Six Questions About Six SongsPosted: February 14, 2013
A while back I referenced the awesome blog Lucy’s Football. Somewhat more recently I invited genial blogger Amy to participate in the Soundtrack Of Your Life Game. She graciously declined. But today she tossed out a discussion topic, sort of a short-form of the Soundtrack Of Your Life: Six Questions About Six Songs. Spurred on by this article on the NPR website.
Think back over the soundtrack to your life. Those songs you heard in grade school and church, on first dates and at dances, in college dorms and convertibles, at weddings and graduations — it’s all part of your musical makeup.
The categories, in the form of questions, are:
- What was the first song you ever bought?
- What song always gets you dancing?
- What song takes you back to your childhood?
- What is your perfect love song?
- What song would you want at your funeral?
- Time for an encore. One last song that makes you, you.
Naturally I’m all over this. You can come and play too. You should.
The first song I ever bought: When I was six I asked my parents to buy me the 45 of “Alley Cat” by Bent Fabric. But the first record I bought with money out of my own pocket was an LP, ”More Of The Monkees.” My favorite song on that album is “(I’m Not Your) Steppin’ Stone,” so I guess that would qualify.
The song that always gets me dancing: I don’t dance much; it’s an introvert thing. But a good swing song will often coax me onto the dance floor. One that always gets me is “Jump Jive and Wail” by Louis Prima, Keely Smith, and Sam Butera and The Witnesses.
The song that takes me back to my childhood: There was always music playing in my early days. It was the pre-Beatle ’60s, and my family loved to sing in the car, so we heard a lot of singable folk songs: Peter Paul and Mary, The Kingston Trio, and The Brothers Four. Yo ho ho!
My “perfect” love song: Not what you’d expect. It’s foolhardy, reckless, and potentially devastating not to protect your heart, to give it away too quickly. At the same time it’s equally foolhardy not to risk your heart, to be too passive and guarded. Laura Cantrell captures this dilemma perfectly in “Little Bit Of You.”
The song I want at my funeral: I’d actually given this some prior thought. “We’ll Meet Again” by Vera Lynn.
One last song that makes me, me(?): I didn’t like the question, didn’t agree with the premise, so I picked a song that sums up where life has led me. When Bob Dylan wrote and recorded “My Back Pages” in 1964, he was tired of being The Voice Of The Protest Movement ™. He’d discovered that young “free-thinkers” were often as intractable and unrelenting as the older generation they decried. The conventional wisdom is that peoples’ thoughts calcify as they age; Dylan discovered that younger people can be susceptible to the same thing. He started to question things he’d come to accept as truth, and realized that dogma is rigid and limiting no matter what age you are. I can relate to that.
In a soldier’s stance, I aimed my hand
At the mongrel dogs who teach
Fearing not that I’d become my enemy
In the instant that I preach
My pathway led by confusion boats
Mutiny from stern to bow
Ah, but I was so much older then
I’m younger than that now
Roger McGuinn’s jangly 12-string guitar still sounds right to me on The Byrds’ 1967 hit version: while Dylan’s original sounds poignant and wounded, the Byrds’ version sounds transcendent and a little bit trippy.
This is from a 1992 show at Madison Square Garden, commemorating the 30th anniversary of Dylan’s first album release. McGuinn, Tom Petty, Neil Young, Eric Clapton, Bob himself, and George Harrison all sing verses. (This has “Knocking On Heaven’s Door” right after “My Back Pages.”)