My DSP 3: I’m Stepping Out

Song: I’m Stepping Out

Artist: John Lennon

Year: 1980

Favorite Lyric: If it don’t feel right, you don’t have to do it,
Just leave a message on the phone and tell ‘em to screw it

Significance: If you’re one of my Facebook friends, you probably know that I’m not happy with my job right now. I took something I knew wasn’t right to make sure that our family still had an income after my husband was laid off, and it’s way worse than I ever could have expected. The Office meets Office Space meets Hell. On a particularly difficult day last week, a line popped into my head, “If it don’t feel right, you don’t have to do it, just leave a message on the phone and tell ‘em to screw it.” It reminded me of two things: The genius of John Lennon and the length of time it has been since I listened to any of his solo stuff, even though it was what I used to get me through hard times in high school. That lyric is from a song called “I’m Stepping Out,” off the posthumously released Milk and Honey album and it makes me happier just to remember it. It’s good advice. This just started a snowball of memories of Lennon songs: Oh Yoko! which inspired a poem I wrote for a freshman English class; Whatever Gets You through the Night, which I liked because the way he sang, “listen, listen” made me think of one of my teachers, and the great duality of Nobody Told Me, a song in which everybody’s talking and no one says a word, and everybody’s smoking but no one’s getting high. The list goes on. But because of the spontaneity with which it popped into my head and to thank it for the the spur of memories, here’s I’m Stepping Out.

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My DSP 3: We’ll Meet Again

Song: We’ll Meet Again

Artist: Stephen Colbert (and nearly every other celebrity on the planet)

Year: 2014

Favorite Lyric: Keep smiling through, just like you always do
Till the blue skies drive the dark clouds far away

Significance: As you may have guessed, I just saw the last ever episode of The Colbert Report. Man, I am sad to see this show go. I know Colbert is great and he’s going to do great things with my other perennial favorite, The Late Show. But The Report just knocked political satire right out of the park, right up ’til the end when Stephen said he wasn’t getting paid to watch Bill O’Reilly anymore so “fuck that noise.” The show also introduced me to many great books and songs I wouldn’t have noticed otherwise, and the final episode was no exception. I officially love this 1939 British tune, made famous by singer Vera Lynn and made better by Stephen Colbert because Randy Newman.

And I’m so glad that Colbert still has Vince Gilligan chained in his basement writing more episodes of Breaking Bad.

Thanks for all the laughs, Stephen.

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My DSP 3: Stuck in the Middle with You

Song: Stuck in the Middle with You

Artist: Stealer’s Wheel

Year: 1972

Favorite Lyric: Clowns to the left of me, Jokers to the right
Here I am, stuck in the middle with you

Significance: This song is more soundtrack bait. I’m sure I heard this first in a movie, I don’t know which one. I find this is one of those songs that’s just impossible not to like. I don’t know why I like it, and I’m not sure I should, but I definitely do. The video I found on YouTube is another story, though just looking at those ’70s outfits and hairdos is hysterical. I immediately wanted to shout, “more cowbell!”

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My Three-and-a-Quarter Year Old

So far, I agree with my previous assessment that three is a difficult age. It’s all mood swings and testing. Sonja has decided that she “hates being dressed.” (She’s always liked being naked, but she has never declared it in such pointed words before.) It is nearly impossible to keep her at the dinner table, and if we start the bedtime routine two minutes too late, it can be a total tantrum

But fun times are not in short supply. She is so excited about Christmas. She gets it this year, even though she doesn’t understand how to count down the days. We’ve been watching all the classic Christmas specials and she’s been telling me all about what Santa is going to bring to her on Christmas morning. We also took her to see Santa this year. MAN, was she excited about this. When it was finally her turn, she threw up her arms and ran to him, and he gave her a big hug. (As my sister-in-law said, he must’ve been thinking, “Finally! A kid that’s not going to cry!”) She told him she wanted a kitchen for Christmas. Afterwards, when we were waiting in line (again) to buy the picture, she had the requisite Santa meltdown because she forgot to tell him she also wanted a dinosaur. Continue reading

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My DSP 3: Brown-Eyed Girl

Song: Brown-Eyed Girl

Artist: Van Morrison

Year: 1967

Favorite Lyric: Standing in the sunlight laughing
Hide behind a rainbow’s wall,
Slipping and a-sliding
All along the waterfall

Significance: I’m sure there are more songs that mention brown eyes than songs that mention Jennifers, but this is the most famous one. Since I also have brown eyes, it is a nice complement to Ms. Juniper. I thought for a moment that it might be genetically possible for my daughter to have green eyes since my mom has green eyes. Whether or not that’s true, it didn’t happen and we’re all brown eyes here. We didn’t even have to question it. Some parents have to wait several months for their true baby’s eye color to present itself, but Sonja has always been, since day one, my brown-eyed girl.

