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Tag Archives: music

2018, as interpreted through my Spotify “Top Songs” playlist or “Barry Manilow ain’t never lied to you”

by SweetMidlife

There’s a lot to be said about the year 2018, other than “over.” Some would call it a 365-day-long dumpster fire. The more optimistic among us might say it’s the necessary sink to the bottom to inspire a conscientious climb back to a better world.

As a lifelong journalist who believes that looking at hard cold data – also known as the receipts – is an important gauge of where we were at particular moments in time, because memory is spotty and also we lie to ourselves sometimes to obscure our dumbassness. When Spotify, the popular music streaming platform, compiled a playlist of the songs I listened to the most in 2018, it seemed an intriguing way to chart where I was emotionally during the year. Music, after all, is more than just a collection of notes we like bopping to, although it certainly can be that. The songs I had on repeat, I figured, meant something to me, soothed or riled or tickled something in my chest. And Spotify doesn’t lie – I can try to be cool and current with the Top Hits of NewNextNow or whatever it is, but I’d imagine the average release date of my playlists songs is 1987. Whatever. I ain’t ashamed. Bring on the Anne Murray weepers and get it over with.

“Oh No,” The Commodores: I had this, my favorite melodramatic Lionel Richie-esque weeping-into-power ballad, on a playlist I’d made during a brief dumb dating situation the previous year because it was fun to listen to while I was happy. Once the dumbness abated and I was no longer happy with that person but working towards being happy not being with them, it was fun to belt out in the Palm Beach Post parking lot while procrastinating getting out of the car and going to work already. Sometimes wallowing is healing.

Uptown Girl,” Billy Joel: I am not the biggest Amy Schumer fan. Not by a lot. But her rom-com “Trainwreck” has earned its sweet, cynical way onto my go-to list of movies I put on while writing, because it’s well-written, funny, and features the instant classic comic pairing of Bill Hader and Lebron James. And any film that (SPOILER ALERT!) finds its final romantic reconciliation in a cheerleading routine set to “Uptown Girl” earns my love, because Schumer’s character has previously expressed scorn for both cheerleading AND “Uptown Girl.” But she participates in said routine, set to said song, because the love of her life loves those things and she knows love means sacrifice. I love that song, and I love being reminded of the hope that someone could love me, maybe, that much again.

“Here Comes Your Man,” The Pixies: Part of good parenting is making sure that your kid is exposed to good music, so if one day his taste sucks you can at least be sure it’s not for lack of trying. This here song was on a bank commercial, and my son was attempting to recreate it from his booster seat perch in back of my Prius. So I cued up the song and watched his little eyes light up. “MOMMY!” he squealed. “THAT’S OUR SONG!” Yes, my darling, it is. I win…something.

“Freedom Hymn,” Austin French: I share a Spotify account with the aforementioned kid, who likes to fall asleep to a playlist that is almost entirely composed of Contemporary Christian tunes and Andy Grammar. He’s a spiritual, mellow 5-year-old, I guess. I admit that I don’t listen to this stuff a lot if he’s not in the room, because some of it seems monotonous, but this is one of Brooks’ favorites. I don’t know what he likes about it, but I love the concept of it, that we fight against the wisdom that we know makes us free, if we just surrender to it. Me and God have had an interesting run through this morass of loss I’ve fought through, so remembering that He’s there is a big deal for me. Thanks for the song suggestion, Kid.

“No More Lonely Nights,” Paul McCartney: When Linda McCartney died, I heard a DJ explain that this song was written by Paul about the one night they ever spent apart from the night they got together until the day she died (I think he’d been detained for trying to take hashish through an airport.) I stumbled on this, a favorite of mine since 1984, and I remembered that story and started to cry, because it reminded me of every night I spent apart from my husband in the 5 1/2 years we were married, and the nights forever I’ll have to spend without him. And…it didn’t break me. The more I listened to that song this year, the more I could relish those amazing moments we shared and wish we had more without wanting to curl into a fetal ball and roll into a corner. I just let it be. And yes I’m very clever.

“Stomp!” The Brothers Johnson: It’s my go-to running song, inspired by its place on a playlist from my favorite step class in 1995 at York, Pa.’s Unique Physique. The teacher timed the “Everybody take it to the top” part for moments when we were up on the bench grooving. And it was glorious. And that bass line is some funky business.

