On my birthday last year, I ferried a dying bunny to our Humane Society. My husband had tried to save it from its circle-of-life destiny, but got called in to work second shift, so rescue transportation defaulted to me. The bunny breathed its last breath one stop light before the animal rescue’s office. Fun life lesson for the kids right there, and a happy birthday to me, Honey! Way late in rush hour traffic, we tore up to the kids’ piano lessons, followed that up with a lukewarm, crappy dinner at a restaurant whose best offering that evening was the roving table magician (kill me now). I vowed that would be my last worst birthday.
A couple advance tracks were released last week ahead of BNL’s new album Fake Nudes. My first listen to Lookin’ Up had me declaring “I’ma see the donut, you can see the hole” the best optimistic lyric ever thrown down. As I came to know the song, the line “Every song I’ve ever known carried in my bones” hit closer. That had to have been written for me, I swear. (It wasn’t.) I never don’t have a song in my head, and I never forget a note of any song I’ve known.
When I know I’ll need a little Wonder Woman for my workday, I make sure to sport my Did I Say That Out Loud? cuff bracelet. DISTOL is my favorite favorite. You already knew that. Embossed on the inside of the bracelet is an extra-special just-for-me message. When I need to feel happy or strong or to be reminded “I got this!” the bracelet reminds me to think I’m invincible (I’m not.) For 2017’s anniversary of being born, I got two new extra-special on the inside just-for-me bracelets from that same incredibly insightful friend. Music makes things make sense to me. Sometimes I literally wear that on my sleeve.
I don’t forget that I’ve traveled a million miles to land exactly where I am meant to be today (no, not Toronto, silly). Here. Though the path hasn’t been smooth or straight, I’ve meandered at my own pace–the only pace I could possibly have kept–sprinting, sauntering, stuck in an abyss so deep daylight barely penetrated, then soaring among the stars, just depends on the day. I’ve been thinking–which are the songs I’ve carried in my bones? (Dang, I wish I’d written that line first.) I began a list, not in rank order or anything, just a collection.
No, the fifty songs mapping out my life aren’t all BNL songs. I totally could’ve done that list too, but BNL’s only been with me like 60% of my life, not all my life. Let us not forget the big hair days!
I’ve reached a very round, very ending-in-0 age. *sigh* I’ve been stupid about this stupid number this stupid birthday, but revisiting my days through their very long soundtrack has cast a warm halo of light against my birthday pallor. Some say I don’t look 50 (I love these particular individuals the bestest), but I do feel it. I’ve adamantly rejected any and all birthday recognition–no party, no family gathering, no dinner. #2 has football practice til 8 PM anyway, a very handy excuse to blow off September 21, 2017.
Lookin’ Up isn’t officially on the list of songs that changed my life, represented an era, or marked some cornerstone event, but it seeks to refute the belief that dystopia is the only home we have in 2017. Optimism is not a bad way to rock in a birthday, especially when you’re feeling beat down by the number. Here’s a song for every candle on my cake–there had better be cake tonight! And maybe a pair of pink Chuck Taylors. Wendy’s five decade bday soundtrack beats the hell out of dead wildlife boxed up in the front seat, you guys.
Did I Say That Out Loud? Duh.
When I Fall, I’ve only heard this live once in the 50 or so shows I’ve seen, and they don’t seem to hear all my requests, so I’ll keep asking. Although to be fair, they did play MY song for me at my last show because I played the “it’s my birthday” age card when I asked. High five, Kevin Hearn. You are the best!
Maybe Katie, My second favorite all time song. This album was released when #1 was exactly one week old. He had no choice but to be a fan. I listened to this and classical music exclusively throughout my maternity leave. The “Do you know everyone you ever swore you’d love for life?” makes me stupid. The good kind of stupid.
Satellite, Written by, though not recorded by my fave singer, I did catch this live once back I think in the early 2000s. You guys should RECORD THIS SONG!!!
Toe To Toe, In it for the long haul.
The Love We’re In, Kinda makes my stomach hurt. In a good way.
Moonstone, Please play this at my funeral.
Odds Are, I listened to this song consecutively for as long as it took me to drive to the neurology clinic the morning that my boy was diagnosed with MD. Though he sings, “The odds are that we will probably be all right,” he was dreadfully wrong about it for my boy. This song is both a joy and a dirge. I didn’t listen to it for a real long time after that morning.
A Word For That, I took this YouTube video, annotated it with the lyrics, and use it my new SLP trainings. The whole district knows my freak flag for Barenaked Ladies flies high. Frenulum? Filtrum? Uvula? Speech pathologists, unite.
Blame It On Me, The song I always have cued up to play first when I get in my car on my birthday. Yes, I actually do that. No, I don’t think I can offer a logical explanation.
September, by Earth, Wind & Fire. Do you remember, the twenty-first night of September? Um, yeah I do. The first one, probably not as well as my mother does, but this is about songs important to me.
They Don’t Know, the Tracey Ullman version. I cannot perform this loudly enough. I avoided quotes around perform in a show of remarkable restraint.
People Get Ready, the Jeff Beck version sung by Rod Stewart.
Take Us Home, Walking through our park with earbuds in, I remember where I was standing when I connected the lyrics, then bolted home to tell my husband about the new song I loved. He cared less than I did (quelle surprise!), but played along anyway. I wish it had been written when we got married.
You Give Love A Bad Name, Bon Jovi. Changed my life. And my hair. (See above)
In These Arms, Bon Jovi. My bracelets make a brief appearance in this video. It felt like magic to stick around after the concert to be part of the video shoot.
Silent Lucidity, Queensryche. Just trust me.
