Monday, July 09, 2007

Musical SEEs

When I was in travel agent school back in 1987, shortly after the fan-tailed warbler debacle, the head of the school included a term in her curriculum that I've remembered ever since - sort of. I can't quite remember now whether it was Significant Emotional Experience or Significant Emotional Event. Either way, it was a SEE. I'm not sure how helpful the jargon is, but the concept has stuck with me. We all have significant, life-changing moments from time to time. Not all of them have a huge or devastating impact, but even the minor ones affect us in some small way as we go on with our lives.

I was reminded of this concept tonight as Carly notified me I'd been tagged for the following meme:

1. Name between 5 & 10 songs that have made an impact on your life. I'll leave it up to you to decide how many you wish to describe.

2. Pass it onto five other people with a link back to your own post and this one as the original.

Yes, folks, some SEEs are musical ones!

1. Taxman by the Beatles, off the LP Revolver (1966). I could have named any song from Revolver, but this George Harrison song is the one that leads off the album, the first Beatles LP I ever owned. As I believe I've remarked here before, I bought it from my brother's record club without knowing anything about it, except that it was the Beatles and cost 50 cents less than Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. But I loved it, every song on it, starting from the opening "One, two, three, four, one, two" of Taxman. The British income tax issue didn't mean much to me at age 10, but it was easy to appreciate "If you take a walk, I will tax your feet!" I was pleased with myself for knowing who Mr Wilson and Mr Heath were, and asked around to find out what "declare the pennies on your eyes" meant. I've probably played this album hundreds and hundreds of times over the decades, and it's is still one of my favorite LPs of all time.

2. The House Song by Peter, Paul and Mary, from the LP Album 1700 (1967). This is another case in which I'm letting one song stand in for the album it's on. My best friend, Joel R., moved away after seventh grade, and I spent eighth grade in a bit of a depression, listening to this mostly-depressing but rather good LP from PPM. The House Song is the most intriguing track on it. AllMusic Guide disagrees with me on what it's about; they're probably right and I'm probably wrong:

This room here once had childish laughter
And I come back to hear it now and again.
I can't say that I'm certain what you're after,
But in this room, a part of you will remain.

I quoted from the song before, rather extensively, in connection with a past Round Robin Photo Challenge. A sample from that is above.

3. Unchained Melody by the Righteous Brothers, from the "M.I.A." episode of Quantum Leap. This is one of the most romantic songs of all time. I even quoted from it in a love letter once, many years ago. Many people remember it from the film Ghost, but for Leapers it's a key element of a scene between the hologram of lovelorn Al Calavicchi and his wife in 1969, who thinks Al is dead. Al begs her to wait for him, but she doesn't hear. They then dance to

4. Georgia on My Mind by Ray Charles, from the "M.I.A." episode of Quantum Leap. They dance, not quite touching, and Beth seems to be aware that Al is somehow there with her. When Sam leaps out somewhere off camera and Al disappears, Beth stops, upset that Al is gone. Great, great scene. I will never hear either song again without thinking of that episode.

5. Great Balls of Fire by Jerry Lee Lewis, from the "Good Morning Peoria" and "Miss Deep South" episodes of Quantum Leap. This is the third and last of the songs I associate heavily with Quantum Leap, and a great, great song quite apart from that connection. Sam Beckett performed it in a Carmen Miranda outfit in "Miss Deep South," and played it during his stint as a disk jockey in "Good Morning Peoria." It's also the only song I've ever performed in karaoke (and I only did it once). At one time my favorite radio station, Cool 92.9 FM, was so in sync with my tastes in music that Alan Michaels played songs 3,4, and 5 of this list during the same shift, before I got around to calling in to request any of those same songs. Two weeks later, they changed the playlist, one of several times in which that great radio station was pretty much ruined. Cool as I knew it is long gone now, but it was great while it lasted. Sometime I'll write about that in detail.

6. Song for Ten by Neil Hannon, from the Doctor Who: Original Television Soundtrack. This song, written by Murray Gold, first appeared in the first Doctor Who Christmas special, "The Christmas Invasion", sung by Tim Phillips. (You can hear that version here.) I've always liked it. It accompanied a scene in which the new Doctor chooses an outfit from the TARDIS wardrobe, and then walks into the Tyler flat and smiles at Rose. The CD version, sung by Neil Hannon, has a new verse that's basically about the Doctor and Rose being separated forever. It's a rather good song, and one of the reasons I listen to that soundtrack almost every day. But it has one repeated lyric that bothers me:

I wish today was just like every other day
'Cause today has been the best day
Everything I ever dreamed

The lyric first struck me as wrong when I noticed it in a televised charity concert, Doctor Who: A Celebration. It seems to be saying that the singer wishes today were ordinary, when he should be wishing that every other day was great. When I sing along in my car, I drown out the lyric with my own revision:

I wish each day could be like what we had today
'Cause today has been the best day
Everything I ever dreamed

Yes, I know it's a bit nuts. What can I say? I do the same thing with

7. Cherish by the Association.

Oh I'm beginning to think that man has never found
The words that could make you want me
That have the right amount of letters, just the right sound
That could make you hear, make you see
That you are drivin' me out of my mind

No, no, no. "right amount of letters" is bad usage. Should be "right number of letters". It scans and everything. Next verse:

Oh I could say I need you but then you'd realize
That I want you, just like a thousand other guys
Who'd say they loved you, with all the rest of their lies
When all they wanted was to touch your face, your hands
And gaze into your eyes

The implication is that she would "realize" something that's incorrect, namely that he's just like those other guys. Also, the word "realize" is also in another verse, so it's repetitive . Try this instead:

Oh I could say I need you but then you'd theorize

That solves both problems. But I suppose I'm 40 years too late to get Terry Kirkman to change it! Too bad, because I like the song otherwise. I've seen some latter-day version of the band in concert, and grew up hearing their greatest hits, since they were favorites of my mother and brother. I even met one of the band members once, after my mom used one of their songs (Requiem for the Masses) in her 1968 satirical revue, They'd Rather Be Right. Speaking of Mom...

8, 9. 10. The Ending of Desire, Merry-Go-Round and The John Burp Marching Song by Dr. Ruth Anne Johnson Funk. These were three of my mom's best songs, and I'm probably the only person in the world who still has them memorized. John Burp was a satire, and the other two were about failures of love, or failures to love, written over a decade before my parents' divorce. I got the church organist to play The Ending of Desire at my Mom's funeral, and it's quoted on her grave marker.

So don't be sad; there's nothing more to say;
At least we had a passion yesterday.
Don't try to clutch a love that slipped away;
It was too much trouble anyway.

Thanks, Carly! Good thing I got seven hours of sleep this afternoon, because it's quite late now. Good night!



The Real Mother Hen said...

Great choice. I was trying to listen to #6 but failed. Will try again... else will catch Dr Who this Friday and pay attention to the song :)

Carly said...

Hi Karen

Excellent list. I have enjoyed all the tunes you listed, with the exception of the Dr. Who songs. I was never able to get into that program, so I am afraid I missed that one. Good entry darlin.

Always, Carly

Becky said...

Re: 8, 9, and 10... I see you inherited your unique "turn of phrase" and poetry skills from your Mom. :-) I think she would have enjoyed your songs from your books.