Opinion

Sunday in the Park with Brian: Therapy Session #7 (The “Fun Songs to Bellow When You’re Tipsy” Version)

sunday-in-the-park-1

After my bit of a diatribe on Friday, wherein I railed against the political and social aspects of this world that really irk the hell out of me, I thought it best to calm down a notch and post something light-hearted and innocuous that would only offend those who seek validation in being offended. And here we go…

ONE. Meatloaf – “Paradise by the Dashboard Light”

This lovely ode to baseball, promiscuity and vintage automobiles is perhaps one of the finest tunes to warble when one has tippled a bit more than one should. This opinion is not necessarily shared by the masses, since the song is epically long, it has a somewhat unhappy narrative, and the vocals are annoyingly intrusive if you just want to discuss Sartre whilst munching on cocktail weenies. But still, this tune is worshipped by two extremely sage people: Me and my oldest sister.

The two of us share a rocky past, as siblings often do. (You should never trust siblings who swear they have loved one another since they shot out of the womb. It’s just not feasible or believable. In real and non-medicated life, siblings bicker, they drift apart, and then they come back together, in an endless cycle. This is what Mother Nature intended, and the relationship is stronger in the end.) But if this song comes out of the stereo speakers in a social setting where we are in attendance despite published warnings that we should not be an ensemble, we are transformed.

We immediately race to the nearest area of wherever we are that can feasibly be considered a stage, and then we start wailing. Throughout the entire song, all 700 minutes of it. (Okay, we don’t always pay true adequate tribute during the “baseball announcer” bit of the tune, because there’s a lot going on there and it’s hard to maintain focus.) But for the rest of the song? We are on it. And no, we don’t trade off the lyrics, like Meatloaf and Karla DeVito do. We both sing all of them, especially that last segment where all the angst and dissatisfaction comes to the fore.

It’s a fine and wonderful experience. At least for the two of us. The rest of the family members whip out their smartphones and start updating their wills, because they have focus issues and can’t appreciate fine art. I don’t need your money, Aunt Agnes. I have the music in me. Sod off.

TWO. Elton John – “Your Song”

I used to sing this one solo, back when I was a wee bairn in somewhat-rural Oklahoma and clutching my tiny radio, emoting softly, under my bedcovers as I consoled myself that life didn’t have to be what I knew of it then. I really wanted to meet that person who could put down in words how wonderful life was that I was in the world. It was a nice salve, a temporary patch, but the song would prove to be even more powerful in a group setting.

Case in point: Several years ago, my partner and I were in a gay bar (surprise!), an off-the-beaten-path place that we had been to a few previous times. It was a decent spot, nothing fancy, but it had managed to survive many years simply because it allowed people of a feather to gather and relax. (Sound familiar to those folks who remember when we had to be furtive and careful? Yeah, I thought so.) It was fairly late in the evening, meaning everyone was in that mood you can get to when the inhibitions recede, however briefly, and the atmosphere was just warm and comforting.

The DJ hit a button and this song filled the building.

Every single person in the bar started singing along. No holdouts, individual conversations ceased, attitudes dropped, and there was just this mass of people who knew every word. (Even the bartender stopped hustling about, pausing to join in.) Words can’t describe. It was simple yet powerful, and it has stayed with me ever since, perfect and clear.

Then the song ended and we all went back to being bitchy and jaded.

THREE. R.E.M. – “It’s the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)”

Actually, I’m not sure that anyone, other than lead singer Michael Stipe, can feasibly remember all of the words to this song. (There are a lot of them, often in rapid-fire succession.) The fun with this one is in the trying. It’s a hoot to take a deep breath and then just launch, seeing how far you can get before you hit the first of many roadblocks. You will inevitably spend long stretches simply mumbling or making up gibberish because you have no idea what the real words are. Just like certain politicians.

Side note: If you have ever made it all the way through with nary a misstep whilst imbibing but not cheating, then text me. We clearly should be friends.

FOUR. Three Dog Night – “Never Been to Spain”

There are two reasons why this one made the cut. First, they mention Oklahoma in the song. It’s not necessarily an honorable mention, more of a minor shout-out, but when you’re an impressionable youth in the 70s who has no self-esteem (partly because you live in Oklahoma, let’s be fair), there’s a wee bit of exhilaration to hear that shout-out. It’s nice to have someone acknowledge that your home state even exists, something that normally doesn’t happen. (Okay, there was that whole mess with the “Oklahoma!” musical and movie, but there was nothing realistic about those productions, starting with people singing about how happy there were to live there.)

Second, and more importantly, this song has a nice arc, starting slow and building in intensity. This allows the less-talented among us time to adjust our vocals to somewhere near the actual key of the song and try to stick with it to the climax without too much shame. And the message is nice, with the “what does it matter?” refrain. To me, it’s a more joyous song than the obvious “Joy to the World” by the same band. That one seems a bit too forced. This one feels just right.

