My ipod connector malfunctioned, which means I am forced to listen to radio or CDs in my car. I don’t bother with the radio. I couldn’t even tell you the title of a current song. Instead, I prefer my own music collection, which is now reduced to a format that can carry about 16 or 17 songs (yes, it’s a single disk player). I know—I’m so deprived, but somehow I’m getting by.
During the holidays I kept Winter Wonderland by Earl Grant on permanent rotation. This was provided to me by my best friend. You won’t find any “official” CDs as it was produced on vinyl, and then cassette, but it never made the jump to CD. This is a shame. The first time I heard this, I was listening to her first bootleg copy, on tape (in the days when it was unheard of to burn a CD) and stuck in traffic northbound on Highway 1. The only thing keeping me from not losing it was this tape. Hilarity ensued. Who would think to add in a jazzy accompaniment to the otherwise rudimentary sounding Jingle Bells? Who would play a opening beat that conjures up images of wild hogs rooting through the forest (at least in my warped mind) to “The Little Drummer Boy?” Earl Grant, that’s who. Everybody should experience Christmas songs interpreted with flourish and flair via jazz organ, piano, soulful humming and/or Nate King Cole-esque singing. To those who have not heard this album before, check it out. Unfortunately Mr. Grant is no longer with us; I think he had quite a few more gems in him that we will never get to witness.
The other day I ejected Earl from the player (Christmas has 12 days and isn’t really over yet, I know, but keep in mind I have been listening to these holiday songs for about 2 weeks straight at this point) and pulled another from my glove box. “Ooooh, Pure Moods,” I thought, taking a quick glance before I inserted the disc. Enya and the X Files theme are always worth a chuckle or two, but my eyes had fooled me. It was not my Pure moods CD (which is probably buried in my Case Logic CD holder), it was in fact, Paul Simon. I wasn’t in the mood for “Me and Julio Down in the Schoolyard” so I ejected the disk and grabbed another one. It was my “GO 80’s” CD—excellent choice. This compilation includes some of the more well known songs, like 99 Red Balloons, The Safety Dance, and Girls Just Wanna Have Fun. It also has an Eddy Grant song(the other Mr. Grant. Who knew I could come up with a post mentioning not one, but two E. Grants?). This song is titled “Gimme Hope, Joanna” which, cleverly enough is not about a girl (We have Kool and the Gang to cover that), but Johannesburg during the years of Apartheid. The young kids will hear that and think “What?” but us old ‘uns will get it.
I skipped some of the songs (do you remember trying to do this with cassettes—if you didn’t like the entire album you were screwed. Fast forward—oops, too far—rewind—oops, crappy song again). Yesterday morning, though, I hit one of the unfavorites, “We Built This City.” Don’t tell me you don’t know that one. It’s by Starship, which is the group formerly known as Jefferson Starship that was formerly known as Jefferson Airplane. Can someone please tell me what the hell this song is about besides vague and sinister "Corporation Games?" (Depeche Mode did it better with "Everything Counts") I remember riding in the car listening to the dreaded radio when my dad, who was driving, heard the lyrics and declared “This is a DUMB song.” And it still is, but knowing that, I let it play out, thinking, why not revel in the glorious badness of it all? Behind the shield of my tinted windows, I sang what I remembered of the lyrics. Most of the words came right back to me. And yet, I remember pretty much nothing from the two college semesters of Russian (or pretty much anything else I spent numerous hours of my life learning). Funny how that works. Maybe if I had learned these things with the aid of heavily synthesized repetitive lyrics, my brain would have held onto them longer.