12:39 p.m. - December 15, 2005
Name your three favorite songs and describe a defining moment or memory associated with each of them.
That I can do. There’s a phrase that gets stuck in my head from time to time, a shred of a Jayhawks song that goes something like, “All I know is I’ve been loving you for all the right reasons…” Even though I like the Jayhawks, and can hum along to many of their greatest hits, that particular phrase irritates the hell out of me. It could be the droning, whiny quality of the singer’s voice or the fact that for a love song, the sentiment seems awfully self-congratulatory, like, “I’m not just using you for your boobs or your access to discount movie passes. I actually love you for YOU, girl, and aren't I so great?” Whatever, dude.
Anyway, the point I am trying to get around to is that the term “favorite” does not necessarily imply that the object of the favoritism deserves the attention, nor that it is favored for an appropriate reason. My favorite ex-boyfriend, for example, is a toxic man-whore. (“But I LOVE him!”) In a sense, “All the Right Reasons” could be called my favorite (as in, most frequently experienced) earworm. I think that as a culture, we tend to overemphasize the importance of being positive, and so here’s where I buck the trend. Following are some of my favorite songs, favorite for all the wrong reasons:
Almost Cut My Hair—Crosby, Stills and Nash (and possibly Young, but I don’t remember)
Although this song was recorded in about 1970, I never heard it until about three years ago, when I came to Southern California where, by law, it is played every thirty minutes on shitty local radio stations, along with Traffic’s “Hey Mr. Fantasy” and “Real Good Looking Boy” by The Who. If you don’t know the song, I’ll boil down the central theme for you, which is: “I almost cut my hair, but didn’t, because of a phantom sense of obligation I feel toward some unnamed person.” I know: it is Heavy. David Crosby has managed to describe, in the most self-righteous tones imaginable, the momentous act of deciding to take no action on a strictly personal decision. YES! Let your freak flag fly! My friend Al Perry and I love this song, which is to say we hate it with equal venom, and so in a way, it has become our theme song, although neither of us would say, include it on a mix CD for the other, or voluntarily listen to it, or ever, ever sing it out loud. So you might say, we Almost Chose an Anthem. You know your friendship is true when you both hate the same things.
Exit the warrior! Today’s Tom Sawyer, he gets high on you and the energy you trade! Yeah! He sure does! That’s what the man says, anyway, and this song is high on my list of Favorites For the Wrong Reason because of my boyfriend, the Keelhauler. This is not some deal where the Keelhauler worships Geddy Lee and I go along for the ride out of support—oh, no. First of all, the Keelhauler favors the Pixies or the Replacements, and while he’s not above an extended air guitar solo, he is no fan of Rush. So I was surprised one evening when out of the blue I asked him, “What is Our Song?” and he answered, “Tom Sawyer.” He didn’t even hesitate. I don’t know why he chose it, except that he did work for several years on the Mississippi. Perhaps he’s identifying with the whole Tom Sawyer theme, although that would seem to make the song HIS song, rather than ours. Shortly thereafter, he was walking into town because I’d accidentally taken his keys with me to work, and he came upon a discarded CD on the road. He picked up the CD, which was the soundtrack from the movie “Small Soldiers,” and discovered the great, modern re-mix version of Rush’s “Tom Sawyer.” His discovery cemented his certainty that “Tom Sawyer” was Our Song, and his subsequent inclusion of it on a mix tape for me has led me to accept it as fact. And no, his mind is not for rent to any god or government.
My friend Lorelei loves to go to karaoke, and I can’t blame her, because she has a nice, clear voice that always gets lots of applause. She always knows what she’s going to sing, and has three titles written down while I sit there paging through the book, trying to find one song I might be able to get through. I mean, I have an all right voice, but it’s unlikely anyone is truly going to be entertained by my version of “Hungry Like the Wolf,” or whatever. One time, unable to find a song, I text-messaged my friend Al for assistance. “What should I sing?” I asked, and the answer came back almost instantly: “Ghostbusters, of course.” Of course! Here’s the thing about “Ghostbusters”--no one ever, EVER wants to hear this song, no matter who they are, so you can sing it as loud as you want, dancing happily back and forth on that little postage stamp of a stage, confident that everyone is either ignoring you or hates you. It’s really the perfect way to entertain yourself, which is ultimately what karaoke is all about.
Thanks to Ms. Loopy for letting me in on her page.