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My Life In Lyrics (2012)

Sometimes I feel as if song lyrics are grossly underrated.  It boggles my mind how few people pay attention to lyrics.  They’ll never know any words to any song…even the world’s most famous and recognizable songs… like Happy Birthday????  Now, I’m not one for poetry…hate it as a matter of fact… but when those words are set to music, it takes on a whole new life.  It’s incredible how you can have a page full of words and it would be next to impossible for a human to memorize them… but introduce a beat and a melody, and you can memorize those words almost immediately.

Song lyrics have been incredibly important to me, I feel like my life story can be told through songs I deem as my favorites.  I also tend to gravitate to certain songs and lyrics depending on which mood I’m in, or to illustrate something that is occurring in my life.  I almost pity people who don’t have this relationship with song lyrics because you’re missing an outlet… a friend you can go to no matter what trials and tribulations you may be encountering.  Not to mention, you are missing one of the biggest points the artist is trying to make with their music.

Here are some examples from my extensive love affair with music:

Pearl Jam- Black– “All the love gone bad turned my world to black…Tattooed all I see, all that I am, all I'll be…. “ Even though I never really had any “love gone bad” while I was in high school, this song and its lyrics made a profound impact on me.  It even inspired my (gulp) Pearl Jam stick figure tattoo I got when I was 16.  It really came full circle when, in May, Eddie Vedder asked me curiously, why did I get my tattoo.  All I said was “Black” and he knew exactly what I was talking about… he then smiled proudly and gave me a huge hug.  Quite the moment.

Alanis Morissette- Head Over Feet- “You’ve already won me over in spite of me, don’t be alarmed if I fall Head Over Feet…”  This was a big song for my friends and me.  It works perfectly for any situation where you fall for a guy you were resistant to… whether because they were the “bad boy” or too much of a “nice guy” (never happens).  This song helped justify “giving in.” Haha.

Elton John- I Want Love- I’ve always loved this slightly more obscure newer tune…and not just because Robert Downey Jr. was in the video.  But after a breakup and you’re feeling really shitty, these lyrics make you feel tough and hopeful. “So bring it on, I’ve been bruised.  Don’t give me love, that’s clean and smooth.  I’m ready for the roughest stuff.  No sweet romance… I’ve had enough.”

Fiona Apple- Criminal- “I’ve been a bad bad girl…I’ve been careless with a delicate man…” Ladies, need I say more?

Laura Pausini- Come Se Non Fosse Stato Mai Amore-  For some reason Italian pop music can make me happy no matter what mood I’m in… strange I know.  She’s my favorite Italian artist and her lyrics are intense. – Here are some helpful words… “E cancellare... tutte le pagine con la tua imagine, E vivere... COME SE NON FOSSE STATO MAI AMORE” You can’t expect me to translate too, can you??

Martina McBride- Wrong Baby Wrong- We all know country music is known for it’s descriptive and true to life stories. This song is no exception and is a go-to I play for girlfriends who just went through a break-up…ahh such a good friend ;)  “Wrong baby wrong baby wrong, it ain’t the end of the world, don’t you worry pretty girl…Now that he’s gone baby gone baby gone, you got nothing to lose…count the minutes if you want to, it won’t be long baby long baby long till you find somebody new.”

Zac Brown Band- Jolene- Even though this was written by Ray LaMontagne, Zac brings a spine chilling pain to the song.  The song actually hurts when you listen to it, yet it’s absolutely beautiful  “I found myself face down in the ditch, booze in my hair, blood on my lips…A picture of you holdin’ a picture of me, in the pocket of my blue jeans.”

Avril Lavigne- Hot- People may think Avril is a manufactured teeny bopper… untrue.  I have followed her career from the beginning, and before Taylor Swift and the likes, Avril was the artist girls listened to to hear their own lives put to music.  She’s an incredibly talented musician and writes all her own lyrics.  I picked “Hot” because even though I love her darker notes and tones the most, this is a feel good song and usually what I put on when I’m getting ready to go out at night…basically when I wanna feel like a sexy bitch… “You make me so hot, make me wanna drop, you’re so ridiculous, I can barely stop…”  Pretty profound, eh?

I can clearly go on and on forever (clearly)…but my point is; if you are a person who has never really made song lyrics a big part of your life… I emplore you to open your heart and ears, have a bit of patience, and try to hear what the artist is trying to convey.  It’s a shame to miss out on this dynamic and pure relationship with music.  What are some of YOUR favorite lyrics???

Chicago Vs. Country Music???? (2012)

Chicago’s relationship with country music is quite an enigma.  Depending on where you are, and with whom, you will either discover that Chicago is the next best thing since Nashville….or you’ll hear crickets when you ask, “Hey, have you heard of  Jason Aldean?!”  For me, personally, I’ve been a country fan as long as I can remember…even growing up in Lake View.  Shockingly, my Sicilian immigrant father got me hooked on Waylon, Willie, Conway, The Gatlin Brothers, and the Oak Ridge Boys before I could even walk.  I think the first song I learned when I was two was, “Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up To Be Cowboys.”

Yet today, I have my friends divided into two groups: My country friends, and my non-country friends.  I know when I’m with my “country friends” I can put on the most obscure Garth Brooks, or the newest hit from Little Big Town, and they’ll know every word and turn whatever venue we’re at into our own little honky-tonk.  I also know when I’m with my “non-country friends”  I better not even mention how excited I am for the upcoming Zac Brown Band show, or god forbid play any Eric Church for them on my iPod.  I will, without a doubt, get the “How can you listen to that stuff?” or “Turn that redneck music off!!”

I believe this happens because in Chicago, it’s easy to go your entire life and not necessarily be exposed to country music.  This would NOT happen if you grew up or lived in the South.  You may not be country’s biggest fan, but you will damn sure be familiar with the genre.  In the Windy City, there are no fair-weather country fans.  I’ve noticed you’re either a “die-hard” or a “hater”.  Now, I’ve also noticed that the “haters” are people who just haven’t given country a chance.  Almost every “hater” I’ve encountered can easily be converted into a “die-hard” by listening to a few key crossover artists who can gingerly swing them over into the country-friendly realm.

Once you become a fan of country, Chicago is an amazing place to be.  We have the country’s BIGGEST country music radio station inUS99.5 (in terms of listenership…quite the accomplishment).  We are also a mega-hub for every country artist to appear… major and minor alike.  This is why our beloved Joe’s Bar is such a phenomenon.  It gives the “die-hards” a place to see their favorite artists up close and personal, yet also provides chance to experience up and coming artists.  It’s also the perfect venue for a “die-hard” to bring a “hater” friend for a non-threatening and eye-opening introduction to country music.  There is NO way the non-country lover will leave a show at Joe’s and say they didn’t have a blast and a new found appreciation for the genre they’ve been shying away from.

Clearly, the people at Joe’s, US99, and myself (wow, I’m in good company) have made it our mission to bring country music to the masses and to the forefront of our fair city.  It is a big undertaking, but fortunately, the music speaks for itself and does most of the work.  However, there is no better feeling of accomplishment than turning a “hater” into a “die-hard.”