You know those annoying Living Social “Pick Five” type-quizzes from facebook that always superfluously appear on your newsfeed? Well, it’s about to get even more thrilling, because this time, I get to elaborate! CAN YOU IMAGINE?! Well, to be fair, I’m also sort of ripping off The A.V. Club’s Nathan Rabin and his new memoir, The Big Rewind, in which he ties various pop cultural items with major events in his life, except it’s totally NOT at all like the “I Love The…” Series on VH1. I am most nerdily poring over every page and enjoying every second of it.
To paraphrase En Vogue, a la “Free Your Mind“: Dating. Wrote a post about it. Like to hear it? Here it go:
1. Deep Red Bells, Neko Case
During one of my first summers in New York, I, along with (eventually) every other Tom, Dick, and Hipster in Williamsburg, discovered McCarren Pool back when it was emerging as a new and exciting music venue. I was either on hiaitus or had just gotten out from one of my first very serious relationships, when my friend Erin asked me if I wanted to go see Neko Case playing with Joanna Newsom (at the time, only known to me as a friend of hers from back home), and Martha Wainwright. It was a welcome change from attending nearly every show I’d been to in New York with my then-boyfriend I had just broken up with. Something about Neko’s voice and the light, late-summer rain falling during the latter half of that show really seemed to make an impression on me, and especially the point at which Neko played Deep Red Bells. It’s almost Pavlovian that whenever I listen to this song, I automatically become more calm and introspective, and it always always makes me wistful for the period of time in which me and Erin were still a bit on the young side and, consequently, a bit more clueless. She’s married now, and I’m slightly less lost as compared to my early 20s Though Erin and I have both come a long way respectively, there’s a little part of me that wishes I could go back to when we were just starting to carve out our post-collegiate paths, however lost we were, together.
2. The Engine Driver, The Decemberists
I spent some time in Italy shortly after college for an Art History program. I had just started seeing this guy, and things were getting “real” pretty fast, though we had only been seeing each other for a little over a month. It was a bit awkward when I left, because we had agreed to continue seeing each other, but on fairly loose terms. I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted at the time. The dude in question had seen me off with a couple of playlists for my brand-new-at-the-time ipod mini. In one of those playlists was this song by the Decemberists that prominently featured an old world-y accordion. It eased me in a bit into more easily to life in Italy, though also somehow made me miss this dude progressively more. That line “I’ve written pages upon pages/Trying to rid you from my/Bones..” gets me every time! I did a whole lot of thinking about him and what I wanted from my life at the time while listening to this song on the bus, on the way to class, drowning out the numerous catcalls and Vespa traffic at all hours, staring below at the thousand-year old streets and tiny, windy, hidden and sometimes-shady ass alleyways, as well as while drinking some of the best vino rosso ever made, with my roommates in our mosquito-ridden, hot-as-fuck but overwhelmingly charming garden apartment….and thinking about Tony; wondering where he is, who he could be with, what he’s thinking, if he’s thinking about me, and if he’ll ever return someday. COME ON! It’s Kids In The Hall!! Whatever, no one ever gets my Kids In The Hall references.
3. Young At Heart, Frank Sinatra
This song, weirdly and creepily enough, actually kind of reminds me of my Dad, who by the way, always only half-remembers lyrics to songs (at best!), and I think actually does not know the full lyrics to any song ever created. But other than that, it reminds me of a surprisingly nice day in Chelsea, while walking around during a lunchbreak, this song happened to come on my ipod. At the time, I felt reborn because of a boy I had met, and it was almost like one of those scenes from a musical where the main character is walking down the street and everything is like fucking Candyland or Singing In the Rain something. Yes, though I look back on that memory with mostly shame, it also weirdly makes me laugh; because it’s fun being a little flighty and ridiculous sometimes, and I kind of hope it never fully goes away. Because if you can’t laugh at yourself, who can you laugh at? Those fat cats in Washington? I don’t think so.
4. Sir Duke, Stevie Wonder
This again was off a playlist from a boy. I remember skipping through a number of tracks on this particular mix cd, until I got to this one. My brother listened to a lot of Stevie Wonder while he was a teen and I was in early elementary school. It wasn’t until I heard Sir Duke again for the first time in about 20 years that I fully remembered how contagious the (almost) overwhelming joy and enthusiasm in his voice is. It was like, I felt I was in the middle of something happening, something BIG. But I didn’t quite know for sure what it was and it wasn’t even conceivable at the time that I could possibly grasp any real understanding on this “thing” at hand. But I did know one thing– it felt REALLY good to surrender to it. One could say that this might have marked the beginning of rumblings indicating some future hedonistic tendencies, but then one would most likely be a judgemental asshole, wouldn’t one? You ain’t no Judge Judy!! You dont know my liiiiiife!!!
5. Faded From the Winter, Iron and Wine
I will definitely always remember this song, one reason being because I had NO FUCKING IDEA what it was to feel in any way “faded” from any such conceivable “winter” at a time when I first heard this while living in California. I laugh in the face of my past self when I think of anything I could’ve possibly comprehended as comparable to feeling such a way. But what this actually more reminds me of, though, was a night I had gone out on a date and returned to said date’s house a little tipsy on red wine and really, really…umm….excitable in a naughty kind of way. You know when the world seems to shine, like you’ve had too much wine? That’s Amore. But for reals, though, it felt like the most awesome half-drunken haze possible to be in . And since the end of the night proved to be fruitful, the “deal” as it were, was thereby sealed such this song will forever remind me of the S-E-X. Scandaloussss!
6. West Coast, Coconut Records
Jason Schwartzman sure has a way of writing songs about the West Coast that really twist the knife in your cold, dead heart….in a good way! As a friend of mine once said: “This song makes me wistful for a long, lost love in California that I’ve never had.” Most of all, I think this song totally encapsulates the emotional push-and-pull one tends to feel if one has a lot of affection for people on the East Coast, but has roots on the West Coast; just the perfect balance of happy and sad. More specifically, though, it reminds me of a certain complicated relationship I had with a friend. One that seemed to always be about the wrong timing and unfortunate circumstances. I always miss him and our ridiculous late night cross-coastal phone conversations whenever I hear this damn song.
Bonus Track: Will You Love Me Tomorrow, The Shirelles
Why? Because sometimes, I’m a jerk! This song comes from a heart-wrenching moment in time in which a guy I was seeing basically professed his love for me, using this song as a sort of a “warm-up”; as he was, essentially asking me if this thing between us was more than just a fling. Though I did have a lot of affection for this guy, the time at which this confrontation occurred was very unfortunately timed…mostly because of my state of mind at the time. Thus, my answer was, essentially….no. So, um, I definitely feel a little guilty every time I hear these lyrics. I guess I shouldn’t have written checks with my vagina that my desire for monogamy couldn’t cash, as all I really wanted was a flexible layaway plan, c/o Jerkface McGee.