Tuesday, October 17, 2006

My Seven Favorite Songs...?

In an attempt to be something of a smart-ass by commenting on one of Quilldancer's recent blog posts (although "recent" is somewhat of a relative term for someone who posts more in a week than I do in 6 months!), I unwittingly called on the wrath of the "tag". I've now been challenged to list my 7 favorite songs of all time, including why I like them.

Let me begin by saying, I really don't go for these "tag" things anymore, but this particular one gave me a bit of an idea. Instead of doing as I've been told (which, according to my parents and so many teachers, is apparently not something I'm very good at), I'm going to change things up a bit and just leave it at that. The tag stops here.

With the broad range of music I have been exposed to in my 35 years on this planet, and the number of people who have influenced my musical tastes along the way, there's no chance that I can boil it all down to just 7 definitive tracks. However, just thinking about it caused me to stumble across something perhaps a little more interesting...

Have you ever noticed how certain songs will conjure up the same exact memory for you every time you hear it? Maybe it's a recollection of the first time you heard the song, perhaps it's the face of an ex-boyfriend/girlfriend with whom you declared the tune "Our Song", or even just the feeling of being a wallflower at a Jr. High dance. These "magical" songs don't necessarily have to be our "favorites" (in fact, sometimes we actually hate them), but they certainly carry a unique power all their own to instantly and invariably transport us backward through time, if only for a moment.

Below are a few selected songs that, whenever I hear them, make me tell Chana a story she's probably heard as many times as she's heard the song. And now you get to suffer the same fate! Aren't you lucky? I've tried to add a link to the video for the song where I could, but I've had to settle for 30-second audio clips in some cases...

Another Brick in the Wall - Pink Floyd
I can't count how many hard-earned quarters I ended up dropping into the jukebox at the little pizzeria in our neighborhood when I was 9, just so I could hear this one tune. And, considering I was addicted to video games and the arcade was right next door, you can tell how much I loved the song! The best moment, though, was when the old Italian guy who owned the place showed me how to reach behind the jukebox to turn it up!

Mr. Roboto - Styx
I think you need to be a true child of the 80's to tolerate, let alone like, this song... Hence the reason I love it to this day! It's one of the songs that I used to play when I was 13 and force my two younger brothers, J and M, into air-banding with me (just alone in the basement, not in front of actual people). I lip-synced into the power-head extension of Mom's Electrolux vacuum cleaner, J stood to the side on his trusty air-guitar, and M sat at the imaginary drum kit. M wasn't a very good drummer, though (at least, by my standards), so I'd usually end up yelling, showing him how to do it properly again, then turning the music off in frustration. Temperamental musician, eh? We didn't need Yoko to break up that band!

Axel F - Harold Faltermeyer
Cast your mind back to a time before Crazy Frog annihilated this song... When I was 14, we moved to Vancouver Island, to a little community outside Nanaimo called Cedar by the Sea. The house we lived in was absolutely awesome. It was built on a steep hill (I hesitate to say "cliff" lest it give the wrong image), had a fireplace in the main livingroom, and a huge balcony across the entire front which gave an unobstructed view of the ocean. It wasn't uncommon to see seals or dolphins out there. Once, we even saw 3 killer whales! Although it was a fair-sized home, I had to share a bedroom with my younger brother M. And, since we didn't have a lot of money, there was only one queen-sized bed for the 2 of us. Well, there was no way I, a teenager, was going to share a bed with my 8-year old brother! Instead, I set up a camping mattress on the floor and staked my claim. I would lie there at night and listen to the Top 10 at 10 on my clock radio, awash in the green glow of the LEDs, and wait to hear the synthesized sounds of Axel F, which stayed at No. 1 for a long time.

Money for Nothing - Dire Straits
While I was living on Vancouver Island, I had a best friend who lived a few miles away, in a beautiful house on a acreage by a lake. I think his Dad was an architect or an engineer or something... Anyway, he was the first person I ever knew who had satellite TV, with the gigantic dish in his yard and everything. It was on that satellite TV that I had the priviledge of watching MTV's World Premiere showing of the Money for Nothing video, an absolute technological marvel at the time. Now, I can't hear that signature Mark Knopfler guitar riff without immediately remembering all the fun we had at that house in the summer of '85.

One Night in Bangkok - Murray Head
Okay, one last one from the infamous Summer of '85... This one actually kinda creeped me out back then. You see, that best friend of mine had just started going to church and would tell me, heathen that I was, about all the evil in the world that we needed to protect ourselves from. So, after one of his baseball games in Nanaimo (in which he was the pitcher and took a ball to the face) when we heard this song and the lyric "I can feel the devil walking next to me" I practically jumped out of my skin! Okay, so I over-reacted... It wasn't until years later that I understood the song to be about the game of chess. Oddly enough, chess is something of a hobby for me now (more on that some other time).

The Way It Is - Bruce Hornsby and the Range
By the time I was in High School, I was no longer living with my parents and siblings. They had continued with the gypsy ways I had known only too well growing up, while I had opted to stay in the "big city" to finish my schooling. This meant that I saw them seldomly. But for Christmas of 1987, they came to Calgary for a visit, and took me home with them to Prince Rupert, BC for the holidays. It was a short visit (only a couple of weeks) but it was good to spend the time with my brothers again. J had received a "ghetto blaster" for Christmas and we played his "Rock '87" cassette over and over. I think this was actually the first track on the tape, or else it was the only good track... I'm not sure. It was always hit and miss with those K-Tel records... Either way, this particular piano melody always makes me think of the cold grey north Pacific skies over lush green lawns.

38 Years Old - The Tragically Hip
I riding around one evening in the car of a buddy from college (one who would eventually become a college roommate and one of my biggest musical influences) when I first heard the wavering, haunting voice of Gordon Downie, lead singer of the Hip. My friend asked if I'd ever heard of them before and, even though they are a Canadian band, I hadn't (don't all Canadians know each other?). He got me to listen to this song and I was immediately hooked. I can picture stopping at a red light near the Safeway by our college while the song played. That's the image that has stayed with me all these years. Ironically, it's a stop light I'm at frequently now as I live about 2 blocks from there!

That was the 7 I was obligated to post. Now for the bonus track:

Zoo Station - U2
As I mentioned above, the friend who introduced me to the Hip eventually became a roommate of mine. The day us guys (there were actually 4 of us) took possession of the townhouse we rented, that particular friend had to work, but he told me I could set up his stereo. Now, you have to understand just how "into" music this guys was: He owned more LPs than anyone else I have ever known, his stereo had more components than I knew what to do with, and he had even done a stint as a radio DJ at the University of PEI. I was, to say the least, nervous about setting up his gear. Of course, I was also young an stupid, so I did it anyway. Well... Once I had everything hooked up, I decided to throw in the U2 Achtung Baby CD, which had only recently been released. I knew a couple of the tracks, and U2 had always been a favorite of mine. The drawer slid shut silently, the LED read-out told me it was "loading..." and then the time flashed "0:00" and started counting up. As the music started to play, my heart jumped into my throat! Oh no! I'd hooked something up wrong and ruined his speakers! He was going to kill me! Of course, if you know the song "Zoo Station" as well as I do now, you'll know that the distortion I heard at the beginning is actually just an effect and was not my fault. I still think about how much money I would have owed him...
Post a Comment