Songs and Memories of My Past

This isn’t going to be the post I promised earlier on Facebook (That post, entitled “Wendy Davis, the GOP, and Sex” will be coming at some point, it’s just going to take a while since I want to make sure I get all my facts straight, since it’s such a touchy subject (pun intended)).  Also, I’m sick right now, and I need something that doesn’t demand too much brainpower that will distract me from how miserable I feel.  So this post is going to be a spin-off of my earlier song recommendation posts.  Instead of listing some of my current favorites, I’m going to go back through my past and reminisce about some of my previous favorites.

“Standing Outside the Fire”- written by Garth Brooks and Jenny Yates, performed by Garth Brooks

This was my favorite song when I was four.  My brother and I used to make my dad play it every morning on the way to the baby-sitter’s.  This was my favorite song throughout elementary school (even though whenever I told people my favorite singer was Garth Brooks they’d be like, “Who’s he?”).  A couple years ago, my now-friend Sierra and I were working on an assignment for the class we were in together, and during a break we ended talking about country music.  I mentioned how I loved Garth Brooks when I was a kid, and her immediate response was, “He sang the fire song!!!”  I like to think that was the moment we officially became friends.  🙂

(My entire Broadway phase, which lasted from fifth grade through most of middle school, will be glossed over.  Not that there’s not good Broadway music, but seriously, why was I obsessed with Evita of all things?  Also, I’d like to take a moment to thank my friend Chandra for putting up with me begging to watch The Sound of Music every time I slept over at her house.  How you managed to not kill me, I’ll never know.)

“You’re So Vain”- written and performed by Carly Simon

I loved this song in seventh grade.  I used to sing it while pretending to be über-sophisticated.  I’d spend most of the song trying to sound angry, and then focus on injecting just the right amount of hurt into the line “But you gave away the things you loved./And one of them was me.”  Also, “I had some some dreams, they were clouds in my coffee.” is such a beautiful image (and a totally apt metaphor).  Finally, how can you not love the line, “You’re so vain, you probably think this song is about you.”?  (Weird fact: apparently Mick Jagger sings backing vocals on this song.  Just found that out the other day.)

“Love Is Just a Four-Lettered Word”- written by Bob Dylan, performed by Joan Baez

In eighth grade I thought this was The Most Profound Song Ever.  I loved the lyrics (even though I didn’t find out they were written by Dylan until after my sophomore year of college), as well as the very slightly risqué title..  This song marks the moment I switched from wishing I could sing like Julie Andrews to wishing I could sing like Joan Baez (and actually, I STILL wish I could sing like Joan Baez…).  And it laid the groundwork for my renewed interest in folk music that began a couple years ago (my “Folk Revival”, if you will).  Warning: The guitar part is very twangy. And this comes from someone who was raised on country music, so I know of what I speak.

(Judging from these two songs, I seem to have been very cynical about love in middle school.  Then again, I think that’s pretty much par for the course.)

“Sunday Mornin’ Comin’ Down”- written by Kris Kristofferson, performed by Johnny Cash

For me, this song will forever be associated with high school (specifically, probably tenth and/or eleventh grades.  I don’t remember for sure.)  I used to listen to it late at night while doing math homework and pretending it was possible to get drunk on ginger ale (my extremely mild form of teenage rebellion).  That sounds really depressing, but it helped me get through a rough point in my life, and hearing the song these days actually makes me kind of nostalgic.  And if there’s a more honest line anywhere than “I’m wishin’, Lord, that I was stoned,”  I haven’t heard it.  I heard Kristofferson’s version once, and thought it was very good, but this song is yet another example of Musical Axiom #1: Everything sounds better when sung by Johnny Cash.

And finally, listen to “Please Please Me” by the Beatles and then listen to “Don’t Come Home A’Drinkin'” by Loretta Lynn while imagining it as a response to the first song.  Neither of these songs has ever been one of my particular favorites, but the pairing cracked me up the first time I thought of it in ninth grade, and still cracks me up today more than seven years later.