A Collaborative Pick Six - Most memorable songs

Friday, July 01, 2011
The Effing Bear is turning 21 this weekend. When Madpoet and I were discussing gifts we decided to give him something from our youth…a novel that had an effect on us in some way that was memorable.
Somehow during a discussion on music this turned into a chat about which songs have had a lasting effect on us over the years. It was then that Madpoet, El Kaiser Guapo and I decided to collaborate on the Friday pick six. Today we give you six songs that meant something to us.

Di’s picks:
1. “Mother” Pink Floyd. This might be a little deep for the blog, but The Wall was one of those albums that, when it came out, was life altering. I listened to it over and over, and have listened to it dozens of times since. It was meaningful, it was deep, it seemed to speak to all of the big holes in my life at the time. I guess you had to be there. But this song in particular stuck with me over the years. When I first heard it, I never even dreamed of being a mother. But when I became one, I knew with certainty I did not want to be THIS mother. All during the years my sons were young, I thought of these lyrics, a constant reminder of where I did not want to go.
Hush now baby, baby don’t you cry. Mama’s gonna make all of your nightmares come true, Mama’s gonna put all of her fears into you, Mama’s gonna keep you right here under her wing, she won’t let you fly but she might let you sing. Mama will keep baby cozy and warm. Oooh Babe, Oooh Babe, Oooh Babe, Of course Mama’s gonna help build a wall.
2. “The River” Bruce Springsteen. There is a particular version of this song sung live, slowed down and quiet, that makes me cry every time I hear it. While I will say here that my life has turned out to be happy and content I think there is in each of us a little part that knows exactly the kind of pain he sings about in this song. Much as “Mother” was my example of the mother I did not want to be, I think “The River” was a reminder of the wife and partner I did not want to be, and the kind of marriage I couldn’t live in. I’m fortunate that I didn’t have to. You really need to read the entire set of lyrics, they are like a poem and work best together. Here’s the highlight:
Now all of them things that seemed so important
Well mister they vanished right into the air
Now I act like I don’t remember, and Mary act like she don’t care.
But I remember us riding in my brother’s car
Her body tan and wet down at the reservoir,
At night on those banks I’d lie awake,
And pull her close just to feel each breath she’d take.
Now those memories come back to haunt me
They haunt me like a curse.
Is a dream a lie if it don’t come true?
Or is it something worse?
Madpoet: My two entries come from two of my faves, too, including a Springsteen pick.

3. The song “Growing Up”, very much sums up my teenage years. I was a malcontent, so I really related to the lyrics of being defiant for defiances sake. When I think of the song today, I think of myself walking down fifth, downtown Portland with a Tony Manero swagger. I suspect reality is somewhat less then that cool.
I stood stone-like at midnight suspended in my masquerade
I combed my hair till it was just right and commanded the night brigade
I was open to pain and crossed by the rain and I walked on a crooked crutch
I strolled all alone through a fallout zone and come out with my soul untouched
I hid in the clouded wrath of the crowd but when they said "Sit down," I stood up.
Music is always important to me, but never more so than when I was a teenager. Music was everything to me. It was my refuge. I fell asleep to my radio every night. It was always tuned to the local AOR station and it was my savior. It soothed the savage beast that was hormonal teenage me.

4. Rush's 'Spirit of the Radio' makes my list, even though it was a bit of a jab at the top 40 hit making requirements of your average record contract in the 70's. The idea that music, in spite of the “We need a hit single” mentality, music could take you to magical places is what my love of pop music is all about.
Off on your way, hit the open road
There is magic at your fingers
For the Spirit ever lingers
Undemanding contact in your happy solitude
El Kaiser Guapo: Both my picks are more recent; both from the past ten years. This is because these were the songs (or album, rather, in one case) that most affected me when I was in my troubled adolescence, not too long ago.

5: I really want to mention the entire album American Idiot by Green Day, because for my entire sophomore year of high school it was literally the only album I listened to. It had mesmerized me. But, I'll go ahead and choose the actual song American Idiot for this particular pick six. You see, at the age of 16 I was big, BIG, into Speech and Debate, which kept me constantly at the forefront of news, politics, and culture. Needless to say, I had spent my adolescence in a society of paranoia, lies, control, and ignorance. American Idiot was a refreshing beat of the popular culture, one that had given voice to everyone like me who felt suppressed and abandoned by their country, and who were fed up with the media constantly trying to keep people afraid and docile. Tell 'em, Billie Joe!
Well maybe I'm the faggot America
I'm not a part of a redneck agenda
Now everybody do the propaganda
And sing along to the age of paranoia

Welcome to a new kind of tension
All across the alienation
Where everything isn't meant to be okay
Television dreams of tomorrow
We're not the ones who're meant to follow
For that's enough to argue
6: I was going to do something different here, and put down something from August and Everything After by Counting Crows, which is perhaps my personal favorite album of all time. But, I wanted a positive message for this pix six, so instead I'm going with the song 23 by Jimmy Eat World. Now, for most of my adolescence I suffered from Depression, which I refused counseling and, eventually, medication for. My bouts of depression would leave me embittered toward the world and hating myself. I told myself that getting help was weak, and that I should just suck it up and wait. 23, a song written by Jim Adkins before he turned 23, spoke to me on a very deep and personal level, and it was helped me formulate the idea that convinced me that thinking was not only not helpful, but it was harmful. Sitting and hoping for things to change won't accomplish anything; you have to act to get the ending you want. I'll let Jim Adkins relate the message himself:
You'll sit alone forever
If you wait for the right time
What are you hoping for?
I'm here, I'm now, I'm ready
Holding on tight
Don't give away the end
It's the one thing that stays mine
Videos After the jump
Pink Floyd - Mother

Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band - The River (Live)

Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band - Growing Up (Live)

Rush - Spirit Of The Radio (Live)

Green Day - American Idiot

Jimmy Eat World - 23 (live)

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