I used my drive to work this morning to catch up on NPR podcasts, as usual. Since my children have developed an interest in hearing Ask Me Another, Snap Judgement and Wait Wait…Don’t tell me!, I now save those for when they’re in the car with me. This morning, I was listening to All Songs Considered.
I enjoy this podcast because it introduces me to new artists; some I’m enthusiastic about, others I suffer through. The episode I listened to today aired just before Valentine’s Day and was called Love Songs You Love to Love. It was a top 10 countdown of the most popular Love Songs, as submitted by their listeners.
I often sing in the car. Something about singing with full gusto, however, tends to makes me cry. I don’t know why; it’s always been this way. I’ll be driving along, singing at the top of my lungs, and suddenly be overcome with emotion and tears (unless I have an audience, as was the case with last night’s rendition of Bon Jovi’s “Livin’ on a Prayer”).
This morning was no exception to the general rule.
Maybe it was the love songs. Maybe it was because my boyfriend and I are fighting. Maybe it was any number of sadnesses, elated moments, swoony afternoons or words left unsaid that get filed away for later, then are never heard from again. Until I find myself in the car, singing.
I should say that I started this episode yesterday, and I got through The Beatles’ “Something” without incident, as well as Mazzy Star’s “Fade Into You”, perhaps because – even though they each invoke their own level of emotion in me – they are both on the mellower side. And this morning I was doing fine as I drove along, just listening, until they got to Number 5: “Unchained Melody”.
I was immediately taken back to my pre-teen bedroom, where I stood on my bed, belting out the crescendo along with Bobby Hatfield, one arm outstretched, the other holding my clutched fist against my heart. Oh, how that song tore me up.
I was grateful this morning for the early fading-out of each song, which meant the angst-filled crescendo never came, and I was able to catch my breath. The next song I’d never heard of and the hosts clearly weren’t fans because they only played a short snippet before beginning to complain about it, then moving on to Number 3: “In Your Eyes” by Peter Gabriel.
Where do I even begin? My expectations of romance were shaped by
obsessing observing John Cusak in the film Say Anything as much as the next girl. Beyond that, however, every single dance at Van Buren Youth Camp ended with “In Your Eyes”. The final night of camp: the culmination of a week spent flirting, wooing, longing, sneaking down never-deserted trails to try for a kiss. The final song of that final night, knowing that in a few short minutes we’d all circle the rec area, grasp hands, walk to campfire. And the next morning, the spell would be broken.
There is no other song that holds as much bittersweet weight in the deepest reaches of my body.
This morning, when the hosts of All Songs Considered announced the upcoming song, I took a deep breath and muttered “oh, brother.” I was at a light, so I closed my eyes for a second, anticipating for those first few chords. When they came, I felt the usual tightening of my breath. Then I began to sing along.
“Love, I get so lost sometimes.”
That’s as far as I made it before the song got me and I came unchained, like I always do. And like I always do, I kept singing through it all.