Monday, November 18, 2013

Fueled by Randomness

When I'm making dinner, I like to listen to my music on shuffle--I know that I'll like what I hear, and I also know that I'm likely to hear something that I have completely forgotten about. Sometimes those songs are powerful reminders of times and places gone by--equally indelible and forgotten. Leonard Cohen said it much better: "I remember you well in the Chelsea Hotel. I don't think of you that often."

The wonderful logic of randomness means that sometimes patterns emerge--a series of songs that doesn't seem possible by chance, but of course, is.

Last night was all about the OG. We've had a long history with music. I introduced her to Stax, Motown and Hip Hop, and now she is my connection to the pop music of today. I used to sing loudly along with Nelly to obscure the profanity, and now she does the same with Kanye.

Last night, over the course of about an hour, five songs came up, four of which have a direct connection to the OG; the other, possibly the best song ever written about a newborn.

The first was "Hello Anastasia" a reimagined version of the rap at the beginning of Len's Cryptik Souls Crew that I wrote about changing diapers in 1999.

The second was an a cappella version of "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" that the OG recorded in 2005.

Next was "Marie's Wedding." Not the Wiggles version, which the OG loved to watch over and over in 2003, but the Chieftains.

And finally, Bettye Lavette's "Before the Money Came," the high point of my best concert experience ever, in January 2011, where the OG and I sat in the front row of the ArtsCenter in Carrboro with homemade signs, and the OG spoke directly with the singer, who capped her encore performance of the song with a rousing "Anna, the money finally came!" as she exited the stage, holding our sign high above her head.

As I was eating dinner, I decided to create a post about this tomorrow, and I jotted down all of the songs I could think of that have a special place in our relationship; songs we listened to on long trips; on the drive to the Waldorf School in Olympia; with the Ipod jacked for two sets of headphones on the way to Kimo; everywhere. I figured I had better write them down lest they not fade away.

Clash: Pressure Drop; Police on My Back
Juliana Hatfield: Spin the Bottle
Nelly: Hot in Herre
Lloyd Cole: My Alibi
Kurtis Blow: Rappin Basketball
Johnny Clegg; Cruel, Crazy, Beautiful World
Prince: 1999
Peggy Lee: Hallelujah, I Love Him So
Barenaked Ladies: Testing 1,2,3
They Might be Giants: Put Your Hand Inside the Puppethead; Number Three
Lynyrd Skynyrd: Sweet Home Alabama
Dobie Gray: Drift Away
Men Without Hats: Safety Dance
Fountains of Wayne: Peace and Love

I'm sure I'm forgetting a few, but when I look at the list, every song is rooted somewhere in place and time. That's precious. Lucky for you child, you look like your mama.

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