My husband asked me if it would be sexy if he learned the opening riff to “Sweet Child O’Mine” (Guns N Roses) on his electric guitar and, even though I tried to keep a cool exterior, my insides got all smushy and fluttery at the thought.
We were riding in the car at the time, so I gave a non-committal shrug. I mean, who gives someone that kind of power over them? I had to keep that to myself.
Until last night when, admittedly slightly buzzed from Christmas cocktails, I told him he should learn it because it makes me feel all…something inside.
“OH, REALLY?” he asked, eyebrows raised.
I probably blushed or maybe it was the space heater making my face all hot..anyway.
We listened to it again. Since J’s been learning guitar the last couple of years, I have a new appreciation for a lot of songs, because I listen to the guitar now, where I used to focus on the words.
We started talking about other songs with good beginnings. We played some of our favorites for each other. What I learned is that, while I can appreciate a good guitar riff, an original vocal intro and a sweet beat, the songs I picked, I picked because of the feelings I got, or the memories associated, with that intro. You know what I mean, right? You hear those first few notes and you think of the friend you miss or the trip you took or that sad time in your life.
I made a list of the songs we’d played. I listened to them again and added and removed. I tried to rank them one to ten and pick the top five. It was impossible, I barely narrowed it to ten. The songs are old, like me.
This is list, memories and all. (Yes, Kenny Rogers AND Linda Ronstadt, don’t judge!)
Sweet Child O’Mine, Guns N Roses
When I was fifteen I went on a church youth group trip to San Anotonio, TX, and while I will never forget the sound and feeling of twenty thousand youth in a stadium singing “Amazing Grace”, the best part of that trip were the dances the hotel hosted for us. We were 15-17, alive and full of life and the place went wild when the opening guitar began to play that song. The DJ would play the song multiple times a night, because it was requested over and over. We danced until we collapsed. When that guitar starts, I want to go wild. It comes back in stitches, your youth.
When Will I Be Loved, Linda Ronstadt
A former coworker of mine, Rob, brought me a Linda Ronstadt cd because he said my dismal and tragic love life reminded him of a song on the cd. The song was Dark End of the Street but I liked the whole cd. I especially like the beginning of this song. The way she belts it out with feeling before the music starts. (I BEEN CHEATED, BEEN MISTREATED) I cannot tell you how many times in my car, to and from work, I belted this song out with her. My love life was dismal, after all, which you would think would make me not want to remember the feelings with the song, but there are actually different ones now.
This song will forever remind me of riding in the car to Michigan vacation with the family, my nephew and daughter with me. We played this song over and over, Bunny and I both liking to belt it out with feeling, while my nephew complained and refused to sing along.
But later that summer, at a local festival we were all at, the band played this song and my nephew turned around and said “SISSY!” (that’s me) and he sang along every single word at the top of his lungs. It will forever be an inside joke for the three of us, and when I hear it I feel a lot of things. Love for my family, happiness at the memory of the three of us singing, but also I feel happy my love life is no longer dismal.
Love Will Turn You Around- Kenny Rogers
Shut up I love Kenny Rogers! My husband likes to tease me and say things like, “You can call me Kenny tonight if you want, just this once,” when I make him listen to a Kenny cd but secretly he likes it and will even sing Kenny Rogers songs by the campfire with me from time to time. There is no one memory I associate with Kenny, he has been woven into my life like a thread since age seven, but this song starts with a sweet guitar strum and then his voice. Oh, his voice. (Sigh)
Fire Down Below, Bob Seger
I was too young for Bob Seger, but his most popular songs were familiar to me, even if I didn’t know who sang them. Then one night, laying in bed, in the dark, my husband sang, Turn the Page by Bob. Pro tip, if you want a girl to swoon and you don’t play guitar just sing this song, in the dark, in bed to her. I immediately ordered a Bob Seger cd so I could obsessively listen to that song over and over. It’s not a love song, but when he sings “remembering what she said” you forget. After listening to the greatest hits I have a lot of favorites, but the into to Fire Down Below wins, and even though it’s not THE song, when I hear it I remember why I love Bob Seger.
The Way You Make Me Feel, Michael Jackson
I didn’t love Michael when he was all that. I was a country fan, so his hair starting on fire and the thriller dance were things that happened in the background that I paid little attention to. Then he died, and my daughter, an empath to her core, cried and cried. I was bewildered, because I didn’t raise her on MJ. We went to see the “This Is It,” movie and I found myself afterward a fan. I downloaded all the favorite MJ songs and they became my walking songs. Since I was a single mom, most of my walking at that time took place after bedtime, in the dark. You can strut to a Michael Jackson. Hold your head up in confidence and stride to the beat. When this song opens I find myself with more swagger than I had a minute ago. (Big dick energy?) I am the woman who will walk alone, out on the street, in the dark. I am not afraid, I will not be cowed. RAWR!
Round Here, Counting Crows
I never heard of the Counting Crows until my new boyfriend J bought a greatest hits cd. I borrowed it for two weeks and then determined I should get my own. We listened to it so much that our kids hated it, we learned the words to all the songs and felt all the feelings. The whole cd reminds me of falling in love more every day, but this song is beautiful and poignant and I often rewind it to hear the beginning again.
I saw Pretty Woman 18 times in the theater, and I’ve lost count of how many times since then. I like a good fairytale and at 18 this story was a dream to me. When Vivian is in the bath with her headphones on singing this song and Edward gets THAT LOOK. Girls love that look. One time, when J and I were first dating and at a buffet in Vegas, I took a rock hard wrapped pat of butter and stuck it under my leg to soften it up, and J got THAT LOOK.
He said, “You’re sitting on your butter?” and chuckled a little and then added, “I just want you to know that whatever happens, it’s been really fun getting to know you.”
When this song starts I think about Edward and J, and THE LOOK.
I Want Your Sex, George Michael
It’s just a really sweet dance beat, when the bass kicks in. Plus there is something inherently naughty in this song (I guess all the sex?) and I remember being embarrassed if it came on the radio when my parents were around. But years later, when I ordered the cd, I was over it. When the bass kicks in, something’s gets me inside. I’m not sure what it is, but I like it.
Shook Me All Night Long, AC/DC
That two songs made my list from the age of 15 is probably telling, but whose coming of age years did not influence them greatly? What I remember when I hear this song open are garage house parties, kegs of beer, and a lot of air guitar. I mean A LOT of air guitar. (Shakes head) Boys.
Baby’s Got Her Blue Jeans On, Mel McDaniels
I told you I was raised on country! When I was a young, single mom of an infant, my mom took pity on me and asked my younger sister if she would take me out for a drink, while she watched the baby. My sister and her boyfriend obliged, also inviting my dad and another friend. It turned out I needed way more than one drink, and also, apparently, needed to hear this song over and over. We played it so many times on the juke box that it was only us left in the dinky bar, and we closed it down. The night ended with my future brother in law having to take me home for my breast pump at one am (pump and dump), my sister sleeping with her head in the shower and my dad sleeping in the RV. All in all a good time was had by all, but my sister gets really mad if you bring up the shower incident so mum’s the word.
So there they are. They are not the greatest hits of all time, they are probably not the best musicians or the most meaningful songs, but they are the some of the favorite memories of my life. I could go on with the soundtrack of my life, and by the end you would have the whole story, but I think ten is good for now.
Enjoy, happy holidays,