FIVE. Van Morrison – “Brown Eyed Girl”

This definitely falls into the “sappy and obvious” category. It’s been overplayed for decades, and it’s the go-to song in so many movies where the script hits a rough spot and the producers throw this tune in to evoke a mood of nostalgia and sunshine when the story should be doing that. (And I’m a little biased in that the song reminds me of New Orleans, a place I love. This is mainly due to one remarkable evening on Bourbon Street years ago when we happened to hit several bars in a row where local bands were covering this song. It became the theme for the night, another concept I associate with New Orleans. In fact, if you’re up for it, here’s a link to one of my many questionable adventures in NOLA.)

Still, despite the overplay, this song is a great sing-along, especially when a group of shiny, happy people all join in on that delicious “sha la la la la la” chorus, smiling and harmonizing and not caring about how you might sound. Because we all need more of that in our lives, little stretches of time where we just let go and we don’t worry about anything for at least five minutes.

Cheers.

P.S. I know this is a very short list, conforming as I did to the “five-item limit” I do with these Sunday in the Park bits, so there are many more ditties out there worthy of mention. What songs would you suggest? Scroll down and get to clicking. (Yes, I’m openly pandering for interaction, something I don’t normally do. But I’ve been to Spain now, and I kinda like the music…)

 

26 replies »

  1. “After my bit of a diatribe on Friday, wherein I railed against the political and social aspects of this world that really irk the hell out of me, I thought it best to calm down a notch and post something light-hearted and innocuous that would only offend those who seek validation in being offended. And here we go…”
    “Only offend those that seek validation in being offended?”
    What say you sir?
    I really hate to say this, but you are brilliant. I know, I know, it sounds like a complement, which I, like you probably, tend to distrust, although fortunately, it’s also true.
    Write on~

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thanks, Cindy! Your comments always crack me up AND make me feel inordinately special, which briefly cracks my jaded veneer. Of course, we can’t have this happening TOO often or I’ll lose my street cred… 😉

      Like

  2. 1 & 2 – Yes. I also have a soft (grief period spot) for Eltons’ “This train doesn’t stop there anymore”.
    Queen – “Bohemian Rhapsody” (obviously) – everyone should know how to sing that at the top of their voices, and another that I think is just fantastic is “The Prophets Song” – well, actually most of the old stuff from Queen is great to sing along to.
    Oh, and anything (except for 1 album) by Melissa Etheridge, just too many excellent songs to name them all.
    Too many great Aussie bands to name, but lots of the old stuff (late 70s, 80s) are fantastic to bellow out. Paul Kelly – “before too long”, “darling it hurts”, and on and on.
    Gosh, I haven’t thought about music for so, so (years and years) long, now I think I need to start playing it in my car again. There is something really liberating about belting out a tune when no-one else can hear all the bum notes you hit, and you can let your inner emotion off the leash.
    Thanks for making me think about it again.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yep, I knew I was going to leave out tons of good choices, but I made myself stop at five or I would have been typing for days. Elton is always good, although I prefer the earlier material. Queen the same. And Melissa Etheridge? I can’t believe I didn’t put her on the list, although it’s probably because my fave track from her keeps changing. (Current fave: “Indiana” from the “Fearless Love” album. It’s a great ride. I hope that’s not the one album you don’t really care for.) By the way, we went to see her in concert right after her cancer treatments, fulling understanding that she might not be quite at her best, all things considered. Instead, she rocked for over three hours without stopping. It was amazing and wonderful.

      Now, it sounds like I need to check out Paul Kelly. The name doesn’t ring a bell, but I may know the tunes and just not the name. Thank you for sharing, and I hope you do start playing music in your car again and bellowing away. (Fair disclosure: There are many times when I bellow in the car even when the music isn’t playing, despite me sounding like I might need medical attention.)

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hehe. Paul Kelly is an Aussie, don’t get him mixed up with the other Paul Kelly artist. He has had many bands, Paul Kelly and the Coloured Girls, Paul Kelly and the Messengers, Paul Kelly and the StormBoys and just plain Paul Kelly. I think he is a remarkable songwriter, his words get to me at a soul level. he may not be your taste, but all the more for me 🙂
        Melissa, what a woman. The album I don’t like is a “quiet” album, but can’t think of it’s name atm, but not that one.
        If there is one thing that may redeem the human race it is music (although, I guess that depends on individual taste too).
        Happy listening and bellowing Brian.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Oklahoma…n and gay? For real? I honestly didn’t realize that was even a possibility! LOL I’m kidding Brian! (god I hope I haven’t offended!…born and raised…I still live in SF…not that it gives me license to kid about such things…hmmm…maybe I should venture out…visit OK, perhaps I would be enlightened…) Anyway music is my lifeblood, I listen to it all day long…far too many songs to choose from…but…Back in Black ac/dc the entire album…I still hop around playing my air-guitar belting out the lyrics. Thank you for your post. I am enjoying reading your blog, you mix humor with seriousness. It’s great! Keep at it 🙂 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, I’m not offended at all, probably BECAUSE of the “Oklahoma and gay” angle. (You get a thick skin after a while.) You could visit Oklahoma if you feel moved, but I would strongly suggest that you have a helicopter on standy to whisk you out of there because it WILL get on your nerves after a while, possibly two seconds after you cross the state line. I love music as well. We have probably a thousand CDs stacked around this house, but we don’t really do the air guitar, instead choosing dance routines because, well, the gay thing. I’m glad you like the blog, and I really appreciate that you get the humor and seriousness mix. Some folks don’t. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I agree with Paradise, I sing it loud and proud. I had to stop listening to Meatloaf when I drive because sooner or later the song Bat Out of Hell would come on and I’d find myself speeding. Not good. I’d add some Springsteen to the list….so many to choose from.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah, Springsteen! The first one that comes to mind is “Born to Run” (Tramps like us!) but you’re right, there’s a big list there. And yes, I do have to moderate myself in the car sometimes or else there will be red and blue lights flashing in my rear-view mirror… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Well, five that come to the top of my head are:

