It’s been a few months since I’ve done a fresh Clam Bake, and since I’ve got one eye on the weather (wretched storms, once again), I thought it best to revive this series. This allows me to scribble short snippets, slap a music video into the narrative, and then run check the local NBC TV affiliate to determine if I need to grab Cleo the Cat and throw our asses in the sub-basement. (Dirt floor, can’t fully stand up, spiders. Yay!) Such is life in Texas during the spring months.
So, here we go…
The first music video doesn’t really have a story to go with it, somewhat negating my opening paragraph. I just like the song. It’s one of those tunes that, whenever it happens to play wherever I happen to be, puts me in a good mood. The lyrics are actually a little dark (as is the video), and I’m not a religious person, so that angle isn’t what speaks to me. It’s just that the words and the musical arrangement and the vocal performance come together in just the right way.
This next song is one that I’ve babbled about several times before, most notably in a post found here, with said post being the result of a visit to the Catedral de Málaga. I’ve liked the song since it first came out many decades ago, but when the lyrics popped in my head whilst I stood in the vast open space of the cathedral, I now associate the song with Spain and travel and opportunities and seizing the day. (I purposely chose a video that is a bit fuzzy, because choices are often that way, blurry and elusive.)
Speaking of choices and regrets and hindsight, the next selection spoke to me strongly upon its release, and it still does. It came out at a time when I was going through a personal situation that bordered on overwhelming, and even though our stories were different, Josh’s vocals gave me a quiet, melancholic peace. It’s often not about the actual words but rather the evocation of emotion. That happens quite nicely here.
Since I just did a piece on Barbra Streisand several posts ago, she’s obviously been on my mind lately. It’s a bit of an understatement to say that she’s had quite a few hits in her career, but when someone is as prolific as she has been, some of the treasures fall through the cracks of time.
This cover of a Laura Nyro song (and if you aren’t aware of Laura, you should be) was initially over my head when first released (I was six, sue me). But it eventually spoke to me, as I struggled with my conservative Oklahoma upbringing, especially the lyric “I was raised on the Good Book Jesus, until I read between the lines”. I had so many questions, yet no one around me wanted to answer them.
Finally, we have another song that I’ve most likely babbled about previously, but I’ll set the scene: In May of 1985, I dropped out of college after my sophomore year, in the midst of a life-direction quandary, complicated by the intense homophobia in Tulsa at that time. I just wanted to be somewhere else, anywhere, I just wasn’t sure of the destination. (During this reflective period, wherein I had to earn a living instead of earn a diploma, I was in dire need of finances, and this is when my part-time job at Quik-Trip became full-time, thus leading to the “What’s Love Got to Do with It” story series that some of you long-time Bonnywood guests may remember.)
Eventually, I met up with what I thought was a kindred soul (he later turned out to be a psychopath, but I’ll tell that story some other time) and we made plans to escape Tulsa and the crushing power of right-wingers who live to destroy difference. We eventually decided that Dallas was the place to be (They have a gay ghetto! Yay!) and we made a preliminary trip there to secure an apartment and whatnot, giddy with excitement.
In January of 1986, the psychopath and I loaded up our meager belongings and headed south, much later in the day than we had planned, because packing up all your crap, regardless of the meager aspect, takes time. Right as we crossed the Red River, the border between Oklahoma and Texas, the clock on the dashboard crossed midnight, clicking the date from January 25 to January 26. It was now officially my 21st birthday. Just then, the following song came on the radio.
It was a perfect moment of hope and possible redemption.
Little did I know that the long remainder of 1986 would prove to be the most demoralizing period in my life, ever. (Another story, another time.) You win some, you lose some, but certain songs will always take you back to a brief moment when all was right, all was good, and you could read between the lines.
Categories: The Journey