The fam and I were shopping for some fruits and veggies the other day and got an earful of the most noxious sound coming from the speakers. I thought about dropping to the floor with my hands over my ears crying “no more please!” but that seemed a bit overdramatic. This song they were playing was ostensibly created to be bland and inoffensive, but it just made the listener feel unaccountably annoyed at the crappiness of the song. I seriously believe a piece of toast could sit down and compose the lyrics and score for it. In 15 minutes. With a 10-minute smoke break. I think it was trying to fit itself into the country genre. Country, of course, was busy saying, “Nuh uh, buddy. Get your nasty, no good self out of our genre. You are really messing with our reputation which takes hits way too often as it is.”
Why can’t these places just have classical music playing in the background? It makes any place feel a little bit more fancy, and it’s supposed to make us smarter. Or maybe not. But at least the fancy part is true.
Back in college, my roomie’s friend visited and brought her Smiths tape with her. (Yes, it was a tape, y’all. I’m an old.) Anyway, I heard the track ‘Girlfriend In A Coma‘ and couldn’t wait to hear more. I bought ‘Strangeways,’ ‘The Queen Is Dead,’ and ‘Meat Is Murder‘ and went into lockdown. It was a revelation for me. Hey, these guys are all about dark humor to advance progressive themes. I fell hard for ‘Bigmouth Strikes Again,’ ‘Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me,’ ‘What She Said,’ and ‘That Joke Isn’t Funny Anymore‘ among many many others and jumped from my obsession with The Police into a love affair with The Smiths that I’ve never grown out of.
And the one song that is not even typical-Smiths is the one song that speaks to me the most lyrically and musically. ‘How Soon Is Now?‘ could be written about me. Though I discovered it in college and needed it most in middle and high school, it still resonated so strongly with me. I remember thinking, this dark dude gets me. (I know Johnny Marr wrote it with Morissey, so I guess “dark dudes” would be more appropriate.) To discover that other people had this depth of shyness was hard to believe but certainly was like a balm for my soul. Middle and high school were seriously difficult to navigate for me. College was unbelievably different, and I remember thinking often that I didn’t want to analyze it too much lest I mess up the fragile deal I must have struck to have such a happy and carefree college experience.
That song is still in my top 5 favorite songs regardless of genre. It’s usually in the top 3 but I like to reserve the room for new favorites that swap in from time to time. It still speaks to me because I remain shy and introverted. That’s right – I’m an introvert too. That means that I’m exhausted after spending time in larger social situations particularly with people I don’t spend time with regularly. Do you know how frustrating it is to be an introvert that is shy? Talk about a double whammy in social situations. If only I were a misanthrope, it would make life a lot easier. Unfortunately, people are too interesting to give up, and I rarely meet someone that I don’t have something in common with. It’s just awfully difficult to find out what that commonality is when you are introverted and shy. So when I find myself in social situations I’m unable to navigate, ‘How Soon Is Now?‘ plays on a loop in my head to comfort me. Happy belated birthday, Morissey, you dark, beautiful dude.
Confession: I love Adam Ant’s music. It’s funny and it makes me want to get up and dance spastically while yelling out the lyrics. I can name a pretty frightening number of songs that I really really like. It’s either a sign of very bad taste, or it’s just a sign of tolerance. You decide.
- Desperate But Not Serious
- Ant Music
- Goody Two Shoes
- Stand and Deliver
- Crackpot History and the Right to Lie
- Here Comes the Grump
- Kings of the Wild Frontier
- Friend or Foe
- Puss ‘n Boots
- Hello, I Love You
I used to perform car concerts two or three times a week depending on commutes and how inspired I was feeling by my music selection. But now? I’m down to a measly once or twice a quarter. I travel with kids too much now. I’d have to go with the kid-appropriate rock which severely limits my music choices. But I could do it if there weren’t other issues to be addressed when the kids are present. Anna’d probably be pretty chill about it and join in. But JT is in middle school. It is imperative that you DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES do anything to draw attention to yourselves when you have a middle schooler in tow. And a proper car concert may draw the attention of fellow travelers though ideally you try to avoid that as much as possible so it doesn’t inhibit your performance. When I drop him off anywhere, I have to pretend as if he is a random child I just met to whom I offered transportation. I’m allowed to briefly and quietly say bye as the door shuts. I am also allowed to smile at him as long as there are no witnesses. I can’t complain, however, because he’s still as affectionate as ever when we are safely out of sight of other kids.
When I don’t have kids in the car, I often have a dog in there who will no doubt freak out if I give a proper car concert. For starters, volume is very important and she’s not having that. Also, sometimes there’s exuberant gesturing and I might even break out into some limited-movement dancing, and she’ll take that as an invitation to crowd surf. And then I’ll have to be the sole crowd member and support her stupid crowd-surfing-body, but I’m performing! I’m not supposed to be part of the crowd. Also, I’m driving. I have to pay attention to those duties in addition to my performance, so I can’t have the added distraction of a crowd-surfing dog.
If it’s not the kids or the dog holding me back, it’s that the jaunt is too short to get a good concert in. I prefer not to hold a concert that has less than 10 good songs to make sure I’ve got enough of my favorites represented to satisfy me until the next one. I guess I could be an opening act, but that gig’s for rookies and I’ve been performing for too many years to go back to that.
I’m not entirely sure what the allure of the car concert is for me. I can hold a concert performance from within my house where I’ve got the freedom to move about freely. Plus there’s the added benefit of not having to worry about spectators. You can really put all you’ve got into it. Attire is optional and you can easily fetch up a microfauxne. But there’s something special about a car concert where you’re on the move and can pretend you’re en route to some spectacular destination while belting out the lyrics to your favorite songs.