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BY Simcha Fisher
It’s not that I have anything against Burl Ives. “The Wayfaring Stranger” is a very fine album, and I’m happy to have exposed my children to the rich smorgasbord of folk music Mr. Ives shares with us.
On the other hand, I now have a DIN tool. With it, I intend to pry the entire stereo out of my van, because it’s become clear that that’s the only way I’m going to get Burl Ives to come out. Someone pushed a little too hard (on the cassette tape, I mean, although there is no lack of other kinds of pushiness around here), and the tape has been stuck in the tape deck for close to four months now.
Well, there comes a time in a woman’s life when she simply does not wish to hear “Hey willy-wallacky, how John Dougal, a lane quo rooshety roo roo roo” any more.
I’m looking over my other music, thinking about old albums I haven’t heard for a long time. Some of them are pretty forgettable (did I really pay money for the Spin Doctors’ second album?), but others have been floating around in my memory all these years. Little fragments of songs bob to the surface, called up by the events of my daily life.
Here’s one from Paul Simon’s outstanding album, Rhythm of the Saints. I don’t know what the song is really about, other than a devastatingly elegant and icy snapshot of cultural dissociative disorder—but the hook, “I can’t run, but I can walk much faster than this, cannot run but” comes to me pretty often, and it eggs me on:
Also a great line, which reminds me of this “I’m spiritual, not religious” nonsense: “The music suffers, but the music business thrives.”
From the other end of the emotional spectrum, we have Billie Holiday in one of her more gleeful performances. If “Can’t Run But” is the sound of a free-floating soul trying to find some anchor, Holiday’s “Ooo, ooo, ooo, what a little moonlight can do!” is what the body says when it has no problem right where it is.
But, the poor thing - look at that dress they made her wear.
Next we have an anthem for the postpartum woman, especially one whose very healthy child engages in what is known as “cluster feeding”:
I couldn’t find it on YouTube, but you can click here to hear the clever song “I Need a Doctor” with the handy line, “I used to hard as candy, but I’ve been sucked on too long.” Heh heh. The Nields are pretty good.
Or how about when you’ve had five hours of sleep, spent four hours doing housework, need to make snacks for three different classroom parties, have two kids hanging on your legs, and you ask ONE little thing (I believe it was, “Please put a slice of potato in the cricket cage so they won’t get dehyrdated before your frog eats them”) and what do they do? They COMPLAIN!
(Warning: super creepy images.)
“If you complain once more, you’ll meet an army of me!” Good one, Björk.
Or let’s say, hypothetically speaking, that it’s almost time to leave for school and your tween daughter is near tears because her hair looks “bumpy.” She may not even know it herself, but you know that what she’s really afraid of is that she is bumpy, that the world is bumpy, and no amount of diffusing hair dryers will make the world silky and manageable. You want to tell her tenderly,
“Any major dude with half a heart surely would tell you, my friend:
Any minor world that breaks apart falls together again.”
Of course no Mother’s Daybook Soundtrack would be complete without the Beastie Boys, with their all purpose observation:
“Well I think I’m losing my mind this time
This time I’m losing my mind
That’s right, said I think I’m losing my mind this time
This time I’m losing my mind.”
(Warning: for crying out loud, it’s the Beastie Boys, and this is the National Catholic Register. The Beastie Boys. By pressing “play,” you officially waive any right to put an angry comment in the comment box.)
So now you know what’s in my head, not that you asked. What’s making you hum a little tune today? You can borrow my DIN tool when I’m done with it, if you want.