Blog: The Playlist, Part One

(originally written 5/5/15)

Whenever a little motivation is needed, or spirits need to be lifted, I just fire up I-Tunes, sit back, and absorb. Within 30 minutes, the world is mine. Anything feels possible, and any problems go straight to the backburner without passing Go or collecting $200.

 

Radio used to have similar power, but 92% of today's music is, well, execrable, and there aren't nearly enough 80's tunes to balance it out anymore. (Yes, yes, I know about Sirius. Not willing to pay for music.) So last month I officially joined the year 2006 by investing in a car MP3 player. No more sitting through Jack Johnson or Bieber...ever!!

 

As hinted at above, 1980's tunes are my preferred choice—though I do enjoy plenty of music from 1990-2013, it always comes back to Genesis, Michael Jackson, Duran Duran, etc...even Cyndi Lauper. My library consists about 2,100 songs, a great many with a story, memory or special affection attached.

 

Share a few, you ask? Sure, why not.

 

 

  • Always Something There To Remind Me, Naked Eyes - In 2010, driving our rented ride from New York City back to our D.C.  hotel with my now-ex and baby Josie, I sung along to every song on the Sirius 80's station to keep awake during the three-hour ride...including this one. For some reason, Honeybunny was inspired to sincerely and sweetly say "I love you" twice. A nice moment. Six weeks later, our relationship ended in ugly fashion. Should have kept singing.

 

  • Amazed, Lonestar - Not the country version or even the pop version. K101/Star (101.3 FM in the SF Bay Area) used to play an up-tempo remix unavailable in stores, online, anywhere. Not having heard the song in ages and with zero to lose, I took a shot and emailed Star about acquiring an MP3. They shockingly obliged! That first day I listened to it about 10 times and got sick of it. Figures.

 

  • Angel, Lionel Richie - It is tragic that much of today's generation only knows him as the father of the hideous Nicole, or that most people think he is dead. His career did die for a period, but he busted out some good tunes in the early 2000's that never got enough credit. "Angel" is one of them—it's a more contemporary sound than vintage Lionel, but no less quality.

 

  • Bad Boys, Inner Circle - It's always fun to pass by a cop with this song blaring out the window. Whatcha gonna do?

 

  • Beat It, Michael Jackson - I have my young daughter convinced that Michael Jackson really stopped those two rival gangs in the video from ripping each other apart, and somehow got them to all dance together in unison. I'm such a bastard for that.

 

  • Because I Love You, Stevie B - Don't ask why. This song reminds me of Three's Company. Even though it came out seven years after that show ended. Same with "Do It To Me" by Lionel Richie. Stupid brain.

 

  • Billie Jean, Michael Jackson - In the video, the two girls on the billboard FREAKED ME OUT when they came to life. Still do, kind of.

 

  • Candle In The Wind, Elton John - A tribute song to Marilyn Monroe performed live. During the second verse, the crowd begins applauding for absolutely no clear reason—I always assumed a photo of Marilyn had gone up in the auditorium. One day I watched the video and it turned out the audience lit candles in unison, triggering the cheers. Evidently, Elton had no clue this would happen and he was obviously surprised, but stayed on course. 

 

  • Crash And Burn, Savage Garden - Underrated song from about 2001 that nobody plays anymore; always takes me back to my college days. Specifically, a night that I suggested going to this billiards hall I knew of not far from campus—it turned out to be a loud, rotten choice, and my buddies never let me choose our after-school activity again. Good times.

 

  • Crazy, Gnarls Barkley (lead vocals by Cee Lo Green) - When this song came out, my friend Eddie became obsessed with it, singing it non-stop and repeatedly insisting everybody else listen to it. Most of us were expecting a letdown, but it turned out to be good listening.

 

  • Dancin' On The Ceilin', Lionel Richie - One night in 1999, I listened to this song 14 times in a row, out of pure enjoyment. I could have used a job back then. Or a car. Or a girlfriend.

 

  • Dead And Gone, T.I. - Along with "Just Dance" by Lady Gaga, this reminds me of my grim Stockton tenure; both songs debuted around the same time I moved there. I remember driving the bus out there and hearing these tunes on the radio every...single...hour. Good thing I liked them, or else that bus was going into a river.

 

  • Don't Let Go, En Vogue - When Movin 99.7 (currently 99.7 NOW) hit the airwaves in '06, a litany of forgotten 90's groups/songs briefly regained popularity—En Vogue being one such group. This always takes me back to my temporary '07 Google stint where I drove a shuttle bus around their campus over...and over....and over again while their parking lot was converted to solar. One day, not long after this aired, a sudden coughing fit made me puke out the bus door onto Shoreline Blvd...with a passenger on board. Hey, the song said "Don't Let Go", Skillz...

 

  • Don't Let Me Get Me, Pink - No story here. It's just one of my favorite non-80s songs. Sorry if you expected more.

 

  • Don't You Forget About Me, Simple Minds - On our many camping trips around century's turn, my buddies and I would get wasted, put our arms around each other, and sing along to this while kicking our legs Rockettes-style. A part of me believes we'd have done that even without the booze, sadly.

 

  • Dont'cha, The PussyCat Dolls (the version sans rapper) - The vocals remind me of this chick named "Jana" who I messed around with for a few weeks back in 2002 (until I found out I was little more than a taxi/ATM hybrid to her.) The lead singer and she look nothing alike, they sound nothing alike. The song came out well after we met, and well after we last had contact. Why the reminder? She was the type of woman described in the lyrics—one to enjoy seducing a guy away from his girl. She sure did with me. But I'm not here to talk about the past.

 

  • Downtown Train, Rod Stewart - If there's any other song as equally depressing and upbeat as this one, I haven't heard it. And neither have you cuz it doesn't exist.

 

  • Dreaming Of You, Selena - Not to be confused with Selena Gomez; this is the young singer murdered by her manager in 1995. Part of the chorus used to annoy me—"And there's nowhere in the world I'd rather be than dreaming of you, endlessly." Uh...wouldn't you rather actually be with him somewhere in the world? And nobody could call on her on this foible because she was conveniently dead when the song was released. 

 

  • Easy Lover, Phil Collins/Philip Bailey - Great 80's song. Bailey, if you don't know, was the lead singer of Earth, Wind and Fire. At the end of this song he begins screaming the lyrics maniacally ("YOU WON'T FEEEEEL IT!!!"). Don't play this one around young kids. They may have nightmares.

 

More to come...