“Brokenhearted Me,” Anne Murray: For some reason, the more I listen to this anthem of well-considered wallowing, the more it sounds like a John Legend song to me. Can’t you hear him hovering over the sad piano, leaning into the lyrics of self-acknowledged inability to move on? Can’t you just imagine him tackling the wide-eyed misery of lines like “A million miracles won’t ever stop the pain?” I can! And I like sitting in my car and imagining John and Anne just wailing and making a cross-generational selection of fans weep? Me too!

“Taking Chances,” Celine Dion and “Ready To Take A Chance Again,” Barry Manilow: You know those BuzzFeed quizzes that ask you what your mantra or theme song is? These two are my mantras for 2018 and 2019 and maybe forever, because they’re what I need to embrace about my life and my career. I used to think of them both romantically, but – and bare with me, because this is a whole mood – I am now at a point in journalism where the industry I still love is imploding even as we try to beat back the shards with new tactics but solid intention. Since July 1993, I have never paid my bills as anything but a newspaper journalist, and never imagined I would, honestly. But the reality is that this may not be available for me forever, and as I begin my journey as an author, while still kicking butt for my paper, I have to be brave enough to imagine what happens one day if things change. Also, I have always worked for someone else. Three of my dearest loves are ladies who run their own businesses, who took a chance, who, as Celine sings, jumped off the edge, never knowing if there’s solid ground below, or a hand to hold, or hell to pay. I’m not there yet. But I’m working on it. What do you say?

Song you have to help me stop singing: “Your Lips Are Moving” by Meghan Trainor

by SweetMidlife

Get. It. Out.

Get. It. Out.

Leslie here! You know the term “ear worm,” that means a song that you just can’t get out of your head because it’s burrowed itself into your brain so deep that you can’t untangle it from your gray matter? Why do those things tend to be really annoying? Why are they songs you don’t even like all that much? Why why why why?

The latest audible irritation to worm its way into my head is “You Lips Are Moving,” a Meghan Trainor pop thingee that’s currently featured in ABC’s promos for its summer show “The Astronaut Wives’ Club.” I guess it’s because the show is set in the ’60s, and the song, although current, has that same “bop-sho-wop” vibe that pretty much all of Trainor’s hits do. If it ain’t broke, I guess…

When I first saw the ad, I assumed they were just playing the appropriately retro instrumental parts, but then I heard Trainor’s boppy, drawling voice singing “I know you’re lyin’, your lips are moo-vahn…” and thus began the worming. I don’t get it. First of all, I no like that song. It’s twee, and not even in a fun way, at least not to me. Also, this show is supposed to be about ordinary women thrust onto the national stage because their hero husbands were literally venturing into space. This is about bravery and celebrity and how life changes in an instant. It is NOT about people who are so snaky that you know they’re lying because their lips are moving. Hey, promo people…WORDS MEAN THINGS. And when the words associated with your show are about snaky lying liars, and your show is about the opposite…well, fire whoever picked that song.


Be a Better (Spouse/Friend): So You’ll Have to Say You Love Them With a Song

by SweetMidlife

Hey, Lynne here. People spend lots of money on things that say they care. Like flowers, and candy, and dinner, and jewelry, and mashed potatoes. Well, the last one is what my husband buys me for a treat, because I am down with the spuds.  And all of these things rock, but there is a fun, fun creative way to say what you need to say, and it’s free! And I am always down with free.  Say it with a song!! Most people love music, and it touches people in a way that few other things do. It can help bring back memories, invoke a mood, and communicate your sentiments with the help of professional songwriters!  So, here’s what we suggest…..

You could:

A.  Pick up a phone, wait for your sweetie or friend or parent-type person to pick up, and sing a song that it special to you two, or has special meaning for them.  Like maybe it was your first dance at your wedding, or the song you used to ride around to in high school, or it’s your the song your Mom sang to you and your sister when you were kids. It could be anything. And who cares if you can’t sing?  This is about the feeling, and heartfelt caterwauling is better than perfect pitch belting with no oomph or warmth.  


B. Get all fancy with it and go to You Tube, find the perfect song, and share it on the person’s Facebook page, or send it in an e-mail.  You get the music, plus something to look at.  And seriously, if someone sent me, let’s say, the video to “The Right Stuff” by New Kids on The Block”, how much MORE fun would it be to have the video too, so you can so the dance along with it!!

So, think about what that special person means to you, brainstorm what song matches that, and go with the feeling and get your music on.  And hey, if you try this, we would love to hear what song you picked, and how it went. Happy music-ing!!

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