I4U, Warp Drive. A MKE band with hair more majestic than even mine, this song just. . . Ahhhh, to be 21 again knowing what I know now.
What They Mean, Donovan Woods. Cried the first time I heard it with my baby standing right there beside me.
Cheat On Me, by Bad Boy. Another homegrown band with a measure of national attention, Bad Boy’s heyday was just before my coming of age and reaching the legal drinking age. I begged an old boyfriend to make his band play this song when they played out, and good guy that he was, they did. It was probably my #1 for twenty years.
Madalaine, by Winger. My first real boyfriend gave me this album during the summer of 1988. Shortly thereafter he cheated on me up at college, and I played this whole album over and over to mend my broken heart. I was 20. What the hell did I know?
Take Off, Bob & Doug McKenzie and Geddy Lee. How am I not Canadian? I shit you not when I tell you that my parents Visqueened off our kitchen and we played Beer Hunter when I was in middle school. I’m not saying they displayed great judgment or anything, but we didn’t actually drink the beer, just get soaked by it. It’s probably not a song anyone on earth would feel a real sentimental attachment to, but SCTV played big during my middle school years. That my cousin, THE Uncle Paulie, was part of it brings me great joy.
Don’t Let Him Go, REO Speedwagon. Eighth grade. A great album opener. My grandma purchased this LP for me for my middle school graduation. I would’ve loved seeing upright Esther rolling into Mainstream Records to ask after Hi Infidelity. Hee hee!
Crazy Little Thing Called Love, Queen. Queen!
Real Love, Mary J. Blige. I had a guest stint teaching aerobics and chose this song for sit ups and butt lifts. I taught aerobics! Hysterical.
Hold The Line, Toto. Just love.
Can’t Get It Out Of My Head, ELO Middle school swoon, round and round.
Always With Me, Always With You, Joe Satriani. Guitar viruoso lead with an unexpected time signature.
Jessie’s Girl, Rick Springfield. A good song is a good song.
I’ve Done Everything For You, by Rick Springfield. The song for a woman in the middle of divorce.
I Wanna Be Loved, by House of Lords. You’ve never heard this song. It’s OK, I have.
Heaven Tonight, Yngwie Malmsteen. Shut up. Sure, he shreds the fretboard with probably 24,853 too many notes, but the vocals? Joe Lynn Turner can sing, yo. The lower register of his voice lives in that range that makes me loopy.
How Much Love, Vixen. I had the hair, but not the pipes. I love this song. Still.
Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, John Denver & The Muppets. Sweetest. Version. Ever.
God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, Barenaked Ladies and Sarah McLachlan. I hate her voice, but it so works in this performance. The first December I was introduced to this song, there’s me driving, belting it out and wishing to the stars and back that I could harmonize with Barenaked Ladies like she does here. Except she screws up the ending. Geeeeez.
Claire de Lune, Claude Debussy. Perhaps the most beautiful melody of all time. It reminds me of my big kid’s newborn days. So beautiful it almost hurts, almost ethereal.
The Waltz Finale and Apotheosis from The Nutcracker, Tchaikovsky. I cry each time the ballet nears its end. Tchaikovsky’s (has to be drug-induced) ballet finale soars, cymbals crash and the dancers’ costumes, the children, the snow falling from above the stage paints a picture that overwhelms the senses. I’m listening to it right now. I don’t care it’s not Christmas; it’s my birthday, I can be out of season if I like.
Christine Sixteen, Kiss. Fifth grade me obviously had no idea what this song was really about. But it prompted my first album purchase, Kiss’ Love Gun. And nope, had no idea what that was really about either! I was eleven, you guys. When I think about my parents listening from the other room, I’m embarrassed retrospectively! For us all!
Man! I Feel Like A Woman, Shania Twain. I may have been guilty of the girl crush I was accused of having on Shania back in the late 90s. She was so beautiful and perfect and wrote some really fun songs. This is probably one of the only country(ish) albums I own.
Jellyroll, Blue Murder. For a while I thought it was two different songs. Just captures a time is all. My best friend and her mom’s light blue Cadillac convertible whose length just about covered a city block!
Where The Streets Have No Name, U2. I’m not an insane U2 fan, but its live performance will rattle your bones.
Popular, from Wicked, performed by Kristin Chenoweth. Sang this nonstop when the kids were small and Wicked was ubiquitous. Didn’t your preschoolers sing showtunes with you?
Tonight It’s You, Cheap Trick. Damn, I love this song. Do you watch The Walking Dead? Do you know how Negan would intone with his insane swagger “Damn?” That’s how you read “Damn, I love this song” here.
The Spirit of Radio, Rush. First hard rock song I obsessed over. I actually stole a little bubble gum record album of Permanent Waves from Target because it had the lyrics printed in it. Yes, Rush moved me to petty theft. Thanks a lot, Geddy, Alex, and Neil.
Limelight, Rush. Not enough exclamation marks to punctuate how this song lives inside me.
Subdivisions, Rush. Holy effing high school.
Never Surrender, Triumph. A high school friend of mine and I used to hang out so we could listen to this tape. We were like sophomore year philosophers talking about how Triumph always had a positive message in their songs. We were such dorks. Dorks who were correct, but. . .
Borderline, Bon Jovi. When I understood that you could purchase import records with unreleased in the US tracks? My ears are probably still bleeding.
Car Wash, Rose Royce. It was the first not-a-kid song that my big kid owned for himself. I have the fondest, sweetest memories of him strapped into his booster seat, clapping the opening beat as we tooled around between day care and tot lots and errands during our minivan years.
Hey, Soul Sister, by Train. This was my little guy’s first favorite not-a-kid song.