Sunday, November 13, 2005


So, I was walking back from Value Village today and the last half of Abbey Road came on my iPod. It was perfect. I was thinking about what a huge impact this album has - not upon the music world, but on the people who hear it. I realize that's not really clarifying: what I mean is, my reaction and my brother's reaction and Stefan's reaction to this album. It's unmistakeable, like Shakespeare or Vermeer - some things are just pure quality.
I remember exactly where I was when I first heard "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" (off the A side of Abbey Road, ya philistines). I was in my room late one winter night - this must have been January, February. I was at my desk doing homework, listening to the CD on headphones. It was pitch black outside and I felt completely isolated. It seemed like the end of the song would go on forever. It's extremely evocative; I always think I'm hearing wind but there's nothing like that there. (I think. I have no wish to be corrected. It would ruin the effect for me to know how that song was constructed.)
Basically, it got me to thinking about our relationships with music. The first Beatles song I can remember hearing is "Yellow Submarine", because it was so different and silly. Just a week or so ago, I was in the car with my aunt and her boyfriend listening to an Elvis CD when "Return to Sender" came on. I remember that song nearly word-for-word from when I first heard it, which has to have been more than 10 years ago now. I thought about it over the years and I never knew it was Elvis.
And then I started thinking about categorizing songs about their effects on us. There are some songs that are unbelievably, undeniably powerful to me. Just for the fun of it, five off the top of my head are, in no particular order:
  1. "Rhapsody in Blue", George Gershwin
  2. "I Want You (She's So Heavy)", The Beatles
  3. "Feeling Good", Michael Buble (yes, I prefer it to "Home", partly for obvious reasons but partly because he just sounds like honey)
  4. "Needle in the Hay", Elliott Smith
  5. "Carol of the Bells", basically any version, even the one with Metallica, but in particular the a capella version from the West Wing episode "Noel"

However. This isn't about the greatest songs of all time. I realized a while ago that there are some songs that define me. Not who I want to be or what I think would be cool: no. As much as I love those songs, I do not live a "Take Me Out" or a "Paint it Black" or even a "Baba O'Reilly" life. No, I'm defined by . . . Great Big Sea. How Canadian of me. But not the fun-loving, hard-drinking rowdiness of "I'm a Rover" or even the delicate, loving misery of "Boston and St. John's". Nope, it's "Consequence Free". Sigh.

Oh, you haven't heard the song? No, of course not, despite the fact that to fulfill any more CanCon requirements it'd have to be a poutine-eating, plaid shirt-wearing, employed-by-the-government beaver singing that boom-diddya-dah song, Great Big Sea gets almost zero radio play. (Note that I refrained from making some mean comment about Nickelback's seeming monopoly on CanCon. No sirree.) OK, here are the lyrics:

Wouldn't it be great, if no one ever got offended
Wouldn't it be great to say what's really on your mind
I have always said 'all the rules are made for bending'
And if I let my hair down, would that be such a crime?

I wanna be consequence free
I wanna be where nothing needs to matter
I wanna be consequence free
just sing Na Na Na Na Na Ne Na Na Na

I could really use, to lose my Catholic conscience
Cuz I'm getting sick of feeling guilty all the time
I won't abuse it, Yeah I've got the best intentions
For a little bit of anarchy but not the hurting kind


I couldn't sleep at all last night
cause I had so much on my mind
I'd like to leave it all behind,
but you know it's not that easy


Wouldn't it be great, if the band just never ended
We could stay out late and we would never hear last call
We wouldn't need to worry about approval or permission,
we could - slip off the edge and never worry about the fall


"A little bit of anarchy but not the hurting kind"? Sheesh. I ask you, do KISS fans have such dilemmas? I don't want to rock and roll all night and party every day. I can't function without my 8 hours of sleep. And what about diet? You're not even going to have time to nuke a burrito, let alone make a stir-fry. Forget about brushing your teeth. And how exactly are you going to finance all this partying?

ANYWAYS. Clearly, I'm not exactly delighted with the song that describes me. But that doesn't stop it from fitting me to a T. So what I want is feedback. Do you guys have a song that fits you, even if you don't want it to? Comment, or make an absurdly long, wandering post on the subject in your blog.

And by the way, the two runners-up to "Consequence Free"? "You Can't Always Get What You Want", by the Rolling Stones, and then "Carry That Weight" by the Beatles. Make of that what you will.


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