Oh also, thanks to Morrison’s often unintelligible lyrics, for a very long time I thought the first line to this song was , “hey there Rodrigo.”

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My DSP 3: Jennifer Juniper

Song: Jennifer Juniper

Artist: Donovan

Year: 1977

Favorite Lyric: Qu’est-ce que tu fais, Jennifer Juniper?

Significance: This is the only song I know of with the name Jennifer in the title or lyrics. Which is kind of strange, seeing how Jennifer was the most popular girls name for a decade and a half starting in 1970. And no, I don’t count 867-5309 because nobody has ever called me Jenny. But I love this song and have since I was a kid, long before I was a flute player and would think the instrumentation was awesome, and long before I learned French and could understand and sing along with the French verse. It’s kind of eerie how my namesake song encompasses so much that is “Jennifer.”

 

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My DSP 3: Cocaine

Song: Cocaine

Artist: Eric Clapton

Year: 1977

Favorite Lyric: –

Significance: Cocaine was a massive hit for Clapton and remains one of the songs he is most known for. It is such a staple that I can’t remember where I first heard it. Radio? Movie? Friend? No idea. I know I’ve been listening to it for years and years, and the only thing that would make it better is if it were called Meth.

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My DSP 3: It Must’ve Been Ol’ Santa Clause

Song: It Must’ve Been Ol’ Santa Clause

Artist: Harry Connick, Jr.

Year: 1993

Favorite Lyric: –

Significance: Harry Connick, Jr. was somewhat of a foray into the jazz-pop style that would become one of my favorites. It was just a primer though – I don’t listen to him much anymore – but this is a fun one for Christmas.

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My DSP 3: Love Minus Zero/No Limit

Song: Love Minus Zero/No Limit

Artist: Bob Dylan

Year: 1965

Favorite Lyric:

My love she speaks like silence
Without ideals or violence
She doesn’t have to say she’s faithful
Yet she’s true, like ice, like fire
People carry roses
Make promises by the hours
My love she laughs like the flowers
Valentines can’t buy her

In the dime stores and bus stations
People talk of situations
Read books, repeat quotations
Draw conclusions on the wall
Some speak of the future
My love she speaks softly
She knows there’s no success like failure
And that failure’s no success at all

The cloak and dagger dangles
Madams light the candles
In ceremonies of the horsemen
Even the pawn must hold a grudge
Statues made of matchsticks
Crumble into one another
My love winks, she does not bother
She knows too much to argue or to judge

The bridge at midnight trembles
The country doctor rambles
Bankers’ nieces seek perfection
Expecting all the gifts that wise men bring
The wind howls like a hammer
The night blows cold and rainy
My love she’s like some raven
At my window with a broken wing

Significance: You may have noticed that under “Favorite Lyric,” I posted the entire  song. I had the officiant at my wedding read these lyrics as a poem. Because that’s what Dylan is. He’s everything that’s great about the English language, set to music. I love the duality of this song. “She knows there’s no success like failure and that failure’s no success at all.” Harried people trying to solve problems and seem intellectual but without purpose. An idealized woman above it all but not without the wounds that society inflicts. I’m rhapsodizing and reaching here, but that’s part of the fun of it. Here’s footage of the song being performed live in a hotel room.
 

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My DSP 3: Six O’Clock

Song: Six O’Clock

Artist: Lovin’ Spoonful

Year: 1966

Favorite Lyric: And the dusty light shines down on the block
and reflects up and down on the hands of the clock

and

I went home and found that trying to sleep was a laugh
Just watching my eyelids knowing my brain bids the night not to pass

and

I wish my head had been working right
We’d have gone for coffee and talked all night

Significance: The Lovin’ Spoonful is generally very exciting harmonically, melodically, chord-ally (?), but very lovey-squishy when it comes to lyrics. This song fits the mold – except that it paints a better picture of the lovey-squishy. Any song or story that picks a moment in time – like early in the morning when you haven’t slept because you were too excited – is going to be better than one that tries to be all-encompassing. This song is a bit raw musically too, but I rather like it. A hidden gem, a B-side – except that internet research just told me it was an A-side. As I mentioned in my first Spoonful post, that bright yellow record label is a very vivid memory from my childhood. Forget the nauseating name and the squishy lyrics (unless you like that sort of thing) and go listen to them for the music. There’s a famous story that John Lennon referred to John Sebastian as a “damn tunesmith” when he couldn’t figure out one of the chords in Daydream.

A cherished childhood memory. The CD looks like this too!

A cherished childhood memory. The CD looks like this too!

 

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