times a year, I listen to Hysteria, or songs from the album much more frequently and with much greater enjoyment. So a song from my favorite album is:
Rocket Man by Def Leppard
And not the remix they did later, but the original that appears on the album. A great song that got me through countless workouts and appears on just about every one of my workout playlists.