Music moves me. Sometimes it annoys me. It can make me cry or dance or sing or laugh or <fill in the blank with an infinite number of actions and emotions>. I know that if I have a really great playlist, I can walk forever or get the entire house clean because I want to hear the next song on the list. I have often cleaned my entire house while listening to Chess, Les Miserables, or Phantom of the Opera. Lord knows I tried to like Rent, but even though I listened to it several times, the clanginess of the music was irritating. Since marrying Will, I’ve also listened to Jesus Christ Superstar and learned to appreciate its 60’s sound and its poignancy. Although, the first time I heard it I merely thought, “Piercing. Ow.”
While listening to music, I have often thought about how if Will ever dies, I may never be able to listen to my favorite songs ever again. Will loves music as much as I do, and he is less picky than I am. What Will and I have bonded over with music (other than everything about it) is mainly lyrics. Will and I like words. We like how words are put together when they are put together cleverly. This means that lyrics are intrinsic to our enjoyment of songs. This also means that he and I have talked about and deconstructed many song lyrics in the years we’ve been together.
After the first 2 years we were together we did not have a song, but many songs.
“Life in the Fast Lane” by the Eagles is a great song in and of itself, but we both love the line “he was brutally handsome, and she was terminally pretty”. You know, right there with that brilliant bit of wordsmithing that this relationship is not going to go well, but also the combination of brutally handsome and terminally pretty is just fantastic. It says a lot while saying very little. Therefore, every time I hear this song, and that line in particular, I think of Will.
For all of my Generation X people who were raised with certain iconic images, in the movie Say Anything, John Cusack holds up a boombox while playing Peter Gabriel’s “In Your Eyes” and this song also makes me think of Will for a variety of reasons. Back in the day when I would drive for pleasure and for escape, before gas prices became a nightmare, back when you could get a half tank of gas for $5, I would buy a pack of smokes, some gas and just drive around listening to mixed tapes. Thus “In Your Eyes” speaks to me on many levels, but most especially “When I want to run away, I drive off in my car, but whichever way I go, I come back to the place you are” because I would drive off and inevitably end up where Will happened to be. I never planned for it and sometimes I was even driving away from him when we would have a fight or something, but he was always my destination.
Later on, when gas was not so cheap and I was working full-time and going to school full-time and somehow still not making ends meet, I would listen to “In Your Eyes” and the lyrics I identified with, both because of how hard Will worked as well as because of how hard I worked was “I get so tired of working so hard for our survival. I look to the time with you to keep me awake and alive.” Life can be hard and sometimes just knowing there is someone going through the hard with you makes it worthwhile.
The Who’s “Behind Blue Eyes” has too many great lyrical moments to count, but this is another one that makes me think of Will. Both because of his intense hatred for the travesty that was Limp Bizkit’s version as well as his love for the original. “If I swallow anything evil, put your fingers down my throat….” “Carry on My Wayward Son” by Kansas makes me think of Will as we both love the song, but especially the lines: “Though my eyes could see I still was a blind man. Though my mind could think I still was a mad man,” as well as “Masquerading as a man with a reason. My charade is the event of the season. And if I claim to be a wise man, it surely means that I don’t know.”
“The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” by Gordon Lightfoot was a song I had never heard prior to being with Will. On a trip up to Alton we listened to it, and I cried for the loss of life it described – the men died and they died hungry, which just seemed worse to me somehow. Will also teared up a bit and one of my friends who was riding with us said from the back seat, “You are both &%$ing crazy, you know that, right?” She thought us crazy, but we thought her callous. The reality is probably somewhere in the middle.
Another song I did not really know prior to Will was Marty Robbins’ “El Paso” and Will loves that song so much that for me, it is intrinsically his song.
A song that used to make me think of my mother, but now makes me think of Will is the Beatles “In My Life”. Really the entire song describes how I feel about Will, but rather than bore you with the entire song’s lyrics, the highlight is “Out of all these friends and lovers, there is no one compares with you and these memories lose their meaning, when I think of love as something new. Though I know I’ll never lose affection, for people and things that went before. I know I’ll often stop and think about them, in my life, I love you more.” When I was a kid, I kind of thought these lyrics were a little mean spirited. Way to dis on all of your friends and memories, but as an adult I know exactly what those lines mean.
