I think I was nine when I got my very first Walkman for Christmas. It came with a cassette of Gloria Estefan’s Greatest Hits and I thought I was both seriously awesome and totally cool. There’s a picture of me on that day wearing some sweet stirrup-leggings, slouchy socks, and a big sweatshirt, listening to and intently reading each lyric of every song Gloria was signing. In my mind, I thought I probably looked like Stephanie Tanner, which in my world in 1992 was just about the best thing ever.
My favorite song on the tape was “I See Your Smile”, which is probably weird for a nine year old, because it’s a slow, sort of sad song about unrequited love – “I’m so glad that you just missed it, the way I stared to memorize your face . . .”
I mention this because even now I am always drawn to these sad, dramatic love songs. I love poor Dusty Springfield pleading, “you don’t have to say you love me, just be close at hand. You don’t have to stay forever, I will understand” and Carole King admitting that, “it’s too late baby, now it’s too late . . . something inside has died and I can’t hide and I just can’t fake it”. I often wonder what kind of girl that makes me. I was always drawn to “The Sadder But Wiser Girl” from The Music Man. The title of this post comes from that song, by the way. Just a small homage to another great lyric.
When I met John, one thing I quickly realized is that we have very different taste when it comes to music. We’d be in the car, and I’d sit in the passenger seat with a wide-eyed, stunned expression frozen on my face as if we were about to hit a deer or a small child and not merely listening to music that didn’t meet my approval. “How can you listen to this?!?!?!”, I’d heckle, right before I mocked the lyrics. Yeah, that must be the kind of girl I am, clearly the one with all the game. Dating rule #1: always mock your date’s taste. And intelligence. While he’s driving. He put up with it though, because even back then he was the cool to my uncollected. His “excuse” was that lyrics are of lesser importance to him; he just likes something that sounds good, has a good beat or is melodic. I suppose that IS important to a song, but I, the emotional girl who reads into just about everything, prefers swooping, dramatic, sad things with lyrics that make me laugh or think or at least say, “EXACTLY!”.
After he made us listen to “Don’t Forget About Us” by Mariah Carey five billion and one times, clearly not taking my criticism to heart, my head was exploding with thoughts like, “OMG, WTF?! ‘They say that you’re in a new relationship, but we both know nothing compares to what we had it perseveres’?! Have we listened to this song five billion more times than it deserves because he’s sad about a past breakup?! Do I not compare?! Do they persevere?! Damn you Mariah!!!”
I had to choose to believe that he was for real; that he wasn’t pining away for some ex – the song, when you take away what Mariah is saying, sounds nice.
On Twitter we have something called “Music Mondays”, where you’re supposed to share a song you like with the rest of the Twitterverse. I usually forget and I usually have a LOT more to say than 140 characters will allow when it comes to music, so I’ve decided (it is my boat, after all) that every Monday (or Tuesday, or Wednesday, whenever I get around to it during the week), I’ll write about a share-worthy song that I love. I was planning on doing that now, but I have already written too much. I probably could have just started doing this next Monday without any explanation because you guys are intelligent, literate people, but I . . . misunderstood the assignment. Which is more important to you? Lyrics or melody?