    “Wild Night” – Van Morrison
    “Losing My Religion” – R.E.M.
    “Crocodile Rock” – Elton John
    “Listen to the Music” – Doobie Brothers
    “It’s a Heartache” – Bonnie Tyler

    There are definitely more, but it’s a massive list!
    XD

    Liked by 1 person

    • Great choices! I’m now realizing that this might need to be a blog series, with updates once a month or some such. Of course, I’ll probably completely forget about this idea by morning, but right now it sounds really stellar… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • ROFL – I know the feeling! I have to write down my good ideas at times, so that I don’t forget them…then, I have to rummage through the stacks of paper on my desk when I decide to write, but then I get distracted by other stuff – it’s such a chore, sometimes!
        XD

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Fairly certain my kiddos know all the words to “End of the World” – although they could be faking parts and I wouldn’t know. But the fact is, I’m quite proud of them. It’s not every parent who can boast they birthed TWO nihilists.
    As for me (normally I never admit this so soon in a relationship for fear of being ridiculed, but I’ve grown to trust you): I grow weak in the knees whenever I hear “Sundown” by Gordon Lightfoot. Oh, hell, probably anything by Gordon Lightfoot and I’m transported to a kinder, gentler time.
    Excuse me while I spend the next several hours on YouTube. *Sigh*

    Liked by 1 person

    • First, the “nihilists” comment was brilliant. Second, your trust in our relationship is well founded. If we can survive me calling you by the wrong name on our first date, we’re golden. Third, Gordon is aces, many fine selections there, but if I had to pick a fave I would go with a little ditty ’bout a ghost from a wishin’ well. Fourth, stop hogging all the bandwidth on YouTube… 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Duuuude! (per Bonnywood Manor, Pt 2)
    Karaokeeeeee!! You will totally nail every single last word of that song!! Annnd the Paradise baseball announcer part as well… which goes super duper fast, but does it really matter when you’re 3 sheets?
    Seriously… invest in a machine and a mic, throw a party, and have yourself the best time ever (with the worst hangover). But please take video… I’m dying to see the result, 😀 (I have taken video, but that’s a big “hell no” to the posting and viewing of the video)

    Liked by 1 person

      • LOL! Okay, you’re right, it was Part 2. (Kudos for the reference!) Yes, I plan to some day fully nail “End of the World”. It’s a life goal at this point. (Of course, it would help if I would just sit down and study the lyrics. Instead, I forget about study hour and suddenly the song is once again on and I’m trapped and unprepared.) And we actually have a karaoke machine, but it’s not the greatest one out there and the screen is hard to read and people get restless after two songs, so we usually end up winging it without mechanical assistance or any kind of lyrical accuracy whatsoever. And there will be no videos posted. Ever. Unless I’m three sheets and unsupervised…

        Liked by 1 person

  8. I honestly can’t stomach “Your Song” ever since that atrocity, “Moulin Rouge”. Having said that, pour me a few and I’ll happily belt out, “Someone Saved My Life Tonight” complete with weeping. Full marks for “Brown-Eyed Girl”.

    Brian, please help me with something; how does one pronounce your last name? This has me awake at nights with wondering. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Ah, I am also adept at the weeping, showing far more emotion than one should during the chorus of a song I have heard far too often to get that leaky about it. As for my last name, it goes something like this: “La”, as in “a note to follow so” as Julie Andrews advised us when she was traipsing around on a mountaintop with all those wretched children, “gee” as in “golly gee”, an expression of astonishment often heard during my rural Oklahoma upbringing, and (this is the tricky one) “ose”, as in “Glenn Close”, with a hard “o”, much like the hardness of the characters she often plays. And there you have it: La-gee-ose.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Thanks for the explanation. I sing in a choir and the “Solfege” scale that includes “La” strikes a chord with me.
        As a child, I enjoyed watching “TSOM”, but as an adult, I find it far too saccharine for my taste. I like the way you broke it all down for me with your witticisms. Perhaps I’ll find another word for you, and you can do the same. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      • Oh wow, you have confirmed what I learned just a couple of weeks ago. We had houseguests from overseas. She’s Italian and I asked her how to pronounce your name. Thanks. And thanks for the songs that are now running around in my head.

        Liked by 1 person

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