Most recently, we were listening to Cream’s “Sunshine of Your Love” and I was telling Will I could make a good argument for this song being about a vampire. “Come one, Will, ‘I’ll give you my dawn surprise? Be with you until the stars are falling?’ He is clearly a vampire as he has ‘waited so long’ and is apparently going to live forever.” Then the next song that came on was “Sweet Child of Mine” by Guns and Roses and Will went on a tangent of silliness about how this song, too, could be about a vampire. He made a good argument, although I think he was trying to highlight my silliness with Cream’s song. We decided that given enough time we could make almost any song about vampires and then left it at that.
When it comes to musicals, part of why I love Chess is because the unabashed arrogance of the characters makes Will laugh. “One Night in Bangkok” is a song from Chess that showcases some of this arrogance, “One town’s very like another when your head’s down over your pieces brother. I get my kicks above the waistline, sunshine. I don’t see you guys rating
The kind of mate I’m contemplating, I’d let you watch, I would invite you, But the queens we use would not excite you. So you better go back to your bars, your temples …your massage
parlours –” Also, the double entendres that the game of chess lends to the song is really quite fun – Will loves puns.
Les Miserables reminds of Will because Will simply loves Javert. I never liked Javert, but Will thinks he’s great. Also, Will enjoys the beginning when the Jean Valjean steals from the Bishop and is immediately captured by the police. The Bishop tells the police that he did make a gift of the silver Jean Valjean stole and then he says to Jean Valjean: “But remember this, my brother, See in this some higher plan, You must use this precious silver, To become an honest man. By the witness of the martyrs, By the Passion and the Blood, God has raised you out of darkness – I have bought your soul for God” and this worked as Jean Valjean then does become an honest man. There is Fantine’s song “I Dreamed a Dream” where she sings “but the tigers come at night, with their voices soft as thunder” which Will and I have talked of extensively. Then my favorite line from the musical is at the end, as Jean Valjean is on his death bed – “Take my hand, And lead me to salvation. Take my love, For love is everlasting. And remember the truth that once was spoken, To love another person is to see the face of God.”
There are hundreds of songs that make me think of Will, these are just a smattering. “Paint It Black” by the Rolling Stones, “Darling be Home Soon” by Matt Costa, “Space Lord” by Monster magnet, “Silent Lucidity” by Queensryche, “Black” by Pearl Jam, “Wish You Were Here” by both Pink Floyd and Rasputina (this song has some simply fantastic lyrics – “did they get you to trade your heroes for ghosts Hot ashes for trees Hot air for a cool breeze Cold comfort for change Did you exchange a walk on part in the war for a lead role in a cage?”) “Where Did You Sleep Last Night” by Nirvana (Will actually wrote a short story called “In the Pines”), “Renegade” by Styx, “We Belong” by Pat Benatar, “Burn,” “Hot, Hot, Hot,” “Just Like Heaven” and “How Beautiful You Are” by the Cure (I made him listen to a LOT of songs by The Cure), “One” by Metallica, “When I Grow Up” and “The Trick is to Keep Breathing” by Garbage and I could go on and on and on.
There are two songs I particularly like that I will end with. The first one is by The Talking Heads – “This Must Be the Place” and it was introduced to me by some really good friends. I then stole it for myself and my life, but as many people can have a song, I am sure they do not mind. I am putting the entire song here, but bolding the parts I like the best:
Home is where i want to be
Pick me up and turn me round
I feel numb – burn with a weak heart
(so i) guess i must be having fun
The less we say about it the better
Make it up as we go along
Feet on the ground
Head in the sky
It’s ok i know nothing’s wrong . . nothing
Hi yo i got plenty of time
Hi yo you got light in your eyes
And you’re standing here beside me
I love the passing of time
Never for money
Always for love
Cover up + say goodnight . . . say goodnight
Home – is where i want to be
But i guess i’m already there
I come home – -she lifted up her wings
Guess that this must be the place
I can’t tell one from another
Did i find you, or you find me?
There was a time before we were born
If someone asks, this where i’ll be . . . where i’ll be
Hi yo we drift in and out
Hi yo sing into my mouth
Out of all those kinds of people
You got a face with a view
I’m just an animal looking for a home
Share the same space for a minute or two
And you love me till my heart stops
Love me till i’m dead
Eyes that light up, eyes look through you
Cover up the blank spots
Hit me on the head ah ooh
The second is by Tom Petty – “Alright for Now”
Goodnight baby, sleep tight my love
May God watch over you from above
Tomorrow I’m workin’ what would I do
I’d be lost and lonely if not for you
So close your eyes
We’re alright for now
I’ve spent my life travelin’
I’ve spent my life free
I could not repay all you’ve done for me
So sleep tight baby
Unfurrow your brow
And know I love you
We’re alright for now